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56 percent of consumers select a business if it has positive reviews/ratings in the local pack, writes Sherry Bonelli. And that's just the beginning.

Over the past few years the topic of reputation marketing has really taken off. Many businesses are finally starting to realize that getting online reviews from happy customers has many benefits – and that list of benefits keeps growing.

Ever since Google started showing those little stars in search engine results pages (SERPs), people started to take notice – consumers and business owners. Businesses began to ask themselves: Does my business have any online reviews? How many reviews are online about my company, products, services – or even my staff/team? What are my customers saying about us – is it good or bad? What is my company’s overall star rating on Google My Business, Yelp and other popular online review sites?

And these reviews – or lack of reviews – show up front-and-center for all to see (especially potential customers) whenever someone does a search for a local business or industry on Google. Seeing those stars and reading the various online reviews make it easier for consumers to quickly compare competitors, get a feel for whether a business can be trusted and if their products or services are bad, ho-hum, good, great or awesome! (Okay. “Awesome” isn’t really a choice when leaving online reviews, but ‘Awesome’ would be a 5-star review in my opinion….)

Reading online reviews has organically become part of the customer’s buying process. In fact, 56 percent of consumers select a business if it has positive ratings/reviews in the Google Local Pack:

When Google began showing third-party reviews in September 2016, that’s when the industry really stopped in their tracks and sat up straight in their seats and took notice.

Displaying these third-party reviews on Google showed all of us just how important Googlethinks reviews are to the overall “healthiness” of a website. And unlike many review sites (e.g. Yelp), Google actually encourages businesses to ask customers for reviews.

In fact, Google just started sending out printed handouts to Google’s Get Your Business Online (GYBO) partners for them to distribute to workshop participants. One side of the handout is only about how businesses can “connect with customers through reviews”:

In my opinion, this innocent looking little piece of paper is signficiant – probably moresignificant than it seems at the outset. Since Google took the time to design, print and paid to send out these flyers to GYBO partners to pass out at their local workshops, it means that Google thinks reviews are important – and you should, too!

So if you own a business, you should train your team how to ask for an online review — because 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if they’re simply asked. That makes it simple; right?

Now Is The Time To Get Reviews For Your Business

The social proof in reviews and star ratings helps shoppers shortcut their research and make decisions faster and with greater confidence than ever before. A positive reputation is one of the most powerful assets a business has, and those 5-star reviews can help influence new customers to buy from you.

According to BrightLocal’s latest Local Consumer Review Survey91% of consumers actively read online business reviews. This means more and more people are searching for and reading reviews on a regular basis. Consumers are proactively looking for reviews – which is great for businesses that have a positive online reputation.

A positive reputation can do so much for a company. Here are five reasons why proactively getting 5-star reviews can help your business.

1.Rank Your Business Higher On Search Engine Results

Reviews and ratings help a business rank higher on the search engines. Two recent studies by Moz and The Local SEO Guide show the ranking factors that influence local search rankings. They both found that online reviews can help a website rank higher in the Google Local 3-Pack and in organic local search results.

If a local business wants to rank higher on Google, having reviews is the fifth top ranking factor to getting a business listed on Google’s Local 3-Pack. So if you want to try and rank higher on Google, start getting those reviews!

2.Reviews Improve Click-Through Rates

One of your main goals as a business is to get searchers to click on your link when you show up in the search engines. A recent study showed that 56 percent of consumers click on businesses that have online reviews:

Star ratings in the Local Pack results generate higher CTR than organic search results. In this study, it was also discovered that showing a positive star rating of 3+ stars has a positive impact on click-through rates. The higher the star rating the more clicks a search listing received from Google’s Local Pack.

It’s simple: Negative ratings reduce clicks and positive ratings increase clicks.

3. Positive Reviews Build Trust With Potential Customers

Almost 9 out of 10 consumers determine whether or not they can trust a business after reading 10 reviews. But don’t just stop with ten reviews! Getting online reviews must be an ongoing process for your business and should be built into your selling and follow-up sales processes. Ask your customers for a review when they’re at their happiest moment in the buying process.

Did they just buy a new car and they have the keys to their shiny new car in their hands? Ask to take a picture of them in front of their new vehicle to post on your social media page – and ask for a review before they drive off. Did your customer just get a relaxing massage that made them feel amazing? Ask for a review as you’re checking them out. If you sell a product like hearing aids, wait an appropriate amount of time for your new patient to get used to their hearing device and then email them or send them a postcard thanking them for their business and giving them direct links to a few of your review site listings that they can leave feedback on.

You can never have too many reviews. Remember, just like SEO and other digital marketing strategies, your competitors are going to try and one-up you. They are always going to try to get one more review than you! Keep going…Push forward.

Research has also shown that 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. What does that mean to you? If you think getting personal one-on-one referrals are good, just think about how much more leverage and power you’ll have when you get hundreds (or thousands) of people reading those online “referrals”? The power is endless!

4. Improves Landing Page Conversions

In digital marketing you’re always trying to get better conversion rates — more clicks on your organic rankings, more clicks on your paid-for ads, enticing potential buyers to click on a link to a product page in a blog post you wrote, etc.

A recent survey was done to see how promoting a 5-star reputation impacts landing page conversions.

In this study, 6,283 North American consumers were surveyed and asked to imagine they were searching online for a local plumber, florist or realtor. They were then showed two different landing pages – one landing page highlighted an actual customer’s review about the business and another page where the business said they were the “dependable” company:

What were the results?

83 percent of the people thought the business with the user-generated review on the landing page was trustworthy. Additionally, 15 percent of the people said they did not find the business without reviews to be trustworthy. 

The consumers were then asked how likely it would be for them to contact the businesses. Of the businesses with reviews on their landing pages, a whopping 74 percent of people said they would contact the business!

5. Customer Feedback Can Help Improve Your Business

 Both positive AND negative reviews can help you improve your business. For instance, do you have a few negative reviews online? If you do, take a look at what the reviewer has to say. Is there a systemic problem with a product that you should evaluate? Do you have an employee that is consistently getting mentioned in negative reviews? If so, you may want to spend extra time coaching him. There can be a good side to negative feedback because those poor reviews may uncover a business issue, process or employee problem that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.

The growing quantity of online reviews and review sites covering more industries and services, provides huge benefits to both consumers and the businesses that fully embrace reputation marketing.

What Does Your Reputation Look Like?

Before you venture into reputation marketing it’s good to get a baseline as to how your current reputation and online reviews look. If you’re not sure if your business has reviews (or whether they’re good or bad) you can run a free reputation report to find out.

The Bottom Line?

In a world of mixed messages, multiple options and overwhelming data, getting online reviews is a great way to differentiate your business from your competitors in the market.

Source: This article was published geomarketing.com By Sherry Bonelli

Categorized in Online Research

It's hard to imagine a data-filled presentation of more than 200 slides being "eagerly anticipated." But each year since 1995 Mary Meeker, a partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has managed to get Silicon Valley salivating over her hefty annual presentations on the state of the internet.

Commentators call the release of the always expansive slide deck "a rite of summer" and hail Meeker as "the voice of internet progress." Her "famed" presentations are called "influential" and "fascinating."

Why? A respected analyst, Meeker's offers not only a feast of facts on the state of the web, but also prescient insights on where the industry is headed.

Her slidedecks might be incredibly informative, but they're not exactly light reading. If you've got the time to wade through the whole thing, here's the complete 2016 report, which she presented this week at the Code Conference in California. But thankfully, if you're looking to get at the essence of her talk in less time, a host of articles are out summarizing the key points of the presentation. I've rounded them up here.

(Or, if this is still too much reading for you, you can always just hope that advisor Terence Kawaja will boil the whole thing down into an epic three-minute, Eminem-style rap like he with did last year's report - video at the bottom of the post.)

1. Internet growth is slowing dramatically.

"Growth of internet users worldwide is essentially flat, and smartphone growth is slowing, too," reports Bloomberg's Lizette Chapman, summing up one of Meeker's main points.

What's behind this dramatic leveling off of growth? "Developing countries have proven harder to capture than expected because internet access remains inaccessible or unaffordable for many," explains the article.

2. Advertisers aren't spending enough on mobile.

Several commentators highlighted this as a key takeaway of Meeker's presentation. "Advertisers still aren't advertising on mobile nearly enough, Meeker argues. They're still committing too many of their dollars to so-called legacy media," says Wired, for instance.

"Meeker pegs the mobile ad market at $22 billion in the US, pointing to data that shows people spend 25 percent of their time on mobile devices compared to 36 percent watching television, 22 percent staring at the Internet on their desktops, 13 percent listening to radio, and 4 percent reading print. At the same time, spending on mobile ads only accounts for 12 percent of the total advertising pie," the article elaborates.

In his roundup of the 15 most important slides in Meeker's presentation, The Washington Post's Larry Downes puts this more succinctly: "Meeker estimates that advertiser inertia translates to under-spending on mobile to the tune of $22 billion."

3. Privacy concerns are "a ticking time bomb."

"Internet users are highly conflicted about the implicit exchange of free or subsidized content and services for personalized advertising. Use of ad blockers is rising fast, and 50 percent of all consumers report being 'very concerned' about how contextual information is used by Internet companies, even as they continue to provide more and more personal information to service providers," writes Downes.

"Without more aggressive self-policing by participants in the Internet ecosystem and consolidation of splintered and inconsistent privacy regulations both within the United States (the FCC vs. the FTC, for example) and abroad (the U.S. vs. the EU, for example), the innovation engine may seize," he warns.

4. Search is about to be revolutionized...

This is one of the top three takeaways of the talk highlighted by Recode: "Typing text into a search bar is so last year. In five years, at least 50 percent of all searches are going to be either images or speech."

5. ... and so are messaging apps

"The home screen has acted as the de facto portal on mobile devices since the arrival of the iPhone and even before. Messaging apps, with context and time, have a chance to rival the home screen as the go-to place for interaction," Recode also notes.

Downes, likewise, stresses that Meeker sees vast potential in messaging apps. "Even low-level text-based messaging platforms become key components in the new consumer-driven marketplace, if only through the sheer scale of their users and interactions. WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, has signed up a billion active users in just five years. Facebook's native Messenger, along with Tencent's WeChat (the dominant Chinese platform), are close behind," he explains, concluding:

"With that kind of momentum, disruptive new services are easy to launch. First give the users what they want, it turns out, and the revenue follows soon after. Simple text messages become group chats and then multi-user games, and, from there, banking and payment systems. It's amazing what you can do with a billion users deeply committed to your platform."

Source:  http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-5-key-takeaways-from-mary-meeker-s-annual-internet-trends-report.html

Categorized in Online Research

Some facts are inconvenient.

Some, though, turn out to be more annoying than getting a pedicure from a large hirsute drunk in a Motorhead t-shirt spouting invective about sci-fi movies.This may be one of those.

You know those people at work who constantly network and send mountains of emails?

Yes, the sucky-uppy-I'm-so-ambitious-and-conscientious sorts.

They succeed. Quite often.

This sorrowful idea came to me originally from a tweet that read: "Work email can reveal a lot about employees. For example, people who send more messages are often higher performers."

And so it was that I gravitated to the words of Microsoft's director of research and strategy for organizational productivity analytics -- a job that anyone with a sense of humor would surely crave -- Chantrelle Nielsen.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, she offers a picture of success that some might find a touch disheartening.Apparently, the highest performers are often those who, indeed, flood your inbox with their egos. I mean, their extremely fine ideas and efficient approach to business.

Nielsen writes: "The highest performers had 36% larger 'strong ties' internal networks (ones that connect at least biweekly in small-group messages) than average performers, while the low performers had 6% smaller networks than average."if you're not already depressed, please prepare for worse.

"The size and strength of peoples' networks actually helped to predict year-over-year changes in performance better than managers could," Nielsen writes.

Well, managers at Microsoft have a reputation of emphasizing the micro and being a little soft on the actual judgment.Can it be, though, that (overly) keen online enthusiasm is a signpost to a successful career?

Prepare to sulk at the state of modern humanity, for Nielsen says: "Being intensely engaged in online collaboration seemed to independently drive employee performance."Nielsen says that this pattern has been observed in different types of businesses.

She even offers a sentence that immediately gave me a profound indigestion -- the sort that actually kept me from my sauvignon blanc.It goes like this: "Predictive sales performance models that used social graph data (in the form of the structure of peoples' networks) often showed that internal connections mattered even more than external connections did."

Can it be that the web and its Swiss Guard known as software have not merely permeated business life but actually dictated behavior within it? Can it be that those who play by the (digital) system are those who win?

It's easy to believe, isn't it?

Businesses are social structures that work on the basis of hierarchy (except at Zappos, of course), patronage and subjective, sometimes convoluted decision-making.Perhaps all those emails and that vast network are just simple ways to market yourself to those who might, just might, make a decision in your favor at some point.

Perhaps it's not unlike aspirant actors who do all they can to ensure that casting directors, producers and bar owners know who they are, where they are and what they're doing at all times.I wanted a bone, though. Not one of contention, merely one of hope.Nielsen tossed me one, as if she already knew that, with my paltry six friends and ten emails a day, I was only worth feeling sorry for.

"Given the same number of connections, some networks are more effective than others if they include highly influential people," she wrote.I can feel you wiping the sweat from your brow and the coffee from your chin.

It could, after all, be that just managing ever upwards in a suitably unctuous way will enhance your prospects, just as it always did.Thank goodness. It was as if the social order was being completely destroyed.

However, in a world in which vast amounts of data aren't only being created, but also being analyzed by people who bathe in, well, organizational productivity analytics, the way employees aren't only motivated, but judged will take on interesting hues.

Please excuse me. I must go. I must write an email to someone powerful and famous.I can only hope she replies.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/want-to-be-successful-research-says-you-should-write-more-emails.html

Categorized in Social

Hopefully by now you know how important it is to not only have local reviews posted for your business, but to incorporate those reviews into your overall marketing and advertising plan.

According to WordStream, “79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses, and 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.”

It’s no wonder Google and Yelp is so important to a business’s online success. Unfortunately, many companies stop there.

Believe it or not, there are actually many different online platforms and avenues you can take to get reviews for your business that will still add value, so it’s important you direct your consumers to write those stellar reviews in more places than just the top two.

This will help give your business extra visibility, help give another audience more opportunity to review your business, and give you more ammunition to work with overall when published reviews in your marketing materials.

Below is a list of great alternatives to Google and Yelp to get you started:

Amazon Customer Reviews

Amazon Customer Reviews is arguably just as popular as Google and Yelp, but it has to be mentioned.

Amazon.com Help Customer Reviews

Amazon is a very popular site for consumers looking for reviews on a product they intend to purchase, and in fact a lot of people go to Amazon specifically for reviews even if they plan on buying the product somewhere else. Amazon has such a wide range of products for sale that there is almost always a review (or several) for the product you’re searching.

Amazon rates it’s products using a 5-star scale, and then purchasers are able to write their own reviews underneath. You can also sort those reviews into “most helpful” and “most recent” to narrow down what will most likely be a giant list.

Amazon also has a list of “top reviewers” that you can attempt to elicit to review your products. They have titles like “Top 100 Reviewer” and “Hall of Fame Reviewer” listed next to their names. A review from them could mean big things for your company! You just have to do the work to reel them in.

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has been around since 1936, making it one of the oldest and most trusted sources for product reviews.

Best Mattress Reviews – Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has done a great job of changing with the times; they’re present on Twitter (@consumerreports), YouTube, and various other social media sites, so they have a solid following. Their mission is to reach as many people as possible, and so they understand the value of reaching out to a wide audience using whatever channels necessary.

Consumer Reports is unique in that it’s in-house testing laboratory and survey research center tests and researches all its products before posting reviews.

It’s a non-profit company and doesn’t accept any advertising, so it’s reviews are true and unbiased. According to Wikipedia, approximately 7.3 million people subscribe to Consumer Reports, so if you’re not using it for your business’s reviews you’re missing out on a huge, diverse audience of consumers.

Aabaco Small Business from Yahoo!

Aabaco Small Business from Yahoo! (formerly know as Yahoo! Local Listings) has several good options for business owners looking to increase their client base.

 

Business Directory Local Listings Online Local Advertising from Small Business

You can create a FREE listing by going to this website. You can also purchase an Enhanced listing for $9.95/mo, or a Localworks listing for $29.99/mo. Visit their homepage for more information on how the various plans relate.

With a Localworks listing you have the ability to reach a network of over 150 million local searches each month. You can list your business over more than 60 websites so that you are able to always control the information that is out there in order to make sure it is correct and factual.

An Enhanced listing gives you more photos, a company tagline, and a detailed business description. Similar to other listings sites, consumers are able to review and comment on your business. As a business owner, you have the option to respond to these comments. This opens the door to either recommend new products or rectify a bad transaction, sending the message that you are in touch with and care about your client base.

Foursquare for Business

Although FourSquare for Business isn’t as important as it was in the past, they still have an incredibly following.

foursquare-business-blog

According to their homepage, more than 50 million people use FourSquare for Business for product reviews, and more than 2 million businesses take advantage of the site in order to increase their sales and awareness for their company and products.

FourSquare works for reviews because people are able to leave photos, comments, and reviews for local businesses thus enabling them to have conversations with other locals about the benefits and drawbacks of a particular place. By using FourSquare yourself, you can learn from your target audience and improve your business to better meet their needs, so it’s a win all around.

Facebook Ratings and Reviews

If you didn’t know that Facebook was more than just posting statuses and liking photos, you and your business are missing out! Facebook is one of the most popular places to review and grow businesses. Facebook Ratings and Reviews is a new feature, but it’s rapidly growing in popularity.

Ratings Reviews Facebook Help Centre

Similar to Amazon, Facebook Ratings and Reviews uses a star system for their users to express their like or dislike of a company or product. The more people who review a business, the more likely it is to show up in someone’s Newsfeed; thus increasing brand awareness.

One downfall with Facebook is that your ability to respond to a review is limited based on the consumer’s privacy settings. For example, if their profile is extremely private, most likely you won’t even have access to the review, let alone the ability to respond to it and remedy a situation.That being said, if reviews become a problem for you, Facebook does offer the option to turn them off but still list your business on their site.

Now that you know some great review alternatives to Google and Yelp, what are you going to use to increase the audience for your business? Have you had any luck with the sites listed above, or do you have any helpful tips for alternative sites? Comment in the section below!

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/19/five-places-your-business-should-source-online-reviews-other-than-google-yelp/

Categorized in Business Research

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