Yes you’ve got SEO Skillz… Don’t let it go to your head.
Hey it’s Friday!… Just keeping it real.
A Fairfax, VA woman was recently ordered to pay a fine of $750,000 after a judge ruled she not only left a fictitious review on Yelp, but that it also cost the contractor she hired north of $300,000 in lost business.
In the summer of 2011, Jane Perez hired Christopher Dietz to perform construction on her home. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! According to Perez’s user reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List, Dietz actually damaged her home rather than repaired it. She also claims he billed her for work that he did not perform at all. Oh yeah, she also accused him of stealing jewelry because he was “the only one with a key”. And somewhere in between all that, she accused him of trespassing. And, (yes, there’s more) to top it all off, they are old high school classmates.
It’s nice to see that at least one of them graduated.
Classmates aside, the judge’s ruling poses an interesting precedent in the online review world going forward. Will more businesses try to defend themselves against what they feel are false reviews? Do they only have a legitimate defense if they can prove there are a significant amount of lost wages? What is considered admissible evidence for both parties? And what really happened in history class between Perez and Dietz?
Hind sight is always 20-20, but you have to hand it to Dietz for sticking up for himself and seeking damages. Would Dietz have sought retribution had there been no financial loss? Probably not. When it comes down to dollars, especially 300,000 of them, people will usually get serious about protecting it. It seems like the most realistic and easiest way to get rid of a negative review would be to ask the customers who actually like, and would recommend you, to write more positive reviews in order to bury the others.
At the very least a business owner should feel obligated to respond to any unfavorable post in a timely and professional manner. While that customer may have a legitimate argument, it bodes well for a business when it faces the music and appropriate, and publicly, addresses any concerns. If you’re a business, and going to compete in the big-kid world, you can’t be childish when a grumpy customer decides to throw a tantrum. Even a non-response can be viewed as more disingenuous than responding unprofessionally.
It is against rules to pay or offer incentives to customers to write positive reviews online. That certainly makes sense. If a customer is going to write a review it should be because they want to share their experience with your company, for better or worse. But I say business owners should be making their customers aware of their online profiles, even encouraging them to leave a review at their discretion.
As a word of advice, just assume that every single one of your customers intends to leave an online review of your business. Assume they are all Yelp addicts. Assume that right after you leave their house, or they walk out of your office, they plan on going straight to Google to leave a review on your profile. And, if you’ve never thought about it, assume that for one reason or another, their experience with your brand or employees is going to find its way on to either Facebook or Twitter. Probably both. (In fact, just right now on my Facebook timeline I spotted a picture that is going viral right now of a dentist that allowed his patient’s dog to be present in the room during the procedure. If there’s one thing I know about the animal kingdom, it’s don’t mess with dog lovers.)
But DO deal with angry Yelpers. That’s good business.
If you check out the search terms that are being used to find your WordPress blog you may come across this phrase “encrypted_search_terms”. Why? Has your site been hacked? Or are you a sneaky SEO that has been hiding something and you’ve been caught by Google. If you are worried about this term showing up in your wordpress dashboard read on.
It is nice to know what people are finding your site for, so I keep track using wordpresses traffic tools. “Christmas Lights Ditto” has been one of my best search terms ever, but it and others were just passed by “encrypted_search_terms”. But it’s not that I rank for “encrypted_search_terms”, it’s because the search terms the googler searched are actually being encrypted. If you use Google Analytics you will find these terms labeled, “Not Provided”. Per Google it is only going to effect about 10% of your traffic. That was the stat they gave when they first launched this encryption, “to protect the user.” But there are many that report this impact is far greater than 10% and that it is only expected to grow.
The term showing up does not indicate anything about your site. You are most likely not being found for that term. This term is now showing up for everyone using WordPress’s site tracking. If you care about knowing how you are being found, then yes you should be a little more than worried about this. Google is taking away search data. If you have been trying to watch your search terms trends then this will be a problem. Your data from year to year will now be flawed, especially if the percentages continue to change.
Here are a few more sources for you to really dive into this discussion:
by Thomas B.
I was approached about setting up a booth for a Home and Garden Show in San Antonio, Texas. Pest control should do well in a marketing effort targeting homeowners, right? The promotional material sent to me included the following quote:
“Dollar for dollar, consumer shows continue to offer the
most significant return on investment and are the most
effective use of the marketing dollar.”
- The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2007
Intrigued, I searched this article out online. …It was no where to be found.
Beyond the fact that I could not find this quote anywhere online, I see some flaws here. The quote is 5 years old. A ton has changed in 5 years. Internet marketing is still in it’s infancy. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that internet marketing can be beat on ROI. But that’s only speaking from my experience as a pest control guy. As it were, the fully report cannot be located online, therefore I cannot even determine if internet marketing was considered in the study. The quote alone a reveals nothing as to the business or businesses that they used to determine that Home Shows were the best ROI for marketing dollars. Sorry, but this quote does nothing for me. I need real data please.
Where would you put your money for the best marketing ROI? Well… that really depends on who YOU are. If you expect to get the exact same results as everyone else in a specific marketing avenue regardless of your business, of you location, or of your target audience then you don’t understand marketing. “Consumer Shows” probably work extremely well for the wedding industry. It’s a very niche audience, the attendees are looking to buy your service. But for the vast audience of “Homeowners”, not all of them will need new flooring, new windows, or new appliances. And many of them will not show up at a Home Show with the sole intention of finding a pest control company. Therefore, it becomes a harder sale. An exterminator’s ROI is not going to be the same. And the San Antonio Home and Garden show isn’t cheap, well not by my standards. How many pest control services would one have to perform to recoup the money and time investment?
Don’t buy into the “Branding” concept. Don’t just assume that you have to brand your business and that the ROI can not be determined for every marketing endeavor. The best way to determine ROI is with hard numbers. Find a measuring stick and use it. And work it backwards. How many widgets do I have to sell to break even on a given marketing campaign? Does that number seem feasible with the size and demographics of the audience? When it comes to numbers, my accountant has taught me to error on the side of caution. Be realistic. Look at the worst case scenario. Once you determine how you will measure the success and considered the value at the worst case scenario, then you can proceed and report on the success or failure.
but hey… i am just a pest control guy.
So I am enjoying my Search Marketing Expo experience giving a few tidbits on local search seo and customer experience and I find this…
If you didn’t catch it, the spot light brought in to attract more customers to this San Jose hotel was spot lighting the windows of it’s guests. The reason I noticed the windows was because a guy in one of these rooms was standing with curtains open and arms spread out wide. While this is one extreme example of marketing efforts that piss off customers, I believe that this happens on a regular bases. Have you ever seen a company offer a promo for a cheaper price for new customers? What about the guys that have been paying you for 5 years? Or what about lavish spending? There are a number of cases when marketing screws up perception. In this particular case, it wasn’t just percetpion but a direct customer satisfaction conflict. Marketers listen up, customer service is not it’s own silo!
Marketing is actually most often the beginning of customer service. The marketing message sets expectations. Customer service is based on expectations. Customer service is often tasked with being the ears of an organization, and marketing the mouth. In conversation marketing these should be used sysyncly.
DON’T SEPARATE MARKETING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE.