Local businesses need customer reviews. Pretty much everyone gets that now. The only real question is where to direct customers to submit their reviews.
For some people, the question of where to get customer reviews begins and ends with Google. However, local businesses are costing themselves valuable customer reviews by directing all of their customers to reviews sites, such as Google+ Local, that present registration obstacles. Here is why:
Getting reviews on Google has always been tough because reviewers were required to have a Google account, which only a fraction of the internet-using world has. Now, after Google’s most recent changes, reviewers are faced with a bigger hurdle: They must now create a Google+ account.
And, if forcing prospective reviewers to sign up for a new social network weren’t enough, take a look at the warning prompt Google displays:
I cannot imagine a more ominous warning to lay before a prospective reviewer. Google even bolds your name and warns it will be visible to “Everyone on the web.” There’s no two ways about it: This kind of hurdle is going to cost a lot of reviews.
Action Steps for Getting Google+ Local Reviews
Google reviews are especially valuable in terms of differentiation in Google+ Local. But, businesses who direct all of their customers to review them only on Google are costing themselves an enormous marketing asset. So one possible solution is to direct only Google users to review you on Google+ Local, which is something Customer Lobby does automatically.
How do you know if someone is a Google user? Well, for starters, you can send invitations to customers with Gmail email addresses. Most of them will not have a Google+ account, that is true, but the setup process will be much faster for them — only a few clicks. The alternative is sending all of your customers to a site where they will have to register for a new social network from scratch then receive a warning that their information, including pictures, will be visible to anyone who reads the review.
You can invite everyone else to leave the review someplace that presents fewer hurdles, but also someplace where the reviews will be read, which is the whole point.