One of the best secret weapons small business owners have when it comes to building confidence in their business is good online customer reviews. Customer reviews are not only essential, but they’re also a proven business strategy for building your location-based business. But don’t take our word for it, either. Read some of these examples of why online customer reviews are so vital.
Today, we’re going to focus on the three key pillars of developing a solid customer review marketing strategy. First, though, let’s look at why having customer testimonials appear on your business listings is so important. And, to do so, let’s look at some statistics:
- If you have less than a 4-star rating, over half of consumers won’t use your business.
- It takes less than 10 reviews for 90% of people to form an opinion about your business.
- WHOA! 72% percent of people won’t take action before consulting online reviews.
- 15% of customers will not trust a business if they don’t have reviews to consult.
- Consumers will spend up to 31% more on a business that has great reviews associated with it.
- WHOA! Google accounts for 57.5% of all reviews available in the world.
- WHOA! 63.6% of consumers visit Google to check for reviews of a business.
- 73% of consumers consider written reviews to be more important than star and number ratings.
- LOCAL ALERT! Positive reviews encourage 68% of consumers to use a local business.
- Have more than four negative reviews about your business? That may decrease sales by 70%.
These are just a few of the many statistics available about reviews. We encourage you to read others right from our source.
So now that you understand the importance of your business’s reviews, it’s time to learn the three pillars of a customer review marketing strategy.
Pillar #1: Make sure that you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing (and other directories)
While we’ve written a comprehensive post that details everything you need to know about Google My Business, it’s important to reiterate that a sound review marketing strategy starts with owning your listings. Why is this so important? There are several reasons.
Owning (claiming) your listing gives you full control over what business information is placed there. Yes, this refers to all the key elements you would think of, including your business name, address, phone number, business description and more. What this also does is allow you to 1) get alerts whenever someone leaves you a review and 2) respond to reviews and have those responses appear as being from you, the business owner (more on that soon).
Owning your listing is the first step to having a successful online review marketing strategy.
Pillar #2: Respond to your reviews
Use the alerts mentioned above (see, told you it would be soon) to stay on top of the feedback you’re getting – and help guide your response. When reviews are positive, get in there and thank your customers, share your positive experiences with them and validate their visit and the reasons why they gave you that positive review in the first place. When reviews are negative, think of them as an opportunity to learn about your business, rebuild consumer trust and turn the negative into a positive. Most people will be shocked that you’re paying attention and care. This is a good thing. Take advantage and get them back on your side.
Another very important factor was validated by Google earlier this year. The company confirmed that responding to reviews is an important factor in getting your local business ranked in a “local pack”. In fact, in the Google My Business help section, they explicitly state that responding to reviews is a vital element to improve your local ranking on Google:
Manage and respond to reviews
Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.
Pillar #3: Ask for reviews
At the tail end of Google’s note about how to manage and respond to reviews, you may have noticed the following note to “Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.”
So Google is encouraging you to encourage people to leave reviews. Excellent! When you consider how competitive it is to get into the Local Pack and rank well organically, coupled with the fact that the average local business has 39 Google reviews associated to their listing (same sources as our previous statistics), you can see why it becomes important to solicit reviews from your best customers.
There are many ways you can go about this, some easier to implement than others. Here are some ideas:
- Personally email your best customers asking them to support your business with an online review.
- Plant a link to your listing in your email signature.
- Add a URL to your receipts
- Embark on a drip email campaign with requests and links
- Use a specialized tool to monitor reviews, send out requests or embark on a campaign
These are just some ideas, and we’re able to help with any online review marketing strategies as well, even the more involved processes.
Go beyond Google if need be!
While we’ve talked a lot about Google here for its obvious power via its market share alone, it’s important to consider other search engines, directories, social networks and mapping technologies too. So if you’re established on Facebook, point reviewers there. If you’re reliant on Yelp, ask for reviews there and continually monitor that network. But remember where most people search, and that’s on Google. It’s likely that for most businesses, Google will have the greatest impact on traffic to your store and to your website.
What are some of your strategies to generate reviews? How do you go about monitoring for them? Do you respond? Let us know in the comments below.
One of the best weapons within your Google My Business listing is the business description Google allows you to write. Your business description is a secret path directly into Google’s credibility book, as they use your business description to ensure that your business is a real business run by real people. This being said, it’s an excellent opportunity to provide those who land on your listing with authentic content explaining what you do.
That’s why we encourage our clients to take advantage of their business description – right up to the last character allowed. Whether you’ve worked on your business description recently or it’s been years (see what a difference a year makes, by the way), here are some suggestions to help make it even better.
Elements of an excellent business description for Google My Business
- Make every character count. You have 750 characters to work with—use as many of them as you can. The more relevant the terms you use within your description are, the more chances people have to identify their needs in your listing.
- Think keywords… If you offer unique services, state them. If you sell specific brands, name them. If you use special techniques to do what you do, list them. If your restaurant specializes in certain dishes, bake those terms in.
- …But be natural. Like anything you write and put anywhere online, be natural and don’t come across as if you’re a robot repeating the same words over and over. This is a big red flag to Google that may lead to your listing being taken down.
- Do not repeat your NAP information. Your Google My Business listing has a function to direct people to your business. Your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) and other contact information are readily available. Even if your address has recently changed, do not waste characters repeating this information in your business description – besides, there are other ways to update your address.
- No links, no URLs. Links will not be clickable, so don’t waste characters on them. Remember, your URL is up in the “Website” button at the top of your listing and you can plant links in Google Posts as well. No need to put them here.
- Not the place to pitch. No special offers, promotions or pitches. Period. This goes against Google’s policies and will likely result in your description not being approved.
What guidelines does Google recommend?
Google does an excellent job of describing some dos and don’ts of their own. Rather than repeat them here, we’ll share a screen capture of their guidelines.
Need help with your business description?
Our clients often ask for help with their business descriptions. When you sign up for one of our plans, we’re happy to review your business description and help you dial it in. It’s a vital part of your listing and we want to help you get it right. If you’re unsure that it represents your business, we’re happy to work with you until it does. No questions asked.
Looking for some more suggestions for how to make your Google My Business listing even better? Check out our post highlighting some more ideas.
So, how does your business description look? Are you happy with how it describes your business? What are some of the challenges you’ve had in crafting your business description? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
We recently received an email from a client after her dashboard was updated with August data. It turns out that there were some dips in the business’s month over month data. And this created concern and some questions.
It seems that both “Actions” and “Calls” were down almost 50% from the previous month on the Google dashboard – is that simply that people were on vacation? Is it something that should spur action on our part? Just trying to understand it all.
When we received this email, I immediately looked at the data and realized that for clients with seasonal schedules, the month-over-month metric may not tell the right story. The answer to our client’s email was in the year-over-year data. As a result, we pulled this chart:
Here you can see that though August is a quiet month for the client, we’ve been able to achieve significant growth when compared to the two previous Augusts.
How did we get here with this particular client? The recipe has been a good one for them and other clients as well. First, we syndicated their business information to 15 of the most important business directories online, including Google, Bing, Facebook, Waze, Uber, FourSquare, and TomTom. This creates a wider web presence for their business and builds consistency across the web for their information. Right away, this helps generate more listing views and actions on Google My Business.
We follow this up with regular Google Posts. New content on their listing helps plant keywords into Google’s engines and shows that the client is active with their listing. Again, this helps the client build interest in their listing. Reviews, which they also solicit, have been positive and affect their listing in a positive way too.
Of course, we’ve applied this recipe for other clients and we see similar results. Our case study section highlights some of these successes and shows that for different clients in different industries, the results can be effective and fast.
To learn more about our services, please head to our solutions section. The case studies on our blog also show how we can impact business in a big way for a very small price.
10|20 Marketing’s clients now have Google My Business metrics at their fingertips. Every month, we’re pulling location specific statistics straight from Google and making them available to you via Google Data Studio. Each dashboard is designed to help you see how your metrics are progressing every month, with comparisons to the previous month and trended for the most recent 12-month period.
The dashboards will also show an important comparison: your metrics before and after you subscribed to our services. And that’s what really gets us going! Because with these metrics, we’ll be able to show you the impact of owning, organizing and optimizing your Google My Business presence.
See an interactive sample of the new dashboard right now!
The Metrics You Will See
What will you learn when accessing your dashboard? We’ve mapped out the following:
- Total Views: Total number of times your Google My Business (GMB) listing has been viewed.
- Total Actions: Total number of times people clicked through to call, map your address or visit your website from your GMB listing.
- Action Rate: Total actions/total views. This shows the percentage of people who acted on your business information to learn more about your business.
- Map Views: The number of times your local listing appeared in the Google maps results following a query.
- Search Views: The number of times your local listing appeared in search results following a query.
- Calls: The number of calls initiated from your local listing on desktop or mobile.
- Directions: The number of times someone mapped your address from your local listing on desktop or mobile.
- Website Visits: The number of times someone visited your website after clicking from your listing on desktop or mobile.
Plus, for each metric, you’ll have two boxes below where you can review your monthly averages from before and after subscribing with us. This calculation has already helped us turn out some pretty impressive case studies, as the before/after snapshot shows us the impact we’ve had on our small business clients.
How To Read Your Dashboard
Reading the first page of your dashboard is key to understanding the impact we’ve had on your business. Here’s how to get the most out of your board.
- Use the navigation on the top left to change pages.
- Use the date filter to choose the month you’d like to review. New data is updated on the 12th of the following month.
- This is the date that you started working with 10|20 Marketing.
- The big number is the total for the selected time period. A comparison to the previous month is below and indicates whether the total has increased or decreased month over month.
- Each metric has a comparison of your business’s averages. The lighter blue box is your average prior to working with 10|20 Marketing and the darker blue box shows your average after working with us.
- Note: If there are no metrics for your Google My Business listing before you joined us, these comparison boxes will only show the average since joining 10|20 Marketing.
- The charts trend your total Google My Business views and actions. Hover your mouse over the bars to see your breakdown for each data point and your total for each respective month.
Optimizing Your Local Business Listings
Remember, there are several things you can do on your own to help your views, calls, website clicks and in-store visits improve. Here are some quick pointers on how to optimize your Google My Business listing and your presence on the other directories we’ve claimed for you.
- Always maintain consistency with all of your listings. If you have changes to make, please let us know so we can apply the same change to all of the listings in your package.
- Keep on top of your online reviews. Thank your customers for their positive reviews and help solve the issues related to negative reviews. Show your clients – and everyone who reads your reviews – that you’re responsive and care.
- Update your Google My Business listing with social posts. The content associated with your posts will be indexed by Google and help you increase the number of views your listing attracts.
- Post pictures to your listing and name these images with the terms that best describe what is in the image, along with your business name.
- Answer any questions that may be posted to your listing. You’ll receive an alert for these. Answering these questions help your customers learn more about your business.
- Update your business description for Google. You have 750 characters to use for your description, so fill this space with the keywords that best describe the services or products that you offer. This description helps your listing index with Google as well.
We’re happy to answer your questions or arrange to help you with these optimizations as an addition to your service contract with us. We’ve helped many businesses just like yours increase the views of their listing and the total number of calls, website visits and clicks on directions — all to increase sales.
Alerts Coming Your Way
When you sign up with 10|20 Marketing, we’ll be sure to send you an introduction with a link to your dashboard. You can bookmark it or wait for your reminder to arrive in your inbox every month. You’ll be pointed to your metrics directly from the email.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to walk you through the metrics and help you understand how to optimize further!
10|20 Marketing recently moved. While we couldn’t be more excited to get settled into our new office, there was definitely some work to be done to get move-in ready for Google. Ready for Google, you ask? Of course! It’s probably just as important to optimize your new address for Google as it is to tell your bank, your suppliers and just about anyone who would send you a package. Simply put: because Google wants to send you customers and they can’t do that if they don’t know where your business is located.
Be Proactive And Tell Google You’ve Moved
It’s easy to get caught up in your move. After all, there is a lot to get done. But before you pack up your computer, head on over to Google My Business and change your address in the backend interface. You’ll find it in the “Info” menu. Just hit the pencil icon to the right of your current address and enter in your new address.
You may want to do this prior to the move as well. In some cases, changing your address will prompt a verification process that could take up to 12 business days. If you want to hit the ground running on the first day in your new location, let Google know ahead of time so the postcard with your PIN will arrive before you do. Once you have the PIN, you’ll be able to verify your new location within Google My Business.
Change The Information On Your Website
Remember to give your website some attention too. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have their address and phone number in several places on their website, such as within the footer and on the contact page. If you can’t handle the change yourself, make sure your webmaster knows about your move and the deadline for making the change.
It’s important to format your address the same way you did on Google My Business, as Google craves accuracy and consistency and rewards businesses that format their business address the same way across the web – right down to the comma or pound sign.
Add Pictures Of Your New Location To Google
Google loves your images. So why not give them some? This helps them understand the exact location of your business – try a few exterior shots – and helps visitors contextualize your location. Upload some pictures from the street or parking lot, take some photos of your reception or lobby. Even throw in some new pictures of your people. If you’re a store, show off your new merchandising approach. If you’re a restaurant, show the layout and size of your place. There are many different photos you can provide, don’t be shy!
Get Some More Reviews
While you’re in your listing, take a moment to check out your reviews. Have you had any new ones recently? Reach out to some of your bigger advocates by email, or create a handy shortlink to post in your store that points them to your Google My Business place ID. Take a look at our post here for some help getting this done.
Are You Listed On Other Local Directories?
Even though Google has the biggest share of the search market, it’s worthwhile claiming your business listing on other search engines too. If you’re listed on other directories, such as Bing, Yelp, FourSquare, Yellow Pages, and Facebook, or on mapping technologies such as Apple Maps or Here.com, you’ll want to provide each of these services with the same information you’ve placed on Google My Business and your website. This will entail digging out your passwords, logging into each of these platforms and manually editing your various listings.
Doing so can be tedious and may lead to inconsistencies or errors in your listing. One alternative is to opt-in to a service such as ours to syndicate your business information across multiple directories with one single push of a button. You provide all your business information, and it’ll be set up once and pushed out across the web. Your listing will be error-free and 100% consistent. An additional benefit? Google loves this consistency and will trust the business information you’ve provided to them even more when they see that it’s the same across the web.
This will lead to more views of your Google My Business listing. Which leads to more calls, clicks and business.
Change Your Address With Google Early
To recap, it’s important to be proactive when moving. Not just with the timing of the move itself, but also with the timing of the changes you need to make online. Get ahead of the timeline by providing your new business address and phone numbers to Google. Make those same changes to your website. Add pictures of your new location to your listing. And syndicate those changes across the web, maybe even with a little help from your friends at 10|20 Marketing.