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Do you own or manage a local business?

Are you leveraging the full power of online reviews?

To discover how to leverage online review services, I interview Martin Shervington.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode I interview Martin Shervington, one of the world’s leading experts on Google+ and Google for Business. As a trainer, speaker and consultant, he helps marketers understand how to best utilize Google’s services.

Martin will explore online reviews for local businesses.

You’ll discover how to get reviews for your business, as well as how to respond to negative reviews.

podcast 156 martin shervington online reviews

Listen as Martin Shervington shares what marketers need to know about online reviews for local businesses.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Online Reviews for Local Businesses

Google for business

In June 2014 Google launched Google My Business, which simplifies how people set up pages. Part of this is for local businesses, so they can appear on a map, get reviews and so on.

Google My Business

Google My Business simplifies how to set up pages for your business.

Martin has been doing research on this and says businesses are not quite connecting the dots on Google+ marketing and using this powerful tool. He says as of last year, only 37% of businesses had claimed their Google listing, 63% have not.

Listen to the show to discover more about Google My Business.

The impact of reviews

Martin has spoken to hundreds of businesses (owners and staff) about reviews. People use reviews as a socialized way to judge the businesses around them, which get more customers as a result of reviews.

For example, Martin shares, Tasty Thai in San Mateo can attribute thousands of dollars of revenue to one single positive Yelp review from a guy who had been to Thailand and loves their Thai food.

At the moment Yelp has a lot of people’s attention, and Martin hopes Google reviews will get to that level as well.

get reviews on google faq answer

Google provides an answer to FAQs for getting reviews on Google.

Reviews can bring tourists, new people and new business. The downside is there’s the potential for negative reviews.

“[Businesses have to have] good service, good product and sometimes be willing to say when you haven’t got it 100% right,” Martin says.

Listen to the show to hear about an amazing experience I had while traveling, based on a Yelp review.

Google listings

Martin explains how Google sometimes auto-generates a business listing, and a lot of people’s businesses are listed without them knowing about it.

To determine if your business has an auto-generated listing, Google your location to see if anything comes up. If it doesn’t, go to Google.com/business to set one up. If it is already set up, click where it says “claim this listing,” so you can control uploading photos, reply to posted reviews and more. When you set up a page on Google they verify it by phone or by mail.

There are two different types of local pages, Martin continues, a storefront and a service area. If you run your business from home, say you are a service area to hide your address.

Google+ business page product features

Once you have control of your business page, you can change your images, reply to reviews and more.

Once you’ve claimed your property or set up your page from scratch, there are several things you can do: change the profile image (which is the icon people see when you make comments or reply to reviews), change your cover photo, manage your photos, add what you do to the description area, post on that Google page, reply to reviews, share reviews and more.

You can even embed the best reviews on your website. This is how you take the social proof you get from reviews and spread it onto your website.

The Google My Business dashboard provides a higher-level frame-of-reference around the things that are connected to your business, such as analytics, your YouTube channel, the page insights and the Google+ page itself. The page analytics are not as complete as a full set of Google analytics, Martin adds.

Listen to the show to discover how Martin put a village on the map last year.

How to get customer reviews for your local business

There are lots of aspects to getting customer reviews. First, Martin addresses what you are not allowed to do. You are not allowed to offer incentives. For example, you can’t give out a coupon in exchange for a review on Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor.

On TripAdvisor and Google, the view currently is that you’re allowed to ask for reviews. If someone says, “Wow, that was an awesome meal,” you can say, “Hey, it would be lovely if you were to say that on Google or TripAdvisor.” Yelp discourages asking for reviews.

One thing Martin says has been working well is having a card with a QR code or url to give customers to lead them to where they can leave a review. The idea is to make it easy for them to review your business, especially since many people use their smartphone to post on the spot.

google review of brava's on a mobile phone

Most people deliver reviews from their mobile device. Image: Placeit.

Although it’s too early in Martin’s testing to give an authentic correlation between good reviews and more business, he says businesses love the attention they get from social proof. They believe reviews have more of an impact on getting customers than Facebook likes and Twitter and Google+ followers.

good reviews

Good reviews lead to more business.

Another thing Martin is split testing is the impact training the person who is giving the service has on getting a review from a customer.

Martin, who has a background and post grad degree in organizational psychology, decided to leave some people without training and to only give them cards and basic information. The ones he didn’t train found it very hard to ask for reviews, whereas the ones who knew the words to use, the approach to take and the trigger (as soon as a person says this, that’s your opportunity to start the conversation on reviews) were much more successful.

It’s that personal connection that the reviewer has with the staff member that makes the difference. If someone on staff is nervous about asking for reviews, suggest they start with the people who seem the friendliest and who are your regular customers.

Listen to the show to learn why it’s better to ask for a review than to simply put out cards with a review request.

How to respond to a bad review

There are at least two types of negative reviews. One is from a competitor who gives a one-star review in order to drag you or your business down. The other type of review is from a customer who didn’t have a good experience with your business.

In both situations the best practice is to reply with the intent of resolving the issue.

thumbs up thumbs down shutterstock 200581664

Deal with positive and negative reviews with the same attention to detail. Image: Shutterstock.

Reviews on Google and Yelp, for instance, are editable. Doing your best to clear up any issues could potentially lead the person to changing the review, although it’s not good practice to ask for that. Plus, you should not offer an incentive in exchange for changing a review. The best course of action is to build a relationship with the disgruntled customer. Have a conversation with the person the same way you would if they were still at your business location.

It’s also important to respond to the positive reviews and say thank you. In Google, you can add them to circles, engage in conversation, etc.

When you respond to a negative review, try to understand the perspective of the person who wrote it. For example, if they were in a hurry and your food took a long time, say “I fully understand, Sometimes the kitchen takes a little longer. We’d love to have you back. Please come in and let’s see what we can do in order to give you a good experience. You are valuable to us.” Just be friendly.

The worst thing to do is be defensive when responding to a negative review, because that doesn’t help anybody.

The main thing to do, Martin suggests, is to build what he calls a war chest of positive reviews. That way negative ones do not impact the overall rankings (or stars) for your establishment. For example, if you don’t want your rating of a 5 falling below a 4, build up positive reviews to counter those inevitable less-than-positive reviews.

Listen to the show to discover why it’s important to show up in results, even without a physical location.

Discovery of the Week

This awesome tip is for when it’s dark and you want to use your smart device. If you find yourself looking at screens, particularly your smartphone, late at night, you’ll notice the light that comes off of it is a blue light. It’s scientifically proven that blue light stimulates your brain the same way sunlight does, which makes you think it’s daytime and keeps you awake.

The Opera Mini Browser for android and iOS, has something called “night mode,” which changes the way the light comes off of your screen.

Opera Mini Browser

Opera Mini Browser adjusts the light to make it easier to read your screen at night.

The Opera Mini Browser night mode has a subtle overlay to the browser, which filters out the blue light and gives you a subtle, dark sepia tone instead.

Download the free app on your mobile device. Go to settings and hit enable, and night mode is on all the time.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how the Opera Mini Browser works for you.

Other Show Mentions

social media success summitToday’s show is sponsored by Social Media Success Summit 2015.

Want to improve your social media marketing? Need to prove your efforts are working? Join 4,000 fellow marketers at the online mega conference, designed to inspire and empower you.

Discover the best and newest ways to market your business on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Find new ways to improve your content and measure your results all from the comfort of your home or office. You’ll be led by dozens of top social media pros, including Mari Smith, Mark Schaefer, Amy Porterfield, Christopher Penn and Michael Stelzner. Register now for Social Media Success Summit. Discount tickets are limited.

Social Media Success Summit is an online conference. It’s 36 different sessions spread across 4 weeks. There are three sessions per day, three times per week, over four weeks. And it’s on every conceivable social media platform you can imagine. Check it out. Visit SMSS15.com for significant early bird discounts.

Listen to the show!
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Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on online reviews? Please leave your comments below.

Thumbs photo from Shutterstock.
Brava’s review image created with Placeit.
social media marketing podcast 156 martin shervington

Martin Shervington and Michael Stelzner discuss what marketers need to know about online reviews for local businesses.

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  • Hi Micheal,

    I like the post, one of that is the respond to negative reviews. This most obvious way to do this is to have formal feedback and this encourages readers to communicate with your company / on your blog / feels them easy to move on with you

  • Thanks for your feedback Siva

  • Today’s consumers definitely do their homework considering that about 85% of consumers have been found to rely on online reviews in order to connect them with local businesses. No one just walks into a business blind anymore. We completely agree that small businesses should absolutely be utilizing online directories like Google and Yelp considering how easy it is to set up a profile and how much extra visibility this grants them. This post is extremely insightful and definitely helps push small businesses in the right direction of capitalizing on online directories and reviews. Awesome post!

  • Great post!

    I too appreciated the information about responding to a negative review. You can’t please everyone all of the time because certain circumstances may be beyond your control. However, you can make sure you address a negative review in a timely manner. For example, a month or two ago a community member (local) gave the animal shelter I volunteer with a low-star review on Google. As the communications co-chair, I responded immediately and invited the person to stop at the shelter and speak with the president. I don’t think the he did. But I made sure every effort was taken to address the situation.

    You can’t be afraid to address negative reviews. Learn from them and move forward. Do better next time. Improve upon process and systems. Provide employees with better training too.

  • MartinSherv

    Good to hear that feedback, esp. on how Google is working for you sir!

  • MartinSherv

    Awesome! 😀

  • MartinSherv

    Thanks Amandah! And I too believe training employees to be at the heart of it all.

  • MartinSherv

    Absolutely, and we’ve been building this into our approach for people who want it too. Thanks for the input!

  • drburt

    Hi Martin
    Why did you use San Mateo as an example in your podcast. It is funny my practice is 15 minutes away from San Mateo. Thanks for your response

  • Thanks for sharing your feedback and story Amandah

  • Thanks for this post especially on the section on reviews. I have always asked customers to review the products on the website, but I think sharing their experience on Google will be much better. Though I had claimed by business on Google, I did not know there were some changes. I just made those changes now. Thanks for your post

  • MartinSherv

    I was living in that area for 6 months 😀
    We could have had a coffee at Philz if I’d known…

  • Jack Bobeck

    Martin – Why did you not discuss the reviews you receive on Facebook? We have by far and away 5x as many on Facebook as Google and double what we have on Yelp. Also, next time, mention that Yelp hides some of your reviews, so while you may only have 21 reviews showing, if you “filter” some of the data, you will see you have a lot more that may not fit “their criteria” for display. I have been able to have some removed from Yelp, when competitors blatantly attack you, you can petition to Yelp to remove them as they violate the spirit of fair and unbiased data.

  • Hey Jack – Thanks for the tips on Yelp. We did not focus on Facebook as it’s not what Martin is focusing on. But good feedback on that.

  • Glad you found it helpful

  • Jack Bobeck

    Michael – Thanks, I read the post as Online Reviews for Local Businesses, did I miss the Facebook Reviews option? Do you have a show on this important part of Facebook marketing?

  • Great info and I look forward to Martin’s report back in 2 months about review impact on search. I know you tossed out “psychiatrist” as general example but there are a different set of rules in responding to reviews as a medical professional. With HIPAA and privacy rules a medical practice may not, in some cases, even acknowledge the review. I’ve done a whole webinar on reputation management for healthcare, so realize there is a whole lot more to this topic. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Jack we have never covered that, thanks for the suggestion

  • Alan ‘Brand’ Williamson

    TripAdvisor is an important review site for my restaurant client. Their staff have a daily ritual asking their customers who have left positive remarks via the restaurant Comment Cards to leave a positive review on TripAdvisor using their Review Express method. This builds the relationship between customer and restaurant via the staff and has generated repeat biz as well as word-of-mouth recommendations. Note: The Comment Card poses the Ultimate Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend us to a friend, relative or colleague based only on your experience today? With a follow up Q: What is the primary reason(s) that prompted you to give us the score you just gave us?

  • And I’m here thinking. What about facebook? you can make your page open for reviews.

  • The positive reviews our customers get have completely changed their companies. They have stabilized and grown substantially. We have found that spreading out reviews to other citation sites that are important to their niche as well as adding them to Google makes for a stronger Google local ranking. The amazing thing is that their listings are solidly in the “A” position when other companies have more reviews and higher ratings.

    Now with only a 3-pack instead of the 7-pack intelligent review management is even more important.

  • MartinSherv

    Agreed. And you make a great point about reaching out to other review sites too. Thank you.

  • MartinSherv

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, I would add in Facebook for sure (and we do with clients) – my focus on the research was much more Yelp and Google at the time, hence not mentioning it.

  • MartinSherv

    That is a perfect approach, and I an see it working really well.

  • MartinSherv

    Thanks Janet. And totally, fair point!
    I’d love to chat about the healthcare sector too. Would you drop me an email at martin@plusyourbusiness.com? 😀

  • MartinSherv

    Hey Jack, as the tests we were running split between Yelp and Google, we didn’t discuss Facebook but they are absolutely important to a lot of businesses and we should have mentioned them. As Mike says, good feedback! Thanks.

  • MartinSherv

    Thanks Justin. It is a solid system and Jeff is a great guy!

  • Alan ‘Brand’ Williamson

    Thanks Martin. My restaurant client is now planning to use the ‘Power of Two’ to accelerate the momentum by asking staff to form teams of two and linking results with rewards – primarily non-financial rewards such as cinema passes, gym membership etc. (Funded through contra-deals). Will keep you posted re outcomes. Alan

  • MartinSherv

    Awesome. Please do: martin@plusyourbusiness.com

  • Riaz Anna

    The best post I have ever read! With Martin you never lag behind! Listen to him one Hour is worth than reading books on social media for hours!

  • Riaz Anna

    I strongly recommend other social media Managers to read it not only on the line, but between & beyond the line as well! Act upon it will make your business fantastic! Thanks Martin!