How to speed up your business growth with online reviews
The below is an article I wrote for the ifa magazine, reproduced with permission
If knowledge is power, consumers are now more powerful than ever. With the world of information at our fingertips, the journey of buying begins long before someone walks into your office. We have become a generation of ‘online stalkers’ and this extends to stalking the businesses we are considering working with.
Read: your business has been stalked and is being stalked every day, and what people are finding is either improving or reducing the chance that they reach out to you.
Are your online reviews hurting or helping your leads and conversion?
In a growing business, online reviews are an important lever for both leads and conversion. More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating (Brightlocal, 2018) while 78 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Brightlocal, 2018).
The chances are that you are having more ‘first appointments’ than you realise, it’s just that they’re happening online, without you knowing.
Google recently changed the game
There are a number of ways that you can be managing your online reputation including your company website, LinkedIn profile and review sites such as Adviser Ratings who do an excellent job at capturing individual adviser reviews from verified clients.
But when it comes to your business, recent changes to Google’s algorithm have taken Google Reviews from the category of ‘nice-to-do’ to ‘must-do’. To illustrate this, do a quick Google search for financial adviser or financial planner, as well as the suburb where your office is located.
And if you don’t even have a Google business listing, what chance do you think you have of getting a call or email?
It has never been more important to project the right image to your prospective clients and with Google’s algorithm rewarding businesses with a consistent stream of positive online reviews, this needs to become part of your business as usual if you want to stay relevant in the eyes of savvy modern consumers.
I don’t believe in ‘silver bullets’ when it comes to growing a business, but Google Reviews are the next best thing. I work with Professional Services businesses who have up to tripled their website traffic by prioritising Google Reviews, many of whom now thank Google Reviews for being their main source of leads.
With the majority of your competitors not prioritising Google Reviews (yet), you currently have a first-mover advantage. The time to stake your claim in the Google Maps rankings is right now.
Here are my best tips for getting more positive reviews on an ongoing basis and cementing your place at the top of Google’s business listings.
How to build a five-star Google presence
Find the right moment
Whether it be after you’ve presented an SOA, at the end of implementing a piece of advice or at the end of your first review meeting, aligning your requests for Google reviews with peak moments of your client experience will increase the chance of getting a response, not to mention a positive one. As much as possible, I also encourage you to build a process and system around how it is asked for, so it becomes a discipline in your business and doesn’t rely on someone remembering to do it.
Find the right medium
Some businesses are successful with asking for Google reviews over SMS, some find it a great call to action at the end of completing a survey, others find it best to ask in person and follow up on email. All of these may work, it just depends on your clients. Test and measure different ways to ask for Google reviews until you find a method that’s successful for you.
Think beyond your clients
There’s a strong chance that there are many people who can vouch for your awesomeness, not just your current clients. Think referral partners, product providers, event attendees, licensee staff and ex-clients. There are many people who have an insight into the great work your firm is doing and can showcase this to the world, with authority. Get in the habit of asking for a review every time you do a great job or hear the word ‘thanks’ from someone in your network. The chances are that they will be happy to support you.
Reply to every review
Google Reviews allows you to reply to each review that is left. Not only is this a nice acknowledgement of the effort someone has gone to for your business, but it also positively impacts how Google ranks your business in their search listings. Even if the review is negative, you score major points for being transparent enough to own your feedback and address it publicly.
The world has changed and people looking to work with a business just like yours are using Google to save time and make quicker decisions. If your goal is business growth, being a ‘best-kept secret’ will do you no favours.
Michael Back, founder and business coach, Human to Human