Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses (3-9-2006)

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MeetingReview blog: Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses

Online ratings: It started with restaurants, and now all manner of enterprises find themselves subject to customer opinions

Samy Fars ran a successful restaurant for seven years in San Bruno before opening Cafe Grillades in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley last spring.

Fars planned to introduce the cafe gradually, opening with a small staff and working out the kinks before starting to advertise or even putting up a sign. That kind of soft opening has traditionally worked well in the restaurant business, because professional reviewers often don’t visit a new place until it has been open a month or more.

But from its first weekend, Cafe Grillades attracted a different type of reviewer — average customers who posted their opinions on a Web site called Yelp.

And, to Fars’ dismay, some of them slammed it mercilessly.

“This place truly sucks,” wrote one reviewer. “It’s void of any atmosphere whatsoever, service is nonexistent, food not even worth mentioning. The hospital cafeteria at UCSF is more inviting.”

Fars and his cafe received a painful introduction to a trend in the business world — online reviews of local enterprises.

Today a growing number of companies such as Yelp, CitySearch, Angie’s List and Yahoo Local offer people a chance to rate everything from hairdressers and plumbers to child care centers and dentists.

Restaurants like Cafe Grillades have been the canary in the coal mine, feeling the impact of online reviews long before other kinds of local businesses.

Because people dine out more often than they choose dentists, restaurants so far make up the bulk of online reviews. But as review sites become more established, they will gradually accumulate entries about all kinds of businesses.

For consumers, online review sites offer a valuable storehouse of information to help with daily tasks such as choosing an electrician or a dinner venue.

For small businesses, these sites have the potential to revolutionize marketing and promotion — creating unprecedented opportunities but also, as in the case of Cafe Grillades, some unfamiliar risks.

Five years ago, an ambitious restaurant owner had to worry about the verdict of a handful of professional reviewers at magazines and newspapers. Now that owner faces the judgment of thousands of potential amateur reviewers.

“In this day and age, there’s nowhere to hide,” said Melinda Lucas, owner of Paneless Window Cleaning, a Seattle business that has attracted a significant number of customers through positive reviews on sites like Judy’s Book and Angie’s List. “Anyone can give you a review that can totally make or break your business. It’s made it so you have to be A+ on the ball all the time.”

Some sites charge

Online review sites — or local search sites as they’re known in the industry — operate in a variety of ways. Most allow anyone to become a member for free and then post reviews of local businesses. (Angie’s List is unusual in that it charges members a monthly fee.)

The sites say they try to remove reviews that are deceptive, such as those from a business owner posing as a customer to praise his own products. But they do not remove negative reviews written by legitimate users.

And while most sites solicit advertising, ads don’t influence the content of reviews. They just provide higher visibility for the business, such as a sponsored-listing box at the top of a list of search results.

The sites essentially take a traditional part of the small business world — word-of-mouth referrals — and multiply it to a previously unimaginable degree. They offer small firms the ability to spread the word about great service for free.

“Small businesses are often seen struggling against large brands,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp. “They don’t have the $1 billion a year that Starbucks spends on marketing. But Yelp takes their positive word-of-mouth and amplifies it online.”

Some enthusiastic entrepreneurs say that online reviews have become the cornerstone of their business.

Artikel op SFGate, 3 september 2006.

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Marketingstrategieën evolueren met de veranderende vorm van online winkelen (23-2-2012)

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Zero moment of Truth

MeetingroomReview: ZMOT model

De manier waarop we winkelen verandert razendsnel en marketingstrategieën houden het op dit moment niet bij. Of we nu op zoek zijn naar cornflakes, concerttickets of een huwelijksreis in Parijs, het Internet heeft veranderd hoe we beslissen wat we kopen.

We zoeken naar online ratings en reviews, bekijken video’s en gaan op zoek naar diepgaande productdetails wanneer we het pad van een aankoop bewandelen. Marketing is geëvolueerd en moderne marketingstrategieën moeten evolueren met de veranderende vorm van winkelen, reviews zijn daarbij onmisbaar

De consument wordt in het traditionele model eerst gestimuleerd door middel van reclame. Vervolgens volgt een bezoek aan een (online) winkel waar de presentatie, prijs en verkoper een rol spelen. Na de aanschaf van het product volgen de ervaring in het gebruik en de tevredenheid m.b.t levering en eventuele after sales. Die ervaringen deelt de consument graag mond-tot-mond met bekenden of via internet.

Het traditionele marketingmodel valt samen te vatten in 3 belangrijke momenten:

1. Stimulus (Stimuleren en adverteren)

2. FMOT (First moment of Truth/ Eerste moment van de waarheid: presenteren en verkopen)

3. SMOT (Second moment of Truth/ Tweede moment van de waarheid: ervaring in het gebruik en tevredenheid)

Marketingstrategieën gaan er vanuit dat je zoveel mogelijk van deze momenten moet winnen om het verkoopproces tot een succes te maken.

Maar nu de manier waarop we winkelen is veranderd, is er een 4de besluitvormingsmoment bijgekomen. Nog voordat consumenten naar de (web)winkel gaan, gaan ze eerst zelf grondig op onderzoek uit. Bij Google noemen ze dit moment ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth). ZMOT gaat uit van het nulde moment van de waarheid, het besluitvormingsmoment voor het eerste moment van de waarheid. Daar waar we eerst uitgingen van Stimulus, FMOT en SMOT, bestaat het besluitvormingsproces van de moderne consument tegenwoordig uit 4 stappen.

Het winnen van deze nieuwe stap, ZMOT, is ontzettend belangrijk. Deze stap volgt namelijk direct op de eerste stap Stimulus. Als klanten op dat moment al afhaken, zijn alle inspanningen voor de daarop volgende stappen zoals: presentatie, pricing, sales, waarborging van kwaliteit, levering en after sales voor niets geweest. De consument zal nooit kennismaken met deze momenten, wanneer men tijdens het Zero moment of Truth al besluit om voor een andere winkel te kiezen.

Google vindt de bewustwording m.b.t. dit moment zelfs zo belangrijk dat Jim Lecinski, Google’s Managing Director Sales & Service en ZMOT evangelist, er een eBook over heeft geschreven. Jim deelt wat je moet doen om als winkel vooruit te komen op dit kritieke moment, ondersteund door marktonderzoek, persoonlijke verhalen en inzichten van executives van o.a.: General Electric, Johnson & Johnson en VivaKi. Reviews en klantfeedback spelen in dit verhaal een belangrijke rol en helpen de webwinkelier om dit moment te winnen.

Artikel op Feedback Company, 23 februari 2012.

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Why online reviews are important for your business (2-4-2013)

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MeetingroomReview blog: Why online reviews are important for your business

It’s amazing that in such a short period of time, the existing review hierarchy has been brought down to the popular level. People have been recommending stores and restaurants to their friends for a long time, but starting about 10-15 years ago, the floodgates were opened as soon as anyone could sign up with Yelp or Yahoo and leave reviews of their favorite (or least favorite) places.

It used to be that reviews were conducted by professional authorities whose opinions were bound in books and sold once a year to the general public. Think of Zagat’s or Frommer’s, guides that became well-worn (and frequently out-of-date) as you’d walk through new cities figuring out what, exactly, to do and where, specifically, to eat.

That’s all changed, with new websites and mobile technologies upending the professional field of reviews and putting more power into the hands of consumers all over the world. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+, and Foursquare have all helped empower reviews by injecting them with a social layer. Reviews are no longer solely the realm of a few taste-makers; now anyone can post their opinion and influence all sorts of people from all over the world.

So why are online reviews so important? They can be hard to manage and bad reviews can be a turn off to new customers. Conversely, positive reviews can grow your client list and reinforce customer loyalty. Let’s take a moment to understand the why online reviews are so important and what they can bring to your business.

Social Recommendations

Social recommendations have always been strong. Think about how many times your friends have recommended a place that you ended up going to. When everyone’s talking about something, it’s hard not to be curious and want to try it out yourself. This appeals to us because we’re all inherently amateurs, meaning it’s not likely that we’ll have the requisite training or experience to review places professionally.

Because we’re not professionals, our online reviews are done purely for free. There are no publishers involved, and 99% of the time we’re leaving unsolicited opinions. Because most of the online reviews are done by amateurs, it’s unlikely the reviewer has a hidden agenda, and that’s why we trust these social reviews so much.

Opinion Monitoring

Reviews may help your customers find out more about your business, but did you know that you can use them to find out about your customers? Seeing what people are saying about your business on Yelp or Google+ is like having access to a free focus group whenever you want.

Find out what people think of your products or services, or even update your marketing strategy to respond to your customers’ concerns. Sometimes it helps to have the perspective of the customer to better respond to their needs.

A New Type of Customer Service

As a small business owner, you have take on a lot of different roles. Monitoring and responding to reviews lets you react in real-time to your customers’ concerns, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Customer service has leaped into the digital age by giving you instant access to customer opinions no matter where you are. There are also new tools that allow you to reward loyal customers in a moment’s notice, providing additional incentives for a return trip and a positive review.

Article on: Brandify Knowledge Center, 2 april 2013

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Self-publishing gives rise to bogus reviews (27-8-2012)

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MeetingroomReview: Self-publishing gives rise to bogus reviews

As more and more companies fight phony online reviews, check out how one entrepreneur turned book reviewing into a $28,000 a month gig–and then went out of business.

Positive customer review are so important for small businesses that an entire industry has formed around providing fake ones. And it turns out, self-publishers are no exception. According to the New York Times, the advent of electronic publishing has given rise to the auxiliary industry of for-pay book reviews.

The outlet profiled a rather glaring example: In fall 2010, Jason Rutherford launched, a site that offered rosy book reviews for self-published authors at a price. Rutherford reportedly provided clients with 20 positive online book reviews for $499, or 50 positive reviews for $999. At its high point, Rutherford’s company was making $28,000 per month, and his success illustrates the power of positive reviews and the ethically shaky lengths entrepreneurs will sometimes go to to obtain them.

“The wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews,” Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinios, Chicago told the Times.

Liu estimates that approximately one-third of “consumer” reviews are fake. However, the legitimacy of reviews is difficult to quanitfy, he said, because its nearly impossible to tell if a review was written by a marketer, a contributor for hire, or a third-party service.

Of course, Rutherford’s business violated the fundamental rule of editorial reviewing, that being that the reviewer is objective (i.e. not hired by the author) in critiquing a piece of work. Rutherford added, “These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.” GettingBookReviews also violated the Federal Trade Commission guideline that says paid online endorsements must be transparent, the Times noted.

GettingBooksReviewed shuttered in early 2011 after Amazon removed many of Rutherford’s book reviews, according to the Times.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some review sites, including Yelp and Angie’s List, have begun fighting back against third-party reputation management services, which claim to remove negative reviews all together.

Article on:, 27 august 2012 By:

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A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing (4-2010)

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MeetingroomReview: A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing

Assessing its impact as well as its volume will help companies take better advantage of buzz.

Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what really makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. As consumers overwhelmed by product choices tune out the ever-growing barrage of traditional marketing, word of mouth cuts through the noise quickly and effectively.

Indeed, word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. Its influence is greatest when consumers are buying a product for the first time or when products are relatively expensive, factors that tend to make people conduct more research, seek more opinions, and deliberate longer than they otherwise would. And its influence will probably grow: the digital revolution has amplified and accelerated its reach to the point where word of mouth is no longer an act of intimate, one-on-one communication. Today, it also operates on a one-to-many basis: product reviews are posted online and opinions disseminated through social networks. Some customers even create Web sites or blogs to praise or punish brands.

As online communities increase in size, number, and character, marketers have come to recognize word of mouth’s growing importance. But measuring and managing it is far from easy. We believe that word of mouth can be dissected to understand exactly what makes it effective and that its impact can be measured using what we call “word-of-mouth equity”—an index of a brand’s power to generate messages that influence the consumer’s decision to purchase. Understanding how and why messages work allows marketers to craft a coordinated, consistent response that reaches the right people with the right content in the right setting. That generates an exponentially greater impact on the products consumers recommend, buy, and become loyal to.

A consumer-driven world

The sheer volume of information available today has dramatically altered the balance of power between companies and consumers. As consumers have become overloaded, they have become increasingly skeptical about traditional company-driven advertising and marketing and increasingly prefer to make purchasing decisions largely independent of what companies tell them about products.

This tectonic power shift toward consumers reflects the way people now make purchasing decisions. Once consumers make a decision to buy a product, they start with an initial consideration set of brands formed through product experience, recommendations, or awareness-building marketing. Those brands, and others, are actively evaluated as consumers gather product information from a variety of sources and decide which brand to purchase. Their postsales experience then informs their next purchasing decision. While word of mouth has different degrees of influence on consumers at each stage of this journey (Exhibit 1), it’s the only factor that ranks among the three biggest consumer influencers at every step.

Exhibit 1

Where it counts

Word of mouth is influential throughout the consumer decision journey.

McKinsey article on MeetingroomReview - exhibit 1

It’s also the most disruptive factor. Word of mouth can prompt a consumer to consider a brand or product in a way that incremental advertising spending simply cannot. It’s also not a one-hit wonder. The right messages resonate and expand within interested networks, affecting brand perceptions, purchase rates, and market share. The rise of online communities and communication has dramatically increased the potential for significant and far-reaching momentum effects. In the mobile-phone market, for example, we have observed that the pass-on rates for key positive and negative messages can increase a company’s market share by as much as 10 percent or reduce it by 20 percent over a two-year period, all other things being equal. This effect alone makes a case for more systematically investigating and managing word of mouth.

Understanding word of mouth

While word of mouth is undeniably complex and has a multitude of potential origins and motivations, we have identified three forms of word of mouth that marketers should understand: experiential, consequential, and intentional.


Experiential word of mouth is the most common and powerful form, typically accounting for 50 to 80 percent of word-of-mouth activity in any given product category. It results from a consumer’s direct experience with a product or service, largely when that experience deviates from what’s expected. (Consumers rarely complain about or praise a company when they receive what they expect.) Complaints when airlines lose luggage are a classic example of experiential word of mouth, which adversely affects brand sentiment and, ultimately, equity, reducing both receptiveness to traditional marketing and the effect of positive word of mouth from other sources. Positive word of mouth, on the other hand, can generate a tailwind for a product or service.


Marketing activities also can trigger word of mouth. The most common is what we call consequential word of mouth, which occurs when consumers directly exposed to traditional marketing campaigns pass on messages about them or brands they publicize. The impact of those messages on consumers is often stronger than the direct effect of advertisements, because marketing campaigns that trigger positive word of mouth have comparatively higher campaign reach and influence. Marketers need to consider both the direct and the pass-on effects of word of mouth when determining the message and media mix that maximizes the return on their investments.


A less common form of word of mouth is intentional—for example, when marketers use celebrity endorsements to trigger positive buzz for product launches. Few companies invest in generating intentional word of mouth, partly because its effects are difficult to measure and because many marketers are unsure if they can successfully execute intentional word-of-mouth campaigns.

What marketers need for all three forms of word of mouth is a way to understand and measure its impact and financial ramifications, both good and bad.

Word-of-mouth equity

A starting point has been to count the number of recommendations and dissuasions for a given product. There’s an appealing power and simplicity to this approach, but also a challenge: it’s difficult for marketers to account for variability in the power of different kinds of word-of-mouth messages. After all, a consumer is significantly more likely to buy a product as a result of a recommendation made by a family member than by a stranger. These two kinds of recommendations constitute a single message, yet the difference in their impact on the receiver’s behavior is immense. In fact, our research shows that a high-impact recommendation—from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message, for example—is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than is a low-impact recommendation.

To assess the impact of these different kinds of recommendations, we developed a way to calculate what we call word-of-mouth equity. It represents the average sales impact of a brand message multiplied by the number of word-of-mouth messages. By looking at the impact—as well as the volume—of these messages, this metric lets a marketer accurately test their effect on sales and market share for brands, individual campaigns, and companies as a whole (Exhibit 2). That impact—in other words, the ability of any one word-of-mouth recommendation or dissuasion to change behavior—reflects what is said, who says it, and where it is said. It also varies by product category.

Exhibit 2

Measuring the impact

By looking at impact as well as volume, marketers can measure the effects of word-of-mouth messages more accurately.

McKinsey article on MeetingroomReview - exhibit 2

What’s said is the primary driver of word-of-mouth impact. Across most product categories, we found that the content of a message must address important product or service features if it is to influence consumer decisions. In the mobile-phone category, for example, design is more important than battery life. In skin care, packaging and ingredients create more powerful word of mouth than do emotional messages about how a product makes people feel. Marketers tend to build campaigns around emotional positioning, yet we found that consumers actually tend to talk—and generate buzz—about functional messages.

The second critical driver is the identity of the person who sends a message: the word-of-mouth receiver must trust the sender and believe that he or she really knows the product or service in question. Our research does not identify a homogenous group of consumers who are influential across categories: consumers who know cars might influence car buyers but not consumers shopping for beauty products. About 8 to 10 percent of consumers are what we call influentials, whose common factor is trust and competence. Influentials typically generate three times more word-of-mouth messages than noninfluentials do, and each message has four times more impact on a recipient’s purchasing decision. About 1 percent of these people are digital influentials—most notably, bloggers—with disproportionate power.

Finally, the environment where word of mouth circulates is crucial to the power of messages. Typically, messages passed within tight, trusted networks have less reach but greater impact than those circulated through dispersed communities—in part, because there’s usually a high correlation between people whose opinions we trust and the members of networks we most value. That’s why old-fashioned kitchen table recommendations and their online equivalents remain so important. After all, a person with 300 friends on Facebook may happily ignore the advice of 290 of them. It’s the small, close-knit network of trusted friends that has the real influence.

Word-of-mouth equity empowers companies by allowing them to understand word of mouth’s relative impact on brand and product performance. While marketers have always known that the impact can be significant, they may be surprised to learn just how powerful it really is. When Apple’s iPhone was launched in Germany, for example, its share of word-of-mouth volume in the mobile-phone category—or how many consumers were talking about it—was about 10 percent, or a third less than that of the market leader. Yet the iPhone had launched in other countries, and the buzz accompanying those messages in Germany was about five times more powerful than average. This meant the iPhone’s word-of-mouth equity score was 30 percent higher than that of the market leader, with three times more influentials recommending the iPhone over leading handsets. As a result, sales directly attributable to the positive word of mouth surrounding the iPhone outstripped those attributable to Apple’s paid marketing sixfold. Within 24 months of launch, the iPhone was selling almost one million units a year in Germany.

The flexibility of word-of-mouth equity allows us to gauge the word-of-mouth impact of companies, products, and brands regardless of the category or industry. And because it measures performance rather than the sheer volume of messages, it can be used to identify what’s driving—and hurting—word-of-mouth impact. Both insights are critical if marketers are to convert knowledge into power.

Harnessing word of mouth

The rewards of pursuing excellence in word-of-mouth marketing are huge, and it can deliver a sustainable and significant competitive edge few other marketing approaches can match. Yet many marketers avoid it. Some worry that it remains immature as a marketing discipline compared with the highly sophisticated management of marketing in media such as television and newspapers. Others are concerned that they can’t draw on extensive data or elaborate marketing tools fine-tuned over decades. For those unsure about actively managing word of mouth, consider this: the incremental gain from outperforming competitors with superior television ads, for example, is relatively small. That’s because all companies actively manage their traditional marketing activities and all have similar knowledge. With so few companies actively managing word of mouth—the most powerful form of marketing—the potential upside is exponentially greater.

The starting point for managing word of mouth is understanding which dimensions of word-of-mouth equity are most important to a product category: the who, the what, or the where. In skincare, for example, it’s the what; in retail banks, the who. Word-of-mouth-equity analysis can detail the precise nature of a category’s influentials and pinpoint the highest-impact messages, contexts, and networks. Equipped with these insights, companies can then work on generating positive word of mouth, using the three forms we identified: experiential, consequential, and intentional.

Although the importance of these triggers varies category by category, experiential sources are the most important across them. Harnessing experiential word of mouth is fundamentally about providing customers with the opportunity to share positive experiences and making the story relatable and relevant to the audience. Some companies, such as Miele and Lego, build buzz around products before launch and work to have early, highly influential adopters by involving consumers in product development, supported by online communities. Consistently refreshing the product experience also helps harness experiential word of mouth—consumers are more likely to talk about a product early in its life cycle, which is why product launches or enhancements are so crucial to generating positive word of mouth. Buzz also can be sustained after launch: Apple has maintained interest in and excitement about the iPhone via its apps store, as constantly evolving and user-generated content maintains positive word of mouth.

Most companies actively use customer satisfaction insights when developing new products and services. Yet a satisfied customer base may not be enough to create buzz. To create positive word of mouth that actually has impact, the customer experience must not only deviate significantly from expectations but also deviate on the dimensions that matter to the customer and that he or she is likely to talk about. For instance, while battery life is a crucial driver of satisfaction for mobile-handset consumers, they talk about it less than other product features, such as design and usability. To turn consumers into an effective marketing vehicle, companies need to outperform on product and service attributes that have intrinsic word-of-mouth potential.

Managing consequential word of mouth involves using the insights provided by word-of-mouth equity to maximize the return on marketing activities. By understanding the word-of-mouth effects of the range of channels and messages employed and allocating marketing activities accordingly, companies can equip consumers to spread marketing messages and drive their reach and impact. In fact, McKinsey research shows that marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising in categories as diverse as skincare and mobile phones.

Two things supercharge the creation of positive consequential word of mouth: interactivity and creativity. They are interrelated, and particularly important for brands in relatively low-innovation categories that often struggle to gain consumer attention. One example of a company successfully harnessing this power is the UK confectioner Cadbury, whose “Glass and a Half Full” advertising campaign used creative, thoughtful, and integrated online and traditional marketing to spur consumer interaction and sales.

The campaign began with a television commercial featuring a gorilla playing drums to an iconic Phil Collins song. The bizarre juxtaposition was an immediate hit. The concept so engaged consumers that they were willing to go online, view the commercial, and create amateur versions of their own, triggering a torrent of YouTube imitations. Within three months of the advertisement’s appearance, the video had been viewed more than six million times online, year-on-year sales of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate had increased by more than 9 percent, and the brand’s positive perception among consumers had improved by about 20 percent.

Intentional word-of-mouth campaigns revolve around identifying influentials who become brand and product advocates. Of course, companies can’t precisely control what consumers tell others. But ambitious marketers can use word-of-mouth equity insights to shift from consequential to intentional campaigning.

The type of campaign that companies choose to adopt depends on the degree to which marketers can find and target influentials. Marketers capable of undertaking one-to-one marketing—such as mobile-phone operators—are uniquely positioned to execute controlled and effective intentional word-of-mouth campaigns. Mobile carriers have granular customer data that can precisely locate influentials who know the category, talk to many people, and provide them with trusted opinions. That means messages can be directed at specific individuals who are most likely to spread positive word of mouth through their social networks. As a message spreads, this approach generates an exponential word-of-mouth impact, similar to the ripple effect when a pebble is dropped in a pond.

Companies unable to target influentials precisely must take a different approach. While Red Bull, for example, can’t send text messages to specific consumers, it has successfully deployed science to orchestrate effective intentional word-of-mouth campaigns. After identifying influentials among its different target segments, the energy-drink company ensures that celebrities and other opinion makers seed the right messages among consumers, often through events. While it can’t be sure who will attend, Red Bull knows that those who do will be the kinds of consumers it seeks—and that the positive messages they will relay across their own social networks can generate a superior return for its marketing investment.

Marketers have always been aware of the effect of word of mouth, and there is clearly an art to effective word-of-mouth campaigning. Yet the science behind word-of-mouth equity helps reveal how to hone and deploy that art: it shows which messages consumers are likely to pass on and the impact of those messages, allowing marketers to estimate the tangible effect word of mouth has on brand equity and sales. These insights are essential for companies that want to harness the potential of word of mouth and to realize higher returns on their marketing investments.

Article on: McKinsey Quarterly, april 2010 By: Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Doogan, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik

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How we got 100 reviews on the google apps marketplace (7-5-2013)

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MeetingroomReview researchblog How we got 100 reviews on the google apps marketplace

Distribution through app marketplaces is the key weapon now in every app developers distribution arsenal. And nothing helps your presence in a marketplace more than a bunch of positive, high quality reviews written by users who love your product.

Our product GrexIt has been on the Google Apps marketplace for around 18 months, and we realized the value of reviews on influencing users’ decision to try out an app soon after we went live on the apps marketplace. Since Google Apps is used by business users, it is very important to establish credibility before a serious user will try out your app.

Business users value their time, and it is fairly hard to get such users to write good quality reviews for you. As programmers, our first approach to solving this problem was to send automatic emails to users at certain events requesting them to write a review – we tried automated emails at various levels of activation and on upgrade to our paid plans. This approach failed miserably.

And that led us to our most important learning for getting users to review us.

Ask for a review personally, and ask at the right time

Automated emails don’t work. Human interactions do. It was not hard for us to see that a user would happily write a good quality review if they’d had a good human interaction with a member of our team.

For instance, a user who got personalized help from us in setting up their account was very likely to write us a review after GrexIt starting working as expected for them. So what we needed was to create positive human interactions with our users which solved a real problem for them.

It is easy to see that quick, efficient customer support would be the key way to create positive interactions with customers. It indeed was for us, but more about that later. Lets first talk about how we used our Free Plan to get our users to review us.

Putting your Free Plan to work to get reviews

We found that users on the Free Plan were way more likely to write a review than paying customers. The key was asking them at the right time.

At GrexIt, we don’t automatically move a user on Trial to the Free Plan at the end of the trial. We send them an automated email asking them if they want to continue on the Free Plan, and move them to the Free Plan immediately on hearing back from them.

This creates a human interaction between us and the user, and leaves the user happy being able to continue using the product. Requests for reviews just after we have moved a user to the Free Plan have a great success rate!

The importance of speed in customer support

Everyone says they provide awesome customer support. But what does it really mean? For us, it meant instantaneous. We threw all advice about email discipline to the wind, and would monitor our inboxes every 30 minutes to see if there were any new customer support requests.

We resolved almost all support requests within an hour. We routed all user phone calls to all our phone numbers, and made sure we pick up a call even when it came at 3 AM in the morning. And if there was a chat message through Olark, we dropped whatever we were doing to attend to it.

When you do high quality customer support, users easily see it because most companies suck at customer support. And when they feel cared for, they’d happily write you a review. We asked for a review every time we resolved an irritating problem a user was facing, and we got a review almost every time.

Other than speed, there has been another thing which has helped us get a lot of our users to review us.

Being flexible about trial period and pricing

A 30 day trial period is not enough for a lot of Business users. In many cases, there are multiple stake-holders involved within the company, and the approval to buy a new tool has to move through multiple levels. We realized this early on, and we started offering trial period extensions proactively to users.

We could very easily see that when offered a trial period extension, many users opted for it, while not offering an extension meant a dead-end as very few users asked for it by themselves. Offering to extend the trial period showed our users that we cared, and again, created a positive human interaction between us and the user.

We have adopted a similar flexible approach with pricing too. Some of our users with small teams do not need unlimited shared labels, and we have been very prompt in offering a discount to them against a limit on the number of shared labels. It has always translated into a great review!

Broadly, our strategy has been being genuinely helpful, prompt and extremely flexible. And it has worked wonders in getting users to say great things about our product. We hope you can use these tips too to build an amazing app marketplace presence for your product.

Article on: The Social Media Hat, 7 mei 2013

By: Niraj Ranjan Rout

Meer tips over het verkrijgen van reviews lees je in onze toolkit.

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Nep-reviews (17-9-2012)

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MeetingroomReview research blog nep-reviews

Het internet is een waardevolle bron van informatie voor wie zich voor aankoop wil verdiepen in een bepaald product of een bepaalde dienst. Op bijna elke website staan recensies van eerdere gebruikers en die informatie kan bepalend zijn of jij besluit het product wel of niet te kopen.

Als er alleen maar negatieve recensies bij staan, krab je jezelf nog wel een keer achter de oren voordat je het besteld. Is het overwegend positief wat erover geschreven wordt, dan ben je eerder geneigd het product te kopen.

De betrouwbaarheid van deze recensies is niet altijd even groot. Het blijkt kinderlijk eenvoudig om nep-recensies te plaatsen, terwijl de sites verklaren actief redactie te voeren op de geplaatste recensies. De afgelopen tijd lagen bekende recensiesites als IENS, YELP en ZOOVER onder vuur. Inmiddels hebben de betrokken sites maatregelen genomen.

Betalen voor reviews

Wie even verder speurt op internet ziet dat er een levendige handel bestaat in ‘kapitaal’, waardoor de populariteit van een bedrijf of product groter kan lijken. Zo kunnen (Facebook) likes en (Google’s) +1’s in pakketten gekocht worden en bieden recensiesites positieve reviews aan voor bijvoorbeeld apps. Ook recensies voor producten op en andere online winkels kunnen worden besteld. Het bedrijf biedt ons zelfs de mogelijkheid om voor 4 euro per review op een vergelijkingssite van onze keuze, positieve reviews te plaatsen over ons product.

Valse beoordelingen

Ook zonder te betalen blijkt het kinderlijk eenvoudig om valse beoordelingen te geven. We nemen als voorbeeld en plaatsen er tientallen reviews op hetzelfde tijdstip, vanaf hetzelfde IP-adres. Zelfs bij boeken die nog niet verschenen zijn worden alle reviews goedgekeurd en geplaatst.

Het internet lijkt in die zin een vrijplaats voor praktijken die in de traditionelere domeinen aan banden zijn gelegd. Een betaald artikel in een magazine wordt vaak aangeduid als een advertorial, maar in het geval van betaalde tweets is dat veel minder duidelijk. Een bedrijf dat consumenten belt om hen een betere autoverzekering aan te raden, zal zich aan de telefoon niet zo snel voordoen als de buurman. Via het zogenaamde linkspammen kan die suggestie echter wel gewekt worden. Door op openbare fora aanbevelingen met links te plaatsen, wordt de suggestie gewekt dat deelnemers simpelweg te maken hebben met een individu, terwijl in werkelijkheid een marketing-team de discussie “kaapt” om reclame te maken.

Een richtlijn

De branchevereniging voor dialoog marketing, de Dutch Dialogue Marketing Association (DDMA) heeft een richtlijn opgesteld dat het onderscheid tussen een feit en een verkooppraatje duidelijker moet maken. Zo zou er bijvoorbeeld achter elke betaalde tweet een #spon (sponsoring) moeten komen om te verduidelijken dat het om reclame gaat. Ook de Stichting Reclame Code onderschrijft het belang van deze richtlijn. De verwachting is dat deze richtlijn op korte termijn wordt ingesteld.

Artikel op: Tros Radar, 17 september 2012

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5 Steps for 5 Stars: Reputation Management for Small Businesses (12-8-2008)

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MeetingroomReview Research Blog 5 Steps for 5 stars: reputation management for small businesses

A “Review” of Reviews

25% of the questions Todd Mintz asked me in his excellent interview last month had to do with reputation management for small businesses. A synopsis of my response:

Online reputation management goes hand-in-hand with Local optimization….(but) [i]t’s a tough situation — small businesses have to work twice as hard as larger businesses to manage their online reputation, with fewer resources.

So, with this post, I thought I would try to make things a little easier for small businesses by compiling a list of truly exceptional posts related to this topic written in the last couple of months, and summarizing their findings.

1. Understand the value of reviews

Anger against Local Search Engines and content portals is being fueled by ignorance and confusion about online marketing on the part of small business owners. Educate yourself! (Will Scott, Search InfluenceAs are opaque, hidden, or counterintuitive review policies on the part of these larger websites–see #3 for more on this topic.

It’s not entirely clear whether ratings have any effect on ranking within Local search algorithms. Nonetheless, ratings draw additional eyeballs, even to sites ranked towards the bottom of a ten-pack or three-pack (Michael Jensen, CityMarketer)…

…This can mean MANY more clicks on your listing, which may indirectly affect your ranking (Chris Silver Smith, Natural Search Blog in my SMX Local Recap).

If you’re in a hospitality industry, like hotels or restaurants, particularly on the West Coast, ratings are going to be critical to your online success (Palore and Others).

If you’re in an industry that doesn’t get a lot of reviews, even one or two bad ones can have a dramatic impact on your business (Matt McGee, Small Business SEM)

2. Prioritize your review efforts—figure out who the most important players are.

InsiderPages and CitySearch reviews are both captured by a number of Local Search Engines, in addition to their own websites. Google and Yahoo Local still have a huge market share themselves, however (Michael Jensen, CityMarketer).

Look at which of the major profile websites (CitySearch, Yahoo Local, etc.) are ranking in the Top 10 in Google for your keywords. Chances are, Google’s spidering them VERY well, and will pick up reviews from those sources in its own Local algorithm (Steve Espinosa).

If you’re in the hospitality industry, and can help you a ton (Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo + Mary Bowling, Blizzard Internet Marketing).

3. Understand the guidelines of what is an acceptable review acquisition strategy. “What’s acceptable” may vary from site to site.

Yelp has caught a TON of flak recently for its rather unsavory handling of a review controversy highlighted in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 4th of this year. Fellow Bay Area media outlet CBS5 followed up with thisthorn in Yelp’s side almost exactly a month later. (More on the Yelp controversy from Greg Sterling).

Most Local portals don’t have a clear review policy, but if they do, make sure you know what it is before you engage in a tactic that could lead to a penalty or ban. Yelp specifically does not like incentives of any kind being used for reviews (Greg Sterling, Screenwerk).

Engaging in solicitation of reviews using a free WiFi or workstation at your location may lead to reviews getting filtered or removed (Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo).

4. Implement a review acquisition strategy.

Going back to #3–However, this free WiFi strategy might be highly successful at acquiring a vast number of reviews across multiple platofrms, if implemented properly (Michael Jensen in my SMX Local Recap).

Michael runs a really neat website called which randomizes the sites on which customers leave reviews from a single URL. If your WiFi landing page is set up properly, and you give visitors the choice of where they would like to leave reviews, you might not run into this filtering problem.

Michael’s business partner Aaron Stewart also chimes in with this gem of a post in which he advises the use of Twitter to monitor what people are saying, and perhaps to solicit reviews or at least promote events which people will want to review.

Also keep in mind that very few portals are as stringent as Yelp at detecting and removing incentivized reviews. But if you do use an incentive, do your best to space out the timing of when you receive the reviews, as a crush of them all at once may raise a flag or trip a filter (me, from personal experience with a client).

And finally, here’s a headsmacker: if your customer has an obvious email address, such as @Gmail,com or, ask them to review your business using that particular engine. They won’t have to sign up for a new account and they’ll likely already be comfortable with the review interface (Tim Coleman, Convert Offline).

5. Respond to your customers’ reviews the right way.

Take the high road with negative reviewers, even if they are one of your competitors. Figure out what you can do to work together to promote each other’s businesses positively and make lemonade from lemons (Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo).

Turning nasty in responding to reviews just reflects poorly on your business and does nothing to convince people to trust you above the negative reviewer (Greg Sterling, Screenwerk).

Yelp came under fire yet again for its refusal to let business owners moderate their own reputation online…the summer has not been good for Stoppelman and Company (Greg Sterling, Screenwerk).

My own advice: responding does not mean simply answering or acknowledging you have heard people’s complaints online. If you’re getting a large number of similar negative reviews, chances are there is actually a flaw in your business somewhere.

Take steps to address that flaw so that you get more reviews like “I don’t understand what these people on here are talking about. The service was great at Joe’s Pizza and I had a great time.” Eventually, older reviews will get pushed towards the bottom of the pile and newer, positive ones will rise, signaling to prospective customers that you have made a change in your business and it’s worth seeing for themselves.

Article on: MIHMORANDUM, 12 augustus 2008
By David Mihm

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Amazon deletes negative reviews and gets away with it … but can you? (29-1-2013)

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MeetingroomReview researchblog Amazon Deletes Negative Reviews and Gets Away With It...But Can You?

Reviews and ratings can build you up–or take you down. Tips to harness them successfully.

Recently, we learned that Amazon gives special treatment to its own merchants. The site expunges reviews that criticize Amazon’s own shipping, fulfillment, and packaging. The practice flies in the face of all the best practices for hosting website consumer reviews–and isn’t that risky?

The reality is that because of its size, market dominance, and generally sterling customer service reputation, Amazon might be able to get away with this conduct. Smaller companies, however, shouldn’t try to do the same.

As I’ve written about before, customer service matters now more than ever, thanks to the advent of social media. These days, consumer reviews and ratings factor strongly in the customer service mix–particularly the post-purchasing experience. To tell you how and why, I spoke with Jim Houlihan, director of content authenticity (note that job title) at Bazaarvoice, one of the industry’s largest providers of consumer ratings and review management and syndication.

Trust is Everything

Bazaarvoice strives to “bring the voice of the customer closer to the heart of a company’s business.” Indeed, that’s a good place to start a discussion of ratings and reviews best practices. Houlihan points out that when dealing with content generated by word-of-mouth–particularly reviews–consumer trust has to be inviolable. If we consumers cannot trust what we’re reading, whether it’s about a product or a service or an experience, we will ignore it. Customers tend to blame the company, even if they weren’t behind the false reviews. In other words, having authentic reviews is as important to managing your reputation as having positive reviews.

Houlihan reminds us that it’s a lot easier to tell a falsehood when you don’t have to look someone in their eyes. Don’t assume your negative reviews have been falsified by competitors trying to make you look bad. In its review management process, Bazaarvoice’s technology pairs algorithms with human review moderation to help prevent fraudulent or overly self-promotional reviews. That said, Houlihan says he has to educate clients to ensure that they are not censoring or removing negative reviews–it’s a natural impulse. “All reviews, both positive and negative, have importance,” he says. “Having some negative reviews on your site enhances the trust of your buyers because no company or product is perfect.”

Insights from Reviews

In my last article, I spoke about listening as one of the 10 objectives businesses can use to build social media strategies. Similarly, using your customers’ reviews as a listening study can provide you with insights and opportunities you may never have considered. Listening to negative reviews gives you an opportunity to improve your product or service. And, consumer feedback can fuel your creativity for new products or services or tip you off to market trends you didn’t know about.

Review Best Practices

When implementing ratings and reviews on your site, here are some of Houlihan’s tips:

  • Be transparent. If you court experts or endorsers to write product reviews, whether they’re positive or negative, you should disclose that this person has been recruited or compensated for their review. This kind of disclosure is actually required by the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Be encouraging. Bazaarvoice finds that only about 15 to 20 percent of clients’ reviews come in “organically” (meaning unsolicited) and yet, according to Econsultancy, a highly-rated product will increase the likelihood of purchase for 55 percent of consumers. It’s not only perfectly acceptable but a good idea to encourage your consumers to review and rate you. Ask for the review on an order confirmation page or via a post-purchase email. Or have consumers test and review products at an event or store. These reviews can even act as drivers of foot traffic and sales at your brick and mortar store if you have one.
  • Moderate expediently. Once submitted, reviews should undergo some sort moderation before going live–generally to weed out self-promotion, spam, profanity, and abusive language. Do it quickly so the review remains relevant and you retain credibility.
  • Respond. Most consumers posting positive reviews don’t expect a thank you from the shop owner, but when a negative review gets posted, at the very least you should acknowledge the complaint. If you can, help direct the reviewer toward a resolution or describe the action you will take as a result of their comment.
  • Protect your brand. The larger the brand, the greater the impact a scandal can have. Don’t let too many negative reviews go unanswered or allow yourself to fall prey to the desire to manipulate your reviews. “If you’re a cheater and violate social ethics, in time it will come back to haunt you,” cautions Houlihan.

In other words, be mindful of the power of the public to impact your business. Their words can help build you into a success or take you down, so pay attention.

Article on:, 29 januari 2013
By Hollis Thomases

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Your users trust each other, not you: why and how to implement ratings and reviews (12-2008)

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Article by: Steve Mulder, december 2008

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Why reviews are important positive or negative (12-2-2013)

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Positive or negative, reviews are important.

MeetingroomReview Research Blog Why reviews are important positive or negative

Particularly on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads.
Why? Well not only do they help other readers decide on whether or not a book is worth spending money on, but they also help the writer.

Reviews of books act as a way of communicating between writer and reader. The author can track how well (or badly) a book is received. Books that are adored and grow a fan following may then be turned into a series. However, if a storyline is considered to be bland, then the writer knows to leave those character where they are and move on.

Reviews can also help with getting that much-wanted contract! If a writer receives negative or no reviews, then publishers may be less inclined to sign their next book up, while someone who gets great or mixed reviews is more likely to get a contract.

Of course authors would love to have nothing but 5-star reviews, raving about how fantastic their book is, but honesty is more important. I know of several writers, myself included, who have had negative reviews from someone who is only out to spite the author (personal vendettas, jealousy etc.) or simply haven’t read the book but for whatever reason decided that the first chapter was enough to warrant some quite nasty and personal comments!

Unfortunately in some cases, these unwarranted reviews then drag the books reputation down and lead to lower sales. (We’re not all millionaires, those sales pay our bills!)
Not only that, but as a writer, I truly appreciate hearing the thoughts of my readers. If you didn’t enjoy the book, how could I have improved it? If you liked the book, which parts were your favourite? Why should other people read it? And don’t forget, if you loved a book, your review may help another reader find their next favourite author!


Article on:, 12 februari 2013
By Charlotte Howard

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How to get more reviews (14-6-2013)

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MeetingroomReview Research Blog How to get more reviews

Getting more reviews on Yelp can be tricky business. You don’t want to get caught up in review schemes. Yelp works hard to make sure its reviews are as organic as possible. Any attempt to create fake reviews will eventually fail and could result in bad press or worse. But there are some things you can to do naturally encourage your customers to leave more honest reviews of your business on Yelp and other online review websites.

Encourage customers to leave honest reviews

Let’s say you’re a restaurant. You probably have feedback cards or some type of feedback loop already in place. Even if you don’t you probably hear customers that have good things to say and some that might have a few suggestions. In your restaurant you can encourage online reviews with designs on your menus, table cards and with signs in the restaurant. You can share links to where your site is found on popular review sites like Yelp. Don’t ask for positive reviews. Simply show customers that they can leave honest reviews on these websites. You open yourself up to the possibility of bad reviews, but if you’re a great business you’ll come out on top as you get more reviews.

Encourage Yelp check-In

The Yelp mobile app allows people to check-in to local businesses. Yelp seems to place this feature in high regard because it’s currently difficult – at least in theory – for someone to fake going to a restaurant, eating and leaving a review. People that use check-in functionality are likely to leave a review as they eat at a restaurant or visit your local business. When they’re in the moment they’re much more likely to leave a review than if they leave. It’s hard to remember to leave a review when the memory is not fresh.

Post reviews from Yelp in your business

You can print and share reviews from Yelp and other review sources in your place of business. You can post the positive reviews, which will create a positive atmosphere in your business, but you could also post a neutral or negative review in the business as well. For example, let’s say a customer reviews your restaurant on Yelp. They say they had a pretty good meal, but it would have been better if you offered dessert options. You could take reviews like this – if they are common and if it benefits your business – make the change and highlight how you listened to the reviews and feedback messages. You could post the request for dessert next to a new sign listing your new desserts. People love to be heard. If they know you’re listening on Yelp they’re more likely to leave a review of their own experience.

Empower your staff

The people that work with the customers in your business have the most power when it comes to customer reviews. Your staff can determine if the customer has a good experience, which is the most important thing for getting good reviews, but your staff can also ask for reviews. Let’s say a customer finishes a meal and says it was good. The person serving them could remind them that it would be appreciated if they shared their feelings on Yelp or on another site to let others know about the experience.


It’s important to note that you never want to pay or offer any kind of incentive in exchange for reviews. All online review sites including Yelp hate this because it takes the organic nature out of the reviews and causes the sites to lose credibility. Stick to natural ways to get more reviews like those listed above. Do the things listed above while always working to improve your products and services and you should get more Yelp reviews in the long run.

Article on:, 14 Juli 2013
By Scott Dylan

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Why reviews matter, not just in social but in search too (1-12-2010)

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MeetingroomReview Research Blog Why Reviews Matter, Not Just In Social But In Search Too

Review sites can be both a blessing and a curse for retailers, whether they are online stores, brick-and-mortar, or both. It used to be that as a company, you had to monitor the review sites for a host of different things such as correct spelling of your business name, the right hours of operation, and the correct addresses (both URL and physical). As the members of social media communities get savvier and start to recognize the power they literally have at their fingertips (think smartphones here), the power of review sites becomes increasingly more relevant to your marketing strategy, both online and offline.

As keynote speaker Maile Ohye, senior developer programs engineer at Google, showed at SES Chicago this year, Google is stepping up the integration of reviews into its search engine results. The use of Bazaarvoice’s reviews and other Google-approved review systems are now showing up as part of the search results. That’s a clear signal that it’s becoming even more important that companies start to pay attention to this aspect of social media.

But the question then becomes, if there are a lot of reviews, how are these weighed in the search engine? Is it the amount of reviews? Is it the overall rating? Is it the conversation that is going on in the comments of the reviews? Of course, we won’t ever be privy to any of the search engines’ secret sauces, but still, as marketers, we have to look beyond just the search engine results and at the impressions the reviews and the actions of the reviewed companies leave in the minds of community members and searchers alike.

I bring up the aforementioned questions about the power of reviews in the search engine results (SERPs) because of an article in The New York Times. In David Segal’s “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web”, he points out in rather vivid and scary detail how a company uses negative reviews to push themselves up in the search engine results. The company, an online retailer that sells eyeglass frames and contact lenses, has horrible service. Not only that, when customers complain and stop payment via their credit card companies, the owner takes to more serious means of phone and e-mail threats of a very graphic nature.

As Google gets more serious about incorporating social media and social community information into its results, it tries to do that in an efficient way, via its algorithm. To hand check reviews and score them would be quite an overwhelming and daunting task for any search engine, but with the sheer mass of Google’s index, hand checking reviews is nearly impossible. While its mantra is “Do no evil” and it wants to serve “the most relevant results” for the “best user experience,” the question becomes: How does a situation like the one David Segal describes have such power in the results when the company is apparently evil, the results aren’t really relevant, and certainly won’t give their users the best experience?

Reading Signals: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Does it take a New York Times article to get bad companies out of Google’s index?

The company mentioned in the article takes the art of mastering and manipulating reviews and their relevance to Google to a whole new level. The more people complain, the higher that company goes in the search engine results.  Is that really how reviews are supposed to work?  A normal person would think not.

The company is basically using the negative reviews to its advantage with search engine rankings, or at least they were until this article hit the presses.  Do a search for any brand name mentioned in the article now and the company is nowhere to be found.  Prior to The New York Times article, it ranked on the first page for many of the terms mentioned.  It seems that soon after The New York Times article was published, they’ve magically vanished from appearing for the keywords that were driving customers to their site.  Why did it take an article in The New York Times to make that happen, and not its algorithm taking signals from all the negative reviews?

If you look through those reviews, you (a human) can very plainly pick out the “fake” reviews – all of them rate the company as a five and say they got their shipment on time and in good shape. There’s a pretty big disparity in the reviews though – either five stars or one star, and largely it’s a lot of one star reviews. It would seem that while Google is in a rush to incorporate social media into its algorithm, it can’t yet take signals from “good” and “bad” just yet.

So what does that mean to online marketers and companies venturing into marketing in these spaces? It means that no matter what, you should be factoring in social reviews as part of your marketing plan to monitor and maintain. Reviews don’t just affect the impressions community members see of you, they affect the impression of searchers on Google, Yahoo, and Bing now, too.

Article on: ClickZ, 1 December 2010
By Liana Evans

MeetingroomReview Research Blog Why Reviews Matter, Not Just In Social But In Search Too Liana Evans

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8 Reasons why online reviews are important to your business (25-6-2012)

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MeetingroomReview Research Blog 8 Reasons why online reviews are important to your business

Online reviews are crucial to any business that wants to keep control of it’s online reputation. Reviewing has changed the face of online marketing since the Internet became a household convenience. It allows businesses to have active, positive participation from consumers and gives consumers a solid foundation to create a relationship with those businesses, so it pays to keep in control of it.
Online reviews have created a new form of marketing and communication that bridges the gap between simple word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback that can move virtual mountains for a business. The importance of online reviews for businesses is truly mind boggling; from increase of brand awareness to an overall increase of profit in the long run.

1. Increased Sales

The biggest reason why online reviews are important to businesses is that ultimately it increases sales by giving consumers the information they need to make the decision to purchase a product or service from a business. People are always much more likely to purchase a product or service that has already been recommended by others.

2. Understand and Better Serve Your Consumers

Online reviews can tell you whether you are doing a good job or what you are doing wrong and how to improve your service. This allows you to better serve your consumers by quickly and efficiently resolving any issues consumers have, thereby creating a positive experience for the consumer that will only help your business in the future.

3. Improve Rankings

Online reviews do more than just create a better relationships between your business and your consumers, they work towards improving your websites ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! and more. The more that is written about your business online, the more important a search engine consider you to be!

4. Higher Keyword Content

Online reviews help your business website to have a steady influx of SEO keywords that help your business have a more prominent online presence for consumers due to the fact that many of the keywords included in online reviews will help to bring up your website in search results for consumers looking for the type of product or service you provide.

5. Allow Consumers to Have a Voice and Create Consumer Loyalty

Consumers who take the time to leave an online review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to your business and keep coming back year after year. Through the act of leaving an online review and establishing a relationship with the business, it allows your consumers to feel like they have a voice and are able to provide feedback in a positive and meaningful way.

6. Create Consumer Engagement

Many times online review pages can become active social communities where consumers leave reviews and keep coming back to see if others have made comments on their reviews or to simply see what other consumers have to say about your product or service in general. This creates a social community of consumer engagement that allows consumers to form an attachment to both the business and the other consumers as well.

7. Let Consumers Do Your Marketing for You

A handful of positive online business reviews are worth a great deal and can offer your business benefits that a simple marketing campaign can’t. They are like micro marketing campaigns that keep working long after the online review has been posted, giving a constant positive image to potential consumers and creating a continual brand awareness that benefits the business for the short term and for the long term.

8. Reviews Breed More Reviews

When a business, product or service has already received reviews online it seems to encourage other visitors to leave their own feedback. Just the appearance of a number of reviews appears to be enough to give new visitors the confidence to add their own views on that particular product or service. It is a new form of online ‘crowd behaviour’ that psychologists are still working on figuring out!

Article on: The Online Department, 25 juni 2012

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Is social too noisy to be useful? (Why reviews are better) (18-4-2013)

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Article on by Michael Fertik, 18 april 2013:

If social media is the most popular girl in high school, then customer review sites are the smart kids who dazzle at the high school reunion with their success and confidence. And like those quirky students, I think companies will see that reviews, not social, are the key path to new customer acquisition and current customer retention – though it might take a little while for review sites to reach their real tipping point.

In short: many companies pay too much attention to social media, which is noisy and often ineffectual in terms of customer intelligence. But the path for clear insight into customer perception is plain: that future is customer reviews. I’d love to hear your thoughts – how are you paying attention to what customers say about your business? And how do you, as a consumer, research and assess new companies?

Why Customer Reviews Trump Social-Media Marketing

More and more businesses are pouring time and money into tweeting and posting on Facebook. But there’s a better way.

People love us on yelp

Sometimes, it seems like it’s all social, all the time.

But are companies really getting everything they need from the social-media conversation?

Absolutely not.

There’s ample customer engagement in the social scene, but for many organizations, it’s also a loud and noisy cocktail party, with lots of guests all clamoring for the host’s attention. It’s hard to hear precisely what’s important–and there’s little mechanism for aggregating information into usable intelligence.

Yet companies continue to pump precious amounts of time and money into social. The number of small businesses that have increased their social-media budget has quadrupled, and 43 percent of small businesses now spend more than six hours each week dealing with social media.

But as time progresses, I’m willing to bet companies will find that online reviews offer them a more concentrated customer conversation, one that’s easy to listen to and that opens a window into the invisible consumer–the one that got away (and went online to tell about it). Even more important, it’s how businesses acquire new customers–after all, when people want to check out a business, they often go to review sites as a first stop, not a Facebook page.

The Evidence

My team at recently did a study researching two residential property management companies. We used patented algorithms we developed to analyze 8,000 online reviews for sentiment and patterns in both review growth and customer perception.

The results provided some valuable insight into customer preference and behavior, suggesting ways companies can be smarter with operations and marketing.

  • Review growth was similar between both companies, despite differences in target markets (upper-middle income versus middle to lower income). No matter how much or how little a person spent on rent, no matter regional differences, people still wrote reviews.
  • Overall, negative terms–like damage, mold, dump–were highly similar but positive words were not. Our conclusion: The factors that drive people to write bad reviews are much more universal than the aspects that inspire glowing accounts. Tenants were fairly unified in the kinds of things that irritated them, but the features they preferred were correlated to the unique properties of each apartment type. For instance, in the higher-end complex, reviewers might highlight crown molding as a positive, whereas the lower-end renters might focus on the clubhouse amenities.
  • Despite general similarities, the top 10 negative terms varied by rental demographic. For example, the lower-middle-income renters focused mostly on pests and maintenance. That’s intel that the property management company can actually use. If the company pumps more money into pest control and maintaining facilities, it will see a powerful, positive change in its review profile. Upper-mid renters were more focused on customer service and transparency in financial procedures, so that’s where the other company should focus its attention.
  • Brand association was stronger for lower-mid renters, but upper-income renters cared more about a complex’s location and nearby amenities. That information is another signpost for the companies: The lower-mid-market company should link the brand name with its amenities (e.g., “The Groves offers…”), while the higher-end business should advertise the neighborhood attractions (“Two blocks from foodie heaven”).

That social is a game changer, there’s no doubt. But online reviews are the dark horse in this race, at least in terms of where businesses are currently putting the most focus. As research continues to show how companies can use reviews to better their business practices and improve customer satisfaction and acquisition, I think that will change.

 About the author:

Michael Fertik founded with the belief that businesses and individuals have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. He is credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management

Two interesting responses on LinkedIn:

Rob K., Senior Digital Marketing Consultant at Tata Consultancy Services:
Thanks for the post, Michael. Raw social media streams, are indeed noisy. One should never attempt to drink from a firehose. Instead their are numerous social media listening tools– including those developed by TCS, Radian 6 and countless others–that filter and make sense of the huge streams of unstructured data throughout social media via natural language processing, advanced analytics and dashboarding.
While review sites provide good feedback, many more insights can be derived from the perceptions, sentiments and feedback about a brand and its competitors expressed throughout the blogosphere.

Thomas B., Freelancer:
It is commonly known that consumers tend to share extreme beliefs about a product/service/company – negative or positive. That’s why you get those U or J shaped distributions. But is that a bad thing? As a consumer you want to buy the excellent/good products and avoid the mediocre/bad ones. With that in mind the reviews provide you with, although binary, aid. Key thing about these consumer reviews is that they are multidimensional; characteristics of the author, reader and product play an important role. In that point of view consumer reviews also have a lot of noise. Use cases and points of interests aren’t the same for everyone and so the relevance of reviews isn’t equal for everyone. Although trustworthiness is a major point, it’s not the only one you need to consider. A consumer can write a honest review, but that review is still based on the beliefs of that consumer, on the points where he assigns value. A better fit between review and reader is therefore necessary and that’s where major developments can be made: how do you design these platforms so users can get the most relevant reviews? So it’s not social media OR consumer reviews; it’s an AND and I think there is a huge potential to combine these two so they can stimulate each other. Realtime monitoring to see trends and respond to them. For example, use social media to prevent negative reviews or use certain reviews in the design of your social media campagnes. With social media you can extract a lot of information about your user and so give him the most interesting, helpful and relevant reviews.

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Hogere conversie door reviews (7-6-2013)

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Door Jaap Jacobs, Fingerspitz Online Marketing, 7 juni 2013

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Hogere conversie door reviews
Doe jij het ook? Voordat je een product of dienst afneemt eerst vragen om referenties of beoordelingen? Uit je eigen netwerk of vriendenkring, of via beoordelingen van volstrekt onbekenden? Bijna iedereen doet het. Consumenten zijn namelijk op zoek naar bevestiging. Ze willen overtuigd worden of ze de beste keuze maken. Onderzoek wijst namelijk uit dat 61% van de consumenten eerst reviews leest voordat zij een beslissing neemt binnen het aankoopproces. Welke invloeden hebben reviews precies binnen dit proces en heeft het impact op de conversie? Wat is een goede beoordeling? En is het gevaarlijk om te starten met reviews?
Kwestie van vertrouwen?
Consumenten hechten veel meer waarde aan wat volstrekt onbekende mede-consumenten vertellen dan aan de informatie die wordt gepresenteerd in marketinguitlatingen. Dat is met name omdat de communicatie vanuit een organisatie enkel gericht is op de voordelen. Terwijl de consument zowel de voor- en nadelen communiceert. En dat is misschien wel de belangrijkste informatie bij het nemen van een beslissing. Wanneer iemand een eerlijk oordeel velt schept het vertrouwen. En wanneer iemand dezelfde interesses heeft, gelooft de oriënterende consument de recensent nog sneller op zijn woord. Meer reviews zijn over het algemeen beter. Al kent dit wel een quadratisch verband ten opzichte van concurrentie. Dit betekent dat hoe meer positieve reviews er worden toegevoegd voor een item hoe minder het effect op de conversie. Voor negatieve reviews is er geen quadratisch effect gevonden. Naast de emotionele inhoud van de reviews heeft ook taalgebruik impact op de conversie. Het blijkt namelijk dat de taalvaardigheid in reviews van invloed is op de interpretatie van andere consumenten. Wanneer er sprake is van een overeenkomstigheid in taalgebruik, heeft dit een positief effect op de conversieratio.
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De invloeden van reviews
De taalkundigheid is dus van belang, maar affectieve woordkeuze speelt tevens een belangrijke rol. Affectieve woorden (zoals ‘houden van’ of ‘haten’) geven namelijk directe signalen af over het product. Door in te spelen op gevoel neemt de consument sneller de onderliggende betekenis over (heuristieken). Teksten die inspelen op het gevoel, zowel positief als negatief, hebben volgens onderzoek de meeste invloed. Denk hierbij aan teksten als “Het slechtste boek dat ik ooit gelezen heb” of “Ik houd van dit boek”. Deze reviews hebben aanzienlijk veel invloed op de productattitude van de consument. Productattitude is de houding van de consument ten opzichte van een specifiek product. De productattitude kan negatief of positief zijn, en is per individu verschillend. Productattitude is een zeer belangrijke pijler binnen het aankoopproces. De consument is hier meer dan gevoelig voor.
Bron: Ludwig, S., De Ruyter, K., Friedman, M., Brüggen, E.C., Wetzels, M. & Pfann, G. (2013), “More Than Words: The Influence of Affective Content and Linguistic Style Matches in Online Reviews on Conversion Rates”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 77 (January 2013), pp. 87 –103.
Slechte reviews zijn ook goed
De aanwezigheid van slechte reviews tussen de goede reviews hebben eveneens een positief effect op de conversie. Goede reviews alleen geven namelijk een te eenzijdig beeld over het product. Dit leidt tot wantrouwen bij de consument. Negatieve reviews zijn dus van toegevoegde waarde. Uiteraard is het wel belangrijk om als organisatie op negatieve reviews te reageren. De kans op slechte eWOM (Electronic Word of Mouth) is namelijk groot. Gevolg: een slechte online reputatie.
Valse beoordelingen
Veel bedrijven zien inmiddels de toegevoegde waarde van reviews binnen de eigen website. Dat is ook niet zo vreemd als je weet dat het een grote impact heeft op de conversie. Steeds meer organisaties maken zich daarom schuldig aan sockpuppeting. ‘Sockpuppeting’ houdt in dat je met een handpop tegen jezelf aan het praten bent. Oftewel, je maakt je eigen reviews. De vraag is of dit betrouwbaar overkomt en moreel juist is. Als je het van plan bent, neem dan in ieder geval de bovenstaande onderzoeksresultaten mee in het schrijven van de reviews. Een andere populaire vorm van onnatuurlijke reviews is het inkopen van beoordelingen. Tegenover het positief beoordelen van eigen producten staat het afserveren van de concurrentie. Steeds meer organisaties hebben last van het feit dat een gedeelte afkomstig is van vervelende concurrenten.
Faciliteer en optimaliseer
Wil je zelf ook een hogere conversie realiseren? En maak je nog geen gebruik van reviews of beoordelingen? Dan weet je nu zeker dat je ermee moet starten. Volgens Reevo leveren reviews een salesboost van 18% op. Uit een ander onderzoek blijkt tevens dat 63% van de bezoekers eerder converteert wanneer een website reviews bevat.
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Wat kan je doen om de conversie van je artikelen te optimaliseren?
Hoe meer reviews, des te beter! Zorg ervoor dat consumenten makkelijk reviews kunnen toevoegen en stimuleer het invullen van reviews. Geef iemand na het invullen van een review bijvoorbeeld korting op de volgende aanschaf. Of vraag na een levering middels e-mail om een beoordeling te schrijven.
Probeer voor zoveel mogelijk producten reviews te ontvangen. Geef je slechtlopende producten meer aandacht met de kans op een betere conversie.
Schep vertrouwen en geef consumenten enkel de kans om te beoordelen wanneer het product wordt aangeschaft. Dit voorkomt valse beoordelingen.
Pas nooit een review aan. Propaganda wordt niet op prijs gesteld. Alleen wanneer iemand over de schreef gaat is het acceptabel om een review te verwijderen.
Afbeelding: VFS Digital Design (cc)GEPOST IN: USABILITY & DESIGN, E-COMMERCE
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Hogere conversie door reviews
Jaap Jacobs, Fingerspitz Online Marketing
Jaap Jacobs heeft gewerkt voor een groot aantal opdrachtgevers en is gespecialiseerd in search, social media en conversie optimalisatie. Door zijn ervaring en interesse in online bedrijfsprocessen weet hij als geen ander de kansen binnen online ondernemen bloot te leggen.

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Blog: stemadvies reviews versus sterren (3-6-2013)

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Michel Kolenbrander, samenwonend in Rotterdam en vader van één (en bijna twee) kleine mannen. Mijn bedrijf Born2Brand is gespecialiseerd in HospitalityConcepting. Ik volg hiermee mijn passie om het vuur aan te wakkeren bij ondernemers in hospitality die echt het verschil willen maken en zich willen onderscheiden.

‘U heeft geen raam op zichthoogte en u heeft ook geen deur tussen uw badetage en uw slaapkamer’ zei de inspecteur van de sterrenclassificatie in 2005 toen ik directeur was van Stroom in Rotterdam. ‘Persoonlijk vind ik het wel mooi, maar volgens de voorschriften kan ik u geen sterren toekennen’.

Het gevolg was dat Stroom ook de (beschermde) naam ‘hotel’ niet mocht gebruiken. Ondertussen waren gasten en journalisten het niet met de inspecteur eens. Wat volgde was een internationale golf aan publiciteit, positieve reviews en een goed financieel resultaat.

Op kan vandaag de dag iedereen meepraten over de sterrenclassificatie. Ook via een poll met de stelling: ‘Hotelsterren zijn niet van deze tijd, reviews zijn veel belangrijker’ kunnen mensen hun mening geven. De tussenstand (55 procent eens, 5 procent weet niet, 40 procent niet eens) is de aanleiding voor deze blog. Vooral die 40 procent is bizar als je weet wat de gevolgen zijn van de classificatie op het resultaat van je hotel.

Reviews; nader onderzocht
Je kunt gerust stellen dat een (verplichte) classificatie die duidelijkheid moet geven aan consumenten in de westerse wereld niet noodzakelijk is. Onderzoek in de VS laat zien dat tweederde van de reizigers zijn keuze niet baseert op de sterrenclassificatie, maar zich bij boekingen door recensies laat beïnvloeden. Beoordeling is, na prijs, het belangrijkste criterium bij de keuze van een hotel. Recensies zijn bij die keuze zelfs belangrijker dan de locatie. Achter het bekijken van (online) reviews ligt een keuzeprobleem ten grondslag. Bij een dienst als een hotel is het namelijk moeilijk om in te schatten of deze zal voldoen.
Uit onderzoek van de ING blijkt dat gasten daarbij enerzijds op zoek zijn naar risicoreductie en anderzijds naar het verhogen van de prijs-kwaliteitverhouding.

Uit ander onderzoek blijkt verder:
- 24% van de 2000 ondervraagden leest reviews voor ze overgaan tot een hotelboeking.
- 87% van de geïnterviewden gaf aan dat de review van invloed was op de keuze.
- 38% was bereid om meer te betalen voor een uitstekende review (5) dan voor een goede review (4).
- 35% van de reizigers past hun keuze aan na het lezen van social media en review sites zoals Tripadvisor.
Ieder punt in hogere waardering staat voor een stijging van 9% van de gemiddelde dagelijkse kamerprijs.

Zijn reviews wel te vertrouwen?
Onderzoek van KPMG laat zien dat er vaak een verschil is tussen de ‘officiële’ (door het hotel verstrekt) en ‘onofficiële’ (wat de gast ervan vindt via reviews) informatie die er over een hotel bekend is op het internet. Volgens Marketing Online zorgt het gedaalde vertrouwen van consumenten in officiële instanties ervoor dat reviews meer gelezen worden. Corporate blogs en websites worden minder geloofwaardig gevonden dan onafhankelijke platforms zoals sociale netwerken, online shops en vergelijkingssites. Onderzoek van Nielsen toont aan dat 9 van de 10 consumenten niet meer gelooft in corporate berichtgeving. Een trend die, volgens Ronald van ‘t Hoff in zijn boek society 3.0, er in de toekomst toe kan leiden dat hotelwebsites slechts een presentatie op het internet geven en dat de gast waarschijnlijk de eigen site van een hotel niet meer bezoekt. Mond op mond reclame is steeds belangrijker geworden waarbij de hotelgast op zoek is naar ‘peer to peer support’ (bron:

Volgens onderzoek van Market Matrix blijken review sites (zoals Tripadvisor) ook nog betrouwbaar te zijn. De geloofwaardigheid van een review wordt daarbij bepaald door een aantal factoren:
- een review moet gebaseerd zijn op een productervaring
- een kritisch element of een nuance is bepalend
- de uitvoerigheid/diepte is een bepalend element
- mogelijkheid om als lezer een mening te kunnen vormen over de afzender
Tools zoals likes zijn, volgens Marketing online, daardoor minder geloofwaardig omdat ze weinig ruimte tot nuance bieden. Ook de zender van de aanbeveling draagt bij aan de geloofwaardigheid. Zo worden aanbevelingen van goede vrienden (in real life), een kennis en een expert als het meest geloofwaardig beschouwt.

It is behind the brand what makes the brand
Door de steeds toenemende digitalisering, het mobiele internet en de opkomst van generatie Z, die is opgevoed in het digitale tijdperk, zal het gebruik van reviews en het aantal hotelboekingen dat via internet gedaan wordt alleen maar toenemen. Het zorgen voor een goede (online) reputatie is zeker bij een dienstverlenende bedrijf als een hotel essentieel. Deze (online) reputatie van een hotel wordt steeds meer bepaald door de ervaring die gasten in het hotel hebben opgedaan. Het creëren van waarde, de juiste gastbeleving en het waarmaken van een belofte (in de echte wereld) is zo nog steeds het allerbelangrijkste.

Met een andere bril
Na een jarenlange carrière in hospitality besloot ik in 2009 om, vanuit de wereld van merken naar hospitality te gaan kijken. Uit mijn onderzoek dat volgde bleek dat de sterrenclassificatie, door zijn verplichting, teveel uitgaat van het principe van controle en standaardisatie. Een methode die prima paste in de tijd van massaproductie en de industriële revolutie. In het huidige internettijdperk is er echter een verschuiving naar een groot aantal nichemarkten en –producten.

Als hotels niet verplicht zijn om te voldoen aan de gestandaardiseerde richtlijnen van het classificatiesysteem maar hun eigen DNA en sterke punten af kunnen stemmen op een specifieke doelgroep die daarbij past ontstaat een betere gastbeleving met uitstekende reviews, een positieve reputatie en een beter financieel resultaat als gevolg.

Vanuit de wereld van de merken bekeken functioneerden hotelsterren prima in het pre-internet tijdperk. Wil je als hotel(branche) een gezond en sterk merk worden dan moet je met een andere bril durven kijken en is een afschaffing van de hotelclassificatie onontkoombaar. Mijn stemadvies: Sterrenclassificatie (NEE), Reviews (JA).

Bron: Misset Horeca, door Michel Kolenbrander 3 juli 2013

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Why reviews are great for business (11-3-2013)

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So you’ve determined where you’re going on vacation. You can’t wait to have that fruity drink in your hand. And now you’re ready to book your accommodations. Chances are you’re going to do your due diligence and check out what others are saying before you make your decision.

There’s no doubt online reviews are powerful. If our country’s economic downturn taught us anything, it’s that yes, we’re still going to spend, but we’re going to spend a bit more carefully. And money is not the only consideration; there’s also that other precious resource called our time. We don’t want to waste either when both are being called upon at every turn. Remember that last bad movie you suffered through and the two-plus hours of your life you’ll never get back? Bet you wish you would have looked a bit more into the reviews first.

Reviews are great for your business for several reasons. Here are just a few:
• If a customer loves their experience at your jewelry store, they are likely to share that experience with their friends, verbally and through social media channels. Have you ever gotten a new customer via a referral? It can feel wonderfully effortless to have your best customers essentially drive business to your door by recommending you to friends and colleagues. Instead of picking up a phone and calling half a dozen people to ask for a recommendation, people are surveying their Twitter followers, monitoring which brands their friends “like” on Facebook and looking for reviews by trusted peers. And it’s becoming standard practice. In fact, Bazaarvoice reports that a whopping 84 percent of Americans are more likely to check online reviews before buying than they were just one year ago. And sorry, it doesn’t matter if your business does most, if not all of its sales offline because you’re still competing for those dollars with your competition online.
Reviews are good for SEO. Reviews help people find your business online, great for new customers. For example, Google Places displays reviews along with search results. Try searching for something right now. See? And businesses with higher ratings draw more clicks. Think about it -– if you’re a pretty good cook, you’re more likely to try a recipe with great reviews before you serve it to friends or guests at a party. Like to read? You may be irritated if you devoted hours to reading the book that got lots of hype but ended up being … hype. You learned your lesson once the hard way, right?
Reviews build trust. Consumers are becoming more skeptical of what a brand says about their product. They need that information to be backed up by a third party. Great reviews can be the deciding factor for a customer to pick you versus a competitor. The two new restaurants you were torn against trying? Bet you picked the one with the best reviews. It’s only human nature.

So what’s a jeweler to do? Ideally, you want reviews to occur naturally, but let’s face it. The reason customers are checking you out online first are because they’re busy — and writing about your business after a great experience is probably still not going to be first thing on their minds. Here are ways to plant some seeds:

1. Create a small bag stuffer asking them to post a review about their experience and provide the link so they can do this easily.

2. Consider adding the request to your monthly e-blast or send a review request email to your new customers. Bought anything online lately? Bet you’re familiar with this tactic leading businesses such as Amazon are employing for feedback. Consumers are more motivated to respond when the transaction has been recent.
In fact, after my recent purchase of new Spinning shoes, I was encouraged to post a review the day after my shipment arrived. It was easy, I was notified that my review was going to be evaluated, I was notified again when it was approved, and now I receive alerts when someone finds my review to be “helpful.” I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to get that kind of immediate process feedback and to know that what you post online may lead another person in this big, wide world to make a similar purchase.

3. Got some great reviews already? Use them as testimonials online and in your other, traditional advertising efforts.
What if some reviews aren’t so great? You may be tempted to purge them or ignore them, but don’t. And definitely don’t even think about “buying” a great review. (Yes, you can do this!) A phony can usually be spied from miles away. It’s why huge companies like Amazon evaluate them first before they push them live. Unfortunately, not everyone has the budget or manpower of Amazon. If you’re a jeweler and you see a bad review of your store, plan to respond but just know in many cases of not-so-stellar reviews, a great customer will jump to your defense. Overall, you want people to be truthful in what they say so you can address real problems and fix them. Customers are looking for transparency and honesty, so be real in your interactions with customers. Online searchers are smart enough to make a judgment in your favor if the majority of what is being said is good. And with the potential for an online review, you know you and your employees will work hard to keep them that way.

Bron: Angie Ash,, 11 maart 2013

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Online reviews is the biggest driver in acquiring new customers (Infographic) (8-3-2013)

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Bron: Natalie Brandweiner,, 8 maart 2013:


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78% Hecht belang aan beoordeling van anderen (10-2011)

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Sociale beoordelingsites, zoals Tripadvisor, en beoordelingen op boekingssites hebben
aanzienlijke invloed op het zoek- en boekgedrag bij doelgroepen van 20 tot 50
jaar. Beoordelingen op boekingssites zijn daarnaast ook van invloed op het
zoek- en boekgedrag van 50-plussers. Maar liefst 78% van de ondervraagden geeft
aan dat ze belang hechten aan de beoordelingen van anderen. Daarnaast zijn
berichten van “vrienden” op Sociale netwerken, en specifiek Facebook, voor de
20-ers en 30-ers van invloed op het zoeken van een accommodatie.

Bron: Dijkstra, N (2011), ‘De (on)zin van Sociale Media in de gastvrijheidsbranche’, Marketingbureau Deniels, oktober 2011.

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Factoren die de betrouwbaarheid van reviews bepalen (6-3-2012)

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De betrouwbaarheid van reviews is afhankelijk van de volgende factoren:

  • Het aantal reviews, hoe groter het aantal reviews des te betrouwbaarder;
  • Referentiegroepen, er is een groeiend vertrouwen in de mening van andere consumenten (vrienden, familie en/of leeftijd- en soortgenoten ) die een soortgelijke interesse hebben (peers);
  • Relevante content, het is nuttiger om te lezen dat de weg vanaf de bungalow naar het dorp slecht begaanbaar is en het gemiddeld een uur kost om daar boodschappen te kunnen doen, dan dat de schrijver van de review slechts vermeldt dat hij/zij de weg niet prettig heeft gevonden. Verder moeten reviews van een recente datum zijn. Een review die verouderd is zal minder snel in het beslissingsproces worden meegenomen;
  • Echtheid (authenticiteit), het kan authentieker en echter overkomen als de originele spelfouten en schrijfstijl van de reviewer in de review blijven staan, anders wordt het wellicht minder serieus genomen, dan iemand die vloeiende zinnen schrijft. Daarnaast zijn bezoekers sceptisch tegenover alleen positieve reviews;
  • De onafhankelijkheid van het platform, consumenten hechten 5 maal meer waarde aan een beoordeling op een ‘onafhankelijke’ reviewsite, dan op die van de accommodatieverschaffer zelf.

Bron: Mullum, J. van (2012), ‘Hoe betrouwbaar zijn online reviews?’, Frankwatching, 6 maart 2012.

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Misset Horeca Horecava 2012 debat over recentiesites (1-2012)

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Debat op YouTube tijdens de Misset Horeca Horecava 2012 over de betrouwbaarheid van recensiesites.

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Ripping a business on Yelp? This congressman has your back

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MeetingReview blog: Ripping a Business on Yelp? This Congressman Has Your Back

The rise of online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have forced businesses to take action to maintain their digital reputations. Some bolster service or improve products; others hire lawyers and sue.

To combat the rise in businesses suing over bad online ratings, a congressman is introducing a bill that will clarify the relationship between reviewer and reviewee while trying to prevent frivolous lawsuits. “This law would say you cannot contract away a person’s freedom of speech,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D.-Calif.), who is sponsoring the bill. Swalwell is introducing the Consumer Review Freedom Act on Tuesday in an effort to prevent businesses from taking legal action against those who publish online reviews.

“Right now, with the advent of more and more platforms to review businesses and services, we don’t want to see frankness and honesty and candor stymied by businesses that are afraid of having the truth get out there,” Swalwell said. Swalwell’s effort comes after California passed a law seeking to prevent businesses from taking action against online reviews.

The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to fine businesses up to $16,000 a day if the businesses file lawsuits against consumers who give them bad reviews. Various lawsuits have made headlines recently, including one case in which a company attempted to issue a $3,500 fine over a review that was almost five years old. That case included a non-disparagement clause, which the company claimed had been violated due to an online review. Swalwell’s bill tries to prevent these types of contracts from infringing on people’s freedom of speech.

The bill specifically goes after these contract clauses in an effort to prevent businesses from filing lawsuits that can still do financial damage even if the reviewer wins in court. Swalwell’s effort has been received well by online review sites. “We are supportive of [Swalwell's] effort and the efforts of other lawmakers to make it explicitly clear under law that non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts violate the core tenets of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Laurent Crenshaw, head of federal public policy for Yelp, told Mashable. Swalwell noted that the bill is narrow and that online postings can still run afoul of the law. While opinions will be protected, false factual claims against businesses can still land a reviewer in legal trouble.

“There’s no freedom of libel. I don’t want to protect or enable libel. But I do think that we can’t be afraid of opinions and reviews,” he said.


Artikel door Jason Abbruzzese op Mashable, 16 september 2014.

Meer tips over het verkrijgen van reviews lees je in onze toolkit.

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Customer reviews as marketing channel: How to create a ‘review funnel’

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MeetingReview blog: Reviews boost SEO

I talk to marketers all the time who assume there’s nothing they can do to get more positive customer reviews for their businesses or clients. I mean, you can’t control customers, can you? You certainly can’t run your clients’ business for them, either. And, seriously, if you want to keep your good name unsullied and avoid PR catastrophes or fraud, you absolutely, positively cannot buy or create fake reviews.

So, marketers and business owners end up feeling powerless and victimized. They think reviews “just happen,” and they take a wait-and-see approach—forever.

It’s true that getting real reviews is a “numbers game,” to some degree, but this article is about how to improve your numbers and turn reviews into an addressable marketing channel. I will outline the specific tactics we at use to get more happy customers sharing the good word about almost any business, product or service.

Namely, I cover how you can create a “review funnel” that…

  • Provides an easy way for business owners to invite and remind customers to share their experience
  • Drives customers to a single destination specifically designed to convert them into reviewers
  • Guides reviewers to complete reviews on the best possible site for both them and you

The Challenge of Getting Reviews

Real customer reviews make for insanely effective marketing for small and local businesses. Reviews are far more trusted by consumers than what you or your ads have to say. Reviews convert lookers into buyers in droves. And they can also give business listings a huge visibility and SEO boost to boot.

Imagine how powerful and satisfying it would be if you could get just a fraction of your clients’ or your own happy customers to consistently share reviews on major third-party sites like Google+, Yelp, and TripAdvisor?

You can, but you have to ask yourself, Why don’t happy customers consistently write reviews in the first place? Well, did you write a review of the last restaurant you visited or dry cleaner you used? Why, or why not?

Better yet, ask 1,017 typical consumers (LocalViewpoints [] did) why they rarely or never write reviews, and clear answers begin to emerge. By far, the top two reasons are…

  1. “Writing reviews is too tedious.”
  2. “I forgot to write the review.”

Enter the Review Funnel

A “review funnel” is a system designed to minimize these two obstacles. We know that customers who intend to write a review won’t do so if it’s too hard or they just plain forget. An effective review funnel must therefore offer assets and triggers that…

  • Make writing reviews easier
  • Remind customers about writing reviews

Here’s how we do it.

Step 1: Get the Customer Into the Funnel

How you engage customers about reviewing a business depends on the nature of the business. If you collect customer information, such as an email or phone number, you might send a post-transaction message inviting her to give feedback about her experience. Or if the business has a social media audience, you might periodically poll them:

“If we’ve served you this month, thank you for the opportunity! We’d love to hear about your experience, and no doubt others would, too…”

For many local businesses, however, collecting emails or building a robust social presence is impractical—or just neglected.

When business transactions happen face-to-face, such as at a restaurant or doctor’s office, we like to arm the business owner (or server, or front desk) with printed review “invites,” small takeaway cards with friendly messaging to encourage and remind the customer:

“Please take a moment to review your experience with us. Your feedback not only helps us, it helps other potential customers.”

Something tangible handed to the customer (or client, or patient) makes your intentions easier to communicate and less solicitous. It also serves as a reminder until the customer accepts, loses, or jettisons the invite.

Note that we’ve diligently avoided solicitous language, asking for a positive review, or offering any incentive. Such practices typically run afoul of review site terms of service—and ethics.

Step 2: Keep the Customer Focused on Reviewing

So, now that you’re engaging customers to review a business, where should you drive them? To the business website? Directly to a review site? Somewhere else?

Remember that our goal is to make reviewing easier, so be sure to drive them to an accessible online destination that offers few distractions, choice of several review sites, and just enough education to help them pick one and complete a review if they are not already a “superuser.”

For example, a dedicated landing page on the business website can work, but it should be stripped of all other calls to action. The page should highlight those review sites that matter to the business, with links directly to the listings where the customer can leave a review. Ideally, it would also provide cues to help uncertain customers select a review site, such as by identifying those that accept a Facebook login. (People hate creating accounts!)

The following are some additional elements of effective review funnels that we’ve found particularly compelling:

  • Put the page at an easy-to-remember URL and provide a QR code on any printed invite to make it easy for customers to visit on their downtime.
  • Make sure the page is mobile-friendly (duh!).
  • Offer choice but not too much choice: Show just a few review sites at any one time and highlight the ones you currently care most about
  • Educate reviewers onsite (briefly!) about the review process for each site you link to so they know what to expect.
  • Provide a way for disgruntled customers to get out of the funnel before posting a review, such as a prompt to contact the business directly.

Artikel door Jon Hall op MarketingProfs, 4 december 2013.

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California law protects customers who write bad reviews

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California Law Protects Customers Who Write Bad Reviews

California has now made it illegal for companies to penalize customers who voice their negative opinions online.

A string of companies have attempted to discourage bad reviews with penalties, leading California to do something about it. Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2365 into law on Tuesday, prohibiting provisions in contracts that waive “the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.”

When a New York hotel posted a policy to charge customers $500 if a bad online review came from one of their guests, it did not go over well. The move was enough to attract dozens more negative reviews, and the Union Street Guest House’s Yelp rating is now a measly 1.5 stars.

Retail company KlearGear tried to charge customers $3,500 for a bad review, although the strategy eventually backfired. After a years-long battle, a court ordered KlearGear to pay the consumers more than $300,000 in compensation. The company had claimed there was a non-disparagement clause in its Terms of Service, but no such clause appeared to be present at the time purchases were made.

Even if there had been a non-disparagement clause, enforcement is questionable. Non-disparagement clauses are more common in agreements between employers and employees, in situations where companies want to prevent former employees from badmouthing them.

To bypass this legal quagmire, California now prohibits companies from including similar clauses in consumer agreements.

Consumers cannot be penalized for making any statements, and businesses that try to do so can be fined $2,500 for the first violation, and $5,000 for any subsequent violations.

“No consumer should ever face penalties for voicing their opinions on the services or products they have purchased, and California law is now clear that no company has the ability to silence consumers,” said Assemblyman John A. Pérez, who authored the bill.

The bill will go into effect in California in 2015.


Artikel door Jessica Plautz op Mashable, 11 september 2014.

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Fighting fake reviews

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MeetingReview blog: Fake star ratings

Starting March 31st it has only been possible to create new user profiles on Trustpilot in one of two ways: Either by invitation from a company using our feedback service or directly on Trustpilot using Facebook Connect. The reason is simple: We want to get real experiences from real people. We’re currently testing to see if this is the right cure for fighting the disease of fake reviews. Here’s why.

You’ll find reviews of more than 91,000 companies onTrustpilot and we’re continuing to grow at a remarkable speed. So too, is the business value of sharing good reviews. The Trustpilot community is reviewing, commenting and reporting like never before. But an unfortunate side effect of this growth is that we are seeing an increased number of potentially fake reviews. We have already set up measures to fight fake reviews, but now we’re stepping it up a notch to put a stop to this unfortunate trend. It’s our goal to build the world’s most trustworthy online review site, which is why we need to ensure that reviews on Trustpilot are written by real people.

What this means is:

  • You now need to connect using a social media profile, rather than simply signing up with an email address.
  • Therefore, to create a new Trustpilot account you either need an invitation from a company you’ve recently purchased from, or you can connect using your social identity, such as Facebook.

This only impacts new user profiles. Those being invited to write a review by a company are validated through Trustpilot’s Automatic Feedback Service. You can recognize such reviews by looking at the “verified buyer”stamp in the user profile bio.
It’s also worth stressing that nothing has changed in the way you write reviews. Users with an existing Trustpilot profile can still login using an email address and password. However, we do encourage existing users to connect via Facebook as well.

Validating user profiles reduce fake reviews

We think of trust on various levels. A trustworthy review, for example, contains a detailed description of the buying experience that others can clearly understand. But trust is also about the users themselves. Whom do we trust? People we know. We trust more if there’s a real face to a real name. This is especially true when it comes to reviews on the internet– a profile with a photo and a name and connections goes a long way to establishing trust, to showing the real person behind a review.
Trust does not want to be measured, categories or translated into ultimate truths. It’s all in the eye of the beholder and we are committed to make the stories shared on Trustpilot as trustworthy as possible, by ensuring that real customers are behind the reviews.
In other words: We want less anonymous “Mr C’s” and more profiles like Joe Chapman.
Imagine if you will, it must have been pretty boring to be the first one to own a telephone. It was probably just as boring as checking out Trustpilot when only a single review was posted. The value of using a review platform like Trustpilot increases the more reviews there are, and so does the temptation to post fake reviews. Today anyone can search through and read more than 5.5 million reviews on Trustpilot and it’s increasing every day. By requiring registration via Facebook, we get more trustworthy user profiles and less fake reviews.

Ensuring higher quality reviews

We believe that creating a review on Trustpilot should be easy, but not too easy. Unfortunately, some people get a little too creative, and when that happens we take the necessary actions. Striking the right balance between sharing in-depth stories and giving a representative picture of the company being reviewed will always be a trade-off. And you can’t get it all. So the real question when developing Trustpilot really boils down to this: Do we want as many reviews as possible to make the company profiles more representative, or do we want more detailed experiences based on a smaller sample size?

Currently, the total number of reviews is large enough to give a good representation of the companies present. It seems like a good time to pull a lever and twist a handle to ensure higher quality reviews by giving a bit up on quantity.

We realize that Facebook Connect will result in less reviews, but we’ve already seen that the user profiles and the reviews made over the last 3 days are more detailed now. So it looks like the overall quality in reviews is increasing, which of course is a good thing for everyone.

Facebook Connect is good but not perfect

We’ve received a few complaints from users who couldn’t understand why they needed a Facebook account to be able to use Trustpilot. We realize that not everyone is in favor of Facebook, and we are strongly considering other validation options as well, such as Twitter or Google+.

We currently don’t have any requirement regarding minimum number of friends or similar for Facebook validation, but that’s another potential next step. Overall, we think Facebook is doing a great job removing fake profiles, but we would very much like to hear if anyone knows more about this.

We welcome any suggestions on how we can make the process go from good to great without compromising the overall user experience and leaving the door open for fake reviews. The comments are open.

Artikel door Joakim Ditlev op Trustpilot blog, 7 april 2012.

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Local consumer review survey 2014

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Local Consumer Review Survey 2014


Welcome to findings of the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2014.

This survey is an annual exploration into how consumers read & use online reviews. It seeks to quantify the value that users place on the reviews they read & how this impacts their opinions & actions when seeking a local business to use. The survey is specifically concerned with the reviews & purchase of local business services and not wider product reviews.

About the Local Consumer Review Survey 2014

This is the 4th year the Local Consumer Review survey has been conducted. This year’s survey has evolved from 2013 with 2 new questions added & 3 removed which we felt were no longer relevant or useful for SMBs & SEOs to understand.

As with the 2013 survey, the focus of this year’s survey is on consumers in the North American market. We contacted our Local Consumer Panel which consists of just under 5,000 individual consumers, and received 2,104 entries with 90% of respondents coming from the US and 10% from Canada. The survey was conducted over 6 weeks in May-June 2014.


Consumption of online reviews

  • 1. How many times have you used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months?
  • 2. Select the Business Types you have searched for via the internet in the last 12 months? (select as many as you like)
  • 3. Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?
  • 4. Which of these businesses types have you read online customer reviews for? (select as many as you like)

Trust & influence

  • 5. How many online reviews do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?
  • 6. What average star rating is too LOW for you to consider using a local business?
  • 7. How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?
  • 8. Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?
  • 9. When you read positive reviews of a business, what is the next step you generally take?

Reputation traits

  • 10. For which of these local business types does ‘Reputation’ matter the most when choosing a business? (select up to 3)
  • 11. Which of the following ‘Reputation-traits’ is MOST important to you when selecting a local business to use? (select 1 answer)

Incentive to recommend

  • 12. In the last 12 months have you recommended a local business to people you know by any of the following methods? (select as many answers as you want)
  • 13. Which of these factors would make you more likely to recommend a local business to people you know?

Consumption of online reviews

1. How many times have you used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months?

How many times have you used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months?

Key Findings:

  • 57% have searched online for a local business more than 6 times / year
  • 39% have searched online for local businesses at least 1 time per month
  • 15% have searched online for a local business almost every day


The majority of consumers (57%) have searched online for a local business more than 6 times in the last year – that’s at least every other month. This is slightly up on 2013 – 56%.

Most significantly there is a 8% jump in the number of respondents who go online to find a business multiple times each week (7% to 15%) which points to more habitual use of the internet to find a local business.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable using the internet to find businesses on both PC & mobile. There are more & better services for locating businesses which make it faster, easier & better for consumers. It’s habit forming and they start to use it with increasing regularity.

Part of this growth can be attributed to more local businesses building & improving their online presence. Local data is more abundant & increasingly accurate which delivers better experience for consumers – i.e. they have a great selection of businesses to consider with lots of information to make in informed decision.

2. Select the Business Types you have searched for via the internet in the last 12 months? (select as many as you like)

Select the Business Types you have searched for via the internet in the last 12 months?

Key Findings:

  • More people are searching for more types of businesses in 2014 vs 2013
  • Restaurant / Cafe – 58% of consumers searched for restaurants (down from 67% in 2013)
  • Doctor / Dentist – 38% (up from 35%)
  • General shop – 36% (up from 35%)
  • Clothes Shop – 34% (up from 28%)


Looking at the year on year trend, more people are searching online for a wider range of business types than they were 12 months ago. Across almost all business types the number of people searching for that type of business went up. As consumers get increasingly comfortable searching for certain types of business they transfer this behaviour into other areas.

Interestingly the number of people searching for Restaurant / Cafes is significantly down on 2013. However we don’t believe that this should set alarm bells ringing for those in this industry. This is still the no 1 searched for business type and this dip may be more reflective of this year’s respondents vs 2013.

Overall the results show that lifestyle businesses attract the most searches. As these business are frequented by a huge number of people & more frequently than other businesses this isn’t surprising (more visits = more times to search) and follows the 2013 findings.

3. Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?

Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?

Key Findings:

  • 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
  • 39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
  • Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)


Almost 9 out of 10 consumers have looked at reviews in the last 12 months to help them make a decision on a local business. What’s more, 4 out of 10 consumers do so as a regular action.

As consumers we are growing more accustomed to consulting reviews when we purchase all types of product & service – hotels, flights, cars, restaurants, doctors, plumbers…so why not driving instructors, realtors & gyms?

So for local businesses in all sectors, this underlines the importance of reviews & the priority that business owners should put on managing their reputation and ensuring their online reviews are plentiful, positive & fresh (more on this below)

4. Which of these business types have you read online customer reviews for? (select as many as you like)

Which of these businesses types have you read online customer reviews for?

*% figures displayed are 2014 results

Key Findings:

  • More consumers are reading online reviews for more types of local businesses
  • Restaurant / Cafe – 56% (down from 61%)
  • Hotel / B&B – 35% (up from 27%)
  • Doctor / Dentist – 35% (up from 32%)
  • Hair / Beauty Salon – 31% up from 17%)

How many different business types do consumers read reviews for?

How many different types of businesses do consumers read reviews for?

Key Findings:

  • Consumers read reviews for 3.3 different types of businesses vs. 2.7 types in 2013


Year on year there is a significant increase in the quantity of reviews being read per consumer for different business types.

The local businesses we read most reviews for are restaurants / cafes, hotels / B&Bs, medical practices, hair / beauty salons & clothes shops, and overall consumers are reading reviews for 3 different business types.

Hair & Beauty – Interestingly the amount of reviews consumed for Hair / Beauty salons has grown the most significantly in the last 3 years. In 2012 it was 9%, in 2013 it was 17%, and in 2014 it is now 31%. A review may once been the action either remarkable or unremarkable service, but it’s now starting to become an integral part of the purchasing process.

Trust & influence

5. How many online reviews do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?

How many online reviews do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?

Key Findings:

  • 67% of consumers say read up to 6 reviews (vs. 77% in 2013)
  • 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews (vs. 92% in 2013)
  • 7% of consumers say they read 20+ reviews (vs. 2% in 2013)


This years results show that consumers are reading more reviews than last year with 67% reading no more than 6 reviews (vs 77% in 2013). Significantly, a greater proportion of consumers are reading more than 20 reviews before they feel they can trust a local business.

This increased consumption can be seen as either a good or bad shift for online review companies. Demand & engagement is up but does this mean that trust in online reviews has gone down? (more below)

For SMBs/SEOs the significance of these stats is that it sets a benchmark for the number of positive reviews that they need. With 85% of consumers reading 10 or less reviews then we need to ensure that we have at least 10 reviews to satisfy them, but more importantly that the most recent 10 reviews are all positive. If your most recent reviews are negative in sentiment & rating then most consumers won’t look beyond these to the better ones that may lie further down the page. It’s important to ‘manage’ out bad reviews and focus on generating regular, fresh, positive reviews.

6. What average star rating is too LOW for you to consider using a local business?

What average star rating is too LOW for you to consider using a local business?

*This question is new in 2014 survey.

Key Findings:

  • 92% of users will use a local business if it has a 4 star rating.
  • 72% of consumers will use a local business if it has a 3 star rating.
  • 27% of users will use a local business if it has a 2 star rating.
  • 13% of users will use a local business if it has a 1 star rating.


The data in the chart is a little difficult to interpret so we hope the bullet points above make it clearer.

It’s obvious that businesses with a lower star rating will miss out on attracting new customers, but with this data we can quantify that impact. The biggest differential is between 2 Stars & 3 Stars, with 72% of consumers willing to consider a business with a 3 star rating vs. 27% who would look at a business with a 2 star rating.

The jump from 3 star to 4 star is also sizable, with 20% more consumers willing to look at a 4 star business vs 3 star.

So for local business owners, you can clearly see the value in having a strong online reputation and how moving the needle from 2 stars to 3 or 4 stars has the potential to win you a lot of new customers.

7. How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?

How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?

Key Findings:

  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more (vs. 73% in 2013)
  • 10% of consumers don’t take any notice of online reviews (vs. 12% in 2013)


We can see that positive reviews have a great effect on the perceived trustworthiness of a local business.

Generally, consumers are quite far along the purchase path by the time they start reading reviews. By the time they get to the point of reading reviews, consumers have already established their ‘need’ and which businesses can meet it; now they’re looking for positive signals to help them determine which business is the best.

So it’s clear that local businesses cannot afford to let their online reputation slip as any negativity will directly impact customer acquisition & revenue.

8. Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Key Findings

  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 79% in 2013)
  • Only 13% said they do not trust reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 21% in 2013)


Local consumers are placing more trust in online reviews than ever before.  88% (vs 79% in 2013) trust them as much as personal recommendations.

32% will trust a customer review just as much as a personal recommendation as long as there are multiple ones to read (7% increase from 2013).

A further 30% say that they will trust a customer review just as much as a personal recommendation if they believe it to be authentic – underlining the fact that authenticity is equally as important as quantity.

In 2013, 21% said they didn’t trust online reviews as much as a recommendation, however in 2014 this declined to just 13%. Indeed the chart shows a favorable decline in ‘No’s’ since 2011, accounting for a 20% swing.

9. When you read positive reviews of a business, what is the next step you generally take?

When you read positive reviews of a business, what is the next step you generally take?

*This question is new in 2014 survey.

Key Findings:

  • 57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review
  • 72% of consumers will take some sort of action after reading a positive review


With 7 out of 10 consumers taking positive action to contact business after they read reviews we see the significance in having a positive online reputation. Review reading is one of the final stages in the purchase path and has a direct impact on converting would-be-customers into real customers.

57% of consumers will visit a company’s website, which highlights the importance of having a website that can satisfy the needs of those consumers. Earlier this year we did a separate study on what consumers want on local business websites. It was clear that displaying critical information such as products & prices, phone numbers & address details, as well as important company information, is essential in allowing potential customers to quickly evaluate if a local business meets their requirements.

Interestingly 22% of consumers continue to browse around. Either they consult reviews at a different stage in the purchase path or possibly certain business types have a different purchase profile which involves more in-depth, &/or facetted research.

Reputation traits

10. For which of these local business types does ‘Reputation’ matter the most when choosing a business? (select up to 3)

For which of these local business types does ‘Reputation’ matter the most when choosing a business?

Key Findings:

  • Doctor / Dentist – 47% (vs. 54% in 2013)
  • Restaurants / Cafe – 46% (vs. 51% in 2013)
  • Hotel / B&B – 30% (vs. 28% in 2013)
  • Garage / Car Dealer – 30% (vs. 31% in 2013)


Local businesses which offer a service that is most likely to affect our health, well-being / safety, or comfort, are those which we feel reputation is most important for. It is businesses that offer a leisure service for which this matters least.

Local businesses in the medical field or hospitality sector should take additional steps to ensure that not only do they have a good reputation, but that this is also clearly represented online via reviews, which we’ve already seen inspire trust in consumers.

11. Which of the following ‘Reputation-traits’ is MOST important to you when selecting a local business to use? (select 1 answer)

Which of the following ‘Reputation-traits’ is MOST important to you when selecting a local business to use?

Key Findings:

  • 27% say reliability is the most important reputation trait for a local business (down from 28%)
  • Expertise (21%) & professionalism (18%) are also important factors


A lot of online reviews will often highlight the perceived friendliness or courtesy of a local businesses. However, whilst these are positive factors, we can see that reliability, expertise & professionalism are far more important traits for potential customers.

Additionally, whilst accreditation badges are regularly used on local business websites, they are not necessarily as important in the eyes of the consumer. Far more beneficial would be to display reviews or testimonials that highlight the reliability, expertise & professionalism of that business. Value is also an important factor, but above that consumers want to know that they can rely on said business to ‘get the job done’.

We feel that local businesses can use this to better pitch their services to potential customers. If consumers value ‘reliability, expertise & professionalism’, then businesses need to emphasise these traits throughout all of their marketing efforts  – PPC, email marketing, on-site content, Google+ profile, telephone calls etc…

Incentive to recommend

12. In the last 12 months have you recommended a local business to people you know by any of the following methods? (select as many answers as you want)

In the last 12 months have you recommended a local business to people you know by any of the following methods?

*We adapted this question from 2013, adding in additional options for respondents to select.

Key Findings:

  • 61% have recommended a local business to someone they know by word of mouth (vs. 72% in 2013)
  • On social media, 37% have used Facebook, 12% Twitter & 10% Google+ to make local business recommendations


Word of mouth is clearly the most popular way for consumers to recommend a business to someone they know. Elsewhere we can look at the contrast between the big two social networks – with Facebook favored over Twitter.

Whilst mainstream review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are popular for customer reviews, consumers prefer to give  recommendations to people they know on a more personal basis. Using word of mouth – or Facebook – is less formal, more social & a preferred way to keep in contact with friends.

Interestingly Google+ Local was only used by 10% of respondents. It has an overwhelming influence on the lives of search marketeers but it’s adoption by real-world users remains low. Consider the traffic volumes flowing through Google’s interconnected products vs. Tripadvisor, yet Tripadvisor was used by the same number of consumers to leave a review. This highlights how essential it is for social review sites to have an active, loyal audience.

13. Which of these factors would make you more likely to recommend a local business to people you know?

Which of these factors would make you more likely to recommend a local business to people you know?

Key Findings:

  • 68% say that they would be more likely to recommend a local business if it was reliable & professional (vs. 68% in 2013)
  • 44%  said that being ‘friendly’ & ‘welcoming’ was important (vs. 46% in 2013)
  • A further 9% of consumers would recommend a local business if asked to (vs. 12% in 2013)


For consumers, reliability & professionalism are the most important factors when recommending a local business. Obviously people want to sure that if they put the weight behind a business that it won’t come back to bite them!

Similarly the ‘friendliness’ of a business is also important. While many consumers won’t select a business based on softer factors like ‘friendliness’, it is important for those who leave a review. They don’t want to send their friends (or strangers) to a business that will treat them rudely.

Interestingly 9% of people will recommend a business if asked to by the business. This act is ‘frowned’ upon by certain review sites (e.g. Yelp) but simply by asking for a review 1 in 10 people will be more inclined to give you one. So if you have 100 customers a day/week then this may help you generate those all important 10 reviews.

Download charts: You can download these charts in PDF format here – Local Consumer Review Survey 2014.

Artikel door Myles Anderson op, 1 juli 2014.

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Why online customer reviews will be more important in 2014

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Why Online Customer Reviews Will be More Important in 2014

Online reviews have always been a part of Google and good business management, but just recently Google has really started ramping up places you can features reviews. Based on some of these moves (discussed below), it seems that business reviews are going to be more important than ever in 2014. Small business owners need to make sure they’re taking advantage of all the different review options, making efforts to earn quality reviews, and communicating with the team about updating and managing comments. But how?

Different options and places to feature reviews

Fortunately, understanding reviews and creating a solid strategy isn’t going to be too difficult. The first step is understanding your options for reviews and where you can feature them. A few of these options include:

The new options

  • AdWords Review Extensions. Google just announced this new feature a few weeks ago and it centers around ads that you see on SERPs. With review extensions, a company can feature a small 67-character review right under their ad. All you need to do is visit the Ad Extensions tab in your AdWords account, which you can learn more about here.
  • Shared Endorsements. This is another new feature and it deals with the way in which Google displays ads. The idea is that Google will focus on gathering all of the information about a company—photographs, comments, +1s, and yes, reviews—and then show that on a SERP if someone had searched for something related to your business prior to that search. The comments are taken from Google+ reviews, which brings us to our next point.

A few old options

  • Google+ Reviews. As discussed above, users do have the option to review your company on Google and these reviews will show up on a SERP (even without using Shared Endorsements).
  • Yelp Reviews. Yelp reviews are huge. You’ve surely visited Yelp before and have noticed that this network runs entirely on reviews, both positive and negative. Consumers like Yelp because companies are not in charge of moderating reviews like they are with some other platforms, so it seems more legitimate.

Of course, there are many other places online that are less popular but still allow consumers to post reviews about your company. This includes forums, Yahoo and Bing platforms, and social networks like Facebook. It’s up to you to see where your audience is heading when they go to write a review. Consider setting up a Google Alert for your company name so you can monitor what is said about your company (at least to a certain extent).

Some tips for generating great reviews

Of course, in order to feature reviews you have to have reviews. There are several different ways that you can make efforts to gain quality reviews from your customers (without being overbearing!):

  • Ask loyal customers to leave a review before they go. Google and Yelp do not advise you, however, to offer any free gifts.
  • Make it easy to leave a review either online or when someone is visiting your business by having a box for written reviews or a button on your website.
  • Educate people on your social networks about where they can review your company.
  • If you see that someone left a negative review, try to reach out to that person, resolve the issue, and have them write another review.
  • Put example reviews and testimonials on your website so people will want to participate.

It’s important to remember that you do want a few negative reviews for your company (in fact, constructive criticism would be better than negative). This will help your company seem real and show that you are willing to face those negative reviews by commenting back.

What about fake reviews?

It should go without saying that fake reviews are not tolerated by Google and certainly are not appreciated by customers, but it’s not unreasonable to want to know how they work. After all, business owner or customer, you’re going to want to know what’s being done to make sure you’re not reading fake reviews (and if nothing is done, how to spot them). Below answers a few questions you may have:

How do you get caught posting a fake review?

  • What’s the punishment if you get caught? If you get caught posting fake reviews, it’s very likely Google will penalize your site (making it harder to find on SERPs), and in extreme cases will completely block your site. More likely than not, however, you will get a fine. The amount will completely depend, but it can range anywhere from $1000 to $10000.
  • How can you tell, as a consumer, if a review is fake? Look at the username and see if you can see any type of profile. A real author will surely use a real name and have a few social networks that all match up. If there is excessive praise or the opposite, it could also be fake, so pay attention to how the review is written. Is it constructive, or full of jargon?

Artikel door Amanda DiSilvestro op Yahoo Small Business Advisor, 13 januari 2014.

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Blogger fined by French court because negative restaurant review was too prominent in Google

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Blogger fined

A French court has ordered a blogger to pay a substantial fine and change the title of a restaurant review because the review was too prominent in search results and harmed business at the restaurant. The post has since been removed but can be viewed here (via TechDirt).

The restaurant, Il Giardino, complained to the court that the critical review had hurt its business. The blogger, Caroline Doudet, had something of a following (3,000) for her blog called “Cultur’elle.” This is what enabled the review to rank. According to the BBC, citing court documents, “the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant.”

The original title of the review was “The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino.” The court in Bordeaux ordered the title of the review changed to simply “”the place to avoid” to diminish its prominence in Google results as well as its impact on the restaurant.

As mentioned the review has been deleted. However, using Google Translate I was able to generate a very crude English translation of the archived version of the review. It appears to be a basic critique of the service at the restaurant, with some rhetorical flourishes.

TripAdvisor review

Google+ review

In the U.S., there would be no claim against the blogger because the review would fall squarely within First Amendment protection. What’s interesting is that Doudet’s review/post is very consistent with numerous critical reviews on TripAdvisor and on the restaurant’s Google+ Page (although some people have been slamming the restaurant on Google+ since the decision).

Doudet could appeal the decision but has decided not to because she did “not want to relive weeks of anguish,” according to the BBC.

There are two contexts in which this story can be analyzed: 1) the futility of trying to use the courts to attack or quash negative reviews and 2) European courts’ increasingly bold attempts to blunt the impact of or censor specific search results that are perceived to cause harm (whether or not the information at issue is truthful or factual).

On the first point the restaurant has gained much more unwanted attention for itself through the action and subsequent coverage. I wouldn’t be surprised now if it went out of business. However, the food and service appear to be mediocre; so perhaps it’s inevitable anyway.

On the second matter, I’m sure the BBC coverage fails to elucidate some of the nuances of the case but the judge’s actions and decision appear to me to be pretty outrageous. I could perhaps understand the decision if the review were totally defamatory and not supported by the weight of opinion from other sources. But it seems very consistent with other reviews.

The only “crime” here, then, was ranking too high in search results.

Artikel door Greg Sterling op Search Engine Land, 16 july 2014.

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A decade of letting the consumer have a say online

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Yelp Trends

Yelp will mark its 10th anniversary next month, but it’s already been a year of celebration for the online review company based in San Francisco. Last month, Yelp announced its first-ever quarterly profit. The site now holds 61 million user reviews and its number of monthly visitors has grown to 138 million, nearly double the number from 2012. Now available in 28 countries, the service continues to expand, adding Chile, Japan, Mexico and Argentina just this year.

While people can review everything on Yelp from nail salons to federal penitentiaries to the website itself — users give Yelp two and half out of five stars — the largest category by far covers restaurants. Recently the website introduced a new tool, Yelp Trends, which can be used to track the rise and fall of food crazes in 98 cities around the world. The tool, similar to Google Trends, graphs the popularity of words in Yelp reviews over time. “Because we were exploring such a huge set of information, we didn’t know what we would find,” said Eric Singley, the company vice president of consumer and mobile products. “But it turned out to be really, really interesting.”

One can see how Paris has fallen hard for burgers, how curry in London consistently outperforms fish and chips, how coffee styles from Spain (cortado) and Australia (flat white) are catching on in New York. “My favorite is the great donut-cronut-cupcake race,” Mr. Singley added, a reference to the neck-and-neck position of cupcakes and donuts in Los Angeles, and the appearance there, last year, of cronuts, a kind of croissant donut hybrid pastry, which spiked in the fall before trailing off.

Yelp Trends seems better at putting a food craze in perspective than in revealing a new one. Take what Mr. Singley referred to as the “hockey-stick growth” of kale, in New York: despite the best efforts of recipe columnists and farmers market enthusiasts, kale has never approached the seasonal highs of pumpkin, which Yelp users write about incessantly as autumn approaches.

It’s not only the vagaries of taste and fashion that affect food trends. Foie gras understandably flat-lined in California after the food was banned from the state in 2012.

Artikel door Stephan Heyman in The New York Times, 27 augustus 2014.

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Hoe persoonlijk moet je zijn in webcare?

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Team MeetingReview

“Houd het persoonlijk.” Dit advies prijkt op bijna elk lijstje met webcaretips. Soms zelfs bovenaan. Het is dan ook niet verwonderlijk dat veel bedrijven op persoonlijke toon communiceren in hun webcare-uitingen. Webcaremedewerkers spreken de consument met de voornaam aan, tutoyeren hem of haar, of passen hun webcarereacties aan op het informele taalgebruik van de consument. KLM gaat zelfs over op straattaal om te spiegelen aan de klant, en ontving daarvoor een social media award. Hoe ver moet en kun je gaan om positieve effecten te genereren?

Het belang van een menselijk geluid

Personalisatie is onderdeel van een reeks technieken om op menselijke wijze te communiceren met de klant. Wetenschappelijk onderzoek laat zien dat een menselijke gespreksstijl, ook wel een conversational human voice genoemd, een belangrijke voorspeller is van succesvolle webcare. Het versterkt de reputatie, geloofwaardigheid en imago van een bedrijf. De reden is simpel. Door met een conversational human voice te communiceren, laat je als bedrijf een menselijke kant zien, en dat wordt gewaardeerd door consumenten. Mensen praten immers liever met mensen dan met een gezichtsloze organisatie.

Er zijn verschillende technieken om een menselijk geluid te laten horen. In een binnenkort te verschijnen boek, bespreek ik samen met collega’s een aantal van deze technieken:

1. Uitnodigende retoriek

Dit is een communicatiestijl die gericht is op het bevorderen van tweezijdige communicatie met stakeholders. Het doel is om een atmosfeer van wederzijds begrip te creëren waarin ruimte is voor verschillende meningen. Organisaties kunnen dit bevorderen door expliciet te vragen om feedback of door commitment te tonen in het welwillend aanhoren van de klant: “Laat ons weten wat je vindt” of “We gaan in gesprek met je”. Hoewel het in deze tijd bijna vanzelfsprekend lijkt dat social media in het teken staat van een uitnodigende retoriek, blijken veel organisaties nog steeds negatieve feedback te weren of te censureren.

Uitnodigende retoriek bij beschrijving webcare account ING

2. Personalisatie

Met deze techniek spreek je de consument persoonlijk aan, of geef je de consument de mogelijkheid om de mensen achter de webcareberichten persoonlijk aan te spreken. Dit kan op verschillende manieren: een persoonlijke begroeting (‘Hallo Pieter’), spreken in enkelvoud (“ik” en “jij”), en het persoonlijk voorstellen van de webcaremedewerker (bijv. ^SA in tweets, of het tonen van een medewerkerprofiel op Twitter-accounts). Op deze manier hebben consumenten het gevoel dat ze een gesprek voeren met een individu binnen de organisatie, in plaats van met een organisatie die door een individu gerepresenteerd wordt.

Personalisatie: Introduceren van medewerkers aan de hand van profielfoto’s

3. Informeel taalgebruik

Informeel taalgebruik is een natuurlijke en expressieve stijl van communiceren die gangbaar is in dagelijkse conversaties. Het staat in scherp contrast met de neutrale en afstandelijke toon die zo vaak gebruikt wordt in formele corporate communicatie-uitingen (bijv. persberichten). Binnen de context van social media wordt informeel taalgebruik gekenmerkt door een aantal linguïstische gebruiken die bedoeld zijn om online communicatie efficiënter te maken, en te compenseren voor het gebrek aan emotionele nuance (bijv. gezichtsuitdrukkingen, lichaamstaal).

Voorbeelden zijn het gebruik van samenvoegingen (e.g. “pls” in plaats van “please”), afkortingen (bijv. “LOL”), non-verbale cues zoals emoticons (bijv. :) of <3), en tussenwerpsels (“oh” en “wow”). Aanpassen aan de informele toon die consumenten ook gebruiken in hun tweets en comments creëert de illusie van face-to-face-communicatie en kan gevoelens van empathie, vertrouwdheid en gelijkwaardigheid opwekken.

Informeel taalgebruik door Starbucks

Is meer altijd beter?

Bovenstaande tactieken worden veelvuldig toegepast in de praktijk, en soms zelfs in combinatie. Leidt het combineren van deze technieken tot meer positieve effecten? UvA-student Frits Koot onderzocht deze vraag met behulp van een experiment. Daarvoor werden 123 proefpersonen blootgesteld aan verschillende webcarereacties die een postorderbedrijf plaatste in reactie op een klacht:

  1. een formele webcare reactie waarbij de consument persoonlijk werd aangesproken,
  2. een formele webcare reactie waarbij de consument niet persoonlijk werd aangesproken,
  3. een informele webcare reactie waarbij de consument persoonlijk werd aangesproken, en
  4. informele webcare reactie waarbij de consument niet persoonlijk werd aangesproken.

Na blootstelling beantwoordden deelnemers een aantal vragen om de mate van waargenomen menselijkheid en hun attitudes ten aanzien van het bedrijf te meten.

De resultaten tonen een interactie-effect tussen personalisatie en taalgebruik. Zoals verwacht scoorde een onpersoonlijke, formele webcarereactie het laagst op waargenomen menselijkheid. Personalisatie vergroot de waargenomen menselijkheid van formele webcarereacties.

Het tegenovergestelde bleek ook het geval: het gebruik van informeel taalgebruik vergroot de waargenomen menselijkheid van een webcarereactie waarin niet gepersonaliseerd wordt. Het combineren van beide strategieën leidde echter niet tot een nog hogere waargenomen menselijkheid. Op attitudevorming werd zelfs een negatief effect gevonden wanneer beide tactieken gecombineerd werden.

Don’t overdo it?

De resultaten laten zien dat er verschillende mogelijkheden zijn voor organisaties om een menselijk geluid te laten klinken in hun webcarereacties. Met zowel personalisatie als informeel taalgebruik kunnen webcarereacties een hogere waargenomen menselijkheid realiseren. De keuze voor een strategie kan afhangen van de doelgroep en/of het imago dat wordt nagestreefd.

Bedrijven met een ouder publiek als doelgroep, of bedrijven die waarde hechten aan een serieuze, professionele uitstraling, kunnen er voor kiezen om alleen te personaliseren. Bedrijven met een jonger publiek als doelgroep, of een hip imago, kunnen er voor kiezen om informeel taalgebruik te hanteren. Het afwisselen van strategieën is ook mogelijk, maar wees voorzichtig met combineren. Meer lijkt namelijk niet altijd beter.

Webcare reacties waarin consumenten persoonlijk worden aangesproken met informeel taalgebruik, lijken niet te leiden tot een hogere waargenomen menselijkheid van een organisatie. Dit eerste onderzoek suggereert zelfs dat personalisatie in combinatie met informeel taalgebruik negatieve effecten kan genereren op de merkattitude van de klant.

Uiteraard is replicatie nodig om sterkere uitspraken te kunnen doen over het combineren van deze technieken. De vraag is of dezelfde resultaten worden gevonden voor andere bedrijven dan degene die gebruikt is in het onderzoek. Daarom ben ik heel benieuwd naar de ervaringen van mensen in het veld. In hoeverre waarderen consumenten het om op persoonlijke en informele manier aangesproken te worden? Bestaat er een grens?

Artikel door Lotte Willemsen van SWOCC op Marketingfacts, 11 september 2014.

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The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: The Impact of Customer Service [Infographic]

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The Good, Bad and Ugly: Impact of Customer Service

Artikel door Jurbano op Generation Demandforce, 7 januari 2014.

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