Lesson 2: How to Increase Your Google Star Rating

If you’re looking for the secret sauce to increasing your Google star rating, let’s start with the obvious ingredient; improve the customer experience.

Naturally, doing good business will lead to customers posting about their positive experiences. Yes, what we are about to cover will help boost your rating independent of the in-store experience, but to realize significant gains review tactics only have so much impact. We're sure this isn't news to you, but instead, take this as a reminder to pair reputation management tactics with a great core in-store experience to achieve the best outcome.

We know that your Google star rating is something you’re likely following closely. To keep it on the up and up, there are some tactical moves you can make to ensure that you're consistently receiving stellar customer reviews.

Your happy customers are out there and the key is prompting more of them to share their experiences online. Before we look at some tips and tricks for increasing your Google star rating, let’s first talk about what the ideal Google star rating is. 

The answer may surprise you.

What’s the Ideal Google Rating?

If you’re setting the bar at 5.0 for your Google star rating, you may want to adjust your mindset. As a consumer, you can likely imagine what you think when you see a business that has a flawless 5.0 Google star rating. “Too good to be true” and “could be fake” might be two thoughts that would cross your mind.

It turns out, somewhere between 4.0 and 5.0 is the sweet spot. The Spiegel Research Center determined that ratings of 4.2 - 4.5 are the most trusted. We tend to recommend a 4.6-4.8 as a target range - a high enough rating for customers to be excited about shopping with you, but not too high that it comes across as suspicious. A good rating is important for search rank as well.

If your business already has a 5.0, don't worry too much. Just keep doing what you're doing and respond to reviews in a way that reinforces their authenticity. 

Now that we know the rating your business should be aiming for, let's move on to how you can get your business into that ideal zone.

Ask Every Customer for a Review

Rating is impacted by volume. You can't get rid of bad reviews, but you can bury them in a sea of good ones. Further, the majority of your customers are happy, they are just not as well represented in reviews.

Here is a straightforward way of thinking about the problem:

Excellent customer service + more review requests + easy review process = a greater likelihood of positive reviews being left for your business.

We know what you’re thinking; easier said than done. But your Google star rating will likely suffer if you’re leaving who writes customer reviews up to chance. Customers who have a bad experience are two to three times more likely to write an angry review than customers who had a great experience are to post a happy review. 

This makes sense right? As consumers, if we have a sufficiently positive experience we don't usually have the urge to write a review about it. Conversely, when unhappy we're much more motivated to speak out.

The reality is if you ask on average 88% of your customers will leave a positive review. We've found that to be the case after analyzing over 500,000 customer reviews in the Widewail database. 

You have to activate the voice of your happy customers. Prompt them and make it easy for them to share their experience online. Doing so will increase your rating over time.

Generally, we estimate a good target review volume to be 20% of your monthly transaction volume, based on the average performance of Widewail customers. 

If you’re doing good business, we know the good ones will likely outnumber the bad ones.

Take the automotive industry for example. In an industry with a long history of negative stigma, when we ask people outside of auto what they think the average rating for a dealership is in the US, generally we hear "something the in 3s". Around 3.5.

But we have the data in Widewail and we know that to be untrue. The average dealership rating when following reputation management best practices is 4.515. The stigma does not the reflect reality of today.

Even for an industry with a historically depressed reputation, the happy customers are out there. They just need to be properly represented on the review sites.

Simplify the Review Process for Customers

In the words of Michael Scott, K.I.S.S., or, Keep It Simple Stupid. This profound acronym certainly has relevance when it comes to crafting your review request efforts. 

Getting your customers to the finish line more often requires you to make it easy for them to share their thoughts. Ideally, the process shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to toss a 5-star rating your way (and maybe write a few positive words).

Seeing as SMS open rates are as high as 98%, and 75% of people say they’d be happy to receive an offer from companies through a text message, SMS is a good bet to delivering a simple, streamlined review request to every customer.

Legally, a post-transaction review request via SMS is generally regarded as acceptable.

For extra protection, adding marketing communications consent to your checkout process ensures you are safe to send SMS messages under the TCPA guidelines.

Through a text, customers can leave a review within seconds, so they won’t feel like the process is a significant interruption.

Add a Personal Touch

According to a study from SmarterHQ, 72% of customers will only engage with personalized messaging. 

Personalized messaging with your review requests will resonate more with your customers. It helps with recall and works to drive action through personal connection versus reading as an automated, robotic message.

Try to include the customer's name and the employee’s name in review requests (when you know with whom they worked). This sort of personalization can easily be automated.  

Keep the language casual to further stress that the review request is coming from an actual person versus a computer.

If you look at the following examples of review request messages, we’re pretty sure you’ll see which one is the better option.

Example A: “Thank you for shopping at Jim’s Furniture Outlet. Please take a moment to leave a review: <link>”

Example B: “Hey Taylor, this is Sam from Jim’s Furniture Outlet. Your feedback is very helpful to our team, helping us determine what we are doing right and where we can improve. Would you please take a moment to leave us a review? <link>"

Respond to Your Reviews

When someone takes the time to share their thoughts on your business, they’ll expect to hear back from you. Don’t let them down.

ReviewTrackers found that 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of giving an online review. Additionally, an HBR study of TripAdvisor data found that when a business begins responding to reviews, their review volume increased by 12%, and overall ratings increase by 0.12 stars. Customers are more likely to leave a review if they know it will be seen by the business.

Data points to review responses are directly tied to more positive reviews. When you respond to your reviews, unhappy customers might feel inclined to update their score after seeing your response, and prospective customers will appreciate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Next Up: How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Next up is learning how to respond to positive reviews. Since your business rocks, you likely have positive online reviews. Move on to the next lesson and learn why it’s just as important to respond to your positive reviews as it is to respond to the negative ones.