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September 27, 2023

The Definitive Way to a Higher Google Rating, Backed by 1.6M Reviews // Local Marketing Insider #068

Discover a proven method for increasing your Google star rating, backed by research on 1.6M reviews.

Hey! Welcome to Local Marketing Insider where 12,000+ local marketing professionals get better at reputation strategy & more with insights delivered 2x a month.

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We write a lot here at Widewail.

290 articles to date on everything rep management. The #1 article?

“How to Increase Your Google Star Rating.”

10,000+ people have read that article. And thousands more have typed the same question into Google.

Today, we have a clear answer to increasing ratings, backed by data science.

A few months ago, Widewail welcomed Mitch to the data science team. His early task was to collect and analyze all the Google reviews from the entire new car dealer market, roughly 17,000 dealers.

The dataset he’s put together is 1,600,000 reviews, just from 2023.

That’s a lot of car buyers.

With 1.6M reviews, can we determine with confidence how businesses can increase star ratings?

Our theory has always been that activating the voice of happy customers will lead to more reviews and better ratings.

Consider your personal experience. If I had to guess, the majority of the time, your products/services meet customers’ expectations, if not wow them.

But when an experience “meets expectations,” consumers don’t leave reviews on their own. They move on.

The job of the marketer is to activate that silent, happy majority of customers. Encourage them to advocate for the business where it helps attract new customers - online reviews.

And think about this, the median Net Promoter Score Americans dole out is an astounding 9.

Compare this to 8 in Europe and 6 in Japan. Culturally, Americans default to the extremes, saying an experience was either great or terrible, rather than attempting to give constructive feedback.

When we look at the rating distribution of Widewail’s automotive review dataset, we find what is commonly referred to in academia as a “J-curve.” The lowest volume of reviews is in the middle, and the highest volume is at the extremes.

Rating Distribution - Invite vs.Industry-1

85% of reviews are 5 stars. Nearly 10% are rated 1-star. Only 7% of reviews are 2, 3, or 4 stars, combined.

The data suggests that, if your customers are satisfied and you get them to leave a review, there’s nearly a 9-in-10 chance it will be 5 stars.

What we found is that, yes, there is a positive correlation between ratings and review activity.

Correlation Rating vs Volume - Invite Vs Industry-2

The range of outcomes for a dealer with 100 lifetime reviews (the total number of reviews on a business’s Google Business Profile), ranges from 3 to 5 stars.

For dealers with 1000 lifetime reviews, that range of outcomes narrows to 4.2 to 5 stars. More reviews → higher ratings.

Sorting through the data from a couple of different angles, the trends continue to support the idea that review volume and average rating are positively correlated.

Looking at the data from a monthly review volume angle, we see that dealerships that receive between 1 and 10 new reviews a month have an average star rating of 4.32.

The average US dealer today falls into this group, averaging 9 new Google reviews per month. If you expand that to over 40 monthly reviews, the average rating jumps to 4.64.

The correlation is clear: more reviews tend to lead to higher ratings. 1.6M reviews say so.

For dealers, the data from this article is a slice of Widewail’s recent report, Reputation Benchmarks & Performance Report: Widewail Invite vs. Automotive Industry Benchmarks.

My favorite stat: dealers using Widewail generate 4.5 times more Google reviews per month than the industry benchmark (42 vs. 9).

If you want guidance on how to get more reviews, I recommend 20 Examples: The Best Ways to Ask For Reviews. It has a bunch of useful insights on language, technique & technology. 

See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail



Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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