Effective Strategies for Building and Managing Local Business Reviews

Effective Strategies for Building and Managing Local Business Reviews

Effective business reviews are essential for boosting your business’s credibility and attracting new customers.

Last summer, I visited a quaint little café in Cape Town on a friend’s recommendation. She couldn’t stop raving about their freshly baked scones and aromatic coffee. When I walked in, the warm, inviting atmosphere immediately captured my heart. The café owner, Mrs. Mbele, greeted me with a broad smile, and within minutes, I felt like a regular. As I enjoyed my scone, I noticed a small card on the table asking patrons to leave a review on Google.

This simple request reminded me of the importance of business reviews. They not only attract new customers but also build trust and credibility. As a small business owner, understanding and managing reviews can make a significant difference in your success.

Why Business Reviews Matter: The Numbers

Statistics highlight the critical role of business reviews:

90% of Consumers read online reviews before visiting a business​ (Hook Agency)​.
88% of Consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations​ (Hook Agency). Positive Reviews make 74% of consumers trust a local business more​ (Exploding Topics)​​ (Hook Agency)​.
49% of Consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business​ (Hook Agency)​.
72% of Consumers will take action only after reading a positive review​ (Hook Agency)​.

These numbers show the impact reviews have on consumer behaviour. Now, let’s dive into some effective strategies for building and managing local business reviews.

Building Reviews

Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

Gathering business reviews starts with a simple ask. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • In-Person Requests: When a customer is visibly satisfied with your service, seize the moment. A friendly, “We’d love to hear your feedback. Could you leave us a review?” can work wonders.
  • Email Campaigns: After a purchase, send a thank-you email with a request for a review. Personalise it by mentioning their recent purchase or visit. For example, “We hope you’re enjoying your new shoes! We’d love to hear about your experience.”
  • Receipts: Add a line at the bottom of your receipts that says, “Enjoyed your visit? Please leave us a review online!”

Imagine walking out of your favourite local boutique, a bag in hand, and the cashier’s warm invitation to share your thoughts. It’s a personal touch that encourages customers to take the next step.

Make It Easy for Customers

Simplicity is key to encouraging reviews:

  • Direct Links: Include direct links to your business’s review pages in your emails, on your website, and on social media. Make it as easy as a single click for customers to leave a review.
  • QR Codes: Display QR codes in your store, on your business cards, and even on your packaging. When scanned, these codes can take customers straight to your review page.
  • Simple Process: Ensure the review process on your chosen platforms is straightforward. Provide clear instructions if necessary.

Visualise a customer scanning a QR code on their receipt and being instantly taken to your Google review page. The convenience makes it more likely they’ll leave a positive review.

Offer Incentives

Incentives can significantly boost your review count:

  • Discounts: Offer a small discount on their next purchase in exchange for a review. For instance, “Leave us a review and get 10% off your next visit!”
  • Prize Draws: Enter reviewers into a monthly draw to win a prize. This could be a free product, a gift card, or a special experience related to your business.
  • Loyalty Points: If you have a loyalty program, offer points for every review. These points can accumulate towards future discounts or rewards.

However, you should avoid incentivising Google reviews. Google’s policies prohibit offering incentives in exchange for reviews, as it can lead to biased feedback and can result in penalties, including removal of the reviews and potential fines​ (Bazaarvoice)​.

Imagine a customer leaving a review because they know they could win a free coffee for a month. The incentive not only motivates them to review but also keeps them engaged with your brand.

Utilise Social Media

Harness the power of social media to gather business reviews:

  • Encourage Reviews on Social Platforms: Prompt your followers to leave reviews on Facebook and Instagram. Regularly remind them in your posts and stories.
  • Share Positive Reviews: When you receive a positive review, share it on your social media pages. Tag the reviewer (with their permission) and thank them publicly.
  • Engage with Followers: Regularly interact with your followers. Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and create posts that encourage engagement.

Think about a happy customer sharing their experience on Instagram, tagging your business, and you resharing their post with a thank you. This not only boosts your credibility but also encourages others to do the same.

Partner with Local Influencers

Local influencers can amplify your reach and bring in more reviews:

  • Collaborate with Bloggers and Social Media Influencers: Offer them your products or services for free in exchange for honest reviews. Their followers trust their opinions and are likely to follow suit.
  • Attend Local Events: Participate in local fairs, markets, and community events. Build relationships with influencers and ask them to share their experiences.
  • Create Mutually Beneficial Partnerships: Work with influencers on long-term partnerships where they regularly review your products or services.

Imagine a local foodie blogger posting about your new menu item. Their followers, eager to try it themselves, visit your café and leave their own reviews. It creates a ripple effect that boosts your visibility and credibility.

Managing Reviews

Monitor Your Reviews Regularly

Staying on top of your business reviews is essential for effective reputation management:

  • Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts for your business name. This way, you’ll receive notifications whenever a new review is posted. This is crucial for catching both positive and negative reviews promptly.
  • Review Management Tools: Use tools like Yext, ReviewTrackers, or BirdEye. These platforms aggregate reviews from multiple sites, making it easier to monitor and manage them all in one place.
  • Regular Checks: Make it a habit to check major review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor regularly. Set aside specific times each week to review new feedback.

Imagine having a system that alerts you every time someone leaves a review. You’ll never miss an opportunity to engage with your customers.

Respond to Reviews

Engaging with your reviewers shows that you value their feedback and are committed to excellent service:

  • Thank Positive Reviewers: When someone leaves a positive review, respond with a heartfelt thank you. Mention specific details from their review to show you’re genuinely engaged.
  • Address Negative Reviews Professionally: Negative reviews are inevitable, but how you handle them can turn a bad situation around. Respond calmly, acknowledge their concerns, and offer a solution or apology.
  • Show Appreciation for Feedback: Whether the feedback is good or bad, let your customers know you appreciate their input. This can foster a sense of community and loyalty.

Picture a customer leaving a less-than-stellar review about slow service. Your prompt, empathetic response offering a solution can transform their perception and even win them back.

Learn from Feedback

Use reviews as a tool for continuous improvement:

  • Identify Common Issues: Look for patterns in the feedback. Are multiple customers mentioning the same issue? This can highlight areas needing attention.
  • Make Necessary Improvements: Act on the feedback you receive. If customers are consistently mentioning slow service, for example, investigate and address the underlying cause.
  • Communicate Changes to Customers: When you make improvements based on feedback, let your customers know. Post updates on your website and social media, or include it in your response to reviews.

Imagine customers noting an improvement in the areas they mentioned. They’ll appreciate that you listened and took action, fostering loyalty and encouraging more reviews.

Showcase Positive Reviews

Highlighting positive reviews can boost your business reputation and attract more customers:

  • Display on Website: Create a dedicated section on your website for testimonials. Use quotes from happy customers with their permission.
  • Marketing Materials: Incorporate testimonials in your brochures, flyers, and social media ads. Authentic reviews add credibility and trust.
  • Customer Success Stories: Share detailed stories of how your product or service has positively impacted your customers. These narratives can be compelling and relatable.

Imagine a potential customer browsing your website and reading about how your service helped another customer. This personal touch can be the deciding factor that leads them to choose your business.

Avoid Fake Reviews

Maintaining the integrity of your reviews is crucial for building trust:

  • Do Not Purchase Reviews: Buying fake reviews is not only unethical but also risky. Platforms like Google have sophisticated algorithms to detect and remove fake reviews.
  • Avoid Using Bots: Bots may generate reviews quickly, but they lack authenticity. These reviews can often be spotted as fake and damage your reputation.
  • Report Fake Reviews: If you notice suspicious reviews on your page, report them to the platform. Most review sites have processes in place to handle fake reviews.

Imagine a customer reading your reviews and feeling confident in their authenticity. Real, honest reviews, even if not all are perfect, build far more trust than a slew of suspiciously glowing ones.

Advanced Strategies

Implement a Review Management System

Streamlining your review management process can save time and improve efficiency:

  • Software Tools: Tools like Yext, BirdEye, and ReviewTrackers can help you manage reviews from multiple platforms in one place. They offer features like automated review requests, response tracking, and analytics.
  • Automate Review Requests: Set up automated emails or text messages to request reviews after a purchase or service. This ensures you consistently ask for feedback without manual effort.
  • Analyse Review Data: Use analytics to gain insights into customer satisfaction trends and areas for improvement. Regularly review this data to inform your business decisions.

Imagine having a dashboard that not only tracks your reviews but also provides insights into customer satisfaction trends. It’s a powerful tool for continuous improvement.

Engage in Community Building

Building strong ties within your community can enhance your reputation and attract more reviews:

  • Participate in Local Events: Attend or sponsor local fairs, markets, and community gatherings. This raises your business’s profile and fosters goodwill.
  • Support Community Initiatives: Get involved in local causes and initiatives. Sponsor a local sports team, participate in charity events, or support environmental projects.
  • Foster a Loyal Customer Base: Create a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Offer exclusive discounts, early access to new products, or special events for loyal customers.

Think of a local bakery sponsoring a charity run. Participants and spectators alike will appreciate the support and be more likely to leave positive reviews.

Train Your Staff

Your employees play a crucial role in your reputation management strategy:

  • Importance of Reviews: Educate your staff on the impact of reviews on the business. Help them understand why reviews matter and how they can help gather them.
  • How to Ask for Reviews: Train employees on the best ways to ask for reviews. Role-playing different scenarios can help them feel comfortable and confident.
  • Encourage Excellent Service: Foster a culture of excellent customer service. Happy customers are more likely to leave positive reviews.

Imagine a customer having a great experience because of a well-trained, friendly staff member. When asked for a review, they’re more likely to oblige because of the exceptional service they received.


Building and managing local business reviews is an ongoing effort that requires commitment and strategic planning. By encouraging reviews, simplifying the review process, offering incentives, and leveraging social media and influencers, you can increase the number of reviews your business receives. Managing these reviews through regular monitoring, professional responses, and learning from feedback will help maintain a positive business reputation.

It’s important to play within the rules set down by companies like Google. Google reviews can be extremely beneficial to your business, so you should read and abide by the Guidelines For Representing Your Business On Google.

Advanced strategies like implementing a review management system, engaging in community building, and training your staff further enhance your reputation management online efforts. Authentic and well-managed reviews can elevate your business, attract new customers, and foster a loyal community around your brand.

Start implementing these strategies today and watch your business thrive with the power of local business reviews.

Need help managing your business reviews? Contact me today for expert assistance!


Why are business reviews important?

Business reviews influence customer decisions and build trust. They can attract new customers and enhance your business reputation. Statistics show that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 88% trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations.

How can I encourage customers to leave reviews?

You can ask for reviews in person, via email, or on receipts. Ensure the process is simple by providing direct links or QR codes that take customers straight to your review page.

Is it okay to offer incentives for reviews?

Offering incentives like discounts or prize draws can boost reviews, but you should avoid incentivising Google reviews. Google’s policies prohibit this and can lead to penalties, including the removal of reviews and potential fines.

How should I handle negative reviews?

Respond professionally and promptly. Acknowledge the issue and offer a solution. Use the feedback to improve your services. Negative reviews can be an opportunity to show your commitment to customer satisfaction.

What tools can help manage reviews?

Tools like Yext, ReviewTrackers, and BirdEye can help you monitor and respond to reviews efficiently. These platforms aggregate reviews from multiple sites, making management easier.

How can I showcase positive reviews?

Display positive reviews on your website and use them in marketing materials. Sharing customer success stories on social media can also enhance your business reputation.

Why should I avoid fake reviews?

Fake reviews can damage your credibility. It’s important to maintain the integrity of your reviews by encouraging genuine feedback. Reporting fake reviews on platforms can help maintain trust.

How often should I monitor my reviews?

Regular monitoring is crucial. Set up Google Alerts for new reviews and use review management tools to stay updated. Aim to check major review sites frequently.

Can responding to reviews improve my business?

Yes, responding to reviews, both positive and negative, shows customers you value their feedback. It can enhance your business reputation and encourage more reviews.

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