Negative Reviews? Don’t Get Defensive!

Love it or hate the customer review is here to stay! “According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews”. Good reviews bring in new business. Bad reviews scare potential and even existing customers away.

Bad reviews can haunt your business for the foreseeable future. And now with mobile technology finding business reviews has never been easier. So how do you deal with poor reviews?

  • Follow up on ALL complaints (no matter the platform): rather than becoming defensive listen to unhappy customers, reimburse them, make changes then ask them to remove or revise their review
  • Don’t overreact: Complaints that show up on the third or fourth page when searching are not as likely to be seen, but still address all complaints
  • Encourage happy customers to use review sites: Happy customers are always less likely to review but encouragement goes a long way!

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Businesses should also be made aware of online reputation-management services. Many businesses see a negative review and instantly want it removed or buried. There are ads out there promising to do just that…“100% guarantees to get rid of unwanted Yelp results” for a base fee of $5,000″. This industry is now facing reputation problems of its own.

Most consumers appreciate the acknowledgement and an attempt to make things better. Keep your chin up and don’t be afraid to ask a happy customer to review your business! “Customer experience matters even more when opinions are shared with the entire world”.

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Have you ever left a bad review of a business? Did the business ever respond?

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Mobile Technology and Privacy

There is no doubt that the rapid advancements of mobile have provided tremendous value to both businesses and consumers. Mobile devices are revolutionizing the way consumers communicate, interact and carry out daily activities. “In a typical day a consumer may use a mobile device to read the latest news, email, text, pay bills, place and receive phone calls, post status updates on a social networking site, download and launch an app to find nearby movie theaters and buy tickets to the latest release, and even pay for a cup of coffee”.

People should be aware of the privacy issues surrounding the way they use their mobile device. The fact that most people carry their cell phones everywhere and they are typically always on could allow for detailed profiles of consumer movements over time. Consumers are not always aware they are being tracked. In recent surveys consumers have expressed concern about their privacy on mobile devices. “In a 2011 survey of U.S.smartphone users, less than one-third of survey respondents reported feeling in control of their personal information on their mobile devices”.

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If companies do not address these concerns, it could lead to an erosion of trust in the mobile marketplace, which would be detrimental to both industry and consumer.

How do you use your mobile device(s)? Do you have privacy concerns?

Apple Watch, a Companion for the iPhone

In stores: April 2015!

The Apple Watch is basically a miniature computer to be worn around a person’s wrist. “Apple has marketed the watch as a device that can appeal to a range of customers, including fitness buffs and collectors of luxury watches”. The base model Apple watch will be listed for $350.

Soon it will be time for the harder part: selling the long-anticipated Apple Watch to consumers who, so far, are not very excited about the idea of wearing computers on their bodies.

The first batch of smartwatches from companies like Samsung Electronics, Motorola and LG did not sell well, nor were they particularly well reviewed. And wearable devices like the Google Glass eyewear that got mainstream attention — if not sales — were greeted with considerable skepticism.

But Apple has been in this situation before. Most consumers didn’t care about computer tablets before Apple released the iPad, nor did they generally think about buying smartphones before the release of the iPhone. In both cases, the company overcame initial skepticism.

So how do you feel about a ‘smartwatch’? Does this pose a data collection concern? While this might offer amazing insight into consumer behaviors, how do you, as a consumer, feel about data being collected from devices similar to this?

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The only Apple Watch most of us can afford. It doubles as a snack when old and obsolete! (Too funny not to share)

Mobile Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It’s the age of mobile!

“This past quarter, by their own estimations, Walmart reported that 70 percent of the traffic to their site during Thanksgiving weekend was from mobile devices, and Target reported that 60 percent of their holiday site traffic was from mobile”.

Mobile devices have become one of the fastest growing, rapidly evolving global markets. That being said, it is vital for marketers to incorporate a specialist mobile strategy into any SEO campaign. Mobile and desktop SEO should be treated differently. “The on-demand and “mobile” nature of mobile devices mean that peoples’ search queries are quite different when they search from a mobile device as opposed to a desktop device”.

Often, most mobile users begin with a general search for the information they are seeking. Marketers should aim to optimize search rankings by understanding their target audience. Also make content mobile-friendly! “If people have to zoom and reposition the screen, it’s discouraging and can cause them to leave the page. This is the top reason to consider a separate optimized site where you can streamline content and use large text or smartphone-friendly media”.

One way to see if your site meets Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines is to just search for the site on a mobile device. Google recently added the “mobile-friendly” label to organic site listings for sites that meet their guidelines. Simply use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to identify what needs changed.

Mobile SEO optimization is a must for your business! Check out the compelling infographic below.

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How do you use mobile? Do you usually select one of the first options? What bugs you about mobile?

Digital Storytelling to Connect with Consumers

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand. “Emotional branding is a progressive marketing strategy that has the potential to drive revenue and increase customer retention.How a person feels about your brand typically determines whether they buy your product. A brand is a matter of perception”.

Emotions are what drive and compel us. “They are also the reason we buy the same type of car, beer, shoe brand or sandwich over and over … because of the way those brands make us feel,” said Dave Martin, of Ignited.

The stories you are telling can’t be purely informational (even though there is a time and place for that content). In fact good storytelling isn’t even directly about you, your company or your products. “It’s about emotions, needs and the written and unwritten images associated with these emotions and needs, in relationship to what your brand evokes”.

See this Expedia short film – ‘Find Your Strength’

This film really has nothing directly to do with Expedia (other than she is traveling to a St. Jude’s fundraiser). However, it does evoke strong emotions.

“We may not be able to force consumers to watch our ads, but what we can do is create something that is so compelling that consumers will feel a need to watch it. And if we really get our story right, we might even make them want to share it with their friends,” Martin said.

Obviously the ultimate goal of digital storytelling as a marketing technique is to inspire – whether it motivates change, encourages the buying of a product or service, or draws people into your store, regardless of the time frame. The outcome desired will drive the story.

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Smart Virtual Personal Assistants

There are some upcoming tech trends in 2015 that you must see to believe…

The one that blows my mind the most…Smart Virtual Personal Assistants [SVPAs]. I’m not talking Siri here people. Think beyond the sassy comebacks and entertaining conversations.

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Believe it or not SVPAs started in 2013 (I hadn’t heard of them until now). SVPAs would data mine our “calendars, email, and contact lists; and the last few minutes of our behavior to anticipate the next 10 seconds of our thinking”. In 2015 consumers will begin seeing SVPA apps integrated into their mobile phones. “Apple, Google and Yahoo have all acquired smart virtual personal assistants (SVPAs) to integrate into mobile apps”. So while you will still have to fetch your own coffee, you can download a SVPA to organize every other aspect of your life. “For example, Google is quietly starting to release a new SVPA function for Android users: it automatically detects when you’ve parked your car, marks your parking spot for you on a Google map, and helps get you back to it once you’re ready to start driving again”.

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How do you see SVPAs being used by marketers? Are there security concerns? Comment below.

Bio-data…The Future of Marketing?

Almost one in three Americans are logging personal bio-data.

Of those using fitness trackers “43 per cent of users are willing to share their behavioral data for more personalized digital ads, and they were five times more likely to purchase due to digital ads than non-quantified self users”.

Does this mean that bio-data could be the future of marketing? Using personal behavioral and bio-data to create highly targeted ads…

While there are clear fitness/health advantages to logging one’s activities, food intake, mood and behaviors throughout each day does it also offer marketers a unique glimpse into the real daily routine of its consumers?
Some fitness tracking devices collect and record more than “traditional” personal information (name, date of birth, address). “Self-tracking information can be as varied as weight, BPM, sleep times, location data, or even things as personal as sexual activity, emotional state, or drinking habits”.
What do you think about marketers using personal quantified self data for marketing purposes? Does it go too far?
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Breaking Through the Noise

We live in a world of increasing advertising noise. Advertisements shouldn’t be just a shot in the dark anymore. We are far away from the days when consumers had little control over what they saw or ingested. “Over the past decade, bandwidth became cheaper and wider”. The rise in internet access (especially mobile) has transformed the way we interact socially, connect/communicate with one another, and they way our economy runs. Consumers now have the power to be selective in what they engage with and absorb, making split-second decisions about what to give their attention to (or not).

“Advertisers must collect and respond to data about how their users engage with online content (both their own and their competitors), and understand what drives their target audience towards engagement”. Advertisers shouldn’t waste their time creating ads their consumers don’t want to see. It is important to understand your target market; how they use the internet, where they engage (how long), why and then create tailored ads to reach those individuals. “As the internet continues to prevail as a media form, advertisers must begin to look at the online marketing and advertising system as a whole, rather than seeing each subsegment as separate, unrelated parts”. Advertisers must begin by prioritizing their brand’s online content. How does it relate to the long-term goals of the company?

“Once a business has documented their content marketing goals, success comes down to things like the volume of posts, the variety of the content and the value it provides your audience. Volume. Variety. Value”. (more on this in the next post)

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Traditional Marketing Is Dead…Empower the Customer and Improve the Experience

“Cause of death was the empowered customer. Empowered to avoid avertising, empowered to find their own information, and empowered to share their own opinions”.

Emerging media has left customers empowered. Digital recording devices allow customers to fast-forward through TV commercials, there is a blog, podcast or even web page for almost anything one could ever want to know, and there are countless social media platforms that allow customers to write and share personal opinions of products, brands and companies.

The only thing left for companies to control is the ‘customer experience’. Zappos is one company that has mastered the customer experience and thus was one of the lead brands to ‘kill’ traditional media. “Seventy-five percent of its [Zappos] business comes from repeat customers”.

According to the 2012 American Express Customer Service Barometer, “93% of companies fail to exceed expectations.” This means only 7% feel their business is valued and that the company is willing to go the extra mile.

Emerging media offers something traditional media never did: two-way communication. If companies can only control the customer experience, but work to make that experience remarkable and memorable customers will not only return but they will bring their friends. You just created ‘brand ambassadors’! These individuals just became your company’s best asset!

15 Statistics That Should Change The Business World – But Haven’t 

1. Price is not the main reason for customer churn, it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service – Accenture global customer satisfaction report 2008.

2. A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related – Bain & Company.

3. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% – Marketing Metrics.

4. For every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent –Lee Resource.

5. A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% – Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy.

6. 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back – 1Financial Training services.

7. A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

8. Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4-6 people about their experience. – White House Office of Consumer Affair.

9. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated – McKinsey.

10. 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service – Defaqto research.

11. Customers who rate you 5 on a scale from 1 to 5 are six times more likely to buy from you again, compared to ‘only’ giving you a score of 4.8. – TeleFaction data research.

12. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience – “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner.

13. A 5% reduction in the customer defection rate can increase profits by 5 – 95% – Bain & Company.

14. It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one – Bain & Company.

15. eCommerce spending for new customers is on average $24.50, compared to $52.50 for repeat customers – McKinsey.

So my question to you is this: with this weight of evidence, why do organizations still not truly focus on improving the Customer Experience?

“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” -W. L. Bateman

The quote that I used to title this entry works well because it does not imply that you or your business have been doing anything wrong, but in order to stay competitive, you need to stay ahead of the curve. So what exactly is emerging media? A shorthand definition by the American Journal of Business states “emerging media is that it is communications – of all types – based on digital technologies, and increasingly with interactive components”. To me the most important part of this definition is the ‘interactive components’. Allowing users to connect, engage and interact is what sets emerging media apart from traditional media.

So, why does emerging media matter? “Emerging media is social; it’s video, content, connection, engagement, interactive. Emerging media is the future of marketing; it’s the future of the flow of information”. A brand or company’s use of emerging media is expected by many of today’s consumers. If your business does not participate in social media conversations, offer mobile coupons or at the very minimum have a website your customers are probably going to your competition. The use of emerging media allows you to connect on a personal level with your customers (the people that make or break your brand). Use emerging media to your advantage. Join the conversations, create brand ambassadors! Stay connected!

Emerging media is EVERYWHERE! Consumers are constantly utilizing multiple technologies to socialize, make purchases or conduct research. In fact, most people use two or more technologies DAILY! Phones (particularly smartphones), e-readers, tablets and tablet computers are the most common according to a Pew Research Poll from 2014.

So, if your business has not joined the digital era – there is no time like the present!