Why 5 Stars Shouldn’t Be Your Google My Business Target

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4.4 Stars is golden and replying to one-third of reviews massively boosts conversions

As someone who owns or operates a small business, your goal is to please every client, which is why anything less than a 5 star Google My Business rating can sting. Sting aside, the Reputation Management Revolution study by Uberall shows that a perfect 5 star rating doesn’t garner the highest conversions. This is good news for businesses who have a low star rating as there are a few key targets that can massively boost their conversion rates.

The study compiled data from 64,000 third-party managed Google listings comparing the first half of 2018 with the first half of 2019. It calculates conversions as phone calls, website clicks, and direction requests for SMBs, local enterprises, and global brands. When it comes to Google, phone calls, website clicks, and direction requests are conversions most likely to result in a store visit within the next 24 hours.

Contrary to popular belief, if a business star rating is low, the Google My Business star rating sweet spot is 4.4. Working the way up from 4.3 to 4.4 increases conversions by up to 25%. This means that most ratings are 4 and 5 stars with a few lower ratings here and there. Businesses who currently have a 3.5 or lower star rating should aim to work up to 3.7 stars from one year to the next. It might not sound like much, but boosts conversions an average of 120%.
Businesses who maintain a 4.9 rating generate the highest overall conversions, but in terms of improving low star ratings, 3.7 and then 4.4 are the key targets to work towards.

Star Ratings Aren’t The Only Conversion Factor

In addition to boosting low star ratings, replying to reviews further boosts conversions. By replying to at least 32% of reviews, positive or negative, businesses can increase conversions by 80% over competitors who reply to 10% or less of their reviews. Why? Taking the time to respond shows that you are engaged, open to feedback, and that you care.

When reply rates for SMBs and enterprise locations are around 10%, their conversion rate is about 3%. By providing a professional and courteous reply businesses can work their way up to 32% conversions. Avoid the temptation to be defensive when responding to negative reviews.

SMBs tend to have a higher reply rate, averaging around 25%. Enterprises reply to an average of 12% and global brands only reply to about 9%. Combined with an improved star rating, the increased conversion rates can be significant.

The Type Of Business You Operate Weighs In Too

Overall, conversions slump when an SMB or global brand achieves a perfect 5 stars—where enterprise locations see a boost at a perfect 5 stars. However, the largest boost in conversion from one rating to the next remains 25% from 4.3 to 4.4 stars.

As tough as it may be to swallow, low star reviews have their upside as all consumers want to know the good and the bad. Not to worry about the one-off extremely bad reviews, as the average consumer can tell when someone is being unreasonable.

Review Volume Should Match Your Industry Average

Wondering where review volume comes to play? There is currently no evidence that review volume holds much weight in conversion rates, but businesses should aim to keep up with their industry average. Without generating the same volume of reviews as the competition, consumers may question the validity of a business’s star rating.

However, there are a few industries that are an exception to this rule, including financial services, travel, tourism, and leisure—where the greater the frequency of reviews the greater the conversion rates. For example, a scuba diving excursion with 5 reviews in the last week is likely to have more conversions than one with 5 reviews in the last month.

What This All Means For Business Owners

With a greater focus on ethically encouraging more customers to leave reviews and investing a bit more time each week in replying to reviews, businesses can drastically increase their Google My Business conversion rates—phone calls, website visits, and asking for directions. Consumers who convert in this matter are highly likely to visit a business within the next 24 hours. So, increase Google conversions 25%, and foot traffic may also increase 25%. The commitment must not be fleeting as consistency over many months is key to success.

Businesses who have low star ratings must not lose hope, as getting up to 3.7 stars can increase conversions by 120%. Those with a medium star rating can see the largest boost at 4.4 stars. Combine an improved star rating with replying to at least 32% of all reviews, and conversions will increase another 80%.

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