Why Online Reviews Aren’t Out of Your Control

Why Online Reviews Aren’t Out of Your Control

Reviews. We’ve all read them. We’ve all given one. Whether by word-of-mouth, phone survey or sharing our experience online, as consumers we’re constantly giving feedback. It’s so commonplace, that now, not only are we sharing our feedback, we’re actively seeking the feedback of others as we navigate the purchase journey. And increasingly, because of it’s ease of access, we’re seeking that feedback in the form of online reviews.

In fact, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As local businesses, it may seem like online reviews are a marketing tool that’s risky and largely out of your control. Here’s 3 reasons that’s just not true.

1. You can ask for reviews. Many business owners think there’s nothing they can do if their customers don’t organically leave reviews. However, a recent BrightLocal survey found that 68% of consumers left a review when asked. So, even if your business has no reviews on the big 3 (Facebook, Google and Yelp), don’t despair — just ask.

2. Bad reviews aren’t always bad. This may sound crazy, but the occasional bad review can actually be a good (ok, kind of) thing. Seeing a few less than stellar reviews can actually increase the credibility, trust and authenticity of your reviews overall. We’ve all seen a business with only 5-star ratings, and that’s usually a red flag. Less than perfect reviews also offer you an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to quality. When you reply promptly to a negative review (by publicly offering to continue the conversation offline) other customers see that you’re responsive, and you care about your customers’ experiences.

3. Managing reviews doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Requesting reviews. Responding promptly. Managing the big 3. You may be starting to feel a bit overwhelmed and maybe you’re thinking, “This sounds like way too much work!” And, the truth is, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. There are tons of super affordable tools and services out there that can make requesting, monitoring and managing online reviews as simple as a couple clicks of the mouse.

There’s no doubting that online reviews are a very influential part of the buying process for many consumers these days. Don’t miss out on what could be a powerful marketing tool because you think it’s risky, time consuming or out of your control. With a little understanding and the right tools, you could be on your way to a 5-star review program in no time.

Tools and Tricks of the Video Marketing Trade

Tools and Tricks of the Video Marketing Trade

For the past two weeks, we’ve covered a lot of info about how and why to use video marketing to grow your business in 2018. Most likely you’re excited to capitalize on this hot trend. But you’re likely also feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering where to start, and if you even have the time and money to jump on the video bandwagon. This week, we’ll cover tools and tricks to get you saying “Action!”

Trick: Engaging Content
Whatever your video strategy, make sure the content you’re creating has a purpose and a point. Make sure your video content approach makes sense for your company/industry. Tutorials and explainer videos might make sense for a construction company or an art supply store. Maybe a restaurant would do video reviews from customers or a landscaper might do a 360-degree tour of a backyard they just landscaped. The bottom line is to create content that feels natural and organic. That content will be shared and engaged with much more than stuffy, staged, unnatural videos.

Tool: Smartphone
The best news in your quest to be a video marketing master? These days, it doesn’t take a degree in video production and thousands of dollars in equipment to connect with customers on this medium. You’re most likely carrying all you need in your back pocket. Video recording and even editing tools come standard on virtually every smartphone these days. Just point, shoot, and post. Platforms such as Facebook make it easy to post and share video content quickly—and it’s even easier when you’re posting from your phone!

Trick: Live Video
This could be a tool or a trick, but let’s call it a trick. Leverage live video! We mentioned last week that customers will spend 3X longer watching live video than pre-recorded videos. That’s great news for your business. Live videos are cheaper and easier to produce and distribute than recorded video and require less time and money while still boasting great engagement! Simply hop on a social platform like Facebook and you’re in business.

Tool: Use a 3rd Party
In actuality, this is both a tool and a trick. There are lots of marketing solutions out there that include tools or services for creating video for your business. The trick is to find one that produces quality, custom videos for a budget that’s attainable within your budget. They are out there. Look for a company that is focused on serving local businesses such as yours. Their tools, packages and pricing will be tailored for your budget and serving your audience—a win-win for you. Plus, companies with solutions like these will be able to save you time by providing their expertise—which saves you money in the long run.

So, what’s the bottom line of this three-part series? An evolution of personal digital technology and an increasing demand from consumers for quality, custom but natural content has combined to make video a powerful marketing tool that’s not only attainable but affordable for businesses of all types.

The Many Faces of Video Marketing

The Many Faces of Video Marketing

In the early years of video marketing, we were talking primarily about video advertisements distributed online. It was pretty straightforward—create an ad, much the same as you would for television, but distribute it across video ad networks as a “commercial” before (pre-roll) or during (interstitial or mid-roll) video content. Not a bad strategy, but consumer distaste for these video ads soon became apparent.

As the dawn of content marketing began, suddenly, there was a shift in perspective regarding video marketing as well. Now, we were no longer tied down to creating “advertisements” in video form—we could create and distribute useful content in a much richer and more engaging format. We can inform and entice consumers with tutorials, testimonials, entertainment and more via video.

So, now that we know video is so much more than creating a 30-second ad to run before relevant content on YouTube, what are some of the new, exciting ways video is being used for marketing in 2018?

Live Video

Consumers don’t need fancy, polished videos all the time. What they want is meaningful content, helpful information and a chance to feel engaged and valued by the brands they love. Live video—produced and distributed primarily through and on social media platforms such as Facebook offer an amazing opportunity to connect meaningfully with your current and potential customers.

Got an auto repair business? Do a quick live shoot of your staff changing oil—make it a simple tutorial. The bonus of doing it live is that your customers can ask questions and really help direct the content of your video. The possibilities are endless. The point though, is that it’s quick, simple, raw and extremely cost effective. Add to that the fact that your customers will spend 3X longer watching live video than pre-recorded video, and you’ve got a winning tool!

360-Degree Video

Bursting onto the scene (or at least making its presence more widely known) in 2017, 360-degree video does just what it promises—gives the consumer the ability to control their point of view while watching a video. While it may sound expensive and overwhelming to produce (hint: it doesn’t have to be, but we’ll talk about that next week in part 3 of this series), the benefits speak for themselves. Google recently did a comparison of 360-degree video versus standard view video and found that 360-degree video had a higher clickthrough rate, along with more shares and more subscribes. So clearly, this type of video content resonates with consumers.

The amazing thing about 360-degree video is that it can really immerse your customers into your world. Show off your backyard landscape design in more depth than with photos or standard video. Let users take a look around the inside of your B&B to get a feel for the ambiance. Think of 360-degree video taking the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” to the nth degree.

We talked last week in part one of this series about the reasons video marketing is so effective. These reasons still hold true whether you’re using standard video, live video, 360-degree video or any other type of video marketing. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the players in the video space. Just make sure you’re playing the game. That said, in part three of our series next week, we’ll talk tools and tricks of the trade that can make video marketing—in any form—attainable for any business at any budget!

Stay tuned next week for part three in this video series: Tools and Tricks of the Video Marketing Trade.

Why 2018 is the Year of Video

Why 2018 is the Year of Video

Spend any time researching trends in digital marketing, and you’ll soon notice that video is taking over. In fact, some experts are calling 2018 the year of video. And that’s no exaggeration. In fact, video is pegged to comprise 80% of consumer online traffic by 2019. That’s only one year away.

With the rise of Facebook video, and the inclusion of video on other popular social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat—it’s no wonder that 85% of online marketers are using video content. But, what is it that makes video so effective, and why are marketers spending increasingly more time—and money—on this medium? In this, the first in our three-part series focusing on video marketing, we’ll take a look at just what makes video 2018’s marketing darling.

First, video is versatile. As just another way to deliver custom content—video can take many forms. Long form videos can educate, inform and engage, while shorter videos—in advertisement form—can deliver a clear, simple call to action. We’ll dive more into the types of videos used in marketing in part two—but suffice it to say, whether it’s a webinar, a how-to, a “get-to-know-you” or an advertisement, video gets consumers doing what they do best—consuming.

Video leaves consumers feeling a sense of trust and engagement unlike many other marketing tools. In fact, 36% of online consumers say they trust video ads. Not bad in a culture where consumers inherently dislike advertisements of any type. Take that number and just about double it to get the 64% of consumers who are likely to buy a product after watching a video about it online. And even if they’re not buying, they still find video content helpful—a fact that generates trust and loyalty. 90% of consumers say that product videos are helpful in their buying process. Clearly, video resonates with consumers in a way that mere words on paper (or screen) can’t.

Now, you may find yourself thinking, “Great, but video is complex and expensive to produce! How can I jump on the bandwagon?” Here’s the exciting thing about this booming beast: it’s versatility has made it much more attainable for businesses of all sizes. No longer is it necessary to hire a videographer or buy expensive video equipment. Grab your smartphone and shoot a quick explainer or how-to video to post on Instagram, or do a live Q&A video on Facebook live. The possibilities are endless, and we’ll talk tools and tricks of the trade in part 3 of this series. The point is—the barriers of time, technology and money are no longer barriers. And perhaps that’s just one of the many reasons this medium is taking off so rapidly.

Stay tuned next week for part two in this video series: The Many Faces of Video Marketing.