How To Get More 5-Star Online Reviews For Your Church | Ep. #085

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

April 16th, 2018

Brady shares why Google and Facebook reviews are so important for your church, as well as how to trigger more of them.

What’s In This Session?

  • Reviews appear first on Google (0:27)
  • Google My Business pulls a star rating and displays it (0:51)
  • Drown out false negative reviews (1:52)
  • Host a contest (2:25)
  • Use an anniversary or birthday to trigger reviews (4:55)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills, I’m joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. Today, we’re talking about how to get more five star reviews for your church.

Brady Shearer: Online reviews are one of the most important elements of online social proof and the main reason for this is that they are plastered everywhere. For instance, if you go online and search for your church’s name, on that first page of Google, there will be several different parts of that real estate where reviews for your church coming from both Google and Facebook are appearing. For instance, if you go to Google and type your church’s name, let’s say Hope Church, and your church comes up, just within the Google My Business profile, that element, which is kind of on the sidebar, the right-hand side of the Google results, it’s a full column all to itself, it’s your Google My Business profile, fill it out if you haven’t already, within that profile, you are going to see a star rating out of five that pulls from Google reviews. 

You’re going to see a star rating number, let’s say 4.9 out of 5, for Facebook reviews, and within that same column, Google My Business profile will also pull actual written excerpts from these reviews. It’s something like, “I love this church. I felt at home for the first time.” That will get pulled in.

This is why you need more and more reviews because we use reviews to such a great extent when we’re searching online for products, for businesses, for organizations, for orthodontists and for churches. Really orthodontists and churches, the only ones that we use reviews for. Of course we use reviews for everything. The big question is how do we get more reviews for our church? 

The reason this is important is because there will come a time when you get a one star review. It’s really out of your control. Eventually it’s going to happen. For instance, we got our first one star,

Alex Mills: It just happened.

Brady Shearer: … Review on the Pro Church Tools Facebook page. It was a little bit of a mix up. Somebody was angry and they didn’t really have a reason to be angry. I went in and responded and explained what was happening so that when someone lands on the page, they will see my response to this upset individual. There’s not much that you can do about it. The great thing is that one star review is one out of let’s say a hundred five star reviews. 

How do you get more online reviews for your church? Here is the process that I like to follow. First, what you want to do is you want to create an incentive. It’s one thing to ask your congregation to go to these two platforms, Google and Facebook. That’s really where you want the reviews most where they’re most valuable. It’s one thing to just ask from an announcement, not many people will do it. If you really want to see traction, if you really want to see 50, a hundred, 200, depending on the size of your church, reviews roll in a single week or month, you need to have an incentive.

I would recommend getting a gift card, let’s say it’s a hundred dollars, to a local favorite restaurant, that favorite restaurant that everybody likes. Maybe you could do it to a local café that everybody likes, the pizza place everyone goes to, the Mexican spa, whatever and make it substantial, make it like a hundred dollars. That is going to be well worth when it comes to the return you get with the reviews, well worth the price.

Then say, “We are going to give this away to someone in the church, and the only way to be eligible to win this gift card is you need to leave a review for the church on both Facebook and Google.” These reviews have names attached when they are left, so you can go through, host it for a week, a month, whatever timeline you think is best and then go in. Choose someone that left a positive review in that month for both Google and Facebook and give that person the gift card. You will get dozens of reviews in the process and it’s a great way to boost your reviews, so that when that one star review does come, if it hasn’t already, it gets drowned out by all the positivity.

Alex Mills: Yeah, that’s smart and there’s something about having … It’s interesting online. It’s pretty rare that somebody who visits our church for the first time leaves a review, and I think that’s because we don’t have an online presence as far as reviews go. We don’t have a lot of reviews of our church because I haven’t followed these steps personally yet. But there’s something about it. When you see a bunch of reviews for a place, it seems like when you’re a visitor, you’re more prone to leave a review and I don’t know why that is. I don’t know why we do that as humans, but that’s definitely a thing. If there’s a list of reviews there whether they’re people from your church or not, when a visitor does come to your church and actually does have feedback, I feel like they’ll be more prone to actually leave that feedback there when they see that other people have done the same thing.

Brady Shearer: Well, that’s a good point, too. If you’re a church that’s smaller like the average church is, 80% or more, smaller than 250, it could be a place where you have zero reviews, which is even worse than having a couple of negative reviews because it’s like, yeah, this is church is so irrelevant that they don’t have any reviews at all. This is one great way to get a good amount of reviews if you’re just starting out or if you don’t have any already.

There is another option, one that I’ve used in the past when it comes to getting reviews and this is to use an anniversary, a special day as kind of like a special day that everyone rallies around to give reviews. I did this last year for my birthday. I think I did it for the last two years. What I did was on my birthday, April the 6th, I sent an email both my 25th and 26th birthday to Pro Church Nation saying, “Hey, it’s my birthday. I’d love if you got me a birthday present. It would mean the world if you left a review for the Pro Church Podcast on Apple Podcast.”

Alex Mills: It’s awesome.

Brady Shearer: Formally known as iTunes. Go to prochurchpodcast.com and you can listen there. Leave a review. It was amazing. The incentive was just people wanted to give back on my birthday, and we got dozens of reviews, all five stars just for that one simple email. I didn’t even have to use an incentive. Now, to be fair, we have tens of thousands of people on this email list so that may not work as well for you. But let’s say you’re having a one year anniversary.

Alex Mills: Of course, yeah.

Brady Shearer: A 10 year anniversary. You can use that same special moment and commemorate it by saying, “Hey, if you want to give to the church, give back, we’d love it if you leave a review.” People are morel likely to take action when it’s a special occasion than they were on a regular old day.

Alex Mills: That’s really smart and it’s just so interesting how much Google and Facebook power what we do and how we interact with our devices online. You and I were away this weekend actually for our trip for our birthdays. We share a birthday week.

Brady Shearer: Alex-Brady birthday week.

Alex Mills: Yeah. We went to California and we were looking for a church. What I did was I didn’t want to know all the churches in this area. I wanted to know a church that was close to where we were, and so I used Google Maps. Instead of using Google or Facebook, I used Google Maps and I just searched churches near me.

Brady Shearer: But you didn’t go to the newspaper.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: Oh.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I didn’t get the phone book. [crosstalk 00:06:33]

Brady Shearer: [crosstalk 00:06:33] You went online.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Interesting.

Alex Mills: I grabbed my Google Maps, and when you open Google Maps and you see the churches’ names, it shows you their star rating. Like you said, if you see not even just a negative rating like a two or a one, if you see one that doesn’t have any ratings at all-

Brady Shearer: Or even four stars, like, “Four stars?”

Alex Mills: Yeah, you find yourself scrolling by it because your brain tells you this is irrelevant. People aren’t going here or people aren’t engaging with what’s happening here. If you don’t have any reviews online, my church is one of those, this is a great opportunity to get some social proof which we’ve talked about at length. It’s such a valuable form of feedback so that people who are looking for your church are more prone to come visit you.

Brady Shearer: Before we hit record for this episode of Pro Church Daily, we were looking at espresso machines online, and the first one I saw was like five stars on Amazon. It had like a couple hundred reviews. I was like, “That’s great.” Then Brandon sent me one or, no, you sent me one and it had four stars. I think if we had to choose, I would trust you over the star rating, but I was immediately like, “Four stars? Four out of five.” You might as well say that this is going to light me on fire when I use it. That’s how apprehensive I am about a four star review. It’s so important to get the social proof online. 

Just as a side note, this isn’t related to reviews, but I did mention the Pro Church Podcast. We get a lot of questions. If you’re watching this on YouTube and you want to listen to the podcast, we have an audio version of Pro Church Daily every single day. If you prefer to be an audio listener rather than a video watcher, prochurchpodcast.com is the place to do that. Inversely, if you’re listening to this and you prefer to see both Alex and mine’s tanned, somewhat burnt faces from our trip to San Diego, you can watch Pro Church Daily every single day.

Alex Mills: We’ve got a website for that.

Brady Shearer: Prochurchdaily.com. Audio version, prochurchpodcast.com. Video version, prochurchdaily.com and that will do it for Pro Church Daily. Thanks for being a part, listening or watching. We’ll see you tomorrow.