Does your review profile currently look something like this?
If many of your reviews are simple “star reviews” with no attached text then your reviews aren’t doing you very much good.
They’re especially frustrating when they’re bad reviews. If you’ve got a 1, 2, or 3 star review with no text then you have no idea what you did wrong or how you can improve.
Worse, Google won’t remove those reviews. If they’re fake you can’t really prove it, and so they drag your business reputation down while leaving you very little recourse for fixing the problem other than to continue to pile on with better reviews.
Furthermore, meaty, useful reviews power a whole bunch of Google features that you really want them to power, which means you’re going to need a strategy for generating some.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy with a little effort.
Why a Handful of Stars is Not Enough
If I’m going to tell you that you can get something done with a little effort then hey, I’m going to take a moment to tell you why you want to make that effort in the first place.
I’m going to skip past the lecture on why reviews themselves are important (I assume you know that by now) and go straight into telling you why they need to be detailed and informative, too.
Review text powers GMB Q&A features. That is, when someone goes to type a question, Google will do a quick search of the reviews to see if someone has already essentially provided that information in their review text.
This is a huge conversion factor. It tells customers the answers to the questions they care about, and the answers aren’t coming from you. They don’t really trust you anyway, often. They’re coming from other customers.
That means the customer can breathe easy and call you. They may not even bother to get all the way through posting their question, which is absolutely fine.
This doesn’t absolve you from answering questions on your website, but that’s not the point of this feature anyway.
If you’ve searched anything on Google Maps recently you might have noticed a little blue symbol. It’ll either say something like “their website mentions [thing you searched],” or it’ll just have a comment in quote marks, like this:
These are called “justifications,” and in most cases they come directly from your reviews. If your reviews don’t say much then there won’t be anything for them to draw thing.
This little marker won’t show up all the time, as it appears in direct response to what the person searched. In this case, “vegan food near me.” When it does show up though, it again serves as a very powerful conversion factor.
This one’s just kind of obvious. If most of your reviews don’t include very much information then they don’t accomplish much on your behalf. A good review is like a miniature salesperson telling customers all about why they should choose you, except, again, the information is coming from people your customers trust a lot more than your sales team.
Besides, even before the Q&A features came out really savvy shoppers would scan the reviews to see what they had to say about specific issues they cared about. Those meatier reviews can really help distinguish you from the competition when customers are trying to decide between two or three 5-star businesses.
Specific Steps for Getting More Useful Reviews
Nudging your customers into leaving better reviews starts with adjusting the way you’re asking for reviews. You could be asking via email, text message, or face-to-face interaction, but the way you phrase the request matters.
So does the way you treat your reviews when you receive them.
Wording Your Review Requests
Don’t just ask: do you mind leaving us a review?
Ask something like this: can you leave us feedback? Don’t forget to mention the service you received today!
It’s a simple tweak, but the human brain is a pretty funny thing. Sometimes without a specific prompt people just freeze up and don’t know what to say. The end result is a review that doesn’t provide very much detail.
By the way, every member of your staff should be asking for reviews after every interaction. If you don’t make a single other change this year, make that one.
Staying on Top of Review Responses
If you’re willing to make two changes this year, make this one. There should be a single person at your organization who will commit to answering every review: the good, the bad, the ugly.
It’s just polite, for one thing. Someone took time out of their day to help your business. Acknowledge that.
Second, those who respond to reviews tend to get a lot more of them. They also tend to get more detailed reviews because people realize that someone is going to take the time to engage with them. People like that.
It also acts as, again, you guessed it, a conversion factor. Responding to reviews says: here we have ourselves a business who cares about its customers, is hearing what they have to say, and has a decent grasp of the technology we’re all relying on! These are all things you want to convey.
Detailed responses which speak directly to the review reap the benefits. Generic responses don’t. So read the darn thing and say something about the specific content of the review, the same way you’re hoping your review writers will add specific content to the things they write up on your behalf.
Using Reviews Once You Have Them
Here’s the final reason why you need to be seeking out really good, meaty reviews.
They’re the information you’re going to use to improve your business. Remember, your task in 2021 and beyond is going to be to build a business that’s worthy of all the visibility it receives. This means identifying and solving systemic problems which might be plaguing your business, preventing you from being the 5-star business you have the potential to become.
Without that information you’re left to make guesses, and the guesses you make probably won’t do as much to improve the business in ways customers care about as you might think.
With that information you can say, “Oh, the speed of my service or lack thereof is frustrating the ever-loving heck out of my customers? Okay, I’ll come up with some ways to solve that problem so that stops happening.
Then you can use that improvement in your marketing materials, which is always kind of fun. Now with new, faster service!
When it comes to reviews, the saying isn’t: the devil’s in the details. The saying is: the dollars are in the details. Shift your review strategy accordingly.