New Study Shows that Trust in Online Reviews Rising
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Archive for July, 2013

New Study Shows that Trust in Online Reviews Rising

Posted on: July 29, 2013 by in Business Building
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The 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey by Myles Anderson of BrightLocal was recently published on SearchEngineLand. There are specific obvious and incontestable results that we can run with.

Four major takeaways from the study:

  • Far more consumers are stating that they trust online reviews as much or more in comparison to personal recommendations. A full 79 percent (up from 72 percent merely a year ago!) answered by saying online reviews carry the same import if not more than a recommendation from people they know or trust.
  • The trust in online reviews is growing. A stunning 72 percent are of the opinion that genuine, positive customer reviews will make them trust a business more. This is up from 58 percent in 2012! It’s very apparent that consumers are searching and taking note more than before and are placing their trust in reviews. Concurrently, only some 12 percent of consumers said they pay no attention of online reviews, down from 17 percent in 2012.
  • People are reading fewer reviews before they are making buying decisions. Now a full 67 percent of consumers read 6 reviews or less, up from 52 percent in 2012. All in all far fewer consumers are reading more than 7 reviews – 22 percent now vs. 35 percent in 2012.
  • It’s now more vital than ever before to successfully manage your online reputation. Since the number or reviews read are shrinking, and the impact of those reviews heightened, it’s imperative that you are monitoring your online reputation for all current activity. As the newest reviews are swinging the buying decisions, you’ll want to know if anything negative comes along and act on it. Create a policy for handling negative reviews in an open manner, and a system for generating new, reviews that are positive which will send those less than desirable reviews further down the page and out of sight. Be sure that these are genuine, as consumers are getting better at ferreting out fake and corporate-generated “reviews”.

Use this information!

Information such as this is pure gold, and clearly actionable. Kudos to Myles Anderson and the people at BrightLocal for this valuable and eye-opening study.

How Can a Six-Second Video Help Your Business?

Posted on: July 26, 2013 by in Business Building
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Ever thought about using Vine for short, sharable videos for your business? If not, you should. Making these videos is probably already within both your skill set and technology, as many are simply just using their smartphones and publishing these by the boatload.

Why is everyone so all aTwitter about Vine?

Well, just in case you missed the video, Vine is an innovative video sharing platform on Twitter that allows you to create and upload 6-second videos to Twitter. So you might be thinking, just how can a 6-second video help my business? Well, check out some of the ways these companies RedVines, Urban Outfitters and Nintendo managed to make it work for them!

These companies get it. They know what this service, which is trending off the charts just now, can achieve for them. Consumers are less willing to read, so a 6-second video is an answer to prayer for many of them. And, you’d be very astonished at many of the things people are accomplishing with this briefest of time frames. According to Biznology.com, businesses are using them to introduce new employees, announce events, give an insider’s look into the business, and even creating short commercials to display their latest product or service.

Publiseek.com offers more innovative options to use Vine. Some of these include:

  • Recording live customer reactions and testimonials
  • Record live launch updates about your new product or service
  • Real estate professionals are using Vine to give a (quick) virtual tour of new listings
  • Restaurants are sending out daily specials. Picture a scrumptious plate overlaid with the link, “Click to Smell”, which takes them to the reservation desk. Plenty of possibilities here!
  • Businesses are using Vine to show stunning after and before pictures

The only restriction here is your imagination! You can accomplish something positive for your business this afternoon if you take action. Get started with Vine today!

Foursquare Courts Small Business

Posted on: July 23, 2013 by in Business Building
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Mashable reports that Foursquare is now courting small business in a brand new way, enabling large advertisers like Burger King, Gap and Starwood Hotels to promote themselves on a platform designed to let small businesses do the exact same thing. These listings show each time a customer appears close to a business’ location. Small businesses were already equipped to offer deals and discounts anytime a user checked in to a location, nowadays Foursquare is enabling them to, for example, attract nearby customers by showing a photo and review left by a Foursquare user at this location.

What’s in it for Foursquare?

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Its users “check in” wherever they are using a mobile website, with a text message or a device-specific app. Foursquare locates them through the GPS in their mobile device. While Foursquare has up to now been an easy method for consumers to share their hangouts, favorite places and eateries, now they are allowing these places the opportunity to promote themselves directly to consumers. Foursquare, while seemingly successful with more than 25 million registered users, they’ve been singularly unspectacular when it comes to making money. They made a modest $2 million last year, according to The Wall Street Journal, and are searching for ways to boost the cash flow.

How the ads work

The way the new ad platform works is by targeting Foursquare users based on their locations and check-in histories. Merchants have the capability to attract nearby customers with specific tastes, such as a hankering for Far Eastern cuisine, or simply customers who had checked-in to their location previously. Merchants can stop their Foursquare promotions at any time, and the pricing for this is similar to a pay per click model, that is, they will only be charged on a “per action” basis (when a user actually taps on a promoted listing rather than merely looking at it). Initial ad prices are $0.50 to $3 per action, but that could change as it is released to everyone. Foursquare CRO Steven Rosenblatt said, “Small businesses are willing to pay for local advertising if it makes sense.”

Is Google+ Viable Now and In the Future?

Posted on: July 18, 2013 by in Business Building
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So, have you signed into your Google+ account today, or updated your business page lately? Quite possibly not, and while this is a relatively common scenario happening around the Web, as Google+ struggles to uncover its audience and usefulness. Lots of people are still divided, and the jury is still certainly out as to whether Google+ is or ever will be a practical tool for business.

Why we feel it’s worthwhile now and in the future!

It’s being shared that Google+ is now outpacing Twitter. Even if this in no way “feels” true, it quite possibly really is. Just the proliferation of Gmail and the simplicity of having Google’s entire suite of web services displayed the same time has probably sealed the deal. Not just that, but since Google Plus Local Listings already features such small business services as Zagat, StreetView and Google+ User ratings, it has effectively replaced Yelp.

The growth of Google Hangouts, for example, has a direct effect on where Google+ is headed as well. The ability to use a Hangout, as an alternative to say Skype, to do any sort of video conferencing, is a tremendous advantage. While it’s true that in its beginnings Hangouts is a bit clunky and difficult to figure out, once you do, it’s miles ahead of the competition. Merely the ability to have your Hangout automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube is enough to swing the scales in their favor.

So what are some ways businesses are using Google+?

There are a number of ways to use Google+ in your small business. Here’s just a few:

  • Building networks with Google+ Circles
  • Use #hashtags as a way for posts appear in Google search
  • Link Google+ to your blog, and benefit with your photo connected to your search results
  • Do live video chat with Google Hangouts
  • Use tags in Google+ to reach out to people directly

To experience a wonderfully comprehensive compilation of strategies and infographic for Google+, see this post on Copyblogger. Google+ may not feel like it’s worthy of effort just yet, but we feel as though it is both in the present and long term!

3 Ways to Get SEO Right From the Start

Posted on: July 16, 2013 by in Business Building
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One of the most significant mistakes that a startup website could make is to totally ignore SEO right from the start. It is a large task to execute, especially when you’re a new comer to online marketing, but we feel it’s an effort worth making, even at a minimal level. The key reason why is that you’re giving Google the wrong message right away. They’ll attempt to index your pages, and if your pages are lacking any SEO, often they are either unable to index, index the page incorrectly, or because on-page SEO is such a big part of the search algorithm, rank them so far down the search results they might as well be invisible. That’s too bad, as there are some really easy methods for getting started with SEO that don’t require a full-blown SEO firm to get done.

So what is Minimum Viable SEO?

The folks over at Priceonomics.com coined the term, “minimum viable SEO“, which means exactly how much SEO can you get by with to start. Although it is not an ideal strategy, it sure beats doing nothing. Here are some of the things that they mentioned, along with a few of our own thoughts tossed in because I couldn’t help myself!

Decide which kind of keywords you’re going after - as this determines not just your site structure but how many pages and how quickly you’ll be profitable. You could be going after the long tail of search, meaning keywords that are commonly 3-5 words long, often with product or model numbers. They don’t get a ton of searches daily, but are infinitely easier to rank for. Add a few thousand of these up, and you win. Another way to go is to optimize for a single keyword, like “auto insurance San Diego” you’ll typically be trying to rank only your home page. If you have a business with a local presence, make sure you have local geo-modifiers on your keywords, as in the above mentioned example.

Use breadcrumb navigation - You’ve seen this on many web pages. It is a set of links that show where you’ve been on the site, and where you are now. This is helpful for the searcher, (which Google likes) and covers a good deal of internal linkage. Here’s what it usually looks like: Home > Tablets > Apple > Ipad 2 3g

Use accurate title tags - Ensuring that the title tag on your page is accurate, meaning that it is or contains the keyword you would like that page ranked for, could very well be the most important SEO task you can do. Using local geo-modifiers is extremely important here too.

Doing minimum viable SEO is a start, and a lot better than doing nothing. Just don’t allow it to be the end!

Should Twitter be Part of Your Online Marketing Strategy?

Posted on: July 12, 2013 by in Business Building
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Twitter recently announced that its paid ad platform is open to any who would like to use it. In testing for over a year, Twitter has been assessing user feedback and refining Twitter ads. Probably the most noticeable difference in this ad platform vs. Facebook’s is that you are only charged when anyone follows your promoted account from your ad, or someone retweets, replies, favorites or clicks on your promoted tweets. Now that Twitter has ads, can it qualify as a real substitute for Facebook? Who wins this battle?

Facebook vs. Twitter!

Not such a long time ago, this would have been no contest. Facebook had it over Twitter in spades. However, today you can make a case for either or both. Clearly, there are lots of variables to factor in your decision of which platform to concentrate on, and the answer could be different for every business.

The Case for Facebook

Besides the well-known business pages that are getting more and more useful, the grasp of its network is definitely impressive. With more than a billion users, Facebook has developed into a much more than a place where one can catch up with with old school chums. Now, with well-oiled Facebook Pages, relevant groups and an extremely robust ad platform, you have most everything you could desire in a social media outlet.

Twitter’s Up

Twitter has always had the extra edge when it came to immediacy, and it has produced several very useful applications, such as advanced search for leads, as well as the opportunity to use embedded Tweets as testimonials. (Terrific social proof!) It’s a wonderful platform (though underused) for handling your company’s customer service. While the length of the content you are able to share has limitations, Twitter’s speed and ability to reach out quickly have now got them breathing the same air as Facebook.

Spend some time to find where your market is, and what social outlets they use best, and then see if that one (Or both of them!) fits your business!.

3 Awesome New Mobile Marketing Tools

Posted on: July 12, 2013 by in Business Building
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Mobile marketing is changing as quickly as the phone models are, and keeping up with all of the cool gadgets to help us traverse this useful and now-indispensable technology is challenging but exciting. So to keep you informed, here are 3 new tools we’ve discovered that we now wonder how we ever did without!

Red Stamp - Red Stamp calls themselves your modern day social secretary. How true that is! Red Stamp is a free Apple app that provides users a chance to send electronic and printed cards or notes with only a few clicks. Designing and customizing is a breeze, and there are even content suggestions if you’re having problems. Red Stamp can pull up your contacts, and recalls all of your vital information to boot. However, the best part is the cards sent via email, text or Facebook and Twitter are totally free! If you wish to go all traditional on us and send a printed card, Red Stamp stamps it and physically mails it to the address of your choice for only $1.99 each. Red Stamp is a wonderful app that Hallmark ought to beware of! (or buy!)

Swipely - Essentially an online payments site, Swipely has branched out to add a mobile loyalty program. Gone are the days of customers fumbling through their purse or wallet, searching for that tiny loyalty card for the establishment they are frequenting. Swipely makes it simple with a text to join application that allows users to join with one easy text message. This kind of program is invaluable for restaurants and retailers that are wanting ways to keep and win new customers. Mobile loyalty programs like these can also be great for list building, that can also expand your business. Swipely’s mobile loyalty program is free to use for existing customers.

TextUs.biz - So many people prefer to text rather than talk (roughly 32 percent) TextUs.biz found a way to fill a very real need for a very reasonable price. TextUs.biz is an app that allows businesses to send and receive texts from customers via their computer, phone or iPad, anything from simple reminders to promotional sales messages. Your end users don’t even have to download the app! TextUs.biz is totally free for the first 100 messages, and is very cheap after that, even if you find yourself sending oodles of texts!

How NOT to Engage Using Social Media

Posted on: July 5, 2013 by in Business Building
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Anyone watching “Kitchen Nightmares” starring Gordon Ramsey a couple weeks ago in the episode featuring Amy and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Ariz. must still be shaking their heads in amazement at the social media fiasco that has ensued. It seems the owners didn’t think much of the advice proposed by the frequently outspoken Ramsey, then took to their Facebook page to start an all-out flame war with their critics, huge numbers of Reddit commenters that descended upon their page, and at last count have left some 45,000 comments. This turned into a classic lesson in how NOT to engage in social media. The always stubborn owner Amy, joined in by her husband, opened fire in an epic flaming match with the commenters, complete with salty language in all caps, to boot. There is no doubt they’ll be dealing whith this for quite a while, as nearly all of the comments were, how should we say, less than complimentary. This was an epic social media train wreck if there ever was one.

What not to do on Facebook

In celebration of this event, we decided to reiterate a few of the basic rules regarding how to conduct yourself on a public social media platform.

  • Don’t shy away from complaints. Address them, but in a polite manner.
  • Be sure to NEVER get into a flaming match with anyone posting on your page. You will undoubtedly lose!
  • Correct anything that is incorrect or misstated, but be sure you keep your wits about you. No confrontations!
  • Try and maintain a sense of humor. Sharks smell blood in the water…
  • Be professional, generous, and watch controversy die on the vine.
  • Do not end up cursing or confronting. If you need to scream a name at someone, hold off until you get in the shower!
  • Do not share too much personal information. It can be used against you. Let your personality shine through, but not your home address!

Amy’s Baking Company is in no way the first one to go off on  with their fans in exactly the wrong manner, (see Nestle) however apparently this wasn’t their first foray into public mudslinging. They lit into a Yelp reviewer in 2010, and the negative reviews are still piling up!

Which Social Media Metrics Should You Ignore?

Posted on: July 2, 2013 by in Business Building
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“Vanity metrics” is a term you may or may not have heard of. It refers to the standards by which we assess our traffic and online viability. What we are coming to understand is that many of these used to measure “results” can frequently be misleading and ought to be politely ignored.

Here are a few you can safely ignore:

  • Likes, Followers and Connections - The one with the most followers wins, right? If only it were that easy. In reality, more followers translate to a better bottom line only if you are actively engaging them, and building a relationship which leads to conversions. Merely developing a massive number of likes or followers who don’t make the transition to customers is relatively pointless.
  • Comments - Since we are seeking to increase conversion, our goal with content must be more than creating posts (video, tweet, share) that generate a large number of comments, but no leads. Provide them with a reason to comment that leads them down the path toward conversion, for instance a leading question on the topic.
  • Impressions - Mainly an advertising metric, the number of ad impressions is also pointless for our purposes, as it does not indicate any measurable action. It tells you the number of times your ad displayed on a computer screen, not how it performs. Instead, check out click-thru rates and conversion rates.

More on this subject can be found at HubSpot.

Metrics you’ll want to keep an eye on:

  • Shares of your content - Even though this is not a concrete statistic, having your content shared in whatever form is a step in the right direction. This indicates that your content making an impression (the right kind!) and is being passed around.
  • Social mentions, citations - Especially now that Google is including social signals (mentions) into the search algorithm, these can be most informative. Not only will it help with search, but also authority as your content consistently gets shared.
  • Conversions - The endgame. You need to make sure that your social media and sharable content is ultimately leading to more conversions.

Read more about this at Mashable.