The art of navigating Google reviews

FEBRUARY 2020

​As part of digital strategy, Digital Koalas often advocates for businesses to encourage their customers to leave Google reviews. Having many 5-star reviews (in fact, any Google review average over 4.5) is great for supporting sales conversion and can help a business stand out against its competitors. However, online reviews are a double-edged sword. Negative reviews can wound businesses, sometimes fatally.

Thanks to the Internet, potential buyers learn about your business at blistering speed. Whatever you think of online reviews, they engender high trust with consumers. The simple fact is if you deliver a poor product or service, you will motivate buyers to share their negative experience, because leaving reviews is very easy to do. Get enough negative feedback and it can be fatally wounding to a business, because people stop buying.

(Of course, the above assumes that reviews are genuine. Competitors and disgruntled employees can wreak real damage to businesses by maliciously leaving fake reviews that businesses find extremely difficult to have removed. You can report fake reviews to Google and months pass by with no action. The situation got so bad that one Australian dentist has resorted to legal action.)

The Facts About Online Reviews

Check out these online review facts (Thanks to: Inc.):

  1. 91 percent of unhappy customers won’t do business with a company again (Lee Resources).
  2. Dissatisfied customers typically tell nine to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).
  3. A negative customer experience is the reason 86 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company (Customer Experience Impact Report).
  4. Good customer experiences lead 42 percent of consumers to purchase again (Zendesk Customer Service Study).

How online reviews help your business

They improve organic ranking and click-through rate.
By using Schema markup, you can display your reviews (ratings) as part of your business result (snippet) in Google. The more stars, along with the higher the rating, the greater likelihood that a potential buyer will click through to your website.

Improve your Google Maps listing.
In the same way as you can improve organic ranking, you can improve Google maps ranking. Look at the top listings in competitive categories, such as restaurants. All the restaurants that rank well have reviews.

Social proof is real and required.
Social proof is using the broader community to create credibility to your business. If you’re starting an online store, for example, we will encourage you to build a social following of (at least) 1000 people on either Facebook or Instagram to establish your new venture as a legitimate business. Consumers will check to see that they are dealing with real businesses.

Reviews build trust.
Would you get a plastic surgery procedure from a doctor with no reviews – or would you choose the doctor with 100 or more 5-star reviews? The trust element of reviews is a no-brainer. Reviews create immediate trust, in the same way as word-of-mouth, and can make the difference between someone buying from you versus your competitor.

Reviews are free market research.
Whether a review is positive or negative, it will provide insights from real customers that have a different perspective to you when it comes to your business. Reviews quickly highlight areas for improvement that can only help you get better.

Responding to reviews

You should always thank a customer for their feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. It shows that what people say is being monitored and the business appreciates the time people take to review their experiences.

A simple thank you could say: Thanks for your review. The team loves hearing feedback such as yours!

When it comes to responding to negative feedback, as tempting as it is to be angry or lash out, don’t. Remember that the point of responding to reviews (especially negative feedback) is not for the benefit of the person who has left the feedback. The real point of responding to negative feedback is for the benefit of the public that read the negative review.

For example, you could respond to negative feedback like this: We are very sorry to hear of your experience. We’re always looking to improve. We’d like to discuss your issues to see if there is anything we can do to rectify them. Please contact us on (email).

The above approach means that you take further discussions away from public threads plus it demonstrates goodwill and a commitment to working proactively with the customer to resolve their issues. Don’t enter into online tit-for-tat public spats.

Lastly, when it comes to Google (or other) online reviews, it’s fine to ask for reviews to be left. Avoid paying for reviews – incentivised reviews can be seen as equivalent to fake reviews.

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Digital Koalas is an Australian-based team of digital strategists and auditors. We provide digital marketing consultancy, independent audit plus digital media buying and campaign optimisation services. Everything starts with a conversation. To get in touch with us, say hello.

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