Author Archives: Aubrey Berkowitz

Digital Marketing Strategy & Gardening | Producing Fruits from Your Efforts

digital marketing strategy

One of the things I love about working at Alter Endeavors is our company culture. Nick puts a great amount of emphasis on understanding not only what makes an employee more successful but also what our passions are outside of the work environment.

One of mine is gardening. I love growing vegetables and flowers. Particularly, I’m passionate about growing peppers. From jalapeños to cayenne, to Aji Limon- I start every day by taking care of my garden. It’s something Nick frequently teases me over.

But it got me thinking. A good digital marketing strategy is very similar to gardening. And here’s how:

Step One: Build your platform

The first step I had to do when building my garden was to actually build the beds to plant my seeds. Why? My yield will be twice as large if I correctly build out the space to let my seeds flourish. It’s something people often forget. The platforms in which your digital marketing strategy lives must also be built before you begin to lay the seeds. To bring this all back to content marketing — properly building out your social media pages, and optimizing your website for conversions needs to be the first step. The idea is that ultimately you will harvest fruit (customers) by growing them through your process organically and then having a site at the end that allows you to convert more paid customers.

Step Two: Lay the Seeds and Wait

In my opinion, this is the most exciting part about gardening. You’ve built the platform for your digital marketing strategy, but now it’s time to actually lay the seeds. What I mean by this is that it’s now time to actually implement the strategies. A digital marketing strategy is very similar to growing Pimento Peppers (one of my favorites). You begin to implement your strategy but it’s all about making sure you take root with your target audience so you can use other tactics to further grow in the future.  If the roots are not solid, ultimately the plant will fall on top of itself.

Step Three: Water Everyday and Fertilize Regularly

You can’t go from seed to pepper in a day, just like you can’t go instantly create customers with content marketing. Content Marketing is a long-term strategy. It takes consistent effort and you won’t see the results every day. Social Media is frequently defined by likes, however, that metric misses the most important part of social media. Social Media is about engagement. We want to make sure your target audience engages with your brand as regularly as possible — just as you would need to water that Pimento Plant every day. People buy from brands they recognize and trust. Staying front of mind to your customers should always be one of your primary digital marketing objectives.

Even still, sometimes a little fertilizer can go a long way. Frequently, business owners approach digital marketing as simply ROI linear. What I mean by that is that there is only a linear progression in digital marketing strategies. To most effectively grow your plant, paid advertisements should supplement your efforts rather than be an effort within themselves. Facebook ads are an excellent way to boost blog articles for example, which helps grow your organic traffic to your site. Google PPC Ads can be extremely effective to bring traffic to a lead generation quiz or assessment on your website. If you don’t fertilize your plant properly you may just be wasting money, or even worse, may ultimately kill your plant.

Step Four: The Harvest

If you properly build out your platforms, root yourself correctly in your target market, and consistently focus on solid organic growth, your business will reap the harvest. Just like my pimentos, you may only see only one ripen at first. But digital marketing is about long-term growth. Your presence online will only become more and more important and a strategy that continually produces will become paramount. The next key will be picking the ripe fruits and turning them into customers. The idea behind content marketing is that over time the right clientele will engage with your brand and come to your site ready to be harvested as customers.

Or you can just always go and buy the plants with peppers already on them ready to plant from your nearest nursery. They’ll be cheap and you know you’ll get at least some results. But they won’t’ taste near as good… Need help building your platform or laying your seeds? Reach out to us, we’d be happy to discuss content marketing — or gardening. 

The Secret to More Engagement Online? Be Yourself.

engagement

At Alter Endeavors, we believe that a major key to success for your brand is being genuine. The more you express yourself and your brand in a genuine way, the more likely the audience is to engage and become a loyal customer. So, one of our lead Senior Consultant’s at Alter Endeavors, Aubrey Berkowitz, is here to talk to you about creating an engaging, content-based, and most of all genuine, strategy for your brand.

I want my company to be seen as innovative online. I’m willing to do anything to drive more traffic. Why shouldn’t I try something different?

There’s always that inherent fear that “if everyone else is doing it, then we should be too”. At Alter Endeavors, we believe in building online platforms for our clients. This is inherently a more long-term approach. One of the reasons we’ve been reluctant to incorporate Snapchat campaigns into our Social Media strategies is because we’ve yet to develop as an agency a conversion-focused strategy on that platform. As of now, its current user demographic doesn’t fit with the customer demographics of our clients. It doesn’t mean that we avoid innovation, but rather we prefer to develop a complete strategy rather than rush to join in on a trend. In digital marketing, the pioneers get killed and the settlers get the land. 

So what should I focus on in digital marketing? 

As a Senior Consultant here at Alter Endeavors, I always tell our clients—don’t focus on what everyone else is doing, focus on being you. People will work with companies they trust, and the way you position your messaging online allows businesses to build trust with the customer before they ever even engage. The brands that have the most success are the brands that stay genuine. Your digital marketing efforts should follow the same logic. The mission of digital marketing is to create meaningful conversations and through those conversations initiate pathways to convert the user into a customer. 

Why is a content-based strategy the most effective way to grow engagement? 

It’s not just about engagement but quality engagement. We want to have conversations online with the right people—users that could potentially become customers or clients one day. From that perspective, simply paying for traffic through Google Ad words or Facebook PPC campaigns isn’t always the most effective strategy. At the end of the day, the internet has become the number one source of content on the planet. We use the internet for a variety of reasons, but it always comes back to content. Content-based strategies rely on that user need and the resulting value exchange. By creating quality content, a user will be a more qualified prospect to be a future client or customer. The secret is including calls to action or conversion points within the content that integrates a business’ sales process.

What are some recent strategies used by Alter Endeavors to grow traffic and engagement? 

Sometimes the solution doesn’t involve more volume online—and that can be an eye-opening conversation. First, at Alter Endeavors, we evaluate the “online hub”. Where are you driving traffic back to in the first place? The answer should be a well-branded website with appropriate messaging. You can’t convert traffic into customers if the conversion points don’t exist. 

Secondly, we’ve recently had a great deal of success using Facebook and Social Media Ad campaigns. Our team creates customized target markets based on each individual client that focus on engaging with the right users. These social media ads are usually tied to blog posts that include valuable and relevant content. For example, we might run a Facebook ad for Square Cow Movers that promotes a recent blog post about moving to a new city. 

Finally, our tool Catch Engine has been a huge success story for Alter Endeavors. Catch Engine is a quiz or assessment for small businesses, speakers, authors, or thought leaders to promote engagement on their site while receiving information such as emails, names and data. Think of it as a way to turn goofy Facebook quizzes, such as “What Disney Princess Are You?” into a revenue-generating tool. 

It’s time to get started!

We hope that this served as an informative, how-to for what to do to increase engagement for your brand and that you feel better prepared to plan your online strategy. So, are you ready to increase your engagement online in the best way possible? Ask for Aubrey and you won’t regret it!

3 Global Consumerism Trends that your Business Needs to Embrace

global consumerism

In case you missed it, we have gone through a revolutionary shift in the way that consumers engage and interact with media. We now have computers in our pockets and the result has been a fundamental shift in the paradigm of global consumerism. Television advertising, radio advertising, and print advertising are fading in their significance because they are no longer the most accessible forms of media to the consumer. Marketing through digital platforms has become not only the most effective form of advertising, but also an opportunity to maximize ROI for businesses based on the following trends:

1).  Consumers are going digital

Digital has infiltrated global consumerism and the resulting data is staggering.  According to a 2014 study by Retailing Today, 81% of consumers will research a product online before they buy the product. Broken down, this makes sense. Consumers are able to compare and contrast products worldwide, from any location. But what does this mean for a business? The ability to sell your products online has become more important than ever. In the year 2017, $3.7 trillion dollars worth of products and services will be purchased through an E-Commerce platform. United States based E-Commerce is projected to grow to $491.5 billion by 2018. Global Consumerism will be completely based on E-Commerce platforms in the future—and we’re already seeing the start of this trend. However, only 28% of US Businesses have an active E-Commerce platform.

Society as a whole responds less and less to mail catalogs, print ads, and television commercials because they fail to merge the two most important factors that go into “buying behaviors”: instant conversion points and accessibility. Quite simply, consumers in the future will respond to media that can easily be found and contains actionable steps to alleviate the pain point experienced by the consumer.

2). Consumers expect conversion points in advertisements

I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day where we discussed Facebook retargeting tactics and the effectiveness of conversion points on digital advertisements. However, the conversation was more so based around the annoyance experienced when an advertisement does not have a call to action. With options such as “Buy Now” and “Claim this Promotion”, consumers expect to be able to buy a product directly from the advertisement. Ads that lack conversion points rely on directing the consumer back to the website, or to an additional action such as a phone call or email correspondence. From a conversion perspective, in digital marketing, we always want to focus on maximizing points of entry and minimizing the effort taken by a consumer to become a paying customer.

3). Consumers expect easily accessible content

The primary driver behind these changes in consumer behavior has been the availability and accessibility of information and content. Tablets and smartphones give the consumer the ability to make informed buying decisions easier than ever before. With over 1 billion users, content consumption has increased 57% since 2014 on Facebook alone. Consumers are presented with a plethora of content online and frequently use social media as their primary source for news and information. As a result, businesses need to blend effective content into their sales strategies. Companies that blog 2x a week or more on average receive 4x as many inbound leads as companies that do not blog. The reason? According to a 2016 Demand Gen Report, 47% of consumers viewed 3-5 pieces of relevant content before engaging with a sales representative. Creating sales funnels around accessible content will not only help with search rankings but also maintaining the perception of the business as an industry leader/expert.

These three trends in the consumption of media will define the future of Global Consumerism. As we experience more and more of these changes, businesses will need to continue to adapt to meet the desires of prospective customers and consumers. Radio, television, and print will still have a place in the consumer paradigm, but they will be far less influential. Through effective digital marketing strategies based on these trends, businesses can grow their customer base, their bottom line, and ultimately position themselves better for the future.

Limitless – A Business Mastery Seminar

Business Mastery Seminar

Limitless – Business Mastery Seminar

Date: Thursday, February 23rd
Time: 12 PM
Where: Tech Ranch Austin, 8920 Business Park Dr, Suite 250
Austin, TX 78759
Why: To push your business beyond the productive and online limits you face.

At Alter Endeavors, we believe that it is essential that business owners receive continuing education.  Lifelong learners are better equipped to handle new challenges and can apply diverse solutions to new dilemmas. That’s why we’re excited to announce our partnership with Chris Gay of Focal Point Business Coaching to host “Limitless”the first installment of our Business Mastery Seminar Series. Oftentimes, business owners encounter limits both mentally, professionally, as well as systematically with their website. Limitless will discuss ways to increase productivity both in the workplace and with your business’ online efforts.

4 Ways to Grow Your Revenue

Chris Gay is a Focal Point Business Coach who brings years of real life experience to his clients. Chris was the owner/operator of several Roto Rooters in the Austin area before pursuing his passion for education and coaching. In his presentation, “Four Ways to Grow Your Revenue”, Chris will focus on how increasing your productivity one-tenth of 1% every day can have a massive impact on your bottom line. In addition, Chris will provide actionable steps to grow revenue and bottom line for your business.

Is Your Website Working for You

Our very own Nick Alter, Principal over here at Alter Endeavors, will be presenting on the topic “Is Your Website Working for You?” A website is no longer an online brochure. Nick will discuss how the sum of your online efforts begins with your website—or online hub. Furthermore, all of your digital marketing efforts should work in tandem to drive more conversions through your site, ultimately leading to more revenue. Is your website an impediment towards furthering conversions online? How does your site stack up? Is your website working for you?

Limitless

Limitless, hosted at Tech Ranch Austin, will provide actionable steps for business owners to make an immediate impact on their business.  The two presentations will be followed by a 20 minute interactive Q&A portion for business owners to talk real experiences and receive valuable feedback. Take your business to new heights in 2017 and push beyond your limits by attending “Limitless”, the first installment of our Business Mastery Seminar Series.

A Visit from St. Nick (Alter)

a-visit-from-st-nick-alter

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
Not a person was stirring, not even Papa’s mouse.

Instead he surfed the web on his phone with care,
After finding the wish lists- based on Facebook shares.

The children were snuggled all in their beds,
While visions of checkout carts danced in their heads.

Thank goodness for E-commerce, Mama exclaimed.
We can buy our favorite goods, in Austin, from Maine.

The website was clean, and the design so slick,
Papa knew in a moment, it was built by St. Nick (Alter).

St. Nick even did maintenance so the site wouldn’t crash,
the week before Christmas to make businesses cash.

Social media, blogging and SEO,
His team of experts knew the way to go.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Teylor, now Rachel, now Amber, now Aubrey.
On Topher, on Christie, on David, on Jamie.”

How did Papa find this site you might ask?
Page 1 on Google, and targeted ads.

He had only just clicked, but he knew what to do.
There were CTAs a plenty to guide him through.

And then in a twinkling, Papa loaded the next page
when suddenly his phone died, his head filled with rage.

So he grabbed his iPad to pull up the site.
It was CSS responsive, so design fit just right.

When Papa was done he checked out and paid,
After reading their blog and “liking” their page.

And finally he thought, after closing the site:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night”

Web Design Mistakes – 3 That Seem Like Great Ideas

Is your Website “Naughty or Nice”? Are there web design mistakes that seemed like a good idea at one time?

web design mistakes

We’re in November, which means it’s officially the holiday season and digital marketers can pound holiday metaphors into oblivion. At Alter Endeavors, we’re always happy to audit a website and give feedback. We fundamentally believe that every website should be unique in its branding, calls to action, and user experience. Over the years, we’ve seen a wide array of web functionalities and marketing ideas that are designed to increase engagement or conversions. Most of them work, but here are a few ideas that seem “nice” but are actually web design mistakes that could end your website up on the “naughty” list.

1. Slide Show Carousels

If I’m a business owner and my business offers different service lines or promotions, a slide show carousel may seem like a great idea. It allows pictures to scroll through so that users can see my business’s versatility. But, that’s the problem. Your website should be designed to optimize interaction. When someone visits your website, they should be clearly directed towards the engagement that maximizes conversions for your business (or your call to action). By presenting multiple options, such as a carousel, you’re actually encouraging users not to click further into the site. Need more proof of how a carousel can frustrate users? Click Here.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-10-37-55-am

Carousels can also be web design mistakes because they create an issue in regards to load time. When the page is pulled up, all of those images must load as well, which increases your load time. How does this translate to dollars? According to a recent study, for every second your website takes to load you are losing 16% of your traffic. If a carousel adds an extra second or two to your load time, you’re potentially losing up to 1/3 of your traffic before visitors even see the site. And while load time isn’t a major factor in Google’s search algorithm, it does play a part—so there’s that to consider.

2. Keyword Stuffed Copy

There’s a reason that black hat tactics exist in SEO. Because originally they worked. Keyword stuffing was a very popular technique 5 years ago because the content was designed to be recognized by crawling google bots rather than the users. In that respect, keyword stuffing seems like a “nice” idea to boost your SEO rankings. However, keyword stuffing is a web design mistake and a fast way to end up on Google’s “naughty list” and actually hurt your SEO rankings.

First, Google’s algorithm changes frequently. It’s designed to find optimal content for the user based on their search. Over time, Google’s algorithm advanced to the point where it is able to recognize what is valuable content and what is not.

Second, keyword stuffing is not designed to create easily digestible content for the user. Often times, the content overwhelms the user. Optimized content should encourage the user to engage further—either taking them deeper into the site or directing them towards a call to action. As Amy Renken of Amy Renken Writing Services put it, “when writing content for the internet, focusing on appealing to the human audience is just as important as writing for the search engines bots.”

3. Autoplaying Videos

If you’re considering a video on your homepage, first, I would like to highly recommend this idea. Video creates a palatable means of engagement with visitors and even helps your SEO rankings if executed properly. However, multimedia such as video that “autoplays” can actually decrease engagement on your site and are widely considered a mistake for website best practices. Here’s Sarah Murphy’s take, from our video partner Golden Arm Media:

“Autoplay videos on your homepage take viewers by surprise, particularly because of the audio. Instead, when a viewer clicks play to view the content, they are already more invested because they had to opt in to view it. It gives them the chance to be curious first, and dig deeper. Forcing it upon them with autoplay is an almost guaranteed way to turn them off before they have the chance to learn about your company. Just think about when you’re reading an article online, and a video ad starts playing—it’s not a very pleasant experience.”

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-10-42-39-am

Web Design Mistakes to Avoid

In whole, these are three ideas that seem like a great concept on your site but could actually put your website on the “naughty list” with your users and customers. Rather than a carousel, focus on one clear call to action. Instead of keyword stuffing, create content that is relevant to your business focused on creating engagement. Finally, video can be an excellent way to reinforce branding or give further insight to your business—just don’t force it upon your users!

Why a Website Maintenance Company? The Imperfect Nature of the Internet

website maintenance company

Thoughts about the value of a website maintenance company were raised when Christopher Jennings, our Chief Operating Officer at Alter Endeavors, and I had a fascinating conversation awhile back. At the end of the day, we are not creating a product that is permanent. We’re building a product that will eventually break, need updates, and need maintenance— not dissimilar to an automobile. Websites can stand the test of time, but the intention should never be to build one website for “eternity”. Why you ask?

Because that’s not how the internet works.

The internet is an ever-changing depiction of digital communication. How your website “speaks” to potential clients is your most important call to action. What are they there to do on your site? Your calls to action should clearly communicate the goals of your site the user. For example, ten years ago, it required a complicated CRM system to implement a reservation system on a website. Now? There’s a WordPress plug in for it. If you can envision something, there’s likely a WordPress plug in or application that can be used (SHAMELESS PLUG: or our super talented dev team can make it happen).

And the future of the web? It’s only evolving at a quicker rate. Five years ago, being mobile friendly was not our top priority at Alter Endeavors. Then “Mobilegeddon” happened. Google updated it’s mobile search algorithm to prioritize mobile friendly sites. As a result, we had to pivot our development focus to make sure that mobile friendly and CSS responsive were key elements of all of our sites.

And that’s the nature of the internet.

It’s a reactionary industry by default, where ideas are morphed, sculpted, evolved by the collective digital “consciousness”. As an agency, you run an inherent risk by trying to get ahead of the curve. A website maintenance company has an obligation to its clients to know the right answers. It has to be as flexible as the web.

But what does this actually mean?

Websites have now become a series of templates, plug ins, and themes all working in cohesion. Like a machine, your website needs constant attention to make sure it’s running correctly. Most companies don’t have the time to manage their websites, so they just let them sit. This is a reckless business practice. Your website is your online hub. If it goes down, you run the risk of lost dollars in your pocket.

Here’s an example: I spoke with a business owner whose contact form was down. He had no clue how long the form wasn’t working or how many potential clients were unable to contact him. I mean this as hyperbole, but he could’ve missed out on the deal of a lifetime. This goes back to what Christopher and I discussed. No matter how well we build the site, it will require maintenance, support, and TLC.

We’ve all seen the Direct TV commercials. Don’t be the “cable” business owner who misses out on the deal of a lifetime because your site went down or a plug in broke. Contact us today about our various maintenance and support packages at Alter Endeavors. We build incredibly sturdy and stable sites, but eventually even our sites will need maintenance and work. There is no one better to do it than a good website maintenance company.

And that’s the nature of the internet.

Where Are We Going?—Mobile Friendly Websites

mobile friendly websites

In January, Apple’s iPhone will celebrate its 10th birthday. At the time, the idea that one could surf the web and be on the cell phone at the same time was not only revolutionary, but seen as unnecessary. Previous “mobile web” experiences were incomplete, information based, and lacked the design and branding elements now crucial to a mobile website. The idea that mobile friendly websites would now just be a series of listed out links seems prehistoric—yet this was the reality less than 15 years ago.

Back to the present, as consumers, we use the internet daily. The average adult spends over 20 hours a week on the internet. With the prevalence of smart phones, this number will only grow. According to a Morgan Stanley study, the number of global users who accessed the internet via a mobile device was larger than the number of desktop users. Where does this tie back in to business applicable? 65% of new visitors to your website this month will be accessing your site through a mobile device, including tablets. The mobile revolution has begun online. Is your business ready for those potential customers? If you were to access your website through your phone as a customer, would you feel comfortable spending money with your company?

Oh yes, and there is also a major SEO component to being mobile responsive. Mobile responsive encompasses a webpage being CSS responsive, having quick load times and low data overhead. These are all major factors in Google’s search algorithm. As of April 2015, Google prioritized mobile friendly sites in their rankings and boosted those sites in their rankings. Also known as “Mobilegeddon”, the most drastic difference in the algorithm was felt in mobile search. If your website is not mobile friendly, it is very likely you don’t rank in mobile search at all.

What does CSS responsive mean? Based upon the browser window size, the structure of a webpage changes. In practice, the structure will change for iPhones, Tablets and Desktop. A site can be CSS responsive but not mobile friendly at all. However, a mobile friendly site must be CSS responsive. How is this possible? Again, mobile friendly includes CSS responsiveness, quick load times and low data overhead. If a site is CSS but takes forever to load, the site is not mobile friendly at all. Quicker load times are essential because on average you have 3 seconds before a mobile user will leave your site. If a site takes a minute to load, you obviously just lost 33% of the time a customer will spend on your site (ultimately meaning less conversions). Low data overhead simply means that a user will not use a significant amount of data to load the page.

If you’re not sure if your site is mobile friendly, click here.

At Alter Endeavors, we build well branded and mobile friendly websites. Our team of designers and developers have mobile specific experience that can help your business be ready for the future of the internet—which is in the palm of our hands.

Branding Strategies: Identify your Ideal Client

branding strategy - ideal client

As a business owner, branding decisions are often one of the most overlooked aspects. More specifically, how does the business owner interact with his/her brand? Should the brand be centered around the company or the individual? The answer depends on a few factors: target audience, your ideal client, the platform being used and ultimately the comfort level of the business owner.

One of the most important exercises a business owner can go through is defining your ideal client and target audience. For a B2C (Business to Consumer) company, defining your ideal client needs to be specific: who are they, what do they do, how do I start a conversation with this person? For businesses who are B2B (or any other variance that results in the business’ ideal client being another business), the ideal client is based more around numbers, measurables and company culture than specifics such as interests or age.

Based upon this ideal client, your brand should interact differently. If your ideal client is an individual, the ability to connect on a personal level becomes paramount. That’s why you see prevalent terms such as “family owned”, “local”, or “x generation”. The goal is to integrate yourself, the business owner, into the brand to better communicate with prospective customers. A good example of this is the late Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A. Mr. Cathy was heavily involved in the branding of his company and helped his brand connect with their ideal client—families with kids—because of his close engagement. However, if your ideal client is a business, the business owner is faced with a decision: Do I better position myself as an industry expert through my company or as myself? The answer to this question depends on the platform being used to communicate.

As mentioned previously, the primary objective is to establish the brand as an expert in the field. Different social platforms give the business different opportunities to engage with customers. In general, Facebook generates better results through business pages than fan pages or personal pages. As a rule of thumb, one should always have a business Facebook page, even if they are a sole proprietor or the business namesake.

Twitter; however, provides a completely different opportunity. While business accounts on Twitter can provide results, Twitter is primarily used as a medium for news, information, etc. from a specific individual or entity rather than social engagement. Because of this, oftentimes the business owner can increase their results by establishing themselves as the expert and a crucial element of their brand.

LinkedIn is more of a mix of the two. While LinkedIn provides a social media page around the individual, the professional elements of LinkedIn are extremely conducive to building out a business page. Similar to Facebook, every business should control their LinkedIn business page, regardless of whether or not the brand is centered around the individual or business. However, B2B companies are better served creating a page centered around their business and the testimonials of their business rather than the expertise of the owner or founder. Because of that, even for sole proprietorships, it still makes sense to focus on disseminating information from the company rather than the individual.

How involved should you be in your brand? The answer depends on several factors: the target audience, the platform being used, and ultimately how comfortable the business owner feels positioning themselves as the expert in their company. While the answer is different for each company and even differentiates in certain situations, evaluating your involvement with your brand through these lenses will help you boost engagement and ultimately ROI. For more information about setting up social media pages, social media packages or consulting services, contact us today!

Online Reviews – Making the Grade for Your Business

The Importance of Online Reviews

It’s no secret that online reviews in platforms such as Yelp! and Angie’s List now hold great influence over the buying decisions of consumers. In major metropolitan areas, consumers rely on these review sites not only for testimonials and reviews but also to find businesses relevant to their needs within their geographical area. Good reviews provide valuable testimonials about your business. Yet, negative reviews cost your business thousands in potential dollars as well as require major damage control at times. Managing these platforms has become crucial in your digital marketing efforts. Here’s a few points to consider when managing these platforms that can help your business use these platforms to your advantage:

Don’t take online reviews personally

At Alter Endeavors, we always recommend that someone other than the business owner manages review platforms. Entrepreneurs take their business personally. Five star reviews are often a source of vindication while a one star review feels like an attack on the business’ integrity. Every business is going to have a negative review at some point- it’s how you respond to these negative reviews that matter. Yelp! has released studies that show the most powerful review is not a five star review but rather a one star review that was later revised to five star. How does my business go about “getting the user to revise the review”?

Our process for responding to negative reviews is called “The Four A’s”. First, remember, the customer is always right. Arguing over semantics or details will not help you “win” but rather scare away potential customers. Start by simply apologizing. Often times this is all the customer who posted the negative review is seeking. Then, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. Let’s face it: sometimes issues with customers may have never been brought to your attention as the business owner- these reviews can be valuable feedback about your internal process. Next, lay out the actionable steps that your business will take to resolve the issue. Finally, assure the customer that based off of these actionable steps the issue will not happen again if they choose to continue using your company’s services.

The “Four A’s” don’t guarantee that the users will change their online reviews. Sometimes people are stubborn and will be stuck in their mindset no matter what you the business owner try to do to rectify the situation. The process laid out above will at minimum put your best foot forward to potential customers that your business is reasonable and focused on providing the best customer service, even when you make mistakes (This is a nice way of saying, they’ll see that customer was crazy).

Don’t be afraid to ask for online reviews

You’ll be surprised how many previous customers will leave you a review if they had a positive experience with your business. The goal for your business should be at least 50 five star reviews or 100 reviews with an average 4.5 or higher. One simple tactic to increase reviews: include the link to your page on various review sites and asking the customer to leave a review in a follow up email. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews when asking previous customers.

A second tactic that we developed at Alter Endeavors uses our quiz tool, Catch Engine. Catch Engine allows the business owner to create a quiz that includes customized response pages/emails based upon the score of the quiz. By attaching a link to review platforms on response pages directed at users who scored in a positive manner on the quiz, Catch Engine has helped our clients boost their five star reviews on Yelp!, Google + and other online review sites. Square Cow Movers, for example, has almost 650 five star reviews. How powerful would that many five star reviews about your business be to your potential customers?

 

Keep your information relevant

As mentioned earlier, review sites aren’t just used by customers to learn more about the experiences others have had a with a business but also to find new businesses within their geographical area. Review sites allow the business to include their address, a phone number, website URL and even the ability to request a quote through the site (depending on the platform). If a customer finds your information through one of these sites, they may never go to your website before they contact your business. Make sure all of the relevant information you can provide about your business on these sites is current. It seems simple, but you would be amazed how many small businesses we come across with incorrect information on one or more review sites.

Online reviews are a large source of stress for a business owner. They are a publicly available evaluation of your business by a complete stranger at times. But that’s why they are so powerful. Implementing a strategy to grow reviews for your business can lead to exponential growth, while a review page littered with negative reviews can cost your business thousands annually. Using the tips outlined above, your business can master review sites and use powerful, real testimonials to grow your business.

If you would like more information on our quiz tool, Catch Engine, and how Catch Engine can grow online reviews for your business please contact me today at aubrey@alterendeavors.com