consumer reviews

How to Get More Positive Online Reviews For Businesses With a Conscience

How often do you check online reviews before dining out or booking a hotel room?  If your answer is never, you’re probably 75 or older and think, “yelp!” is a sound a dog makes in anguish. As for the rest of us, we know that reviews are critical in influencing purchase decisions. So critical that a man even started a business around writing favorable book reviews called and charged $99 a pop. If you’ve ever thought about paying for inauthentic endorsements like this, you better pump the breaks because third party review sites are now making it as obvious as Snooki’s spray tan that you’ve invested in fake reviews. Yelp recently created consumer alerts for business pages that remain for 90 days when they sniff out phony reviews. The alert reads the following: "We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business. We weren't fooled, but wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules."

Similarly, TripAdvisor says they have “zero tolerance for fake reviews.” If they believe that a hotel review is contrived, they will remove the review, ensure that the property is penalized in the site’s rankings, and possibly even post a message alerting millions of travelers on what they’ve found.

Considering the clout online reviews hold in purchase behavior, it’s no surprise that some business owners feel compelled to invest in sham reviews:

  • A one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue (source: Michael Luca, Harvard Business School).
  • 70% of global consumers trust online reviews, an increase of 15 percent in four years (source: Nielsen).
  • 80% of consumers change their mind after reading a single bad review (source: Cone Communications).
  • One negative review can cost you 30 customers (source: Convergys).
  • 7 in 10 who read reviews share them with friends, family & colleagues thus amplifying their impact (Deloitte & Touche).

But here’s the bottom line: A few “positive” reviews won’t stop customers from continuing to complain about your crappy service or overcooked food. Instead of taking the easy (and sleazy) way out, listen to the concerns your customers are voicing and improve your business. Social media and third party review sites have put the power in the hands of the consumer. Forever. If companies don’t become customer-focused, customer-centric, customer-obsessed, they risk tarnishing their brand reputation and ultimately, losing their business.

How to Improve Online Ratings The Honest Way

The problem that many business owners face is that reviews on third party review sites might not legitimately reflect the satisfaction of their customers. Many know they have happy diners or guests; but as the saying goes, “Haters gonna hate.” Pissed off customers are sometimes more inclined to write a damaging review while the satisfied customers will recommend the restaurant or hotel at a cocktail party instead of putting their praise online.

Here’s the solution: Find those customers who are enthusiastic about your brand, product, or service (AKA your authentic Brand Advocates), and make it drop dead easy for them to write raving reviews.

  1. Ask your customers via email, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, website, or elsewhere: “On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our brand to your friends?” Those who answer 9 or 10 are your Advocates.
  2. Give Advocates online tools to rate and review your product or property and direct them to the relevant third party review site where they can publish their glowing review.
  3. By identifying your Advocates, you’re creating a virtual marketing force that you can leverage for much more than just reviews. They’ll gladly share offers or other announcements like a new location opening, a new chef, or a remodel of your hotel with their social networks. They’ll create and share personal stories about how they rekindled their love at your resort or made a new friend with one of the gregarious employees who waited on them.

Whatever you do, don’t pay for reviews or recommendations of any sort. There is no longer room for businesses that don’t understand the importance of authenticity and transparency in the era of social media. Instead, tap into the enthusiasm of your highly satisfied customers and empower them to spread positive and/or fight negative word of mouth for you.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Online Reviews: Mostly Positive and Driven by Unselfish Motives

A common myth of online reviews is that they’re mostly negative. Many believe that if a customer has a negative experience at a restaurant or hotel, they'll go straight to Yelp or TripAdvisor to voice their frustration. While this may be the case sometimes, online reviews are actually mostly positive, according to a new Infographic by Demandforce. 87% of people post positive reviews most or every time. Only 2% post negative reviews most or every time. The motivations behind writing online reviews are positive as well:

  • 90% write reviews to help others make good decisions.
  • 79% write reviews because people rely on them and posting reviews is a way of giving back.
  • 79% write reviews to reward a company that has done right by you.

The unselfish reasons why people write online reviews align with recent Zuberance research: Brand Advocates recommend because they’ve had good experiences with a product or service (50%) and they want to help others make smarter purchase decisions (37%). Only 1% recommend brands for selfish reasons (i.e. for rewards, discounts, cash).

How to get more positive online reviews

While most businesses understand the importance of their online reputation, many struggle to get their customers to go to Yelp or TripAdvisor and actually write a review.

The key to getting more positive reviews is to make it easy! Reach out to your most satisfied customers (AKA Brand Advocates) and simply invite them to post a review online. You’ll be surprised how many of your Advocates are willing and eager to create glowing testimonials if you just give them the online tools to do so. For example, soon after GMC launched their advocacy program, 300 reviews were created and posted on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about energizing your Advocates, download the whitepaper, “Turning Your Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force.”

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Consumers Don't Trust Brands, They Trust Their Friends

Dear Brands,

Consumers don’t trust you.


The truth.

OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but a new study by Nielsen found that consumers are indeed losing faith in paid media and looking to their friends for brand recommendations more than ever before.

  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media (recommendations from friends and family) above all other forms of advertising, an increase of 18% since 2007.
  • 70% trust online consumer reviews, an increase of 15%.
  • Less than half of consumers trust TV, magazine, and newspaper ads, which is a 25% decline from previous studies.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

With the rise of social media and third party review sites, everyone has a voice these days. Even my Grandma told me she wrote a Yelp review of her local Hometown Buffet (she gave it 5/5 stars of course). It is now crucial that brands get their Advocates to venture out on the social web and recommend on their behalf.

Check out these success stories of companies empowering their Advocates:

To learn more about leveraging your trusted and influential Brand Advocates, download “Turning Fans and Followers into Brand Advocates.”

New Study: Men Seek Online Product Reviews and Tell Friends Their Findings

Men might be hesitant to ask for directions, but they certainly aren’t afraid to seek input online when it comes to making purchase decisions. A new study by Men’s Health magazine and GfK Roper found that men not only compare prices online and read consumer reviews, but they also tell their friends when they learn something positive about a brand or product online. These online shopping activities are significantly higher for product categories like tech, auto, food/cooking, and more (see chart below.)

“Empowered by their research on the internet, men are confident, engaged shoppers who are open to new ideas,” the report said.

What your customers say about you online has a substantial impact on sales.

It’s imperative that brands manage their online reputation by identifying their most enthusiastic customers and energizing them to share their passion on third party review sites, to their personal networks on Facebook and Twitter, and elsewhere on the web. In fact, a recent Convergys study found that a single negative review could cost you 30 customers!

Parallels Advocates Boost Star Ratings

Here's a brand advocacy success story from software company, Parallels. (Listen to Parallels' VP of Marketing discuss the case study here.) In only 4 weeks:

  • Parallels has identified 30,000 Advocates via email and in-product notifications. 66% of their customers highly recommend Parallels products.
  • Parallels has energized Advocates to create and publish reviews on Amazon which boosted ratings from 3.5 to 4.5 stars in two weeks- average of 4.7 star rating.
  • Parallels Advocates shared 4,200 offers with their social networks that yielded a 21% sales conversion rate.

You can read more brand advocacy and online reputation management success stories in the whitepaper, "Turning Your Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force."

Beyond Advocate Reviews: 7 Ways to Turn Advocates into a Powerful Marketing Force

Getting Advocates to write positive reviews is an effective way to leverage your enthusiastic customers. But reviews aren’t the only way to activate Advocates. In fact, getting Advocates to write reviews is just the tip of the advocacy iceberg.

Here are seven ways that companies are currently leveraging their Advocates in addition to Advocate reviews. They’re enabling Advocates to:

  1. Create glowing stories. YouSendIt, a business content collaboration service, generated 4,000 highly positive stories in three weeks. These stories increase engagement and build credibility. By attaching promotional offers to the stories, you can also generate sales and revenues.
  2. Answer prospects’ questions. Advocates are eager to answer prospects’ questions. They’ll happily tell prospects about why your products and services are better. Ooma, a VoIP company, is getting a 25% sales conversion rate from its Advocate answers program. This approach is very effective for B2B’s and other companies that sells products and services where prospects ask others before buying.
  3. Share promotional offers with their social networks. Parallels, which enables Apple users to run Windows software on Macs, is getting an eye-popping 21% sales conversion rate from Advocate-shared offers. This is about 10X to 20X higher than standard online sales conversions rates.
  4. Boost sales for value-added services. 24 Hour Fitness is mobilizing its Advocates to build awareness and sales for revenue-generating services like personal training, group exercise classes, and more.
  5. Launch new products. Jarden Home Brands is leveraging its Advocates to launch a new automatic jam maker. They’re giving Advocates the new jam maker and encouraging them to write stories and reviews about the new product. On the B2B front, NetApp mobilized its Advocates to build buzz for a new product.
  6. Boost membership in customer clubs. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill is finding that leveraging Advocates is the most effective way to get customers to join Rubio’s Beach Club. A stunning 51% of Advocates’ friends joined the club after getting invitations from Advocates.
  7. Defend you from Detractors. Today, nearly all companies – including yours – can become social media roadkill. NetFlix, P&G, the Gap, Comcast, and Domino’s are just a few of the companies whose reputations and sales have suffered from social media ambushes. Your Advocates will rush to your defense and protect your cherished reputation. (Of course, this assumes you’ve created an Advocate Army.)

Advocate marketing isn’t only about reviews. It’s about creating a powerful and sustainable Advocate marketing force. This marketing force will support, promote, and defend your company, brand, and products in multiple ways and over many years.

“A review created by an Advocate is only one manifestation of advocacy,” says Lauren McCadney, head of social media at online IT retailer CDW.  “This is just the start of a relationship with Advocates, not the end,” says McCadney.

Read more Brand Advocacy success stories by downloading, "Turning Your Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force."

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Whitepaper: Word of Mouth Marketing For Restaurants- Boosting Sales via Brand Advocates

Download: Word of Mouth Marketing for Restaurants How to Harness the Power of Word of Mouth and Brand Advocates to Boost Sales and Ratings

Word of Mouth marketing has been called the most powerful form of restaurant marketing. Forward-thinking restaurant marketers are boosting positive Word of Mouth by finding and activating their enthusiastic customers (AKA "Brand Advocates.") Take Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill: In only a few months, Rubio's has identified 52,000+ Advocates and energized them to share 60,000 offers to their social networks, plus rate and review their local Rubio's on Yelp. Download the whitepaper to learn how you can find and activate your Brand Advocates to recommend your restaurant, driving sales and boost ratings.

Download this white paper and learn:

  • How to increase customer visits and drive sales
  • How to boost online ratings and reviews on Yelp
  • Ways to combat negative Word of Mouth
  • Real world case study featuring Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill

This Week's SHOCKING Brand Advocacy Fact




4 out of 5 consumers don’t buy after reading a negative review online. (source: Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker.)

That means just one Negative Nancy or Sour Sally can prevent prospects from purchasing your products.

Read more about the study here.

Find out how much negative reviews are costing your business now and what you can do to fight back!

Webroot Secures Sales by Leveraging Their Brand Advocates

Diane Beaudet, VP of Global Marketing Programs for Webroot, an online protection software company, discusses the power of Brand Advocates.

Some highlights from Webroot's Advocacy Program:

  • Webroot has created a brand army of 11,000 Webroot Advocates (and growing.)
  • Webroot Advocates have written about 6,000 reviews.
  • Over 500 positive reviews have been published to third party review sites such as Amazon, BestBuy, and CNET.
  • Advocates give Webroot products an average rating of 4.5/5 stars.
  • In one quarter, sales increased by 200% due to Advocate-generated reviews that were published on Amazon.

What's next for Webroot's Advocate Program?

Webroot plans to leverage their Advocates to drive sign-ups and participation in a new online community to be launched in 2012.

Read more about how Webroot is turning their enthusiastic customers into a powerful marketing force here.

Traditional Marketing is So 90's. Modern Marketing is All About Recommendations

Hubspot recently published a killer infographic on “How Word of Mouth, Customer Reviews are Changing the Marketing World.” The infographic highlights the growing distrust of traditional advertising as consumers are turning to their friends, ratings, and reviews to gain insight on purchase decisions. Take a look at some of the key stats below.

Outbound is Out

  • Only 8% of consumers prefer online ads as the best source of product information.
  • 65% mute the TV, change the channel or skip ads.
  • 75% of people don’t accept advertisements as the truth.

Inbound is In

  • 63% of social media users feel consumer ratings are #1.
  • 90% of consumers discuss specific bands casually 90 times per week.
  • 90% of people trust brand recommendations from friends.
  • 70% trust consumer opinions.
  • Products that have received 50+ reviews create greater returns (which is 65% higher than products that have less than 5 reviews.)
  • 61% of consumers use search engines to read about products before a purchase.
  • 71% are more likely to purchase when referred by social media.

Success Story Stats

  • American Eagle added the “Like” button to every product on their site, and Facebook shoppers spent 57% more money.
  • Every Eventbrite link shared on Facebook generates $2.52 in ticket sales.
  • Each Ticketmaster event post by customers on Facebook results in $5.30 in direct ticket sales.
  • When Levi’s added the “Like” button, they saw a 40X increase in referral traffic.


Traditional marketing is so 90's. Modern marketing is all about recommendations.

Read how companies in various industries are energizing their Brand Advocates to create online recommendations by downloading, "Turning Your Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force."

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance