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3 Ethical Ways to Boost Positive Online Reviews

Why online review sites, such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, can be a boon for your business.

Alina Dizik

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Online Customer Reviews

While it isn’t ethical to solicit good reviews, you can encourage customers to leave their feedback, whether positive or negative, on both your website and review sites.

“Make it clear that reviews are really important to you and that you are intently interested in that customer’s opinion,” says Robert Cole, founder of RockCheetah, a Milwaukee-based marketing consultancy.

Here is how three companies have capitalised on customer reviews:

Sarah McNamara Beauty
Type of Business: Cosmetics line

In 2010, Sarah McNamara launched her first beauty product, Miracle Skin Transformer lotion, which works as both a moisturiser and foundation, and quickly realised the importance of gaining positive reviews. She used 70% of her marketing budget to create 300 000 samples and distribute them as widely as possible. She also created promotions with magazines such as Lucky to distribute the product to readers.

In her promotions, McNamara provided a link to a feedback form on her website. “We started including all positive reviews in our infomercial, on our website and in our consumer selling materials,” she says.

The user reviews on the website, as well as reviews by beauty editors in magazines, helped give her product credibility and get distribution in Sephora stores and on Sephora’s website in 2011, says McNamara, a former marketing executive for such companies as Lancôme and Elizabeth Arden.

Getting the product into the hands of hundreds of beauty bloggers has also generated reviews on the Internet. “Beauty bloggers are product junkies; getting their support and feedback is amazing,” McNamara says.

McNamara’s customer-service team regularly monitors online reviews, forwarding them to the marketing team and sending a summary to McNamara. “Our customer service department reaches out to any customer that has a significantly negative review on a product,” McNamara says.

She also has used customer feedback to expand her product line, including facial products that offer more coverage and additional shades of the Miracle Skin Transformer.

Duck Duck Moose
Type of Business: Educational apps for kids

Getting positive reviews is critical to the success of Duck Duck Moose’s educational games because Apple features the top-rated apps more prominently in the iTunes store. All of Duck Duck Moose’s apps have ranked consistently in the top five in the app store in either the Education or Kids’ Games categories. The company’s oldest game, Wheels on the Bus, has generated more than 5 000 customer reviews.

To encourage comments, the company asks users at the end of the app to rate and review it after playing it five times. The reviews have helped co-founder Caroline Hu Flexer expand the business, which has grown from one game in 2008 to 16.

For example, after showing a picture of a bulldozer on the company’s Old McDonald app and hearing from reviewers about how much their kids enjoyed it, Duck Duck Moose launched a Trucks game that includes tractors and fire trucks, along with the popular bulldozer.

The reviews also lead to modifications in the games. After some reviewers pointed out that it was difficult for younger children to turn the pages, the company added an option to turn them automatically. “We won’t act on one review, but we do when we see a clustering of reviews,” she says.

The apps have had more than 2.8 million paid downloads, and last September the company received $7 million in Series A funding.

Grace Restaurant
Type of Business: Fine-dining restaurant

To justify charging $185 for a fixed-price meal, Grace restaurant in Chicago needs good publicity from customers, says general manager and partner Michael Muser. So, he carefully monitors reviews in both traditional media and online sites, such as Yelp, to see how the restaurant is doing and where it can improve. “Anybody with a [social media] account may as well be a journalist in our eyes,” he says.

Paying careful attention to customer feedback has helped earn the restaurant mostly five-star reviews on Yelp, as well as accolades from local media, Muser says.

In the four months since opening Grace, Muser has gone out of his way to reach out to negative reviewers. When a diner wrote a short negative review on her personal blog, he tracked down her work address and delivered gin, along with a set of glasses, to apologise for her experience. “She was super blown away by that,” he says.

After reading a batch of recent reviews, Muser has stopped asking executive chef Curtis Duffy to sign menus as a memento for diners. Some reviewers thought it was arrogant, he explains. “We weren’t doing it for gloating purposes, but it wasn’t how it was reading to the client.”

But the restaurant doesn’t change its menu just because an offering draws some complaints, Muser says. “As a restaurant, we have to have a voice.”

Muser never responds to negative reviews on public forums. “Normally, we’ll reach out via telephone or email,” he says. “If a business confronts a negative review online, there is only one way that’s going to go – your opinion of their experience is irrelevant.”

Alina Dizik is a freelance journalist and writer based in New York City. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, iVillage, More magazine, The Knot, BusinessWeek and the Financial Times. She covers entrepreneurs, consumer trends, business education and careers.

Online Marketing

6 Steps To A Digital Strategy That Guarantees Results

Create your Brand Hero (Who exactly are you talking to?)

Chanelle Segerius-Bruce

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Digital Strategy

Your Brand Hero is often a mixture of some of your favourite past clients and could even be a version of you 3 to 5 years ago. Go deep and think about what they love to do, how they spend their time, what they passionately stand for and believe in, where they shop, what sort of holidays they like to take and what values are important to them.

Don’t worry about appealing to everyone, the more niche you can be the better. For example: “I help women with their health” vs. “I help new moms regain their energy through tailored exercise and nutrition”. In the second example, it’s crystal clear exactly who the programme is for.

Do market research. Send out a survey (without actually calling it a survey!) and ask them questions specifically around what their struggles or frustrations are. Ask them to select five ways that you propose to help them and see what they want. You can offer them a prize or a free value-packed download in return for completing the form. Keep it less than two minutes as people are time-poor these days.

Go one step further and select 5 to 10 people from the survey who filled it out in depth and jump on a call with them. Record it via Zoom and have it transcribed using Rev.com – now, you can use the actual words your potential used to describe their struggles into your upcoming marketing posts, email newsletters or sales copy.

1. Tell Stories

To cut through the 1000’s of marketing messages, your Brand Hero sees all day long online, you’ll need to use stories to connect in a genuine and authentic way. As the online market becomes more sophisticated people don’t respond to boring sales copy anymore. Injecting a story is crucial to creating a community around your brand.

People need to feel like they belong and that they know you intimately, especially if you have a personal brand but this can work for any company. Think about Richard Branson as head of Virgin. He blogs and shares his life via social media. He seems like an all-around nice guy who we love to follow and you’re probably interested when he launches a new product or service.

Humans learn through stories and find them easier to remember than a bunch of facts being thrown at them. Think about making your content shareable. Is what you’re creating and putting out into the online world worth a share? Would you share it? Would you be moved to buy from your own message?

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek

Share your why. What’s the big why behind your brand and business? What’s driving you to do this? What’s important to you? What impact do you want to create in the world? Share that.

Related: How I Run An International Business From A Remote Beach Town In The Eastern Cape

2. Show behind the scenes, be real and human

A simple tactic to use for your digital strategy is to show behind the scenes of what it is you do. This can work across the board for many kinds of businesses and show the human side of your brand. Who’s doing the work? How’s your product being created? Where are your materials sourced from? Take people with you on a journey and let them see how it’s created.

If you’re a serviced-based business you can do the same. Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and Instagram lives would be perfect for this sort of thing. Once a week, create an hour by hour account of your day and give your audience a glimpse into your workday.

Be fascinating. Don’t spend all your time consuming content. Turn the tables and get into the mode of creating. Treat your business like a mini media company and always be thinking about what you can share.

Create before you consume!

3. Live video streaming

Live video streaming

Live video is by far the number one way to stand out from the crowd. Video will make up 82% of all internet traffic in 2021, according to forecasts released by Cisco. Get uncomfortable by doing the things not everyone’s willing to do. One of those is showing up and giving value on a platform like Facebook Live. Livestreams are great as you can interact with your audience, show your expertise and take Q&A directly from your potential customers.

From a practical point of view make sure you’re in flattering light (preferably natural light from a large window) or invest in some decent lights on a stand. Use a tripod. Get a Rode VideMic Me, a directional microphone for Apple iPhone and iPad so that your sound quality is good. Have your juicy topic ready and write out some bullet points on a whiteboard so you don’t lose track halfway through. Now 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 press that blue live button!

4. Grow your List with an opt-in freebie and give results ahead of time

It’s not enough to rely on social media platforms alone. With ever-changing algorithms and the fickle nature of human behaviour, putting your eggs in one basket could come back to bite you. You don’t own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Linkedin. Take Snapchat for example. When Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and basically swiped the idea and format, Snapchat lost users in droves! Ensure that you build your email list as that’s a rather valuable asset for your business and if you decide to sell in future you’ll get a higher price if your database is substantial.

Create a valuable PDF, Video series or Mini-Course that people would be eager to hand their names and email addresses over to receive. Create a simple opt-in page or a pop-up on your website with the enticing freebie offer. Once people agree to hear from you, you can then follow up with a welcome sequence and email out your newsletter regularly from your chosen CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) such as Active Campaign, Drip or MailChimp.

Remember to share stories, behind the scenes and valuable content with your readers and don’t simply bombard them with sales offers.

5. Be consistent

Pick two social platforms to focus on in the beginning. Don’t feel as though you need to be on every single one. The most important thing to remember is consistency. Get really good at posting regular content on a consistent basis. Engage with your audience. Respond to direct messages and comments. Build a loyal audience before expanding out to other platforms.

You can use blog posts, like I do, as pieces of pillar content that can then be spread around social media and posted to many platforms. My readers know that every Monday I release a value-packed blog post that will help them move the needle forward in their business. This goes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium and gets emailed out to my list via MailChimp.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

6. Use launches to sell new offerings

Everything mentioned above falls under regular, organic content. When you have a new product, service or program to put out into the world you’ll need to map out a launch plan. This will involve going live more often, posting more often, creating branded graphics for social media and putting some budget behind paid traffic. You can do this by boosting your Facebook lives for example or sending paid traffic to your opt-in freebie that you’ve created so that you build your following faster and have eager buys to launch to.

To keep up to date with Chanelle’s tips visit http://segeriusbrucecoaching.com/blog/

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Online Marketing

The Seven Rules Of Social Media

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook.

So Interactive

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social-media-marketing-icons

Social media has become indispensable when it comes to marketing and PR. Smart, carefully thought out, and well implemented social media strategies have shown to increase exposure and engagement, improve search engine rankings, increase turnover, encourage brand loyalty, and improve lead generation. Converting social media followers into true fans is the key and will set you well on your way to creating long term customer advocates and “ideal” customers.

Here are 8 tips from the proverbial digital playbook. They lay out exactly what brands can do and the ground rules that they should follow to prevent social media faux pas:

1. Don’t Over Promote Your Brand

Your profile or page on any social media platform should clearly communicate your brand message and offering to your target audience. Your social media posts need to be more than overt marketing tactics. Offer your audience relevant, interesting, and engaging content. Overly sales orientated content is a sure way to lose followers. Conversational and on trend content is the way forward.

2. Think Before You Post

Always take the time to properly consider your content before posting it. Think it through and ask yourself if it is relevant to your target customer, if it uses the correct tone, and does it put your brand message across accurately. Consider the purpose of each social media platform and the content that is generally consumed on each of them.

Plan, evaluate your messaging, and use relevant hashtags.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

3. Always Fact Check & Cross Reference

Fact checking isn’t just for journalists and TV news. Always fact check your content, especially when trying to tie in news and current affairs into your messaging. A careless mistake in your content can be extremely damaging to your brand. Making time to fact check can save you at the end of the day.

4. Damage Control

It is important to react quickly and professionally, be careful not to respond with knee jerk reactions. Never delete a post, comment, or response. It is important to own your failures and mistakes. Address issues out in the open and hold yourself accountable if need be. How you respond will make all the difference at the end of the day. You need to be prepared to take immediate action, to act fast, and at any time.

Take the time to properly assess the situation and make a calculated decision that is in the best interest of your business and brand. Transparency is key and showing that you managed a situation flawlessly will only reflect positively on your business.

5. Post Regularly

Manage and maintain your social presence effectively while promoting your offering by posting regularly. This ensures that your brand is kept top of mind while increasing brand exposure. It is important to keep in mind that over posting is not in your best interest and will only hold your brand back from gaining traction in the online space.

Your online audience and social platforms including social media could very possibly view your content as spam and flag it as such, including on Facebook. One to three posts a day are best practice and a formula used by most brands the world over.

6. Invest In The Time To Do Solid Research

Researching your customer personas, target market, your niche in the market, and so forth, should be researched very early on in the making of your business. However, going forward research makes for amazing content that is tailored to your target audience. A few hours of solid research can go a very long way in the process of creating quality social media content. Posting social content for the sake of the act itself is simply not an effective strategy. Posting carefully curated content for your target audience will yield higher engagement and conversions.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

7. Never Ignore Enquiries & Comments

Social media allows for two-way communication and conversations between businesses and their potential customers. Social media goes beyond simply putting the content on your timelines and onto the news feeds of your audience, it includes engagement between brand and customer in the online space. It is important to acknowledge your followers and your fans, every single time. This encourages brand loyalty and gives the impression that you value your followers. Answering messages and responding to comments shows that your brand is present and listening to the needs of the customer. Personal engagement and a speedy response speaks volumes.

Your first step is to consider getting a respected social media specialist onboard. Johannesburg based So Interactive is a highly respected digital marketing agency with an excellent reputation in South Africa and across borders. So Interactive is a boutique studio offering clients quality digital solutions. Get in touch to get your next digital campaign off the ground. Talk to So Interactive, and together you can create a winning social media marketing campaign.

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Online Marketing

The Six Second Sweet Spot

Six-second video has been all the buzz since Google showcased the best of its six-second hackathon at Sundance in January 2017.

So Interactive

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video-marketing

In June last year, Fox announced it was on board with six-second bumper video ads. Google recently performed a study which established that nine out of ten bumper video ads drive ad recall while 61% increased brand awareness. Six seconds is proving to be the perfect time frame within which to tell your brand story.

The six-second video amplifies the beauty of storytelling in that it creates a much faster, more accessible and memorable way to communicate messages. The time constraint can be quite daunting and, at first, some would consider it a creative hinderance. However, a short sentence, a single word, a stand alone image, or a six second visual is often more than enough to catch and keep the attention of your audience as it pushes creatives to think differently and with more focus.

YouTube recently challenged creative agencies worldwide to retell fairytale classics by using only six-second video. The challenge was met overwhelming enthusiasm and creativity. From Bollywood classics to local folktales, every entry proved, for the first time, that short, powerful stories have much broader impact and memorability than their longer counterparts.

Related: The Launch Of Instagram TV

Six-second video is a snackable content trend that is paving the way forward for online content. Respectable industry leaders and key players in the field are predicting that six-second video ads will continue gaining traction at the end of 2018 and through into the coming year. Short form video has literally become the six-second sweet spot and will continue reshaping the way digital marketers address their audiences.

So Interactive, based in Johannesburg, are known for their work in video. If you are looking to create a six second brand message or a short series of six second videos that form a single brand story, then So Interactive is a fantastic fit and brilliant option. Go with the professionals, get a brilliant creative team on board, and get your six second video out to the world. Get in touch with So Interactive to discuss your next six second video marketing campaign.

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