First impressions are everything. As a business developer, you want to leave a strong first impression with prospects, regardless of how they first find you. While you may be able to control some points of entry – paid advertising, networking events, and hosted webinars, for example – prospective clients may also come from word-of-mouth referrals or even find you first through a Google search.
If a prospect found you on Google, what would they see? Do your business listings have several robust, 5-star reviews? Do you have one or two from some long-time, happy clients? Or are there some one-star reviews you haven’t yet responded to?
The truth is, Google My Business, and your subsequent company listings, can be a great business development resource if you put in the time. Because it’s something that will almost definitely show up when someone is Googling the firm name, taking a passive approach to reviews may mean one of two things:
- A prospect asks you a pointed question about some negative reviews, and you look more reactive than proactive
- You lose out on business opportunities that you didn’t even realize were in the consideration stage.
Actively using Google My Business as a business development tool to generate and respond to reviews, can help generate more revenue for your firm.
Why it’s Important to Have Google Reviews and Not Just Testimonials
It’s not unusual for accounting firm websites to have client reviews and testimonials. You may even have some kind of aggregate score, such as a net promoter score (NPS), a rating out of 5 that you gathered from client surveys, or a list of awards that you’ve won. While these are great features to have on your website, they only help you if your prospects make it there. You may be missing out on more clients than you realize by not having enough Google My Business reviews, or worse, negative reviews.
There’s a hidden ratio that claims that it takes 40 positive experiences to counteract one single negative review. This is because approximately one in 10 people who have a positive experience actually leave a review, and it takes about four 5-star reviews to counteract each 1-star review – pretty simple but powerful math. A great way to get more out of those positive experiences is to ask those clients for reviews, thereby speeding up the process.
A Zendesk study found that 88% of customers read a review online that swayed them in some way into making a buying decision. If you don’t have any reviews (or very few) there isn’t much there to help a prospect make a decision in the first place.
Generating More Google My Business Reviews
So how can you generate more reviews for Google My Business listings?
Approximately one in 10 people who have a positive experience will actually leave a review, and in fact, your experience may prove that ratio to be lower, especially if you’re not actively trying to get clients to review.
Think about your own habits. Do you post a review every time you eat a really good sandwich or your experience at the bank went exactly as expected? Probably not. We expect things to work a certain way, and if they meet our expectations, it might not trigger us to leave a review.
Ask Your Clients for Reviews
The best way to add more reviews to your Google My Business page is by asking clients to leave a review. If you have multiple locations, these requests should be done per office listing when possible. That way, wherever your prospects are searching, they have a chance at seeing some reviews from clients in their area. Google has a list of steps you can follow to get your specific link to share with clients as well as best practices for managing reviews.
Asking for a review may seem like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of firms that don’t take this step. It’s another item on someone’s to-do list after closing an engagement, ending a year, or clearing a particular hurdle, so it makes sense why it doesn’t always get done. However, increasing your rating by just one star could increase revenue between 5%-9%.
Different Ways to Ask for Reviews
Now we’re hopefully in agreement that generating reviews proactively is in your best interest. There are many ways to tackle this, but here are a few ideas:
- Send out reminders to clients to leave reviews in email newsletters. To sweeten the pot, you may want to feature a business that left a good review in the same email to entice other clients to do the same.
- Post reminders to review on your social media channels. This is especially impactful if you have an engaged audience already.
- Provide a link that leads directly to reviewing your business on your website.
- Create an automation through a marketing tool like HubSpot to trigger a review request after a certain action is taken (project is moved to closed, for example).
- Use a service such as GradeUs to automatically send out requests for Google reviews via email and text message after closing business.
- Encourage team members to reach out to clients one-on-one.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of One-On-One Communication
While automated tools can help generate additional reviews, one of the best ways to ensure a client will fill out a Google review is by sending them a message that feels personal. So, if you can’t or don’t set up a sophisticated automation, consider including both in your review-building strategy. One thing you can do is remind partners and managers to share an engagement survey link that includes a prompt to review on Google to clients after closing an engagement. Bring this up as often as possible, in business development and firm-wide monthly meetings, for example.
However, even with reminders, it can be hard to motivate people to ask for reviews. If this is the route you’re going, you may also want to incentivize the process. Host a contest at the firm – whoever can generate the most reviews from clients in three months wins a substantial gift card or some other tempting prize. It can make for some friendly competition and help you build your brand reputation.
Responding to Reviews
Now that you received some reviews from clients, how do you go about responding to them? Do you respond at all?
It’s important to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Responding only to the negative reviews means you are not showing gratitude for your raving fans. Responding only to the positive reviews makes it look like you have something to hide.
To make the process faster, you can write a few sample responses based on star ratings and some basic categories so that when a review comes in, you can use it as a jumping off point to respond. It’s important not to parrot back the same lines in every review because this can look robotic and like you’re not paying attention, but using some basic phrases as a guide and iterating on them can save time and give you and any other team members a framework for responding.
Responding to each review can show your prospects that, if they become clients, they will be working with a business that’s responsive. This can go a long way in building trust early.
About Sammi Dittloff
Sammi Dittloff is a Marketing Consultant, writer, and founder of Needs More Fiber, an agency dedicated to adding substance to a brand's content. She previously worked as the Marketing Director for Chortek LLP for 3 years. As a freelance content marketer, consultant, and strategist, Sammi specializes in content strategy, brand manuals, SEO, and analytics. She has 15 years of experience in marketing, writing, promotions, advertising, and analytics. Sammi was a Media Writing TA while pursuing her MA in Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and has since returned to school for an MS in Nutrition. Her latest projects can be found at needsmorefiber.com and hisammi.com.