Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category

People are Talking About You…Without You

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On May - 26 - 2014

talking-about-youNegative Reviews are the Kiss of Death
Reputation Management is a vital aspect of what we do for our clients, and Customer Reviews Management is one of the main ingredients to that recipe. So naturally when I came across this article from Blumenthals, I couldn’t resist.

They conducted a series of large scale consumer surveys of 2500 US adult internet users 25 and older asking them if they would be influenced to choose a business based on negative or positive reviews.

Essentially they found that Negative Reviews Hurt more than Positive Reviews Help. I think it goes deeper than that…


First the findings:

  • 85% of consumers indicated that they would be “not likely” or “somewhat unlikely” to choose a business with negative reviews.
  • Between 44% and 53% indicated that they were somewhat or very likely to choose a business with positive reviews.
  • There was little regional difference on the influence of negative reviews. East Coast, West Coast or all points in between. Negative reviews were overwhelmingly the kiss of death. Although folks in the Midwest were less likely to be impressed with positive reviews.
  • All age groups were equally dissuaded from engaging with a business with negative reviews, however the younger someone was, the more likely they were to influence by positive reviews.

I was always confident that negative reviews held more weight than positive reviews, however I’m equally confident that there are other forces at play.


Propensity to Leave Negative Reviews
Face it, you expect to get what you pay for. If you are like me (and you are) you are probably less likely to flock to a reviews site and proclaim to the world that a person or company just did their job or that the product worked as advertised. However if you received less that equitable treatment you will probably be significantly more motivated to make that publicly know. Unless otherwise influenced by an exceptionally positive experience or actually asked to leave a positive review, the “system” is naturally skewed to negative reviews.


The Dilution factor
The study’s underlining theme was essentially black and white without addressing the relationship between positive and negative reviews. An occasional negative review is actually quite normal as long as it is overwhelmingly offset by positive reviews. In fact, I can make an argument that the occasional semi-negative review actually validates the positive reviews. Enough positive reviews can not only dilute the impact of a few negative reviews, they can possibly push them farther down the page and out of site.


How you handle Negative Reviews counts
Calling into question the validity of the review or the person leaving it is rarely effective, and may do more harm than good. Take for example this fictitious scenario:

Let’s start with a very plausible Negative review:

The owner’s tendency might be outrage and an urge to retreat to a defensive position and strike back:

This type of response NEVER works and may in fact enflame the situation by perpetuating the debate. The objective should be to have the last word and take the conversation off-line. Take the high road and be the adult in the Room:


Which response do you think would make lemonade out of lemons?


Skewing the odds in your favor
You can be great…always… or you can ask people to tell the story when you are at least good. So how do you tip the scales in your favor?  Proactively ask for feedback from hand-picked customers who you suspect will say nice things about you. You can certainly do this yourself, but it takes a bit of effort. I feel Reviews Management is so important that we have a program for our clients to actively go out and solicit reviews from hand-picked customers.


All Reviews are Amplified:
A single review, positive or negative, takes on a life of its own. A single review on one platform can get syndicated across multiple review sites like Citysearch, judy’s book, YellowBot and more. Even more significant is that these reviews actually show up in a Google search under your company name…and that can make or break your conversion efforts.


The moral of the Story?

  • Negative reviews are the kiss of death
  • With all things being equal (and they never are), negative reviews hurt more than positive reviews help
  • Positive reviews can help negate negative reviews
  • Positive reviews can influence a consumer’s buying decision the farther along the buying cycle they are.


Final thoughts:
The Blumenthal study clearly addresses the impact of negative reviews. However what it doesn’t take into consideration is the impact of positive reviews based on the stage of your customers buying cycle. I believe that positive reviews have more of an effect on conversions the farther the consumer is in the buying cycle.

Relying solely on reviews to sell your product of service will probably have minimal impact (particularly when outweighed by negative reviews), however if the consumer was “almost” sold, positive reviews go a long way towards solidifying the buying decision.

Reviews are just one aspect of comprehensive Reputation Management program, but arguably have the single biggest influence on a consumer’s impression, and therefore their decision to do business with you.


LinkedIn and Your Reputation… 1 Free Tip

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 25 - 2012

As a digital marketing firm here in Orange County, we often work with individuals whose names are heavily associated with their brand, such as an attorney, or a consultant or a doctor (or a digital marketer). One thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is in these cases those individuals names are searched on as much as the industry keywords associated with their brand.

When it comes to your online reputation, control whatever you can.

Here’s the Tip:

Your LinkedIn profile is exclusively yours… you control what’s on it. If you can get it to show up in the search results for your name, you just took control of one more piece of your online reputation.

Here’s How:

  • Make sure that your profile is at 100% completion. There is a bar in the upper right hand side that tells you how far you have to go.
  • Ask your network for Recommendations (you need at least 3 just to get to 100%). Get as many as you can.
  • If your name is popular (like John Smith) try using your middle name or initial in your profile, or even associate it with your geographic location
  • Whenever possible, link to your LinkedIn profile from blog postings, your company website…wherever you can. It’s those incoming links that indicate popularity to the search engines and bolster your search results.
  • Link to it from other social media like Google Plus and Facebook and Twitter.

Chuck Bankoff Director of Web Services for Kreative Webworks, Inc. and is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker, Author and Trainer in Orange County California.

See how easy that was J


Guest Blogging for Credibility

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 15 - 2010

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your Internet visibility (you’re reading this aren’t you?). Being a “guest blogger” on someone else’s blog just increases your reach, and establishes crediblity. Not only does it give you instant exposure to someone else’s audience and associate you with other highly respected bloggers, it provides a valuable link back to your web property. Everyone wins; the blog gets some fresh new interesting content, and the guest blogger gets more exposure for their own blog, website, brand or products.

Just remember that this isn’t a secret. Many other talented subject authorities are seeking the same exposure on the top blogs. So how do you differentiate yourself and snag one of those prime guest blogging spots? Here are a few tips:

1. Understand the Blog…Know your audience: Yes, you might actually want to READ the blog you are soliciting BEFORE writing your articles. Popular topics evolve and if yours is of no interest to the owner or the readers your blogging request will be denied.

Go back a few months and get a feel for the theme and the direction of the topics being discussed. Don’t pitch topics that have already been covered unless you have an interesting rebuttal or a completely different take on the subject.

2. Know the Rules of the Road: Not all blogs are looking for guest bloggers, so if it’s evident they don’t, you might be able to pitch them the idea. If they do accept guest bloggers, they might actually have blogging guidelines posted on their site. If you break the rules before you get started, chances are you won’t be taken seriously by the managers and you will probably blow the opportunity.

3. Write First, Ask Later: The more popular the blog, the busier the blog managers. Don’t bother going through a long relationship building courtship…get right to it. Just write the article (after assuring yourself that it is appropriate) and send it to them. If they like it, they publish it and no one has to jump through too many hoops. If they don’t like… shop it around to another blog, or use it yourself.

4. Credibility… Credibility… Credibility: This may be obvious, but and article written by an industry expert will carry more weight than just a random person with an opinion. Along with submitting your initial article, make sure that you explain why you are qualified to write on a certain topic or how you can bring a fresh new perspective to that topic.

5: Write an Interesting Headline: There is so much information out there that people no longer read…they scan. That goes for busy blog editors as well as curious readers. Think about your own reading habits when surfing the Internet. We all do the same thing…we scan headlines and move on until something catches our eye. That’s when we take the time to read the article. Write something amusing, witty, mysterious, shocking, or even a question that infers an answer in the article.

Go ahead and be someone’s guest. Unlike most visitors, you may be invited to stay.


Responding to Negative Reviews

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 9 - 2010

Congratulations! Now your business is on Google Places, Yahoo! or Bing Local, or Yelp. You just became more visible…and more vulnerable.

Local business listings are becoming more and more popular, and more and more important. Your customers now have the ability to leave flattering comments about their experience with you. They also have the ability to leave scathing reviews about their experience.

Of course the optimal situation is to run your business so perfectly that you will never feel the wrath of a dissatisfied customer. Assuming that you and the people who work for you are just a few degrees short of perfect, you might want to have a policy as to how you respond to negative criticism. Here are a few pointers:

Take the High Road: Think about it, you aren’t going to win a public argument with a frustrated customer. Their experience was bad enough that they took the time to lash out. It isn’t as much about what they said, but how you respond that makes the difference.

Don’t Ignore it: No it’s not going away by itself. Ignoring an obvious problem only compounds the situation and declares that you just don’t care.

Don’t make it Personal: This is about an experience that your customer had, not about a direct attack on you. Remember there is a real person with real emotions on the other end. Address the problem…not the person. Most of these sites have posting guidelines, so if you believe the review violates those guidelines; you may be able to flag it as inappropriate.

Feedback is a Gift: Even if the customer was off-base with their comments, something set them off. Here is an opportunity to analyze the situation and make a long-term adjustment. You might find that the actual root-cause was a secondary event that wasn’t directly related to their complaint.

Rules of the Road

You can be as creative and innovative as you like in your response, but there are a few rules of the road you should follow:

  1. Be Courteous and Professional: You may think you are responding directly to one person, but in practice you are making a public statement.
  1. Less is More: Keep it short and sweet. Readers aren’t looking for a Tolstoy novel. They want to scan and move on. It’s your turn to deliver the message, make sure it’s easy to read.
  1. Be Grateful: This is an opportunity to show how you handle customer service issues, and to take legitimate customer concerns and make actual improvements in your business.

At the end of the day even negative reviews are an opportunity to bring a disgruntled customer back into the fold and mold public opinion. Don’t hide from it… embrace it!

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