How Important Are Reviews to Conversion?

It’s no secret that most people today use their mobile devices to search for the products and services they want. Recommendations from their social media contacts are important, but even more influential are the reviews that accompany product descriptions on Amazon, Yelp!, eBay and other popular sites.

How important are reviews in the online decision making process? One recent poll found that a whopping 85% of people said they were influenced one way or another by an online review before making a purchase.

What Customers Are Seeing

The poll, which was conducted by the website Influence Central, also found that 85% of women said that online reviews were “extremely important” or “very important” when it came time to make a buy or no-buy decision. In contrast, only 1% of people said online reviews were not important at all.

The poll also found that 90% of people believe online reviews are more important than information about the product coming from the seller.

Another 87% said they use reviews regularly when search for both online and brick and mortar businesses. Other findings of the poll included:

– 88% of people said they considered polls very important when buying products from a company they have never done business with before, and 67% said reviews were important when buying a brand they’ve bought before

– 97% of respondents said they can accurately spot a fake review, and 90% said they can tell most or all of the time if the reviewer is exaggerating, with another 86% saying they can detect bias in an online review.

– 89% of people said they don’t trust online reviews that are anonymous, but 77% said they have more trust in a review that includes the author’s name and photo.

What This Means for You

What this means is that if you aren’t paying attention to what online reviewers are saying about your products and services, you could be losing sales, especially if you are doing nothing to manage your reviews.

The poll’s statistics indicate that it’s usually not a good idea to try to pad your products with fake reviews you wrote yourself or to pay people to write positive reviews about your products or company. Organic reviews that express genuine opinions will carry the most meaning for your customers. So your goal should be to collect as many organic positive reviews from real life customers as possible.

How to Get Positive Reviews

The easiest way to get positive reviews from your satisfied customers is to ask for them. To encourage people to share their good opinions about your products or company, it’s a good idea to include an invitation with every interaction, both online and in person, such as, “If you enjoyed your experience, please share it with your friends and family on social media.”

You also can include plugins on your web pages that make it easy for page visitors to give you positive social media signals such as Facebook “Likes” and Google+ pluses. Or you can include a little box for people to write testimonials or their opinions about your company, the products you sell, or the brands you offer.

This actually is one of the best ways to manage reviews because you get to choose which ones you want to share. There’s nothing that says you are required to publish negative reviews, but they do offer you an opportunity to go back to that customer and try to win them back.

Today more than ever, people are paying attention to what other people are saying about your business online. If you aren’t, you may be missing out on one of your best marketing opportunities.

Cool New Android Apps to Check Out on Google Play?

I don’t know about you, but I download a lot of apps – mostly free but some are paid. Periodically, I have to go through and clean out my iPad and other devices because I have so many apps it’s sometimes hard for me to navigate through them all. Plus, they slow down my mobile operating system.

Anyway, the other day I was cleaning out those apps I never use anymore and I was left with a core group of relatively new apps that I find myself going back to time and time again.

Here then – in no particular order — is my list of the coolest new Android apps that I use all the time. Incidentally, all of them are currently available on Google Play:

Tribesports

This is the year that everybody is rolling out a fitness app. From FitBit to iPhone’s Moves, tech companies suddenly think we all want to know how many steps we take per day and whether or not we should eat that last maple cruller in the Dunkin’ Donuts box (Spoiler Alert: You shouldn’t!).

Tribesports is Android’s new fitness tracking app that comes complete with a GPS tracker. It’s pretty much the same as most of the other fitness apps available today, but it’s still pretty cool. It logs how far you’ve run, walked or cycled. It keeps track of the fitness classes or sporting events you participated in. And it even gives real-time stats and can chart your progress (or in my case, lack of it) in handy, neat looking graphs.

This app comes with thousands of workouts that other people within the Tribesports community can share online, including detailed instructions about how to do specific exercises, workout plans, diets, and so on.

If you’re looking for a good, reliable fitness app that gives you everything you need to keep your weight loss or fitness plan on track, you should definitely check out Tribesports.

QuizUp

If you are still into Words with Friends, you should know that that app is soooo 2013! Today, trivia is the cool thing to do. And QuizUp lets you match your wits against your friends in trivia smack-downs online from wherever you are. You can even face off in trivia battles against total strangers located all over the world.

This is a really hot app right now. In its first week of release, it was downloaded by more than a million users!

CALCU

You wouldn’t think that an app that served as a pocket calculator would be all that exciting. And, well, maybe it’s not. But it’s one that I use all the time.

Now, I get it, most smart phones come with a calculator built-in. But CALCU performs all the same functions, but also allows you to change to various themes and screen colors. It also lets you look at your calculator tape, or all the calculations that you’ve done historically, which can be pretty handy when you are balancing the checkbook or calculating how much you spent on gas last month (two things I actually just did using CALCU this morning!).

If you want a cool-looking calculator and a whole lot more, CALCU is the app for you. Too bad it doesn’t come with a plastic pocket protector!

Timehop

Did you ever wonder where your Facebook and Instagram friends were getting all those “Throwback Thursday” photos or resurrecting stuff they posted online from years ago? They’re probably using Timehop, an app that collects all of the stuff you posted using your smart phone on Twitter, Instagram and Twitter then replays them for you whenever you want to see them.

It’s like having a little time machine right on your smart phone.

So that’s it, my new favorite Android apps. See you next time I clean out my smart phone screen!

Introducing Weibo, the ‘Twitter’ of China

Despite having the world’s largest population and the second-largest economy, social media in China hasn’t taken off as quickly as it has in other developed countries.

Part of that has to do with the Chinese government. Although it may not be as strict as it once was in terms of censoring the content it allows its citizens to view online, it still is far more restrictive than most European countries or the US. The Chinese government continues to be serious about cracking down on dissent and keeping tabs on those it considers to be enemies of the state.

Still, the Chinese are beginning to go just as crazy about social media as people everywhere else in the world. And the biggest name in Chinese social media today isn’t Facebook, Twitter or Google+. It’s a site called Weibo.

Popularity of Social Media in China

Weibo has exploded in popularity in recent years. It currently has 176 million active daily users and 503 million registered users. While that’s still only about half of China’s estimated 1 billion citizens, that represents a 36% growth over last year.

The site is used regularly by about 30% of Chinese Internet users. That’s about the same market penetration that Twitter has in the US, which has prompted Weibo to get the nickname “The Twitter of China”.

The site is only a couple of years old, having been founded in 2009 by SINA Corporation, which still owns 56.9% of the Weibo. Alibaba owns another 32% if the company. Stock in the website has been publicly traded on Nasdaq since last April.

Enter Oracle

This month, Oracle announced that its Social Cloud will provide the publishing, engagement and analytical support for the site. The purpose of the move is to boost Weibo’s usage outside of China, as well as to grow the site within that nation.

Oracle also will provide engagement and analytic services for Instagram within China. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and recently offered the ability to post 15-second videos as well as images and photos, is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sites among 18 top 24 year olds in that country.

Who’s Using the Site

Like Twitter in the US, Weibo allows its users to follow posts from their favorite celebrities, sports stars, political leaders, media figures, businessmen and religious leaders. Users also can share their own microblog posts with their own followers. It’s estimated that the Weibo’s top 100 users have an estimated 485 followers combined.

But companies and commercial interests both inside and outside of China are huge users of the site as well. More than 5,000 companies and 2,700 media companies are believed to use the site regularly.

Censorship on Weibo

One of the biggest differences between Weibo and western social media sites is that Sina cooperates with Chinese Internet censors, setting strict controls on the contents of its postings. Comments about politically sensitive topics, as well as those containing blacklisted keywords, are regularly deleted.

But when compared to other Chinese media, Weibo is relatively permissive. Criticism of the Chinese government, while not encouraged, isn’t as controlled on Weibo as it is on Chinese TV, newspapers or radio.

Where Its Name Comes From

In Chinese, the word for microblog is “Weibo”. Sina Weibo launched it as the service’s domain name in 2011. While other Chinese microblogging services such as Tenchent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and NetEase Weibo also include the term, most people in China recognized Weibo as the leading social media platform in the same way that the term “Facebook” is synonymous with social media in the US.

When it comes to social media, 500 million Chinese social media users can’t be wrong about Weibo.


 

What the Girl Scouts Can Teach Us about Internet Marketing

Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? If so, you aren’t alone. An estimated 200 million boxes of the delicious sweet treats are sold every year.

The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies as a fundraising tool for more than 100 years. But it was only recently that they extended their marketing efforts online. Now, in addition selling cookies door to door, Girl Scouts can now use the Internet to send customers emails inviting them to place their cookie order.

There’s also a mobile app Girl Scouts can use to handle credit card transactions during face-to-face purchases. The group has come a long way since the days of knocking on every door in the neighborhood.

Girl Scout Lessons

If there’s one thing you can’t say about the Girl Scouts it’s that they aren’t good at what they do. The market penetration of their cookie product is the envy of the industry. Honestly, is there anybody who has ever said “no” to a Girl Scout selling cookies?

Here, then, are some lessons we Internet marketers can learn from the Girl Scouts:

– Most People Respond to Human Interaction – In an age where most people are buying products and services from their smart phones, a face to face interaction with a real person has more meaning than ever, especially when that person is an adorable 8-year-old.

Making that type of personalized connection with your customers is what’s ultimately going to make the sale for Internet marketers and Girl Scouts alike.

– Know Your Audience – Let’s face it, the vast majority of Girl Scout cookie sales are made to relatives, friends, co-workers and other acquaintances of the parents of Girl Scouts or the girls themselves.

Part of the reason for their success is that there already is a built-in customer base that they can reliably return to year after year.

Your Internet marketing can benefit from the same model. Your best customers are going to be the ones who buy whatever you are selling over and over again. Building lasting loyalty bonds for a series of smaller sales is generally better than making a single larger one.

– Friendships Matter – Girl Scouts know that friends are the most important thing in life. Social media marketers and other web-based entrepreneurs are learning the same life lessons.

Creating lasting relationships with your customers can guarantee that they are going to be open to our next offer, and the one after that. But they aren’t going to see you as a friend if you are always trying to sell them something. Alternate your promotional messages with ones that share something personal about yourself. Include free helpful, high value content that your contacts can use in their everyday lives and you can strengthen the genuine bonds you create with your customer base.

– Learning Is Better than Teaching, Girl Scouts is centered on continually learning new things: Crafts, activities, how to do different things. Sharing information and teaching others is fine, but learning something new is even better.

Your communications with your customers shouldn’t be a monologue. It should be a dialogue, with them telling you as much about your business as you are telling them. Make a point of letting your customers know that you value their opinion and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Marketers who are always preaching at people, rather than listening to them, usually aren’t as successful as those who value learning as much as they do teaching.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies to eat.

Preview of Social Media Marketing World 2015

The start of this year’s annual Social Media Marketing World conference is rapidly approaching. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet for this year’s event – which will be held at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt Resort on March 25 to 27 – then you should probably act fast before it’s sold out.

This year’s conference is expected to attract more than 2,500 participants, including some of the leading names in social media marketing today.

Who Will Be There

This list of people presenting during this year’s conference is growing daily, but so far it includes more than 100 social media superstars, including:

Mari Smith – She’s the author of “The New Relationship Marketing” and co-author of “Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day”. Mari has been named by both Forbes and D&B Credibility as one of the top 10 social media influencers in the world.

Guy Kawasaki – The former head of Motorola and who is now Apple’s biggest evangelist. He’s written more than a dozen books on social media.

Darren Rowse – The coauthor of “ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income”. He’s also the founder of Problogger.net and Digital-Photography-School.com which have a combined visitor total of more than five million people per month.

There also will be presentations from some of social media’s biggest players, so you’ll have the opportunity to hear first-hand the latest announcements by such companies as Microsoft, Disney, IBM, Whole Foods, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Adobe, BMC Software, Cox Communications, Symantec and Intel.

And then there are the networking opportunities to consider. Not only will you be able to speak face to face with some of the leading minds in social media today, but you can share experiences, strategies and ideas with other social media marketers from all over the world.

Fun and Exciting Activities

For those of us who are shaking off one of the worst winters in recent memory, spending a long weekend in San Diego is reason enough to attend this conference, which is sponsored by Social Media Examiner.

But the organizers of this year’s Social Media Marketing World have outdone themselves in terms of planning exciting events and special surprises. It all begins with a kick-off party aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway. There’s also going to be a special Social Beach networking party that celebrates Southern California beach culture right in the hotel.

Plus, if you’ve never been to San Diego before, make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy its many attractions, including the world famous San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland, San Diego Safari Park, Petco Field, the Gaslight District and much more. And if you are up for a little international adventure across the border, the historic Mexican city of Tijuana is only a few miles from the conference site.

Benefits of Attending Social Media Marketing World

During the conference, you will learn the newest and best ways to optimize your social media marketing strategies from some of the biggest and most successful marketers in the industry. There’s going to be more than 100 separate sessions for you to choose from, so there’s certain to be dozens that meet your specific interests as well as the needs of your online marketing business.

Here you will learn the latest tricks and techniques that can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and cut your trial and error time down to practically nothing. You can discover the best shortcuts and most effective money making strategies that have already been proven to work.

No kidding, this is going to be an amazing conference and if you are serious about your Internet marketing, you have to attend.

See you there!