Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review Marketing: You Don't Ask, You Don't Get

Reviews on sites like Yelp, Google+ Local, Urban Spoon and even Amazon.com are incredibly important to many businesses. If you have a restaurant, you probably already get this. But even if you are a DUI attorney, a divorce attorney, a hair salon, or even a product that isn't local but sells on Amazon, reviews matter. More than ever.

Review Marketing and Yelp
Every businessperson who needs reviews realizes that reviews are hard to get.  

Why? Because, first and foremost, if you do nothing, the most likely people to review your product will be the angry consumer. For example, I have had a terrible customer service experience with Verizon, and I hate that company so much that during my copious spare time... I am thinking: angry blog post. 

Contrast that with some very tasty local restaurants here in Fremont: I had dinner, it was excellent, I went home.  Little emotional energy to induce me to write a review.

Angry people often write reviews.  Happy people not so much.

As a business marketer, you need to change that equation.

You Don't Ask, You Don't Get: Review Marketing

So if reviews matter to you, first and foremost: ASK FOR REVIEWS. When a customers is happy (face to face), ask him or her if they would do you a HUGE FAVOR and go online to Yelp, Google+ Local, Amazon, fill-in-the-blank website, and WRITE A REVIEW. 

It's like baseball: you can't get hits if you don't swing.

Other Review Ideas

  • Email reminders. Email those happy customers, after the fact, and ask for a review.
  • Review swaps. A little on the gray side, but actively review other businesses in your community (we are talking honest reviews here), but then mention it would be nice if they would reciprocate.
  • Friends and family. Also a little gray, but perhaps your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues might review you.
  • Philanthropy. Think of giving out something free (a "free" haircut for boys under 10, or girls under 10) and that positive energy gives you a little quid pro quo to ask for a positive review.
  • Cheap Stuff. Think of having a very cheap product that you provide that is over the top in terms of service or quality...  Again: review opportunity.

Brainstorm Review Ideas

There are many ways to nudge, cajole, beg, please, induce, incent customers to give you reviews without crossing the line to payment or buying reviews.  Brainstorm a few of them, and think of those that are easiest, and most likely to get you some real reviews.

Take moment, create a list. Think out of the box: how to incent customers to review you without crossing the dark line into paid review territory.

You don't ask. You don't get.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twitter Marketing and the Wall of Worry: The Twitter IPO

I am not an expert on picking stocks, though I do dabble in the stock market. One of my favorite ideas is that "Stocks climb a wall of worry." As someone who teaches social media marketing, consults on it, and has many, many inside connections to real small business marketers "in the trenches" struggling with how to spend their ad dollars, I wanted to share some thoughts about my "wall of worry" about Twitter, Twitter Marketing, and the Twitter IPO.

The Wall of Worry About Twitter and its IPO

  1. ROI. The ROI (return on investment) for nearly everyone I deal with is always the best for SEO. SEO, of course, is getting to the top of Google or Bing for free, and the reality is that generally speaking when people are ready to buy something they go to Google (or perhaps Amazon) but not Twitter. The ROI on time on Twitter marketing is weak, at best, for more companies. Wall of worry #2: A worrisome sign if there ever was one: who will advertise when the ROI is so poor on the free stuff?
  2. Twitter and Users. Every time I teach a class in the San Francisco Bay Area, I ask my participants - do you use Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Google? etc. Overwhelmingly the least used: Twitter.  No contest.  Highest use: Google. 2nd highest: Facebook. 3rd highest: LinkedIn. Wall of worry #2: how can Twitter succeed when so few "real people" use it?
  3. Brand identity. Small business people hate Yelp the most.  I cringe when I mention Yelp and social media, as I have to get ready for some rotten tomatoes at me.  Yelp is the most hated site among small business marketers, based on my anecdotal surveys. No. 2? Twitter.  People do not hate Twitter but they find it silly, or irrelevant Wall of worry #3: marketers find the brand silly or irrelevant.
  4. Fake or passive users. I have a Twitter account (@jasoneg3). I use it to a) check BART schedules, and b) read jokes.  Every once in a while, I use it to watch TV in real-time (e.g., American Idol or the Presidential Debates).  It is not something I find particularly useful.  So I "exist" on Twitter but am far from a power user. Similarly, there are oodles of passive users on Twitter who check it rarely, if at all, and there are oodles of fake users. Wall of worry #4: there's no there there behind the hype.
Twitter IPO and the Wall of Worry
Beyond those worrisome factors, there is just the plain hype of Twitter.  Twitter has done an amazing job of hyping itself, especially via its use by high-profile celebrities like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.  Also the use of Twitter by politicians (e.g., Obama), and on TV shows has contributed to its sex appeal.  Twitter clearly works for those groups, but for most real businesses this is a Red Herring. Its use by Obama does not mean that the local hair salon can use Twitter in any serious marketing way.

Twitter seems to be very overhyped, so my expectation as it goes public is for a slow (or perhaps rapid) crash in value as people "look under the hood" and see the a lot (80% ? 90%? ) of Twitter use is fake, or hyped, or just nonsense.

Twitter Works

But then again Twitter clearly works. For these clear uses:

  • Movie stars and celebrities. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry. Ashton Kutcher (I have never understood why he is as famous as he is.  #overfamous).
  • Politicans and news junkies.  The Tea Party.  The Heritage Foundation. Obama.
  • Coupons and discounts.  WOOT, REI, and others that use Twitter to share coupons and discounts.
  • Insider deals.  Juicy Couture and others that Tweet "insider" deals to their craziest and most loyal fans.
  • Taco Trucks and Food for Lunch.  Kogi BBQ and all that.
  • Big brands like Ford, Toyota, Geico. These are folks that just have a huge marketing budget to keep pounding their brand image into the heads of consumers.  I am not sure if they really use metrics or just have such enormous budgets that they try anything, do anything.  They are sort of the Red Herrings of Twitter.  It "works" for Ford because Ford doesn't measure anything real (?)
Beyond that, do you see any real marketing uses for Twitter for real businesses?  Twitter IPO - is it PETS.com or Google.com? 

(Share in comments below)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bounce Rates and Web Landings: Think Like a Guppy

It's the 1st of the month, and time for monthly reports on SEO, AdWords, and Social Media for me and my clients. What is always incredibly striking is the bounce rate. Even a bounce rate of 50% is considered spectacular: which means half the people land and leave in one instant. Many sites run bounce rates in the 70%, 80% or even 90%.

Landings and Bounce Rate
Is a high bounce rate necessarily bad? Not necessarily. Many sites are first optimized only on their branded searches - searches that include the company, product or service name. So they have a low bounce rate because they are speaking to friends, family, customers. Then, once they begin to SEO optimize, they get many "new" prospects and these "new" prospects often bounce. They say it takes ten touches to convert a customers; so you may have many customers that bounce ten times before they convert.

Thinking Beyond the Bounce Rate

Beyond the bounce rate, you want to think about the landing experience. I follow a CEA model: Confirmation / Engagement / Action.

  1. Confirmation - they need to see the same words that they just typed into Google, plus pictures that instantly convey that they are "in the right place."
  2. Engage - they need to be persuaded that you are important, cool, an expert, worth looking in to.
  3. Act - you need a defined action such as buy your product or register for something free.
Reducing the bounce rate isn't easy, but it is incredibly important. All of us get a lot of traffic that just bounces. It's frustrating to see, but over time you can reduce the bounce rate and increase the conversion rate. 

To Do: Reevaluate Your Landing Pages

Your "homework" is to look at your landing pages, and be critical! Imagine you are that proverbial harried customer, just doing a Google search. What do you see? Would you stay? Would you investigate further? Customers on the Internet, Howie Jacobson once said, are like guppies: easy to scare, and nervous nervous nervous. Evaluate your landing page "as if" you were a guppy: it has one second to get them to stay, two seconds to engage, and one second to convert.