• Ten Local Business Review Sites Influencing Your New Customers

    Every business –restaurants, doctors, law firms, dry cleaners and other brick (click) and mortar businesses – wins and loses new customers every day before the potential customer even sets foot out the door. Their decision to do you business with your company is often made without ever engaging with your company directly. Some customers may even form opinions about your business without ever stepping a foot in your store. This is because online review sites make it easy for potential customers to look up businesses and compare ratings, all without ever leaving their home. And with so many businesses to choose from, being number one on Google is almost never the only deciding credibility or trust factor. When marketing your business these days, you’re dealing with an educated consumer who does their research on review sites and does not really care what you have to say about your business. They care what others have to say. When friends and family aren’t readily available to ask for recommendations, where else can people turn but the local online community? Welcome to the new word-of-mouth (mouse) marketing. Looking To Online Reviews When faced with too many choices, others will rely on the “social…

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  • Think Reputation Management is Unimportant? Why You Might Want to Think Again

    For many executives reputation management is simply part of traditional PR. And they are wrong. Reputation Is An Invaluable Asset Corporate reputation is arguably the single most important non-corporeal asset a business posseses. The old days of word-of-mouth reputation are long gone – or, more true to say, have entered the digital landscape. Reputation Counts For More In Today’s Business Reality Formerly, reputation assessment was the stuff of focus groups and surveys, and tended to be directed toward products and services. And those tools are still important, for instance, in the food and beverage industries. But for most companies, the lag time associated with focus groups and surveys makes them cumbersome data generating tools. We live in a world radically transformed by communications media. This revolution has dilated time and condensed it simultaneously. We live in an era where a minute is longer and communication is expected to be instantaneous. A New Kind Of Consumer Reputation happens – it is a reality all business activity generates. That it is more important than ever before has to do with changing consumer behavior. A recent study of preferences in young professionals – an increasingly important influence in B2B sales – reveals that…

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  • The Future of Online Business Review Sites

      What’s the deal with online business review sites? Sites like Yelp, Google+ Local, and Angie’s List have long been regarded as important places for businesses to manage their online image, but recently, there has been a bit of a kerfuffle involving their trustworthiness. Studies conducted a few months ago by the likes of Maritz Research and Consumer Reports document both consumer and business perceptions of the most popular online business review sites, as well as the way in which they affect purchasing decisions. The unfortunate results of these studies? While businesses almost universally lament the unfair practices of the review sites, most customers still trust them and use them to choose which businesses to patronize, and which to avoid. Consumer Trust It seems strange in today’s world of social media-driven everything, where friends are constantly connected and sharing their experiences on a regular basis, that the words of complete strangers would still hold so much sway over an individual’s purchasing decisions. But according to a Maritz Research study, 75% of online business review site users feel that the information presented there is generally fair. 60%, however, add a caveat – they only pay attention to the actual comments left…

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  • Why Case Studies Are So Awesome That We Should…Do a Case Study About Them!

    OK, guys, look. We here at Marketing Zen have been around the block a few times when it comes to online marketing. In our years of experience, we’ve seen firsthand the impact that case studies can have on a business’s growth. But it’s not enough that we’ve seen it – we want you to get it, too! So, just for you, we decided to write a case study about…drum roll, please…case studies! Our goals are as follows:   To improve our awesome blog readers’ understanding of what a case study is. To demonstrate how to put an awesome case study together. To show how effective case studies can be in establishing credibility and social proof…and awesomeness. To increase the use of case studies in awesome businesses across the nation!   The Strategy: 1. First, we’ve got to explain what exactly a case study is. (Hint: It’s awesome.) A case study is like a customer testimonial on steroids. (But not really, because then it would get ‘roid rage, and that would NOT attract new clients.) It’s basically a write-up, done by your company, in which you describe how you helped a client. But the great thing about it is that you…

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  • So Bad You Can’t Look Away: How You Should Definitely NOT Respond to Negative Customer Reviews and Comments

    Remember that restaurant featured on Kitchen Nightmares a while back? The one whose owners absolutely blasted anyone who dared to give their food or service a thumbs-down online? Calling them names, threatening legal action, filling their Facebook page with expletive-laced rants? Of course you remember them! Who could forget? But did you know they actually did have some positive reviews on various sites? Betcha didn’t. And whether or not their food was actually any good, at that point, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was their unprofessional online behavior. The thing is, people are drawn to drama. It’s just naturally more interesting than the mundane positive stuff of daily life. Our emotions get involved, we want to share our horror or outrage with others, and even months later, we still remember exactly what happened. And that is where problems can begin for any business. You can provide amazing customer service most of the time, and yet all it takes is the mishandling of a few dissatisfied customers’ negative comments online to start a downward spiral. People are drawn to conflict, remember? So any negativity is going to draw more attention than any positive reviews you’ve gotten. Now, we’re not…

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  • Why Review Sites Matter For Your Business

      Transcription of “Why Review Sites Matter For Your Business”: Shama: I know you also stress a lot about review sites. What is it about review sites like Yelp and others that are important to search engine optimization? Idan: Users gather information on the Internet. If it’s from your Website, from a competitor, from Yelp, from another citation, like Google Plus or Google Places or even Bing. All these citations, people go on and they place their view. If you’re not there, your competitors are. Shama: What’s a citation? Idan: A citation is basically a website, a directory, that people have their place of business. Shama: Ok so your information is linked in it. It’s kind of like a yellow pages on the Web and you have so many directories. That’s a citation. Idan: Exactly and there are so many of them. Shama: I love SEO speak. Idan: There are so many of them because different people go to different places. You may like Google Places while I may like really Yelp. I like the information on Bing more than just Google Places. It’s really important to be everywhere. Shama: One of the things that I really like about you…

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  • Don’t Call People Names on Yelp and Other Tips

    “Marketing Zen!” you say, “Someone said something rude and awful about my business on the Internet! What do I do about this?” From Yelp to Google Places and many sites in between, consumers now have a variety of outlets to express their opinions about your establishment. This can be great for your online marketing – if you do everything perfect all the time. What if you messed up? Well, here are some tips for dealing with that unpleasant predicament. Keep your emotions out of it. Yeah, we get it. It sucks to put all your effort into something, only to see people trash it on the Internet. For an example from the publishing industry, take independent author Jacqueline Howett, whose defensive replies to a two-star review of her book went viral (although many of her comments have since been removed – probably because she realized in hindsight that responding wasn’t such a great idea to begin with). People aren’t always going to like what you’ve created as much as you like it. That’s just how it works. If you get too emotional when people offer criticism, you’re probably not the right person to be monitoring what people are saying. Find a…

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  • How to Deal with Negative Reviews

    The beauty of social media is that people are now the media. When you leverage this fact correctly, it makes for an excellent social media strategy. But, what happens when someone says something negative – factual or not? Check out my guest post at Liz Strauss’ Successful Blog on how to deal with negative reviews – The Zen Way of Dealing with Negative Commentary Online.