Introduction to automating Google Reviews
If you’re here, then you know that Google Reviews are important for your online reputation / social proofing campaign. You’ve also probably already realized that requesting reviews is time-consuming and at worse can detract away from running your business. So instead of labouriously chasing reviews, what can you do? The answer is automation – let’s get started.
There are 3 key options – (click on the links to jump to the section)
- Software designed for review automation tools for Google
- Googles own solution – Collect reviews via Google Customer Reviews
- Automating review requests via Email
What is an automated google review request system?
An automated Google review request system is a software tool that uses automation to send out requests for customers to leave a review on your Google Business listing. These requests can be sent out via email or text message and can include a direct link to the business’s Google review page. The end result can help to improve your online reputation, search ranking, and visibility on Google.
Why do you need to automate your Google review collection?
In short – it’s about saving time and simplifying business processes
As a business owner there are dozens of jobs, tasks, and problems; sending out requests to customers can easily fall into the “yeah I should be doing that” category. If you could automate the process – it would save you time while helping to grow your online marketing efforts, increasing your online reputation and social proofing.
Automated review collection also allows business owners to track and analyze customer feedback over time, which can help them identify patterns and make data-driven decisions about how to improve their products or services. eg If you run a promotion, or change your business strategy you can see historically how that affected your customer’s perception of your business.
What are the negatives to automate your Google review collection?
There are several potential negatives to automating the collection of Google reviews:
- An increase in reviews may result in additional work. If a customer vents online you will need to formulate a response – which I can assure you will take time to ensure it is worded well.
- Violation of Google’s policies: Google has strict guidelines for collecting reviews and may penalize businesses that use automated methods to collect them. This can include removing the reviews or even suspending the business’s listing. For example, if your reviewer posts something that is illegal.
- Dependence on technology: Automating the review collection process may make a business too dependent on technology, which can lead to problems if the technology fails – you will notice that you are receiving fewer reviews because of this though!
- Decreased customer engagement: Automating the review collection process may decrease the level of engagement between the business and its customers, as customers may feel less inclined to leave a review if it is automated. This is especially the case where customer relationships are paramount to the success of your business
Now we have covered the background to review automation – let’s explore in more detail the three options:
Software designed for review automation tools for Google
There are many software products on the market that aims to remove most of the effort out of requesting reviews for you. Almost all of the systems have a charge.
Below are high-level steps that you would follow to implement with a software vendor. Many can also act as the management console to respond to reviews too.
- Choose a review automation tool: There are a variety of tools available, such as broadly, Grade.us – and our (and highly recommend) Leave.Review automation software. All of the leading packages can help automate the process of sending review requests and collecting feedback from customers across SMS or email. It’s worth trying Leave.Review as it’s free to get started. To see a more comprehensive list of software, head over to Capterra.
- Connect the tool to your Google Business account: Most review automation tools will allow you to connect your Google Business account, which will allow you to send review requests straight to the submit review page. The goal here is to extract your Google review link so that it can be included in the request process.
- Set up review request triggers: Many review automation tools allow you to set up triggers that will automatically send review requests to customers after a specific event, such as making a purchase or receiving a service.
- Customize the review request email: Many review automation tools allow you to customize the email that is sent to customers, including the subject line, message, email address, and wording. We believe that branding/messaging is important. There ideally should be a correlation between the experience of your business and the email they receive – otherwise, there is a risk that the email will be ignored (or worse marked as spam). Some automation tools especially E-commerce will also allow you to include details about the product purchased, for example, images of the product in the email body or a dynamically generated subject line.
- Test and monitor the results: Once you’ve set up your review request automation, it’s important to test it and monitor the results. This will allow you to see how many customers are responding to your requests and make any necessary adjustments to improve the success rate. The simplest way to do this is am I getting more reviews on your Google Business platform. The default setting on Google is to send the business owner an email when a review is received( The email notification also allows you to provide a response to the customer’s feedback)
- Respond to reviews: I know we just touched on it above, but some Google review automation tools also allow you to respond to reviews, which is important in order to maintain a positive reputation and relationship with your customers. However, we would not recommend automating the response. It lacks sincerity and is really hard to make a canned response look like it came from a real person.
It’s important to keep in mind that automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution, you need to test and monitor the results and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Googles own solution – Collect reviews via Google Customer Reviews
Did you know that Google has a solution designed for E-commerce sites via its Google Merchant Center. This section will explain in a bit more detail how to get set up. Let’s start with what the result looks like. You can read more about the Google Customer Reviews experience here
Did you know that turning on Google customer reviews will also allow you to boost your Google Seller rating as well as a badge (boosting social proofing) that is dynamically updated on your website?
What do Google’s automated customer reviews look like to your customers?
The screenshot below was taken from a real review request sent to me a couple of days after I purchased a new coffee machine.
When you click on one of the stars, your customers will be redirected to a webpage (hosted by Google) allowing them to detail their experience (with the star you selected pre-filled on the page)
When your customer has completed the review submission, the thank you page looks like this:
How do you turn on Google E-Commerce Automated review collection?
Unfortunately, you will need a developer to implement the automated E-commerce script provided by Google. A non-technical person CAN get the code to send to a developer though – just watch this video to get your Google Merchant review collection code:
So this is all great, but what if you don’t own an e-commerce store, eg a Gym or Cafe? Fear not there are different solutions – but they will require an email address or phone number.
Automating review requests via Email
To automate review requests via email, you can use an email marketing software that has automation functionality.
The video below demonstrates how to implement a review request via email solution using Mailchimps automation. It works by sending an email AFTER an email address has been added to an audience list. Mailchimp has lots of ways to add email addresses to the audience list, such as spreadsheet uploads, manual typing, etc. We would recommend getting an iPad or similar, adding the newsletter sign-up form (that Mailchimp will create for you), and having it at your facility. This way people can add their email addresses themselves and as a bonus, you can send them newsletters for future promotions/campaigns.
Set up Mailchimp to automate sending reviews to your customers
It’s a pity that Mailchimp does not provide a free, basic plan to allow you to automate review requests – their cheapest plan, the “Essential plan” costs $13 per month (at the time of writing), which is cheaper than most of the dediccated automation tools mentioned above cost.
Note: Be sure to follow the laws and regulations related to email marketing in your region to ensure that your automated review request emails are compliant.
So it is all possible
- If you have a developer and an eCommerce store, then the Google Merchant Approach is the best way – it’s designed especially for this task and does it very well. If you don’t have an e-commerce store, then there are some options:
- Use a 3rd party software like Broadly, Get More Reviews, leave.review – which will incur a cost, but is dedicated to the exact problem you’re trying to resolve. These systems will need to pull the data from somewhere in your business, so some technical integration will be required
- Build your own solution with Mailchimp or Zapier