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Managing online reviews now a vital part of marketing as well as customer service

Online reviews have become a vital part of the loyalty ecosystem. Some customers like to share their experience, and some companies reward them. 

Unfortunately, reviews can be difficult for several different reasons. Some hotel chains have been inundated with over-the-top reviews from people who expect VIP status in return. Bad reviews can be undeserved. Paid reviews are getting easier to spot but will always be an issue. 

Managing our customer reviews is a job that needs to be shared between marketing and customer service.

NY Times: Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews, 2018-Jun-13 by Caroline Beaton

The credibility of all reviews — even real ones — is questionable. A 2016 study published in The Journal of Consumer Research looked at whether online reviews reflected objective quality as rated by Consumer Reports. The researchers found very little correlation.

Why? Reviews are subjective, and the tiny subset of people who leave them aren’t average.

People who write online reviews are more likely to buy things in unusual sizes, make returns, be married, have more children, be younger and less wealthy, and have graduate degrees than the average consumer, according to Dr. Duncan Simester’s 2014 study. Online reviewers are also 50 percent more likely to shop sales, and they buy four times more products.... 

Finally, pay attention to contextual details and specific facts rather than reviewers’ general impressions and ratings. The number of stars someone selects often has “very little to do with” their review text, [said Dr. Ulrike Gretzel, a communications professor at University of Southern California.] People have different rating standards, and written explanations are inherently more nuanced.

Focusing on the most thorough reviews may also protect against getting duped by fake ones. In experiments where Dr. Gretzel and her collaborators presented both real and fake reviews, readers distinguished between the two better when reviews were longer.

And if you’re still not sure whether a review is fake, scan the reviewer’s profile. [Dr. Eric Clemons, a management professor at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School] said that “someone who’s paid to write reviews probably isn’t doing a lot of writing under the same name.” His own research omitted reviews from profiles containing fewer than 10 reviews, “and that took care of a lot of paid nonsense,” he said.

All that said, real reviewers are usually genuinely trying to help: Research consistently shows that people are most motivated by helping others make decisions.

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New form of data piracy growing in the digital advertising industry?

Here's a new thing to worry about, although I'm not sure how prevalent it is... Opposed to the tradition of hacking into someone's databases, a new kind of data piracy involves capturing interactions between brands and their customers in real time. The more data we collect about our customers, especially on mobile devices, the more we have to worry about this. 

AdExchanger: Brand Privacy: Who’s Knocking Off Your Consumer Data? 2018-Jun-13 by Mark Shedletsky of Vertical Mass

Brands spend billions of dollars to cultivate one-to-one relationships with consumers and create audience profiles in exchange for discounts and other rewards. There’s a give and take here, with a direct relationship between the data provided with consent and the benefit received.

Where things have run afoul, however, is the gaggle of third parties accessing and using that data without permission. Data companies gain access to publisher and brand audiences through mobile analytics SDKs, social media scraping, programmatic ad serving and more.

Apps may want access to the microphone or the location of our device when it seems irrelevant to the casual game being played or the service being downloaded. It’s likely to aid in the piracy of a consent-based relationship between a consumer and a brand. For instance, microphones may get deployed to help ad tech platforms identify audience signals in your living room and sell retargeting.

These kinds of practices have created a growing need for a transparency framework, as the IAB has recently introduced, that audits where data comes from and helps media buyers trust what they’re getting and from whom they’re getting it. It’s a potential fix for a universal intellectual property issue that’s at the crux of the need for greater brand privacy.

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It's not all procrastination

I appreciate this article for breaking down the challenges of procrastination. I'm trying to institute some new routines, and the transitions are killing me. But I guess they will until I'm in the habit of plunging. 

HBR.org: How to Actually Start the Task You’ve Been Avoiding, 18-May-30 by Peter Bregman

The biggest challenge to moving forward on anything is the transition to working on it. It almost always represents a shift from doing something comfortable (a warm bath, sending simple emails, knocking straightforward tasks off a to-do list, completing transactional conversations) to doing something uncomfortable (a cold bath, starting that proposal, initiating that hard conversation, facing a blank page).

We tend to think that getting traction on our most important work requires that we be skilled and proficient at that work — but that’s not quite right. The real thing we need to be skilled and proficient in is moving through the moment before the work.... 

In some cases you just need to force yourself through a moment to get to the other side. Since, at first, there was no way to make the plunge easier, I simply had to use sheer will and discipline — pure courage — to get myself in.

Commit to repetition. As the week — and my plunging — progressed, it became easier. Both because I got used to it and because my expectation, habit, and commitment solidified.

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Why we need to look at other ways to reduce the risk of hiring

The safest way to hire is to find someone you've worked with before. Unfortunately, it perpetuates bias.  

NY Times: Karina Lake of Stitch Fix on Building Diverse Teams, 2018-Jun-1 by David Gelles

One of the biggest challenges standing in the way of diversity and equal opportunity for people is the way that people build founding teams. People tend to bring on my buddy from this thing and then my buddy from that thing, and it’s like, “You’re just kind of bringing the same people that you’ve worked with back together, getting the gang together again to found another company.” That just creates this circle of capital raising that I think is not healthy, and I don’t think people are looking at the whole world and saying, “Who are the best people for these jobs?”

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Why SEO isn't about building traffic, it's about understanding customers

SEO is often seen as a matter of gaming the search engines, but it's actually a powerful fundamental marketing tool on the internet. This article arms us to use it for the long-term benefit of our business. 

The Wiglaf Journal: Why Every Business Should Invest in SEO, 2018-May by Brooklin Nash 

The bedrock of building up your SEO is good research – which will benefit your entire business in the long run. SEO requires learning more about your target audience through keyword research. You start with something small—using one word or phrase that you think people will use to find your service or product.

From there, you can create lists of relevant keywords that you can use in creating new SEO content, branching out into new areas, and informing other marketing efforts. On the tail end, SEO analysis will help you research your customers, who’s visiting your site, where they are coming from, and how they act.

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