online reviews

How this Home WiFi Company Boosted Online Ratings from 2.9 to 4.0

Situation

This start-up company manufactures and sells routers that cut or eliminate WiFi "dead zones" in homes.

Home WiFi routers are a highly-competitive market.  Dozens of companies offer products that make similar claims.

And like many other products these days, 90% of shoppers for home WiFi routers (and other products) are influenced heavily by online ratings.

Challenge

Online reviews and ratings for this company's product stood at 2.9 -- poor. Here are some of the headlines of these negative reviews:

  • "Horrible WiFi"
  • "Very frustrating"
  • "It does not work"

Negative Reviews = Lost Sales

These negative reviews were costing the company thousands of dollars in lost sales and damage to the brand's reputation.

Most consumers won't buy products with less than four stars, research shows. For example, 22% of consumers will not buy after reading just one negative review. After three negative reviews, that number jumps to 59% (source: Google consumer study)

It was imperative for this company to boost its online ratings. And they needed to do it quickly before more money flew out out the door.

Zuberance Solution

Zuberance created a program that identified and mobilized the company's highly-satisfied customers (AKA "Advocates") to create and publish reviews.

Via Zuberance's smart publishing system, Advocates were invited to publish their reviews on major shopping sites plus share them with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, Zuberance made it easy for the company to display selected reviews on the company's website, plus leverage the reviews in email, ads, and more.

Authentic Advocates

Importantly, Advocates were not offered incentives or rewards to publish reviews.

They were encouraged to share their honest opinions. In addition, the company didn't change, edit, or influence the reviews.

Zuberance's Turn-key Solution

Zuberance handled the entire program for this customer, from copy and design through development, management, custom reporting, and more. 

The program was powered by Zuberance's Advocate Marketing Platform, an all-in-one advocacy platform that also mobilizes Advocates to share brand content; refer friends; create stories, photo's and videos; answer prospects' questions; join Advocate communities; and more.

Results

Here are the results of the program, after about six months:

Ratings Jump to 4.0

Online ratings for the product have jumped from 2.9 to 4.0. This is extremely important and valuable for this company. Shoppers were very unlikely to buy this product when the ratings stood at 2.9. Now, shoppers are likely to purchase this product or at least give it strong consideration.

Online Ratings for WiFi Networking Product Before & After Zuberance

Online ratings for this product jumped from 2.9 (poor) to 4.0 (very good) after Zuberance started mobilizing the company's customer Advocates.

60% of Positive Reviews Online from Zuberance

Here's another important stat:

Nearly 60% of the positive reviews for this product are coming from Zuberance-powered Advocates. Without these Zuberance reviews, ratings for this product would be well under 4.0.

Positive Reviews on Shopping Sites from Zuberance vs. Other Sources

Nearly 60% of the positive reviews on shopping sites for this product come from Zuberance-powered Advocates.

Thousands of Shoppers have been Reached

Another key result from this program is that it has enabled the company to reach thousands of shoppers.

It's important to note that this kind of reach is much more valuable than reach achieved via paid media and ads.

Reach through your Advocates is 10X more credible and influential than reach through ads. 

And importantly, these Advocate-delivered messages are reaching prospects during that "zero moment of truth" when they're making a purchase decision.

Not a One-Time Campaign

Boosting your online ratings is not a one-time thing. It's not something you do now or then, or when you need it.

Here's why it's important to have an ongoing Advocate Reviews program:

1. Maintain and improve high ratings. Many times, ratings slip below the 4.0 mark as negative reviews pile up. It's important to continue finding and mobilizing Advocates to keep your ratings positive.

2. Keep a steady stream of fresh, positive reviews being posted online. Shoppers are more influenced by newer reviews (reviews published within the last three months, in most cases.) Additionally, most shopping sites including Amazon give more weight to newer reviews vs. older ones.

Getting Even More Value from your "Advocate Army"

In addition to leveraging its Advocate Army to maintain positive ratings online, the company is planning to leverage its Advocate in other valuable ways:

  • Generating thousands of referrals 
  • Getting Advocates to engage with shoppers via Zuberance's Advocate Answers
  • Generating hundreds of compelling stories, photos, videos, and other valuable "AGC" (Advocate-Generated Content")

The company even plans to create an online community of Advocates, where these enthusiastic customers can earn rewards points and even get on a Leader Board. 

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

 

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 GettingBookReviews.com 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

10 Social Media Stats That Will Spook You

We're in the era of the connected consumer. Every marketer understands this by now (and if they don't, their customer base will soon look like a ghost town). However, as we're running marketing programs day to day, it's easy to forget just how much consumers rely on each other for purchase advice and the importance of online brand reputation. Here are 10 facts that are sure to give you a frightening reminder!

  1. 80% of consumers change their mind after reading a single bad review (Cone Communications).
  2. 96% of Facebook fans never return to a brand page after “liking” it (Brandglue).
  3. Due to EdgeRank, only 16% of your fanbase see branded posts in their newsfeeds (ComScore).
  4. Only 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands (Ehrenberg-Bass).
  5. One negative review can cost you 30 customers (Convergys).
  6. The negative experiences of every 100 shoppers results in the loss of 32-36 shoppers due to customer defection and negative word of mouth (Verde Group).
  7. Almost half of shoppers have avoided a particular store in the past because of someone else's negative experience (Verde Group).
  8. Only 33% of Americans have ever followed a brand in social media (Edison Research).
  9. 67% of social network users say that they rarely pay attention to advertisements on social networking sites (Mintel).
  10. The average consumer today checks 10.4 information sources before buying (Bazaarvoice).

Yikes! Here's a fact that's far from scary: Each Brand Advocate will bring you 3 new customers. Download "The Business Case For Advocacy" to learn more.

Happy Halloween!

-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.

Sincerely,

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."

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!

New Study: Consumers Go Online to Verify Product Recommendations

You tell your dear friend, George, that you’re in the market for a new car. As an extreme Brand Advocate for his BMW MINI, his face lights up when he hears the news. He begins gushing about what a blast he has thrashing his MINI around the windy roads in Silicon Valley during his lunch breaks.

As your friend, George is one of the most influential sources for an auto recommendation. (According to Nielsen, 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know vs. only 14% who trust ads.) But especially for large ticket items like cars, it helps to explore the opinions of other MINI owners as well.

In fact, a recent study by Cone Communications found that many consumers go online to seek additional information about products they're considering purchasing as well as to verify recommendations they’ve received from their peers.

Take a look at some of the key results:

  • 85% of consumers are more likely to purchase products when they can find online recommendations to support offline advice.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers reverse purchase decisions based on negative online reviews. (Calculate just how much negative reviews are costing your business now.)
  • Before deciding whether to purchase products, 64% of consumers go online to search for consumer or user reviews and 42% read articles or blog posts about the product/service.
  • For moderate (e.g. computer equipment) to high cost items (e.g. cars), 89% of consumers go online to do additional research on products recommended to them. For low cost items (e.g. movies or restaurants), 78% of consumers seek additional online information.
  • Consumers go online to verify product recommendations in various industries: Automotive/Transportation (53%), Electronics and Household appliances (59%.), Food and Beverage (39%).

Energize Your Advocates to Generate Online Recommendations

This study truly highlights why it’s important that brands continuously drive their most enthusiastic customers to where prospects are seeking online product information. Mobilize your Brand Advocates, who are already recommending you to their social networks both on and offline by giving them the tools to create glowing testimonials.

Then, direct Advocates to the appropriate online destination where they can publish their recommendations, whether it’s a third party review sites, community forums, or social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Getting Advocate-generated content in front of the eyes of prospects means increased conversion rates and increased sales.

Check out a recent case study to learn more: Consumer Electronics Company Gets 5% Conversion Rates by Energizing Brand Advocates

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

One Negative Review Leads to a Lawsuit

One man, posting anonymously under the username “JT”, shared his thoughts of his rented apartment’s property management company on Yelp.  The result: the company is suing JT for defamation.  Needless to say, this raises numerous questions about what we can and cannot, or should and should not be writing online.  Do your online reviews and recommendations fall under your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech?  JT maintains that what he wrote was “not pretty, but it was true.”  The property management company claims his opinion is welcome but they merely wanted to clear up inaccuracies. For business, making the hasty decision to file a lawsuit over a detracting comment, post, or review may be the worst idea…ever.  It just continues a stream of bad press.  Instead, see this detractor as a huge opportunity to flex your customer service skills.  Acknowledge, respond in a timely manner, and try to solve the problem to the benefit of both parties.

I recently had a somewhat similar situation happen on the Facebook page of my family’s business, a small dairy company in New Jersey. One of our customers had a displeasing trip to one of our stores where an employee treated him rudely.  He was so miffed that he felt the need to write a lengthy and disapproving post on our wall.  I wrote him back privately and told him that we were extremely surprised and saddened to hear about his experience, guaranteed we would speak to the employees working on the offending night, and offered him coupons to come back to the store.  He wrote me back and said he “appreciated my response” and was “glad to feel welcomed again”.  Did I need to incentivize him?  Probably not.  But, what’s important is that instead of deleting the post from Facebook and ignoring it – I took 5 minutes to address his concern and make sure we didn’t lose a customer.  Any company should (and can) use social media to its fullest advantage – creating ample amounts of Advocates willing to recommend you.  Oh, and JT’s lawsuit has since been withdrawn.  Seems the property management company found a better way to handle the situation.

-Lucy Arnold, Marketing Intern, Zuberance

Advocacy Sells Cars and Other Large-Ticket Items

The holiday season has always been the make or break time for retailers. In order to come out on top, retailers should be leveraging their Brand Advocates to spread positive Word of Mouth (WOM), especially for large-ticket items like cars and technology/electronics. A recent study by S. Radoff Associates found that:

One half of consumers indicate Word of Mouth as a key influencer for cars (50%) and technology and electronics (49%).

(Already covered in some of our previous posts, WOM is also the #1 influencer in the hotel industry and B2B purchase decisions.)

President of S. Radoff and Associates, Sandy Radoff, states that during this holiday season, the companies “that can secure authentic positive reviews from their customers will have a clear advantage. They will get higher returns on their marketing dollars.”

So how should a brand go about “securing authentic positive reviews?” Identify and energize your Brand Advocates! Just make it easy for them to share their enthusiasm for your brand/product and they will create organic content and share their recommendations with their social networks. Plus, once you’ve identified your Advocates, you can go back to them even after the holiday season and they still be willing to spread the word about your brand.