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Winning The “Zero Moment of Truth” For Online Reviews

Marketing

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Would you eat at a new restaurant without checking its Yelp reviews or stay at a hotel in an unfamiliar city without perusing the TripAdvisor rankings first? Even five years ago, you might have checked with friends and family and then made a reservation. Today, the average consumer checks more than 10 review sources before deciding, according to Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth Research”. From a cup of coffee to your Caribbean honeymoon, the Internet is where we make our decisions – and your business needs to be tailoring its online marketing program to this new reality.

In an article on ClickZ last November, Aubrey Beck calls this the “Yellowpages to Yelp” phenomenon, and I could not agree more. The democratization of information via the Internet has not only fundamentally shifted how consumers search for goods and services, but also how companies must market these goods and services. Winning the “Zero Moment of Truth” search is fundamental to successful online marketing.

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But what about reviews of services where trust, reliability and privacy are paramount? Consider the case of STDCheck.com, an online company where individuals can securely sign up for a private STD test. Chances are low that anyone is going to tweet about their “amazing STD test”, but this viral word of mouth is an essential part of marketing. So what can businesses that offer privacy-oriented services do to incentivize reviews? Here’s what your business needs to know about using online reviews – and how to use these reviews to build trust and establish credibility amongst new users.

Understand the psychology behind user reviews. Start by asking yourself, “Why would someone want to review this product or service?” With restaurant reviews, for example, individuals may want to be seen as tastemakers amongst their peers or simply vent about terrible service or an overcooked meal. In the case of a service like STDCheck.com, users are unlikely to be randomly motivated to write about their “amazing service” without being prompted by your business. Tap into a shared desire to help others who may be dealing with a similar problem.

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Ask for the review as part of follow-up customer service. After your customer has used your service, send a follow-up email inviting them to provide feedback about their experience. Rather than relying on open-ended feedback, invite them to take a short survey about their experience with questions that let them quickly rate the overall product/service experience, customer experience, etc. Folks are busy, to keep the survey as streamlined as possible. Ask them to check a box at the end of the survey giving your company permission to anonymously use their feedback on your website.

Incentivize from the beginning. In the case of STD tests, chances are individuals may only need to use the service once, so providing after-the-fact discounts for future uses is unlikely to motivate them to provide reviews. Instead, you can incentivize from the beginning by offering to refund part of the service fee if they complete your online survey. For privacy, trust-based services, be sure your survey questions touch on these key differentiating factors, as well as ease-of-use.

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Add reviews and shared endorsements to AdWords. Don’t let your hard-earned reviews languish on your company website. You can now add these reviews to your next AdWords campaign by using AdWord Extensions, a small, 67-character review underneath these ads. From your AdWords account, select the “AdWords extension” tab and add your review. You’ll need to indicate if this is a paraphrased review or an exact quote, and add the text, source and source URL. Keep in mind that Google will be approving these reviews, so you must have permission from the individual or company you are taking the review quote or rating from in order to use the review in your ad. Additionally, you cannot include reviews that are more than 12 months old. Services like TrustPilot will automatically aggravate reviews about your product/service and are a good source for these endorsements. For example, this TrustPilot page shows that STDCheck.com scores a 9.5 with more than 300 reviews from users; you can use this statistic in your AdWords ad.

Bottom line:

Winning the “Zero Moment of Truth” for reviews for privacy-oriented services, like healthcare, requires a different approach than restaurants and hotels. Including the invitation to offer a review as part of your customer service follow-up and offering a refund for part of the service fee will help incentivize valuable customer feedback.




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