Should You Ask for Reviews on Facebook?

April 17th, 2014 By Ted Paff

As you might have noticed, reviews are now a thing on Facebook.  But just because something is available doesn’t mean that you should always ask for it.

FacebookEvo

The main reason to ask for reviews on Facebook is that the reviewers friends will see the review posted in their feed and visitors to your Facebook page will see “social proof” that some real people think your business did a good job.  Eventually, Facebook might also launch its own search engine and your reviews would potentially be used as a ranking factor in non-branded search terms for your industry.

The downside is that your reviews are behind a big blue wall.  In other words, unlike reviews almost anywhere else  on the web, Facebook reviews are not listed in search engines.  They are, in a sense, lost content unless someone goes to your Facebook business page.  In addition, the old phrase “easy come, easy go” springs to mind when thinking about how likely it is that your reviews on Facebook will still be displayed  in a couple of years.

Crazy talk  you say?  Facebook would never take down user content??  Remember back (2 years ago) when Yahoo made a big push to engage local businesses by building its local capabilities?  Well, if Yahoo can blow up its entire reviews database after 5+ years, Facebook could easily do the same.

The Verdict

The answer to the question posed in the title:  yes.  BUT, only as a small percentage of the total review requests you make.  Having some reviews on Facebook as social proof is useful but having a balanced review strategy is much more important.  Simply stated, reviews around the web matter more than lots of reviews in any one place.

Action Plan:  Industry Matters

Many people use Facebook to construct a view of themselves that they want to project to the world.  People lie and/or selectively share information on Facebook to seem more interesting.  Understanding this insight has a big impact on how businesses should attempt to interact with their customers on Facebook – including asking for reviews.

How?  Think about what industry your business is in.  Would being a customer of your business and/or the service you provide make a person seem more interesting/cool/funny to their friends?  If so, your in luck!  You are likely to get lots of reviews on Facebook, Yelp and Google where writing a review of your business is self-aggrandizing for the reviewer.  What is even better is that you probably don’t need to ask for a review from your customers and you are right now wondering what all the fuss is about in getting people to write reviews.  Examples of this type of business are skydiving businesses, animal shelters, Tesla rental companies, etc.

But what if you are not in a “sexy” or “cool” business?  The bad news is that it is going to be much harder.  The good news is that its not impossible.  Although reviewers are nearly 4 times more likely to write a review of a restaurant than an auto repair business, they still do write reviews of auto repair, insurance, etc.  So keep asking for reviews!

If you are a Customer Lobby member, stand by, we will be adding Facebook to our Smart Invite very soon to help you managed a balanced review portfolio around the web.  If you are  not a Customer Lobby member, check out our free trial or ask an expert how to get more reviews.

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New Survey: Reviews and Local SEO

April 10th, 2014 By Kevin Baca

Local SEOs represent the number one re-seller of Customer Lobby for two main reasons: 1. Reviews drive actual sales, and 2. Reviews confer a meaningful Google search ranking boost. In fact, David Mihm regards reviews signals, including quantity, velocity, and diversity, as one of eight thematic clusters of data from which Google determines ranking.

It’s no wonder, then, that a new Brightlocal survey of 20 leading local search experts revealed a strong predilection for reviews. So much so, that 55% of the experts regarded a review strategy as “critical to local optimization.” Somewhat surprisingly, these local experts consider reviews more important for local SEO than links. It truly is a new day.

 

Importance placed on 3 primary SEO tactics:

 

You can find many more graphs and analysis on the study at the Brightlocal Blog. But, there’s one other chart which I think perfectly brings home the increasing role of reviews solicitation and management for local search optimization:
 

 
Given the release of Google’s new review monitoring platform, it is obvious that Google looks across a variety of websites attributed to a local business. One useful hint for business owners. Look at the “reviews around the web” section of your Google+ page. Those are just some of the reviews pages Google is looking at determine where you rank in local-centric search results vis-a-vis your nearest competitors.

 

Reviews Around the Web

reviewsroundweb

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2 Destructive Thoughts for Entrepreneurs to Avoid

April 3rd, 2014 By Ted Paff

If you are an entrepreneur (its a mind-state not a job function/title), there are 2 categories of thought that are subtly destructive:

  1. I have a destination (e.g. rich, famous, successful, etc.).
  2. I am already there.

Its easier to understand how the second item above is destructive.  When when we think we are already there, complacency sets in.  Complacency seeps through organizations like a virus and its just as hard to get rid of.  When a challenge (competitor, changing product, etc.) for your business arises, complacency insures your inability to react.

The more subtly destructive though is “I have a destination.’”  But wait, isn’t this what we were all taught?  To have a goal and chase it?  The destructive part is not the chase, its the focus on a particular destination.  Self-focused destinations take the deep happiness out of the chase and makes it less likely that we can see it to the end.

Be happy.  Enjoy the chase.

 

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Building Trust with Your Content.

March 27th, 2014 By Kevin Baca

keepcalm
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to invest a lot of money to fix my car or invite a technician into my home, I want to get to know that person a little. If given the choice between a nameless, faceless brand and an actual person with real qualities, in particular good qualities, I am going to lean toward the latter. Every time.

As it turns out, this logic informs some of the ways in which consumers conduct research before selecting a local business. So much so, that according to this BrightLocal survey, consumers actually place a good deal of value on local business webpages that feature a photo of the business owner. In fact, when asked which images on a local business website most inspire trust, a photo of the business owner was preferred by 46% of respondents.

Personalize

Now, I’m not suggesting every local business owner immediately post a photo of themselves, though I suppose it can’t hurt. The more important insight is that consumers actively seek to gain a better sense for the person with whom they are choosing to do business. When selecting content for a website, or other branded online destinations, whether images or copy, personalization should be a guiding factor.

Content

In practical terms, the fastest way to make web properties less generic and more personal is to promote transparency via social media, UGC, and dynamic content, such as blogs with comments. Some examples are social media plugins, including links to personal Facebook pages, and links to 3rd-party sites, such as reviews sites, where the content is user generated. Again, the point of all this is to engender trust, and according to Nielsen, earned media, which includes third-party reviews, are the most trusted form of advertising.

Transparency

Customer reviews from third-party sites are valued only insofar as they are trustworthy. In this regard, negative reviews on a featured reviews page are actually incredibly value because they immediately confer legitimacy. As we have recommended, over and over, there is tremendous personalization value in publishing owner responses with reviews where appropriate. And, you do this for the same reason you publish that photo; to show your prospective customer who you are.

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Local Business NAP Management

March 20th, 2014 By Ted Paff

I don’t often pitch another company’s product but this is a good exception. moz

If you are in charge of managing the online presence of a local business, it is hard to imagine why you would not buy the new Moz Local product.  At $49/location per year, its 10 times cheaper than Yext and half the price of UBL.  Of course, you could do this yourself, but …. oh snap… its actually cheaper than doing it yourself.

There is a video here that explains what they do and why you should do it.  At a minimum, here is a tool to check out your data match for free.  Two days ago, Andrew Shotland wrote a review of this product that provides a very helpful view of its capabilities and shortcomings.

My Incentive

No, we are not making any money from recommending this product but that is not to say that we don’t have an incentive in recommending it.  One of the cool parts of our product is the ability to syndicate your reviews to multiple 3rd party review sites.  However, to make syndication work, the name/address/phone/website of your business location needs to be accurate and complete across the multiple sites to which we syndicate the reviews.  The better your data match (this is the stuff that Moz Local fixes), the better our product works for you.  Help us help you and sign up for Moz Local.

If you know another good way to manage NAP data, please post it in the comments.  We are happy to pass on helpful news.

To my friends at Moz Local (David, I am talking to you), this is a fantastic addition to the local business online marketing tool kit.  Congratulations!

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Google Redesign

March 13th, 2014 By Kevin Baca

Notice something different about Google but can’t quite put your finger on it? Don’t worry, you’re not losing it.

Google redesigned their search engine results pages, and while some of the changes are fairly nuanced, and thereby forcing half the Internet users in the world to do a double-take, the changes made to paid search results are significant.

Paid search results are the ads that appear at the top and along the right side of the organic search results. Up to now, those ads were enclosed in a shaded area that visually distinguished them from organic results. Not anymore:

 

Ads Look More Like Organic Search Results:

serp three

 

Obviously, the ads on the right of the page are not going to be mistaken for anything else, but the ads up top look a lot like organic results and Google is stacking as many as three together, which pushes the organic results further down the page.

This means, local pack results will be well below the fold in some instances.

 

Organic Results Between Ads and Local Pack:

local pack

 

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Hard to Get Customer Reviews? Here is Why

March 6th, 2014 By Ted Paff

Have you ever wondered why its so tough to get your customers to write you a review?

Hard

Email sent by a business to one of its customers is opened 18.5% (average for U.S. based services businesses) of the time.  Once it is opened, the link contained in the email (e.g. link to a page onto which the consumer could write a review), is clicked on average 2.6% of the time.  Depending on which study you look at (here and here are good ones), these numbers can be higher or lower but they provide a good starting point.

Now, suppose that you capture email addresses for 50% of your customers and that you send an email to ALL customers after you complete work for them.  In that case, you should expect:

18.5%  x  2.6%  x  50%  =  0.2% of your customers to get to a page to write a review.

That means that for every 1,000 customers you have, you would get 2 reviews.

Its actually a little worse than that because most customers who land on a page on which they can write a review but do not have an account on that system simply leave.  For example,  Google, Yelp, Angies’ List combined have less than 30% market coverage.  That means that those 2 reviews you were hoping for from 1,000 customers is actually 0 or 1 review.  Ouch.

How to Get More Customer Reviews

Here are some great ideas to help you get more customer reviews (Andrew Shotland also mentioned some of these ideas):

  • Invite reviews using more than just email requests.  Customer Lobby’s members have access to  customer calls (highest percentage of review capture), mobile/kiosk review stations, and  handwritten review forms.  Combine many different forms of email request to get your best outcome.
  • Collect more email addresses from customers.  If you are sending out requests for a review using email, the more people you ask, the more likely you are to get a response.
  • Let them know its coming.  By simply letting your customers know that you would appreciate a review and that you will send them a follow up note, we have seen companies increase their review capture rate by 50%.
  • Send a reminder a few days later.  Customer Lobby automatically sends out a follow up request for a review.  This second email has a much higher rate of converting into a review.  People get busy and sometimes a reminder really helps.
  • Automate it.  In my experience, things that are not automated tend not to get done over time.  Customer Lobby now offers the ability to fully automate review requests by linking your billing software with Customer Lobby.  We will automatically reach out to your customer to ask for a review when a job is completed.

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How to Say “Thank You” for a Review.

February 27th, 2014 By Kevin Baca

ty_meme

 

The science of publishing a response to a negative review has been a major theme of this blog. I have written about the unique branding opportunity of owner responses, tips on formatting, and even some examples. One of the big takeaways is that responses get read. When I write about “opportunity,” I am referring specifically to getting in front of prospective customers who are actively performing Internet research; i.e., shopping.

This branding opportunity extends to publishing a “thank you” comment with a review. While the stakes are not nearly as high, and the read rates are less assured, the basic premise remains the same: Show your prospects who you are and why they should choose you. That’s it. Leveraging this channel means showing rather than telling. Consumers actively seek out reviews to avoid ads and marketing schlock, so there exists a fine balance between being authentic and advertising.

My tips! This is not, by any means, a definitive guide. Use the tips below as a starting point:

1. Be Specific

Avoid canned “Thank you” messages. A response should be specific to the reviewer’s customer experience. Again, consumers seek out reviews to get a sense for what their own experience would be like, and they are not going to get that insight from a generic response. Cite a few tidbits that are particular to the customer experience being reviewed.

2. Add Some Detail

I hear this all the time: A business owner goes out of his way to perform some harrowing feat or engineering breakthrough only to receive a review that omits all of that valuable detail. Well, add it.

This is tricky. One of the keys to ensuring your response gets read is keeping it short and sweet. So, focus on the 1 or 2 main points you want to include with your published response.

3. Be Selective

I appreciate that some business owners like to write at least a brief “thank you” for each of the reviews they receive. If that’s who you are, go ahead. But, understand this: When all of the reviews have a response, they are less likely to be impactful when it counts. It becomes a formality and your prospective customers will be less likely to read them. I advise reserving those “thank you” comments for when you have something especially meaningful to impart.

4. Extra, Extra!

If you went above-and-beyond or threw in something for free, consider saying so. I understand why many businesses want to keep that kind of information to themselves to avoid setting the wrong expectation. But when you think of reviews as an asset for lead generation, those freebies become part of your advertising budget. Get a return on that expense.

5. Inject Some Personality

Getting over the trust hurdle is one of the most important benefits of this effort. The more your prospective customers feel they know you and trust you, the more likely they are to select your business over a competitor. So, dial down the corporate-speak a little bit.

It is still important to be professional and technically savvy, but you can also be warm, funny, and light-hearted. If you are third-generation family-owned business, think about how you can get that information across.

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Impact of Reviews on Non-Branded Search

February 20th, 2014 By Ted Paff

Shhhhh….. don’t tell anyone but we are running a test and you may be one of the test subjects.

A few months ago, David Mihm asked me why a customer would ever terminate their service with Customer Lobby.  I replied that the second biggest reason (after credit card failures) is that they didn’t understand to value of our service.  David was a little surprised and asked me about our process of educating our members after the initial sale as to what we are doing for them.   Well, lets just say that I think we can do a lot better in that regard (stay tuned for a major upgrade for our members that we will release in a few months).

seo-google

Without seeing any of our data, David suggested that the search engine optimization (SEO) impacts alone made our service a great value for local businesses.  We have always known that but have never had hard data to quantify the impact.  Because David literally wrote the book on local search optimization, I was interested to test it.  So we are!

Testing… Testing…1,2,3…Testing

We have known (and our clients have as well) that our reviews pages optimize very well for branded search terms.  Branded search is when someone uses a search engine to look up the name of a particular business.  Non-branded search is when someone uses a search engine to look up a particular industry.  An example:

  • Branded search:  ”Ted’s Auto Repair”
  • Non-branded search:  ”auto repair San Francisco”

Typically, our clients Customer Lobby review page is a top 5 search result for a branded search.

But what about the impact of Customer Lobby on non-branded search?  We started  collecting the data a few of months ago to answer that question.

Preliminary Results…a sneak peak

It is way too early to say what the results are going to be.  We are less than 10% complete with our test.  But here are some preliminary results:

  • In the first 4 weeks or so, there seems to be no impact.
  • In weeks 4-6, we are seeing a significant increase in the non-branded search rank of our members home page.  The typical increase is in the 20% range.

Wow!  That is a huge impact in just a couple of weeks.  We are not surprised that there is no real impact in the first month as it takes Google a little while to grab the new information and feed it to its various indexes.  But in weeks 4-6, a 20% increase is great.

We will keep tracking the data and periodically report on the aggregate  information here.  Fingers crossed, we will also be rolling that information out via a new member portal as well.

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87% of Mobile Users be Shoppin’

February 13th, 2014 By Kevin Baca

posterMarket research leader Nielsen Company released a report on the US digital consumer this week, and as is customary with Nielsen research, it’s brimming with insights ranging from the actionable to the kinda-neat-to-know.

For example, it’s kinda neat to know that mothers with children under 13 are the most likely to use social media in the car. However, at least for our purposes, a more critical take-away is that 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to shop.

As expected, the big story remains the rise of mobile devices, in particular smartphones, on our everyday lives. This is a trend that has come at the seeming expense of PC and laptop usage, which is in decline. Think about that: 5 years ago, would you have imagined that the average consumer would be spending less time on desktop and laptop computers?

Key takeaways on the increased role of mobile devices in shopping:

1. Research before Purchase

65% of tablet owners and 59% of smartphone owners use their devices to conduct research before purchasing an item. Those research activities include reading reviews, comparing prices, and searching for locations.

2. Local Shopping

76% of Smartphone owners use their phones to locate stores. Local business owners take note: As my first bullet point illustrates, these mobile owners use their devices to research your business and then locate you.

3. Reviews = Price Checks

Mobile users spend about as much time reading customer reviews as checking prices. The big takeaway here is that reviews are a better way to differentiate than competing on price. At least, I’m guessing most business owners would prefer leveraging customer reviews to competing on price.

4. Reviews > Price Checks

Tablet users actually spend more time using their device to read reviews of recent and future purchases than they do comparing prices. In fact, Nielsen points out that reading reviews of recent/future purchases is the most likely activity, out of all activities, for tablet owners.

5. Coupons aren’t dead

While the economic viability of daily deal promotions remains an open question (cough, don’t-do-it, cough), consumers still use coupons, including almost 50% of smartphone users.

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