Since January 2020, the boon in the online U.S. marketplace has been exponential, with combined traffic growth of up to 16% in May 2020. But what’s been great for online retailers, has come at the expense of local stores. Over the past few months, physical stores have taken a huge hit and sales have plummeted due to COVID-19.
However, with restrictions starting to ease in many states, it’s more important than ever for local businesses to build reviews on Google My Business. Why? Because reviews build social proof, which encourages more people to step foot in your store.
What is Google My Business?
Before we begin, it’s worth understanding exactly what Google My Business (GMB) is. It’s a local business listing on the world’s most popular search engine which shares information about your company with people who search for services like yours in your area.
Your GMB profile will include information like your company name, address, telephone number, opening times and directions to your premises. And your listing will be ranked against similar businesses – just like every other bit of info online – except only those that are also in the user’s search area.
GMB acts like a directory, so it lets users leave reviews about your business on your profile. 68% of Americans say they’re more likely to use a business with positive reviews. So, if someone searches for a local coffee shop and they’re presented with 3 or so results, they’ll probably choose to go to the one with the best reviews.
1. Ask for reviews
Unsurprisingly, one of the easiest ways to build reviews on GMB is to ask for them. As long as someone has made a genuine purchase, they’re eligible to leave a review on your profile, but many don’t. You can encourage people to take the time to leave a review by:
- Adding your review link to your business card
- Including the link purchase receipts (paper or emailed)
- Displaying your current review rating on posters in your premises
- Asking checkout staff to mention reviews at the point of purchase
If you’re currently using a website builder like Wix, you can easily incorporate your Google reviews onto your website. When you display current reviews, you advertise the possibility of leaving a review to your customers.
2. Send a follow-up email
Both online and local businesses have email lists, but you might not already have one. If not, you can build your list by:
- Asking for emails at the point of sale so you can send an eReceipt or send discount offers
- Collecting them via your social profiles
- Using a local marketing app that requires email sign-up
Once you have their email address (with their permission of course), you can send a post-purchase follow-up email to your customers asking them to leave a Google review. It’s also good practice to include a link to your GMB in your email footer so it’s available whenever you engage in email marketing.
3. Turn a bad review around
Unfortunately, negative reviews can happen. If they do, don’t fret. The best way to approach a bad review is to accept it, acknowledge it, and correct it. If someone visits your restaurant and they’ve received poor service from a waiter or waitress, speak to your staff and offer a way to rectify the situation with your customer. This could be in the form of a refund, voucher, or apology.
Plenty of businesses turn 1-star reviews into 5-star reviews by handling a bad situation well. Show your customers you can accept responsibility and correct your mistakes and they will generally reward you for it.
4. Use point-of-sale software
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to build reviews on GMB, other than delivering great service in the first place, is to empower and encourage your employees to ask your customers for reviews. After all, your employees are the ones who are engaging with your customers day-to-day.
Businesses do this by encouraging staff to mention reviews at the tills, but also by switching to using mobile POS (point-of-sale) systems in their stores. With a mobile POS like Vend, your staff can easily track orders and manage transactions. Crucially, you can also program review requests into most POS software so that a customer is asked to leave a star rating once they’ve completed their payment through the POS.
And if you’d rather get written reviews than just a bunch of ratings, you can ask a customer whether they’re happy to receive a review form via email on the post-payment page.
Creating a steady flow of reviews for your business isn’t always easy. Whether you decide to upgrade your POS to a mobile software system, give your customers a little nudge in their email, or drop some hints around your store, you should always make it a priority to build Google reviews.
Author bio: “Georgie Peru is a Content Contributor for UKWebHostReview. She is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for technology through her content writing work, with a mission to help others learn and understand what makes the digital world so successful.”