5 Ways to Show Your Customers Some Love

In honor of the upcoming holiday of love, Valentine’s Day, we present 5 ways to show customers some love. Nothing keeps customers coming back like showing them that you care! But remember, this isn’t something that you should feel obliged to do just one day out of the whole year. Part of your everyday business goal should be to make customers feel special and give them a reason to continue using your products or services.

heart-customers

1) Communicate – Just like any other relationship, there should be a two way channel of communication. Interacting with customers means responding to comments and reviews, positive or negative. Interaction on social media can help customers feel more connected to your business and give them more incentive to stay loyal.

2) Give a Shoutout – Customers love a good shoutout. Facebook is a great way to showcase customers, whether you randomly choose a person through a drawing or specially select a person for something like a Customer of the Month spotlight. Not only is this a great way to show customers that you care, but it can also help with your social media efforts by way of positive brand association, shares, mentions and more.

3) Everyone Likes Free Stuff – Giveaways are a great way to reward customers and there are many ways you can do this. Whether it’s a solitary giveaway on social media or freebies with each order, it’s a great way to keep customers coming back. Here are some examples:

– Get a free sandwich after your 10th purchase
– Get a free t-shirt with a purchase of $100 or more
– Get 3 free product samples with every order
– Get 1 month of service free with the purchase of 6 months

Discounts are great from a customer’s point of view. But depending on your business, it can cheapen or dilute your products and services. Customers may feel like the “regular” price is not worth it because they were give a discount before. Instead, giving away something for free can add value to your products and services.

4) Reward Loyalty – This goes with the previous item but with something more. For example, all types of businesses (banks, internet, daily deal sites) will give monetary incentive if you can get friends or family members to join. In addition, you can go a step further and make customers feel like they’re really part of your family. Some examples include:

– Getting something free or discounted on your birthday
– Getting exclusive access to something (wifi, sales before the general public, special seats at en event, etc.)

In short, make your customers feel like they are VIP.

5) Give Them Thanks – Something as simple as saying THANK YOU, goes a long way. After all, customers have so many different choices and they chose your business! Why not make them feel extra special? From a business perspective, this is very doable with automated tools or email blasts. This also gives your business the opportunity to solicit honest feedback or ask (or subtly suggest) that customers leave good reviews. Definitely a win-win.

Spread the love, Like us on Facebook and let us know what you think as a business or a customer!

Worst Excuses for Avoiding Customer Reviews

Although there are many reasons to want to avoid the topic of customer reviews, there are more good reasons why your business should be open to it. Don’t fall into the trap of being the stubborn business owner who would rather not deal with Yelp (or any other third party review site):

“I would rather have my business seem ‘mysterious’.”

One excuse spins the perspective that NO reviews (good or bad) is a good thing! The assumption is that if customers can’t find anything about a business, they’ll be curious and motivated to give it a try.

Realistically, a business without any reviews or any type of online presence may seem suspicious. Especially if the business has been around for a long time. It may also convey the message that the business has an old and outdated mentality on marketing and customer service.

In today’s world, customers have a handful of options to choose from. And guess what? If your “mysterious” business has 0 reviews and your competitors have 20, guess which choice the customer will make?

1 bad review will ruin 10 good ones

Criticism is hard to take whether it’s coming from a real loyal customer or a competitor in disguise, who’s looking to sabotage your business with false, bad reviews. It’s a good thing that Yelp has a filtering system that is especially designed to combat these reviews.

Dealing with negative reviews is a crummy part of running a business but it’s part of the package. In today’s world of the “social” customer, it’s important to learn how to deal with all types of reviews. In the long run, addressing these issues will only help your business.

As far as having negative reviews, it’s bound to happen. All customers aren’t alike and people will have different experiences and your business may just be having an off day. In fact, one argument is that it would seem unnatural if your business had nothing except good reviews!

Can’t I just fake my customer reviews?

It’s understandable that it can be embarrassing and a lot of hard work to ask for customer reviews. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I pretend to be a satisfied customer (you have one in mind) and write a review as if I were that person? The answer is NO! This risky behavior is not worth the potential backlash and penalties if Yelp figures out that you’ve been writing fake reviews.

Check out our blog post “How to Ask Customers for Reviews” for more information.

Why should I bother? Reviews won’t help my website.

Because third party reviews aren’t directly related to your website, the ultimate excuse would be that it shouldn’t matter. But Yelp, Google+, Yellow Pages and City Search do matter. These are often sites that show up in a branded search for your  business name. Maintaining your website and brand reputation means dealing things even if it’s off-site. Also with the recent Google Pigeon update, it’s been shown that good reviews are considered a factor in your website’s authority (in the ranking of the 7 local pack).

It’s All About Customer Service

Social media and online customer reviews are a relatively new aspect of business that owners have to deal with. But they aren’t going anywhere soon. The longer you delay, the more behind your business will fall. Don’t be afraid of the unknown but embrace it and engage with your customers so you have a better gauge on what they have to say and understanding of the appropriate response. The time to act is now!

Yelp Faces “Elite” Backlash & a Lawsuit On Fraudulent Reviews

It’s Neat to Be “Elite”

There has been much controversy surrounding Yelp, from their sales tactics to their review filtering system. Recently, their “Elite” Yelp(er) Program has been subject to scrutiny. If you’re unfamiliar with what it means to be “Elite”, Yelp basically rewards Yelpers who have a high volume of reviews under their belt. Yes, those are the special people with the little Elite badge on their profile. The Elite Yelpers get the chance to attend exclusive events at local businesses (usually restaurants) where they can indulge in free food and swag.

yelp-elite

Members are tempted to become and stay Elite by cranking out reviews, whether it’s warranted or not. And in place of the “Don’t you know who I am?” card, Elite Yelpers have reportedly pulled the “Elite” status on small business owners upon their arrival in order to get free/better food and service. While it’s not necessarily fair, it doesn’t look like Yelp will stop any time soon.

Yelp Under Fire for Fraudulent Reviews

A new class action lawsuit alleges that “Yelp insiders and executives sold off more than $81 million in artificially inflated stock while deceiving shareholders about the company’s business practices and financial outlook”. Furthermore, Yelp is accused of showcasing “fraudulent” reviews that may not be authentic or written by a customer who actually had a first-hand experience with the business.

The idea of fraudulent reviews could go both way, positive or negative reviews. An example would be a business featured on television and viewers, not necessarily customers, flooding the Yelp Page with good/bad reviews. Case in point, the infamous Amy’s Baking Company fiasco where it was flooded with negative reviews. On the other hand, a restaurant being featured on the news showcasing their volunteer and donation efforts may get an influx of positive reviews. Either way, visible reviews written on these businesses could be considered fraudulent.

Sharing Your Own Experiences with Yelp

Share your thoughts about Yelp with us on Facebook and check out our other posts on Yelp here:
What Are Your Options For Bad Yelp Reviews?
A Yelp for Help: Alleged Extortion
Yelp! I Need Somebody (Help, Not Just Anybody)
Yelp Can Help Your Small Business

What Are Your Options For Bad Yelp Reviews?

Yelp – either you love it or hate it. As a consumer, it’s helpful to read customer reviews when you’re looking for a local restaurant, mechanic, accountant or even dentist. But as a small business owner, the thought of customers being able to freely leave reviews, even false ones, while being protected, is sure to make your skin crawl.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to read Yelp’s own guidelines for responding. There are a few options you have:

Reach out privately

Sometimes, an apology and offer to return to your establishment is good enough to convince a user who wrote the bad review to change it in an update. Reaching out privately shows that you care about your business and your customers’ experiences.

Reach out publicly

If there’s a common thread in your bad Yelp reviews, it might be time to take the comments to the public. Writing a composed, tactful and sincere apology shows that you’re not afraid to address some business flaws and that you’re working hard to make things better. Public comments from business owners show the human side of an establishment and can also help you get loyal customers on your side.

Flag Reviews that violate Yelp’s Content Guidelines and Terms of Service

Sometimes, it’s extremely frustrating to deal with a falsified review. There are many things you’re thinking about, even if it’s a competitor trying to sabotage your business. One option to deal with these types of reviews is to flag them and encourage others (employees, family and friends). While Yelp has a staunch policy on what reviews are filtered and not filtered, it’s possible to get a false review flagged.

Encourage more reviews from happy customers

If you have very few or one negative review, the best option is to tackle it head on… by encouraging more positive reviews. The ratio of good and bad reviews is important. While you can’t ask for reviews outright (and definitely don’t compensate for them), you can always encourage customers to visit your business on Yelp. Ask them how their experience was and through the subtext, they’ll understand that they can help your business out by leaving a positive review or tip.

Have any other ways to deal with bad Yelp reviews? Let us know what you think about Yelp: https://www.facebook.com/emarketed

Other related articles

Does Yelp Filter Positive Reviews if a Business Refuses to Pay for Advertising?
How Do You Handle Bad Online Reviews?

Do Your Thank You Pages Say Enough?

Website conversions are a big deal and we sometimes don’t think about the actions that can take place afterwards. Thank you pages are a big missed opportunity that require very little effort with potentially big payoffs. Simply sending users to a blank “Thank you, your form was submitted” page isn’t useful. That space can be used for many different things. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t forget about your thank you page:

thank-you-page

1) Conversion Code – Whether it’s a thank you page for a form submission, download, sign-up or purchase, it’s important to add the appropriate conversion code. Especially if you’re running a paid search campaign or using third party analytics. Don’t forget to add your conversion code! This is the first MUST-DO on a thank you page.

2) Video – Instead of just a plain, boring “Thank You”, why not add a thank you video? Videos are an easy and personal way to reach out to your customers. In a few seconds, a video can be used to thank visitors and assure them that they will hear back from you soon (if they submitted a form). A video can be used to tell users what to expect after their conversion. If you need help or ideas, view more our our videos here: http://vimeo.com/emarketed

3) Related Products – For e-commerce sites, a thank you page is prime real estate for additional products. You can also give users a sneak preview of related products they can expect to see in the future. This is helpful for online clothing retailers or a site where customers would make consistent purchases. Use seasonal and buyer trends to introduce new products, even after they’ve already made a purchase.

4) Sharing is Caring – Coupons and sharing incentives are key. People love sharing good deals with their friends, especially if they get compensated for it. A thank you page can be used to remind customers that if they invite a friend who signs up, they’ll get X amount off on their next purchase. Similarly, you can incentivize customers to spend, let’s say $100, and get $15 back to send to a friend. These are deals that will keep them coming back, even after the conversion is made.

5) Social Profiles and Reviews – A thank you screen can also take users to all your social profiles and review sites. Although most sites discourage explicitly asking for reviews, you can subtlety urge them to visit all your social and review sites.

Don’t take thank you pages for granted again. There is much you can do to keep users on the site for longer, interested in your business and happy overall!

Do’s & Don’ts of Adding Client Reviews to Your Website

Potential clients will likely to look up reviews and testimonials for your company before choosing to do business with you. It’s getting easier for customers to find what they’re looking for as local review sites often dominate the first page in a search for your business name. Reviews are important for local businesses, such as restaurant and bars. Think about it, would you want to dine at a place that has terrible reviews for food and/or service? Reviews do us all a service and highlight the good as well as the bad.

Regardless of your industry, adding customer reviews to your website will help boost your business’ credibility and trust. But there are a few things to remember:

add customer reviews to your site

Don’t: Add generic reviews or endorsements. Although something short and simple like “They did a good job!” or “Great customer service” sounds good, it’s not the right type of reviews you want to add to your website. This type of user-generated content doesn’t add any value to your site or benefit for readers. It’s basically fodder to fluff your ego up because you don’t have any testimonials with substance to showcase.
Do: Add the client review along with your own summary or background on the situation/transaction. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all industries but for service-oriented businesses, it’s important to tell the story of a certain client you’ve been working with, how they were before they came to you and what your company did to fix the problem and present a clear solution. Think of this in terms of case results, white papers or case studies.

Don’t: Copy and paste reviews from other sources and put them on your site. This presents a duplicate content issue, even if it is for your own business but on a third party site.
Google especially doesn’t like it when you copy your own Google Reviews to highlight on your site. They often deal with it by deleting the review from your Google listing.
Do: Showcase good reviews in an SEO and user friendly way. If there really is a review that is worthwhile that you would like to highlight on your site, you can present it in an image (to avoid duplicate content issues) and link to the original source. This way, potential customers can view the review as well as go to the third party source where it’s located. You can gain credibility going this route because it shows that you’re not just pulling reviews out of thin air but that the testimonials are actually legitimate.
Another option to showcasing Google Reviews, while avoiding duplicate content issues that could lead to the actual reviews to be deleted, is to share them in email newsletters.

Don’t: Gather reviews on your website and off-site all at once. While this seems like the most logical and easiest way to gather reviews, it can seem unnatural. If you’re adding a lot of content to your site, it’s better to spread it out over a certain amount of time. When you ask customers for reviews on third party sites, a sudden surge could cause the reviews to be filtered because the pattern seems unnatural.
Do: Spread out your testimonial requests and posts. Instead, you might want to highlight a few good reviews on your website per quarter or season. When you have some good user reviews to present, it’s more useful to present it in a meaningful way that makes sense. For example, it would make sense for an e-commerce store to highlight reviews for fall or winter items when they are in season.

Don’t: Post fake reviews or testimonials for other businesses. Not only does this pose a moral issue, but legally, you can get in a ton of trouble. Recently 19 businesses in New York were busted by the Attorney General. You can check out the entire list here and warning, it does contact some sketchy SEO and internet marketing companies!
Do: Think about testimonial quality over quantity. If your business is small or new, it wouldn’t make sense to fake reviews for the sake of having more, seemingly good reviews.  Trust me, you’re not fooling anyone! Good reviews and customer relationships grow over time and it’s something that you will have to be patient with. Taking the short cut of faking or buying reviews isn’t worth it in the long run.

For a business, good reviews can be a goldmine while bad reviews can certainly lead to a downfall. The best thing about adding real reviews to your website is that you can highlight the positive and build up your reputation from there.

How to Ask Customers for Reviews

Just the thought that customers can leave public reviews for your business can be downright nerve-racking. But in today’s online marketing world, reviews are becoming a more important part of your business’ web presence. Just take a look at our previous post to see how search engines are putting more weight on customer reviews.

Here are a few ways you can ask for more customer reviews:

1) Ask your customers: Do it the old-fashioned way and ask for a review. Check out this example of how you can guide customers to leave a review. All it takes is a small card with easy-to-follow instructions.

A follow-up email will also suffice and you’ll probably see this a lot with e-commerce stores and online retailers who ask for your review of a product a few days after you’ve received the item.

2) Don’t ask your customers: Contradictory to our last piece of advice, it might be a good idea to not directly ask customers for advice. Read it here on Yelp’s official blog.

Instead, you might want to use language that seems less desperate and aggressive than, “PLEASE LEAVE US A GOOD REVIEW, NOW!!!”. Ask Yelp suggests, you can instead ask customers to “visit”, “find”, or “check out” your business on the review site.

This depends on which review site you’re using, as most discourage explicitly asking for good reviews. But reviews are a good way to showcase user-generated content on your website.

3) Make it easy for customers to find your listings on review sites: It’s a good idea to have one location on your website where customers can find all the official listings to your business.

This can help businesses that have multiple listings, unofficial/unclaimed listings and listings with incorrect information. The last thing you want to have is a good review on the wrong listing.

4) Give customers a template to fill out:: While online review sites might have strict policies for filtering reviews, you can still use good ones to your advantage by putting them on your website.

You can send customers some questions to fill out such as: what did you think of our service? how did you find out business? what are some things we can improve on? and would you recommend us to family and friends? This information can be used internally to improve your service and customer relations.

Customers and clients may also send thank you cards or notes and you can always use them on your website, with permission of course! Showcasing hand-written notes is a creative and easy way to showcase your business’ personal side.

The thought of customer reviews can be scary. But you’re hurting your business if you’re putting off the process and making it more difficult for customers to leave a review. Make sure to comment and let us know what you think or continue this conversation on Facebook!

Mid-May Marketing Recap & SEO News

SEO
Matt Cutt says, “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video…(unless you prefer surprises)”. Watch it now!

Social
Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive Mike Jeffries speaks candidly: “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Talk about a social media fail and PR flop!

Local
1.1 million local businesses have claimed their profiles on Yelp. The company said that this is an astounding 58% increase from the first quarter of 2012. Read more here.

Mobile Search
Straight from Inside AdWords, shoppers who use mobile more are more likely to spend more in store.

Have any other stories that caught your eye so far this month? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

5 Signs Your Website Hosting Company is Unreliable

Where your website is hosted can be just important as any other part of your marketing campaign. Without reliable service, your site might not be seen when it really matters, including holidays and other important high traffic days. Here are some signs of an unreliable web host, if any red flags come up, it might just be time to switch!

1) Offering deals that sound too good to be true:  Are you signing up for plans that only “cost” $1 a month or come with unlimited bandwidth? While these things sounds great on the surface, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. For example, buying the bare minimum package and having to add more services (which can really add up).
Having an unlimited plan sounds great, but is everyone receiving the same deal? At some point, traffic can overload servers and your unlimited plan may result in a lot of website down time.

2) Slow website loading time: Sometimes, having a big or super busy website can slow down your load time. Other times, your hosting company just might be overloaded, causing your pages to slow down and deter visitors. Check out Google PageSpeed Insights to see what the problem is.

3) Bad reviews and reputation: Do your research and check out what customers have to say on review sites. It’s understandable to have a few bad reviews but if the overwhelming majority is negative, it’s not really worth it to save yourself a couple of bucks each month for a semi-reliable host.

4) Unreliable customer service: Is your web hosting company closed on weekends? Do they keep you on hold for hours when you’re trying to call? A reliable company offers support when you need it and through different ways: email, phone, online chat, forums, social media and more. Don’t limit yourself on when you can talk to your web host.

5) Bad Advice: Some web developers handle the hosting aspect for you, but they can also offer very risky advice. For example, I recently heard a client was advised to let his domain expire and then re-purchase it! All because the developer was too lazy to get the login information needed to renew the site…

Learn more about reliable website hosting and call Emarketed for a free consultation today.

Quotes to Make You Think About Your Online Reputation

A recent article by VentureBeat found that Amazon is in the business of deleting negative reviews… but only for their own shipping service. Although this might seem like a convenient way to deal with bad reviews, there are more consequences to think about. Check out these 10 quotes on the importance of maintaining a good reputation:

1. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
Warren Buffett

2. A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.
Baltasar Gracian

3. Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
George Washington

4. Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.
Elizabeth Arden

5. Ones reputation is like a shadow, it is gigantic when it precedes you, and a pigmy in proportion when it follows.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

6. Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

7. Unfortunately, your reputation often rests not on your ability to do what you say, but rather on your ability to do what people expect.
Bryant H. McGill

8. A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.
Ernest Bramah

9. There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.
Brian Koslow

10. Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

Make sure to also read our related posts:
What We Can Learn About Taking Criticism & Reputation Management
Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment
Managing Your Online Reputation