Understanding how to capitalize on customer reviews like those found on Yelp and Google My Business can make or break a small business.

This is not an exaggeration. According to the marketing experts at Invesp, customers are likely to spend 31 percent more in a business with excellent customer reviews. Think about it. When you see a Google My Business (Google Plus) or Yelp Business Page that gets lots of positive reviews, how does it make you feel? Personally, it’s often the final push I need when deciding to try a new café, restaurant or bar. As it turns out, these reviews are also a vital component in your search rankings on Google, you know, the world’s most popular search engine!

So, how do you get customers to leave positive Yelp and Google My Business reviews? Since sitting back and waiting for reviews to appear just isn’t an option, we have 9 killer tips to help you get started.

Before we dive in, here’s the main rule of the road: Don’t push too hard too fast. Whether you’re trying to improve Yelp reviews or get more recommendations on Google My Business, ramping up too fast can lead to some pretty severe consequences on these popular review sites. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore a few ideas for increasing Yelp and Google My Business reviews.

Yelp Reviews Made Easy

Yelpers wrote more than 102 million reviews in Q2 of 2016 alone. Do we have your attention? Good. Here are a few tips to make sure you get your share of the pie.

1.Reach Out to Family, Friends
If you’ve done work for family or friends, there’s nothing wrong with asking them to leave a Yelp review. Besides, they have no problem stopping by for that complimentary coffee and donut, so it’s only fair. Word to the wise, if the person you ask has a ghost accountt with no profile information, doesn’t have a long history on Yelp, or gives off any impression that it is a spam account, their review may be flagged as internet junk. Yelp looks at a set of specific criteria when filtering reviews, so make sure you understand how to get legitimate Yelp reviews before asking pals to sing your praises.

merchant taking customer order on ShopKeep POS

2. Customize Your Email Receipts
Because you’re a savvy 21st-century business owner, chances are you have a point of sale system that allows you to send customized store receipts via email. This is a tremendous opportunity to add a link to your Google My Business and Yelp page with a short blurb that says something like, “Thank you for your shopping at Chip’s Cookie Factory. Please review us on Google My Business and Yelp!”

SEE ALSO: How to Integrate Email Marketing Software With Your POS

3. Add a Yelp Badge on Your Website
If you’re among the 54 percent of small businesses that has a website, it would be silly not to take advantage of this valuable online real estate. Putting a Yelp review button on your website is like showing off a badge of honor.

Once you have three or more recommended Yelp reviews, the badge allows you to showcase Yelp recommendations on your website, which encourages other customers to share their feedback. Place a Yelp badge on your website’s most trafficked pages. If you’re not sure what these are, the homepage is always a safe option.

4. Good Ol’ Fashioned Signage
Research shows that if a small business is on Yelp, consumers are more likely to choose them over a big brand. If the Yelp brand can have this kind of effect on your business online, imagine what it can do for the foot traffic that frequents your storefront on a regular basis. Bottom line, Yelp reviews get more customers comfortable with choosing your business. Put Yelp-branded stickers on your storefront windows or company cars to boost customer confidence. If you’d rather explore more customized options, make your own using Yelp branded assets. Print them out, frame them, and position them in high-trafficked areas within your brick and mortar location like the cash wrap or the dressing room area.

5. Show a Little Customer Appreciation
A good salesperson knows that if you give someone something for free, you’ve immediately got their attention. This doesn’t only apply to getting Yelp or Google My Business reviews. It’s one of the oldest business tactics in the big black book. The rule of reciprocity states, that if you give someone something, they’ll feel compelled to repay you back.

customer appreciation for Yelp reviews

As mentioned earlier, if done incorrectly, incentivizing reviews is a surefire way to land in hot water with most review sites, especially Yelp. We’re not suggesting that you offer gifts in exchange for a review. Instead, we’re suggesting that you show your customers a little appreciation for their patronage whether they provide you with a positive business review on Yelp or not. The gift is a gesture of gratitude on your behalf, not a requirement for providing the Yelp review. This, of course, doesn’t guarantee you a positive review, but it does make it more likely. It’s also an excellent way to encourage repeat business and improve your brand perception.

Getting Reviews on Google

Google’s search engine is responsible for at least two trillion searches worldwide. This means that when a potential customer searches for your business, they’re likely doing it on Google. And when this happens, your average Google My Business page ratings are displayed on the right-hand side of Google’s search results.

Since quality Google reviews not only shapes brand perception,it impacts your chances of outranking the competition in search results, here are a few easy ways to encourage more reviews for your local business page.

6. Ask the Right Customers
One of the biggest challenges for getting Google Reviews is that it requires the user reviewing your business to have a Google email account. A significant improvement from the days when they needed a Google Plus account, but still, it presents a challenge.

asking the right customer for a Yelp or Google review

Since having a Goggle account is a requirement for customers who wish to share their reviews, the best way to make sure you identify happy customers with Gmail accounts is to filter your customer email list, limiting it to users that have an email address ending in @gmail.com. Once you do this, some of the same basic rules mentioned earlier apply. Avoid soliciting too many reviews at once and never incentivize customers for leaving their feedback.

7. Make It Easy to Leave a Review
The easiest way for customers to leave Google reviews is via Google Maps on their mobile device. All customers have to do is go into the Google Maps app, search for your business, select your business in the results, scroll down, assign you a star rating, and write the review. Include these instructions in your marketing collateral when reaching out to customers to improve your chances, or walk them through it in store if you’re experiencing some downtime. It takes less than a minute and can have a profound impact on your business for years to come.

8. Customize Your Google Review Link
Since we’re on the topic of keeping things simple, let’s explore customized short URLs. In general, customized shortened links are an excellent way to help build visibility for your brand. They make long URLs short, easy to remember, and easy to share. You can even use them to reinforce brand recognition by creating personalized branded short links.

The best way to improve your odds of being reviewed on Google My Business is to make sure you provide customers with a link that not only takes them directly to the review form on your Google My Business page but is also easy to remember and share with other happy customers.

get Yelp reviews with SMS marketing

9. Say Yes to SMS
Mobile text campaigns are one of the best ways to boost sales in your local retail business, and they can help you generate more Google reviews. If you aren’t taking advantage of this underutilized promotional tactic, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Not only do 44 percent of consumers prefer to receive marketing messages over text, according to Seattle-based SMS marketing company Tatango, SMS messages also have a 99 percent open rate. Since the easiest way to leave Google reviews is on a mobile device, it only makes sense to ask your customers for reviews via SMS. With that said, tip number five still applies. Only message customers that have self-identified as Google users.

Bonus Tip:
Whether you’re ramping up efforts on Yelp or Google My Business, you’ll inevitably garner a few bad reviews. One or two-star reviews should be addressed as soon as they appear, which means you need to monitor your reviews frequently. Do not delete bad reviews; users spot this kind of behavior quickly and frown upon dishonest business owners. Instead, address each negative review and work to make things right.

Occasionally you’ll come across a few customers that just can’t be satisfied – don’t sweat it. The fact of the matter is that delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty, but working to get their problems resolved does. Learn how to accept bad Yelp and Google My Business reviews as a part of the process. If you leverage them as an opportunity to learn, grow and reinforce your business’ integrity, they can work for you instead of against you.


About the Author

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Manager of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to their business or their POS system.