Customer reviews have always been a vital resource on the way to build brand loyalty, even before review sites existed.
Selling washing machines in 1970? The conversations between neighbors over backyard fences were crucial.
Marketing cars in 1990? Feedback among drivers had as much influence as any slick advertising campaign.
Today customer feedback is more prevalent and important than ever before. Nowhere is this more apparent than when your target customer searches for product and brand information online, and lands immediately on Google Seller Ratings (GSRs).
Why you should care about Google ratings
The popularity of companies in every sector, from eCommerce to retail, education to travel, healthcare to finance, is encapsulated in the GSR stars that appear under their Google AdWords displays.
If all goes well, Google Seller Ratings have the potential to:
- Increase click-through rates (CTRs) by an average of 17 percent
- Decrease cost per click (CPC) rates
- Add credibility to your ads with the colourful star rating
In brief, here’s how Google Seller Ratings work
You give your customers a Google-approved platform for sharing reviews of your company.
Once you get 150* reviews from 150 different customers within a 12-month period, you’re eligible for GSRs – as long as your reviews have a rating of 3.5 stars or higher.
It takes a few weeks for Google to catch up after your customers help you reach that initial 150-review threshold.
Once it does, you’ll start to see that customer feedback in your seller reviews on your Google text ads.
How to get reviews
Whether there was a positive or negative experience, customers want to let others know what about it. Sharing opinions is a part of human nature.
But don't let that scare you. You're actually sitting on a golden opportunity to get reviews that can improve your business, increase your sales, and build brand loyalty.
It is not difficult to get reviews from customers. Here’s how:
Step one: Treat your customers well
Give them an excellent product; give them your ear when they’re unhappy and fix their problems. Keep in touch with customers.
Step two: Simplify the reviews process
Make the reviews process as easy for them as yelling over the fence to a friend next door. That means:
- Automate the business reviews process: Link your eCommerce platform to your review solution to automatically send review requests to your customers every time they make a purchase. You can then focus on putting that feedback to work - improving customer satisfaction levels and retention rates.
- Kickstart your efforts: Invite customers to write reviews with a big push from the start.
- Optimize your review invitation emails: More than 70 percent of the emails that land in your prospects’ inboxes are likely spam. Don’t write a review invitation that will get lumped into that category.
Write a clear subject line, keep the message personal, include a prominent call to action and craft concise, focused copy.
Read how Ohio-based lender Check ‘n Go got more than 500 customer reviews, leading to a 12.1 percent lift in landing page conversions.
Life beyond 150: why high-volume customer reviews matter
Google sets 150 reviews as the minimum for applying GSR to your brand’s AdWords campaigns.
Once you hit 150 reviews, celebrate – and then move forward. There are so many benefits to moving beyond that number.
Authority online comes from volume
Let’s consider your customers. They rely on Google ratings to help them make smart purchasing decisions.
You need a GSR of 3.5 stars just to get on the board, and the highest you can go is 5 stars. That means there are subtle shades between the worst-ranked brands and the best.
Do your customers necessarily choose to do business with you because you have 4.5 stars rather than 4? Do they also consider how many reviews are reflected in your GSR versus your competitors’?
If you have 320 reviews and your competitor has 32, which overall GSR is more impressive to your customer? Clickthroughs are likely to be increased by the wisdom of a larger crowd, even if that larger crowd includes a few negative reviews.
Prospects want to know you care today
If you collected 32 positve reviews in January, but now it’s August, you can bet that your prospects will notice. First, they’ll decide to dig deeper into your star ratings to see what your customers had to say about your brand.
Second, they’ll look at the dates of those reviews – and they’ll wonder:
“Why hasn’t anyone reviewed this brand in almost a year? Are all the good things this company was doing eight months ago still relevant? Am I going to have a different experience than these reviewers had? I wonder whether any of these other companies over here have more recent reviews…”
With business reviews gaining more power than ever before, keeping feedback fresh is key.
The voice of your customer helps you compete
The Web has long made it easier for smaller companies to do bigger business than they could have in the days when brick-and-mortar overhead was unavoidable.
GSRs fueled by a consistently high volume of reviews gives niche businesses even more of a competitive advantage with a low-cost marketing tactic that delivers big ROI, no matter the size of your business or market share.
Read about how Rev.com use reviews to boost their GSR and CTR
What to do after you land your stellar business reviews
Beyond the on Google rating benefits, sustained customer review strategies increase website conversion rate and encourage customer brand loyalty.
Trustpilot statistics show that
77 percent of customers check online reviews
before making an online purchase. We've seen brands boost their revenue by up to 40 percent through our customer review programs.
And beyond enhanced online reputations, a large volume of customer reviews provide a larger volume of data that can be analyzed to find ways to improve overall business operations, such as product development, sales and so on.
And all that leads to customer churn reduction, an increase in on site conversions, and the possibility to maximize your website ranking.
Read how self-storage marketplace Sparefoot uses their reviews in their business strategy, including marketing, customer service and product development.
The final word...
You can’t underestimate the marketing value of getting found on the world’s largest search engine.
A boost in GSR has an immediate impact on a business, and that impact is magnified when brands sustain their feedback programs long after they hit the 150-review starting line set by Google.
*Updated to represent Google's latest changes