Citysearch - Duct Tape Marketing

Tag Archives for " Citysearch "

35 5 Ways to Get Rockin Reviews

thumbs upReviews and testimonials have always been a nice way to offer third party proof that your company does what it says it does and that your customers are happy campers and willing to talk about it. Reviews, however, have become even more important now that local search directories like Google Maps and Yelp! have made them a foundational element for ranking well for local search.

Getting reviews and testimonials on a routine basis takes a proactive and committed approach if you are going to generate them on a consistent basis and still generate them authentically. (Fake or over the top review generation campaigns can actually produce negative results.)

Below are five ways you can look at systematically creating reviews.

Do the reference track

I stumbled onto this idea quite by accident, but it’s very effective. Every now and then a prospect would ask me for several references. I would provide a list of 3-4 happy customers and that was that. If a prospect reached out to these customers, most often they would copy me on their response. The amazing thing is that because they we basically telling someone else why they should hire me, it turns out these were the best testimonials I ever received. Instead of them writing them to or for me, they were writing them to and for prospective customers.

This approach was so effective that I started requesting that future prospect contact some of my customers.

Repurpose testimonials

When you get that unsolicited testimonial, no matter where it comes from, make sure you are using it in several ways. I a happy customer writes a review on Yelp, post that review on your website, in your store and in next month’s newsletter. If a customer sends you a raving review by way of letter, phone them up and ask if they would provide that review for your Google Places page too.

Teach the review process

Since online reviews are so important these days make sure that all of your sales folks know how to show customers how and where they might post reviews. Create a page that walks people through the process of creating a Yelp or CitySearch account. I your clients are all businesses, hold a workshop to teach them some of what you’ve learned about the importance of rating and review sites and how they can

Give reviews

Of course I’m going to suggest this one, give to get works here too. By making reviews, recommending your network on LinkedIn, and reaching out to companies you do business you start one powerful part of the review and testimonial foundation. It’s always a great way to show how you value the process and in turn benefit from the occasional authentic reciprocation.

Hold a review party

I’ve written about this idea before, but it’s such a fun one I had to include it here. Invite your customers to a nice appreciation event, serve up some wine and then ask them if they would like to record a video testimonial or review with the camera crew you’ve hired for the night. People love to get on camera and you can further incentivize them by offering up a 5 minute video where they can talk about their business. This video content will be gold for your website and you’ll provide a great service by helping them create something for their site.

Rating and reviews from users and customers are crucial. Find some way to install one or more of these options and collecting them will simply become a part of the system.

Image credit: Adian Jones

19 5 Ways to Rock Customer Review Sites

local businessThere’s been a fair amount of coverage recently about the ins and outs, good and evil, usefulness and rudeness of customer rating and reviews sites. No matter how you feel about these social recommendation sites, if you own a small business of any kind, it’s time to get serious about figuring out and playing the game.

Customer review sites are basically local directories that allow users to add and express their opinions about the various businesses in the directory. Visitors to the site can conduct a search for a plumber in San Diego and get listings along with ratings and reviews from customers of that business.

The biggest players currently are:

There are other directories popping up to serve vertical markets such as FriendsEat for restaurants and MyDocHub for physicians and you might also be on the lookout for directories that serve your city only.

A great deal of the grumbling about these sites revolves around two things 1) businesses don’t like to read that they have bad service 2) people who want to game the system or cause some harm to a business have used these tools to do so. Again, no matter, because these tools are here to stay and making their way into the mainstream of search. Google aggregates reviews from many sites and puts them in search results on Google Maps and Yelp reviews show up on page one for many Google local related searches – so, all this to say, let’s see what we can do to use these sites for good!

Below are five ways to benefit from customer review sites

1) List, claim, and build – The first step is to take the time to create accounts with all of the sites listed above, make sure you are listed (others can add your business so don’t be surprised to find a listing), go through the process to claim and take control of your listing and then look at this listing and profile as a brand asset and take the time to complete it fully – think of it like a brochure – add photos, links, brands, products and anything else that helps describe your business.

2) Use it to make you better – If you find a bad review or two, and you might as negative people tend to be more motivated, don’t freak out and start crying foul and spattering hate down on the reviewer. Look at the review and see if there’s something you can add to further explain what went wrong and if the review is clearly off base or possibly an attack from a competitor (it happens) review the policy for resolving these kinds of issues and take some action. However, some bad reviews are a legitimate reflection of the experience your customers are receiving. Step back and ask yourself if this bad review might be a gift in disguise and dig into the core of your business to see if there really is something that needs fixing. (How many dissatisfied customers just go away without a review?) Use reviews, good and bad to help you get better!

3) Monitor profiles – Tracking brand mentions and managing your online reputation go hand in hand with marketing in this social web world. You should set-up alerts that allow you to easily monitor when a new reviews hits one of these sites. You’ll want to know about any and all reviews so you can reach out and engage a customer that expresses a negative opinion and so that you can reach out and thank a customer that had a great experience. In fact, one part of monitoring is so that you can grab these great reviews and add them to your other marketing efforts. The easiest way to stay on top of the reviews is to grab the RSS feed for your profile and set it up as a Google Alert – then you will get notices when something changes. You can also bookmark all your profiles and scroll through the list each week.

4) Get proactive – What’s that saying, the best defense is a good offense – one way to combat any potential negative is to overwhelm it with positive reviews. In addition, sites like Google Maps seem to be giving higher rankings to local listings with more reviews. So, now’s the time start going after reviews from happy customers in a proactive way. Most of the review sites ban the practice of paying for reviews but there’s certainly nothing to stop you from showing customers that give you compliments, refer others, and keep coming back how to write a review on a review site. You can print up a little tutorial, place positive reviews in the window, mention reviews on your web site and in your newsletter and shower lots of appreciation on those that take the time to write a review. Get creative and I’ll be you can create dozens of positive ratings for your profiles.

5) Consider advertising – In most cases these review sites live on ad revenue and have created some special privileges for businesses that advertise. I have heard some great results from some businesses using premium services and some not so great from an ROI standpoint. What you need to analyze and test is whether the premium listing, for example Yelp! allows you to pick your best review and run it in the listing that can appear right next to your competitors, is worth it from an overall branding and lead generation stand point.

19 Will Customer Opinion Overtake Search?

Right now showing up on page one of the organic search results is the holy grail of small business online marketing. Any business that spends significant time consistently producing keyword rich, educational content, draws links, and is active in numerous social network can eventually gain some real traction when it comes to search results.

For about five years rating a review sites like Yelp! and Insider Pages have been slowly bubbling up and impacting search results and buying decisions. More and more people are relying on search results combined with reviews. In other words, they might find you on page one and that was good, but then they find some so so reviews on CitySearch and that could kill the deal.

While ratings and opinions have dramatically impacted purchases made at hotels and restaurants, they haven’t had nearly as big an impact on other industries. After all the the searcher needed to use these rating sites and the reviews, while carrying some weight, were from strangers.

This past week Google added something they are calling Social Search. (Here’s the official Google announcement) For now Social Search is opt-in (you need to activate it in Google Labs), but when activated you will start to see the opinions, blog posts, tweets and reviews from your friends and those you follow in other social networks at the bottom of the regular Google search results.

sanfran
Search for San Francisco restaurants add these social search results

If this feature becomes standard, which I think it will, a surfer looking for a good place to get a pair running shoes on a business trip can do a search and not only get results for the stores in the area, but also opinions and recommendations from friends. Do you think those recommendation, up or down, will carry more weight than those hard earned SEO results – I think it’s highly possible they will.

Getting great search engine placement and results is still essential. Paying attention to what your customers are saying, helping them say it, participating in real time conversations good and bad, and monitoring and measuring every mention may just become the new SEO.

If you would like to see what this looks like you will need the following
1) Google account
2) Google personal profile with some elements of your social graph added – Gmail contacts, Twitter profile, Facebook profile (This is where the Google gets the content to show)
3) Social Search enabled through Google Labs

42 5 Ways to Get Your Customers Talking

word of mouthWord of mouth marketing is considered by many to be the most desired form of marketing. The trust, referrals, and overall brand building buzz that’s garnered by customers spreading the good word to prospects is worth its weight in gold. Some products, services, and experiences naturally produce chatter, but there are certainly things that any company can do to stimulate word of mouth and cash in on the buzz.

Here are five way to get your customers talking about you and your organization:

1) Ask them – the best word of mouth starts with “word of listen.” Call your customers up and ask them why they buy, why they stick around, and why they tell their friends about you. You might be a bit surprised by their answers. Hint: it’s usually not the stuff you have in your new marketing brochure. You stand a far greater chance of attracting the right customers and the right buzz if you really understand what your current customers value about doing business with you. This goes for online and social media listening as well – what are they saying in chat rooms, blog comments and on twitter?

2) Teach them – sometimes great word of mouth just happens, but sometime you’ve got to help it along. One way to do this is to make sure you are teaching your customers how to spot an ideal client, what a prospect in need might say when looking for your products, and how to properly and concisely describe how your company in different. Of course, in today’s hyper social media world you should also be teaching your happiest customers how to write reviews on Yelp, Insider Pages and CitySearch type rating sites.

3) Include them – People like to be asked what they think, it’s just human nature, but it’s also a great way to get some sound advice. Create a round table discussion group made up of select customers and charge them with advising you once a quarter or so on new marketing and business initiatives. (Reward them for this in some way as well.) This can include advising on everything from a product extension to the look and feel of your web site redesign. Members of your marketing round table will become natural ambassadors for the brand. (You can do this with simple video chat meetings – tinychat)

4) Star them – Letting a customer testimonial or success story go uncaptured or untold is downright criminal in WOM circles. Go out and get a TouchMic MityMic to record customer testimonials to your iPod or get a Flip video camera and start doing video interviews with customers to record their success stories. These “real life” bits of content are gold and turn your featured customers into talking referral billboards for your brand. Want to take this idea up a notch? Hold a customer party and film a dozen or so at one time in a great atmosphere – this alone will get your customers talking.

5) Surprise them – I like to think I saved the best for last – few things get people talking faster than surprising them. This can include doing something that was out of the blue and much appreciated to just giving them more than they bargained for. I remember a PR firm that was pitching me some business and the account rep showed up to meet with an apple pie (I’m still talking about it.) I once worked with a financial planner that hired a mobile auto detail firm to detail his customer’s cars during their annual review – that created some buzz.

Bottom line of course is that you’ve got to do good work, do something that somebody appreciates, and create an experience worth talking about, but then, prime the pump and leverage all that greatness.

Image credit: rego

22 Google Wants to be the Local Place

Google seems to constantly add little tweaks to all of its various products. The Google Maps search product is inching more and more towards the turf currently occupied by the likes of Yelp and CitySearch. Not content to be a directions engine Google has added a feature that’s being dubbed Place Pages. Now when someone does a local search for a place or business and clicks on the “more info” link for a listing they are brought to a full fledged, often info rich, web page complete with reviews aggregated from other sites, including Yelp and CitySearch. The idea is to present all the information about a place on one page. (I love to play around with the street view camera feature.)

bluemarble

Of course, all I can think to tell you is – take advantage of the real estate gift and make sure you fully enhance your local profile by visiting the Local Business Center.

You can also find out a little more at the official Google blog

2 Social Search Gaining Steam

yelpSocial search directories, basically search engines that allow members to rate and review listings, are getting more and more popular as people move their Internet surfing mobile.

Getting restaurant reviews by zip code when you’re out with friends or finding a veterinarian when traveling has become a one button task on the newest generation of phones – of course, then just push another button and get a directions, coupons or place a call.

The primary search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN are also pulling reviews from listings on social search directories as a way to add content to their local directories. If you’ve either ignored getting listed or just didn’t know about these types of site, now is the time to invest some time and a small amount of money to make sure you get listed, found and reviewed.

Here are some of the primary candidates for your social search strategy

Each of the above directories has either built or is in the process of building applications to reside on the home screen of iPhones and other smart phones.

These social business directories are getting into the “location aware” act as well. With new phone coming equipped with GPS capabilities, services are being built that can tell where your phone is and deliver services and information based on that.

Yelp just launched their location aware application for iPhone users that pull up business reviews based on your phone’s location. You know, it just might be a good idea to make sure your business is listed and getting some good reviews in the Yelps of the world. This type of business search in only going to get bigger!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]