Ratings “J Curve”

We’ve talked to several advisors and prospects who expect to see a “U” shape in the distribution of their review submissions by ratings. In other words, there should be an equal number of “1” ratings as there is “5” ratings, displaying the extremes of customer opinion. We weren’t sure what to expect when ImsurfSentinel got off the ground a year ago.

We didn’t know what to expect then, but we do now.

Across many clients in diverse industries this “U” curve turns out to be more like a “J” curve…almost a reverse “L” (see below). The average rating across all clients is 4.3 out of 5 stars. The distribution looks like a J, where there are more 1s than 2s, but far more 4s and 5s than the lower ratings.

Why is this? Aren’t people more likely to share their word of mouth about bad experiences? Perhaps they are more likely to share negative opinions when they have personal experiences with a company (service, sales) than the product they buy?

And perhaps customers are interested in sharing their opinion about great products they buy, because there are so many mediocre products. So there’s some satisfaction in sharing the news when we find a product we love.

We’ll learn more and share more here. But in the meantime, this “J” curve is part of the answer to the concern: “What about negative reviews?”

Increasing Customer IQ: Website Analytics Meets Word-of-Mouth Analytics

I am really excited about the potential of our partnerships with Coremetrics, Omniture, WebSideStory, and WebTrends. Marrying word-of-mouth and clickstream data will enable us to pioneer analyses that have never before been possible. Ultimately, it will increase our clients’ customer IQ.

Ever since I took my first marketing class at the University of Texas at Austin, I have been fascinated by customer behavior. It has been the driving theme of my career. What has been most exciting to me is being there when a company finds out how their customers really behave and the lightbulb goes on. When their customer IQ is increased.

At Coremetrics, I had the good fortune of seeing this transition many times. It was the biggest part of what drew me to start the business in the first place and, especially, with a services model at its core. It is hard for me to believe now, but back in 1999 the acronym “ASP” (“Application Service Provider”) didn’t exist. I knew from my background in consulting that an outsourced model for Web analytics would ultimately be the best way to deliver real analysis to clients. Because of my background, this was intuitive to me; it just made sense. It was later, in 2000, when someone told me, “you guys are an ASP”. The label had been born, although I’m not sure who gave birth. Label or not, the business model works. The ideal ASP is a marriage of services and software to create an ever-evolving solution.

At Coremetrics, it was exciting to be with a client when they saw, for the first time, where they had been wasting their online marketing dollars and decide how to reinvest their budget. Or witness that the home page creative they had debated for hours every week really didn’t drive sales like they thought it did. Or learn that a product had an abnormally high shopping cart abandonment rate and they could increase sales by tweaking the price, the message, or the placement. Or see their customers close their browser when the “next step” button on their checkout page was below the fold. We drove real value. Got real feedback. Turned on the lightbulbs. Liberated with data. And ensured that the service would always work. And customer IQ skyrocketed.

At Coremetrics, it was exciting to be with a client when they saw, for the first time, where they had been wasting their online marketing dollars and decide how to reinvest their budget. Or witness that the home page creative they had debated for hours every week really didn’t drive sales like they thought it did. Or learn that a product had an abnormally high shopping cart abandonment rate and they could increase sales by tweaking the price, the message, or the placement. Or see their customers close their browser when the “next step” button on their checkout page was below the fold. We drove real value. Got real feedback. Turned on the lightbulbs. Liberated with data. And ensured that the service would always work. And customer IQ skyrocketed.

And now I am seeing the same thing here at Impactloud. Except this time the data are conversations. Conversations between real customers. When customers speak to each other, they do so in a different way than they speak to companies. They speak in an authentic way. They have no agenda. Do you really care if your friend sees the movie you spent five minutes telling them about? Not really. You just want to express yourself. The pursuit of the real. There is a little bit of maven in all of us. It’s human nature. It’s called word of mouth. And it is only increasing as we get overloaded with marketing messages and choices with the compression of less time.

Our clients are dramatically increasing their customer IQ. They are tapping into conversations that they have never heard before. And it is driving their business in fundamentally new ways. Straight from the customer’s mouth to the EVP of Merchandising’s ear – direct and authentic. Products will evolve. Customer service will morph. Marketing will change. And customers will vote with a renewed sense of loyalty. This will be taught in business schools one day.

I am going to make a prediction. When you put website analytics and word-of-mouth analytics together, it will have a synergistic effect on customer IQ. And, to me, that is very exciting. For our clients, it will be game-changing.

Online retail stores: the best way to shop while saving money

One of the major things that the internet brought with itself is online shopping. Today as the internet is the biggest game, the retail market is making huge progress to attract customer online. No more going out and finding a mall or a shop for the kind of product you want. Also no need to be all mucked up by weekend crowd or take the hassle fo traveling from one place to another. With the internet and hordes of digital devices, you can simply sit back at home on the weekend or even on a weekday and enjoy shopping from the comfort of your place. If you want to know what is wish shopping, then it is crucial before that you learn what a good online store is.

Online eCommerce websites

Online eCommerce websites are the internet version of branded stores and retail stores. Instead of going out and so shopping, one can sit at home or anywhere and use their internet and a digital device to shop. this way one will pay online and the products will be delivered at home. One can find specialized brand stores where one can find products form a single brand and of one category only like cosmetics or clothing. Or one can find many retail stores where like a real-world retail store, there are a variety of products to choose from. These online retail stores cater to thousands of shoppers in the day, as they have different types of products falling into various categories starting from electronics, to clothing to kitchen necessities and groceries too.

 Benefits of wish shopping

Benefits of online retail stores

As the number of online stores is increasing, let’s ponder upon some of the major advantages of shopping online:

  • Ease of shopping: one of the biggest reasons why online shopping and online stores are becoming so popular is the convivence. Nobody wants to ruin their weekends while roaming around the malls or any retail store to buy certain important things for the kitchen or a few items of clothing. No more driving to the store, stand in billing lines or get stuck in traffic. Instead, one can simply sit back at home and scroll through various categories of products, create a list, pay and get them delivered at home.
  • Huge variety: most of the time it is seen that online store provide their customers with a huge variety of products, one can find various products from different countries and different parts of the country without having to travel there in person. Also finding the right size and right fit becomes very easy while shopping online, as there is no lack of variety.
  • Better pricing: online retail stores save money in a lot of things, out of which not having a physical store being the first reason. This eventually leads to lowered pricing of almost everything. Also, these online stores tend to cut on huge costs on products like electronics which shows on the price tag. Being a customer can save a lot of money by shopping online.
  • Discounts: one of the major reasons why shopping online can be advantageous is the fact that the number of discounts that are offered is huge. Online stores give discounts on almost every occasion, festival, season end, etc. this way one can save a lot many bucks on shopping. Also, one of the most common types of discount is the promo codes which are quite popular among the masses, as it allows a certain amount of the bill to be waivered.
  • Comparing products: another, the benefit of online shopping stores is the price comparison. As all the products are posted on a single page, it is quite easy to compare the price tags and choose the product that fits the budget. also not only the price one can compare the product type and quality with the help fo the reviews posted by other customers.

Choosing the right online store

As the number of benefits is quite significant it can be said that the number of customers is also increasing rapidly. And to keep the business running and to hike the sales of the business are now becoming online stores to cater to customers from all over the world. but as the number of sites is increasing, the need to find the right store which is both useful and budget-friendly is becoming more crucial.

Choosing the right online store

Before finding out what is wish shopping, some of the things that should be checked before choosing an online store should be clear to the customers:

  • Categories: a good online store should have a well-defined category list so that the visitors can easily find what they want without any confusion.
  • Wishlist: online stores are the place that one can visit again and again. At times we tend to find something that we like but might not be able to buy it then and there, that is when a wishlist option comes handy. Simply wishlist the product so that later while shopping you can find in immediately.
  • Good website: the most important thing about online shopping is the ease of shopping and less confusion. A sticky and not too clear user interface will simply drive the customers away. Instead, the website should have a clean user interface, simple website navigation, a simple yet attractive website design with high-quality pictures, and a mobile-friendly website.
  • Reviews: a good website is the one that has customer reviews on them. reviews are one of the major things that customers check before buying anything. Having a true review section will show the authenticity of the product.
  • Suggestion lists: a good website will always have a good suggestion list, which helps someone fin products related to their last searches.

Consumer-generated ads and General Motors

This is probably old news to some of you, but I find it fascinating that Chevrolet is allowing consumers to create their own ads for the new Tahoe. As you can imagine, some consumers have created some very critical ads. However, I applaud General Motors for finally taking some risk. I’m sure the authors of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” would also applaud this bold move.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will see more of this. This is the start of an open and honest dialogue between General Motors and their customers. Is the dialogue always going to positive? Of course not. It isn’t always positive offline, but it is too easy for General Motors to ignore private customer-to-customer conversations. It is a bit different when the conversations are out in the open, staring them in the face.

Sam Decker calls this “customer oxygen”. No matter what you call it, it is healthy. I have long believed that a company should design its products with customers. That may sound obvious, but it’s not. I created Coremetrics, a successful Web analytics business, based on the premise that companies like Accrue and NetGenesis had failed to do this. And their customers defected quickly.

Then I read Ron Bloom’s, the CEO of Podshow, article on “advertising 2.0”. Outside of the fact that there are too many 2.0 terms, I agree with Ron that advertising must evolve. We are more cynical than ever about advertising because we are more educated. If you are reading this blog, you are likely far more educated about marketing than most consumers. And you are probably much more likely than most consumers to ignore advertising altogether – skip it with your TIVO, read news online via an RSS feed, get the straight scoop from your friends. The question is – what form of marketing works or is going to work on you? Is it “keeping up with The Joneses” all over again? Only this time, you actually trust “The Joneses” more than you trust any corporation.

Every social networking, blogging, user-generated content, “authentic media”, and Web 2.0 company has a common goal in mind: monetize their business model with advertising. There are a ton of venture-capital and public-market dollars chasing this aim. My bet is that several will evolve entirely new forms of advertising. For some, the bets are already paying off. Last I heard, Facebook is making over $10 million per month on advertising and the buzz is that it may be acquired for as much as $2 billion. And you probably heard what Rupert Murdoch’s #2 is publically saying about their acquisition of MySpace. Considering the Murdoch empire and the newness of social networking, that is a pretty mind-blowing statement.

In full disclosure, my wife, Debra, just bought a new GM SUV after trading in her Volkswagen SUV, an unfortunate lemon of lemons (it actually pains me to write that after many years of loyalty to Volkswagen). I also bring this up because I found myself genuinely impressed with the 2007 redesign of the model she bought, and I wonder if Bob Lutz and his team are really starting to figure it out by listening. It is the first American car that we have ever bought. Imagine how odd it would be to read that statement if we lived in the 1950’s instead of the 2000’s.

Report from SXSW Interactive “Convergence in Advertising” Panel

Last week, I participated in a panel discussion at the SXSW Interactive conference held annually here in Austin. The title of the panel was “Convergence in Advertising”, and I was joined by executives from companies in the educational media, advergaming, and social media fields.

The growing importance of consumer-created content

In turn, each panelist discussed the growing importance of consumer-created content and the impact of this content on traditional advertising practices, client relationships, and consumers’ brand perceptions.

My presentation focused specifically on customer reviews (surprise!) and on the opportunities available to leading brands as a result of the proliferation of consumer-created content and the many platforms that now exist to support content creation and distribution.

Convergence Meaning

Before going down that path, however, I talked briefly about what convergence actually means to me, given my perspective at Imsurfsentinel. Convergence is a frequently used term, and it seems to mean just about anything you need it to mean to support your business strategy or model! For me, however, convergence means or describes three things:

  • Convergent technologies are those that make the key “end uses” of consumer technology, such as media consumption and content creation, accessible in a near-ubiquitous fashion, through always-on connectivity, portability, integration, and good old device and network performance and capacity. As I presented at SXSW, audience members posted in real-time to their blogs from laptops and high-speed wireless connections.
  • Convergence describes the multi-directional conversations that are now occurring between and among brands and consumers. While traditional advertising “communicated” in a one-way fashion, convergent advertising is just the opposite. Brands now increasingly rely on feedback from key consumers and conversations with influentials to refine their business strategies, and convergent technologies enable this process. Soon after deploying customer reviews, Golfsmith found an opportunity to reach out to a very vocal customer (and reviewer) located right in Austin, where they are headquartered.
  • Last, convergence means that advertiser- and consumer-created content are beginning to merge. From the early beginnings of contextual advertising to emerging social media platforms like FilmLoop, “content convergence” is a powerful new force in marketing and advertising. Imsurfsentinel clients are inviting this convergence by offering their customers the ability to write and publish product reviews, which may ultimately be used in both on-site and off-site advertising programs. For example, PETCO now uses excerpts from actual customer reviews as copy on its web site and in its email newsletters.

In summary, convergence is a complex and disruptive force but one that advertisers must embrace and learn to leverage. At Imsurfsentinel , we are trying to facilitate this for our clients by providing an ROI-focused application of technology and content convergence.

By continually enhancing our functionality for enabling content creation and distribution, we hope to increase the overall quality, relevance, and authenticity of this content, while also increasing its reach. Looking further out, we see enormous potential in supporting mobile devices to enable consumers to access a product review, reviewer profile, or other community content on demand while he or she is on the go. Stay tuned . . .

Always Recommend the Right Products

If you have an e-commerce business, the following advice will be very good for the development of your business. Not only makes your company survive, but will greatly expand!

Glen Urban is an MIT professor focused on understanding, building, and maintaining trust on the Web. In his latest book, Don’t Just Relate – Advocate!, Urban makes a valuable claim about being a responsible advisor to your customers:

Advocate Your Customer

Happy male helpline operator with headset consulting a client. Online global tech support 24 7. Operator and customer. Technical support concept. Vector illustration in flat design.

Your company might choose to embrace advocacy by becoming a faithful representative of your customers’ interests. Under this approach, you provide customers and prospects with open, honest, and complete information. You give them advice so they can find the best products, even if those products are not your company’s products?

For many companies, the marketing strategy is staid and straightforward. The bottom-line goal is to align products on the showroom floor to potential customers. For the most part, it’s that simple. If you have products that need to be sold, figure out a way to build intrigue, value, and emotional connections around your brand.

The Selfless and Responsible Company Will Flourish

But what happens when a company is selfless and responsible about the advice it gives? Can a company focused on recommending the right products rather than their own products stay afloat?

According to Urban they can. And they won’t just survive; they will flourish!

With the incorporation of customer-centric values, a company begins

a mutual dialogue that assumes that if you advocate for your customers, those customers will reciprocate with their trust, purchases, and an enduring loyalty?

Mobile Location-Influenced Shopping and Word of Mouth

It is undeniable, at this time that the tendency of the world community is greater for shopping online than shopping directly. Shopping face to face may still be done in traditional markets but maybe soon it will change too. One of the influential figures in online shopping is Jeff Bezos.

I was fortunate enough to attend of a keynote presentation by Jeff Bezos last year. Jeff keynoted Shop.org’s first Multichannel Executive Symposium, co-hosted with McKinsey & Company. As a Shop.org Board member, I was proud that Jeff accepted our invitation to present.

Jeff Bezos : “The Future of Always=Connected Camera Phone Affected Physical Shopping”

FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club in Washington. Federal prosecutors in New York are planning to meet with Bezos about his allegations that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him with help from Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) ORG XMIT: NYR103

As a brief one-minute comment while answering an attendee’s question, Jeff talked about the future of always-connected camera phones. When camera phones offer 3.5-megapixel resolution, he said, the world of physical shopping becomes very interesting. This is because 3.5-megapixel resolution enables you to accurately read a product barcode right off the box.

With an always-on mobile device, you would be able to price compare, read product ratings and reviews, and even get product accessory information from local stores in your nearby area while you are physically shopping in that store. Well, this was like a lightning rod to me, while Jeff casually moved on to the next subject.

Talk about turning the physical shopping environment on its head. I was surprised to read that many camera phones in South Korea already offer 8-megapixel resolution (they also receive live satellite TV and cost $700).

How About Physical Retail World In The U.S?

So, in just a few years, probably 3-4 conservatively, the physical retail world in the U.S. will clash with the online retail world in a fundamentally disruptive way. Some would say that is happening already.

In either case, I believe that customer ratings and reviews become even more important in an environment like this. I also believe that differentiated service, great product, really listening to your customers, collaborating more closely with your suppliers, and word of mouth marketing become even more important in this environment. It is right around the corner.

Blogs and Word of Mouth Transparency

Today’s topic will be very interesting for those of you who are thinking of doing business online or you who like to shop without face to face alias online shopping. How come? Yes, e-commerce is very growing nowadays that is supported by internet speed and unlimited reach. And these benefits are enjoyed by the seller or the buyer.

According to mashable’s Founder and CEO, there are over 70,000 blogs created a day with over 50,000 blog posts per hour. What are the chances that one of your customers is talking about you? High, and becoming higher every day as more jump into the global discussion. What are the chances that one of your customers or prospects will read that post?

Search Engine Influence

With Google, Yahoo, Mashable , and others already providing robust blog search engines, the answer is, again, high and becoming higher. There are several companies that offer blog mining services, such as BuzzMetrics, Cymfony, and Kaava. And these are valuable services for companies, no doubt. If you are skeptical, read the Fortune story of Kryptonite, the bike lock company. This may be one of the most important articles you read all year.

There is no doubt a lot of junk in most blogs. Most are nothing more than online diaries. But the search engines are making it easier to find information about products in blogs. The 40-year old parent may write about their kids 90% of the time, but 10% of the time they may choose to write about products and services they have recently experienced. The search engine takes the right person to that content at the right time (i.e. when they are researching whether or not to buy the product or service).

The Power of Internet Marketing

Research by BizRate shows that 56% of shoppers begin shopping at a branded website. This is intuitively obvious to me – the Internet has gone mass market and the late majority starts shopping at the brands they trust. The trick is to capture those individuals in that moment instead of sending them off with an easy click or two to go searching for reviews. That is where Imsurfsentinel comes in.

For all of the glory of the Web, it is a non-tactile shopping environment. Companies like Scene7, RichFX, MyVirtualModel, and others make online shopping more tactile. They are helpful as the eCommerce industry struggles with 2.6% conversion, meaning that 97.4% of those that visit a store online don’t buy within that browsing session. Compare that to the 90% or so that buy when they enter a physical store. Of course, people can browse online stores more easily than driving to physical stores, and their purchase intent is often lower online than offline. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means more product browsing. Nevertheless, at 2.6% conversion, there is a lot of room for conversion improvement.

Customer Rating and Review

The beautiful thing about customer ratings and reviews on your site is that it is on your site. Let me explain:

  1. On your site, customer ratings and reviews are measurable. When a customer writes a review, you know who that customer is and what actions they have taken within that shopping session as well as previous sessions.
  2. On your site, customer ratings and reviews are actionable. Since you know who the customer is, you can decide whether to reach out to them or not. Build your own focus group of high lifetime value and vocal customers for your next relevant product launch. Address negative word of mouth by reaching out to those customers and offering to correct their experience. The voice of the customer is closer to your brand, helping push cultural change inside your company to bring all employees closer to an understanding of your customers’ experience (i.e. to become more customer centric).
  3. On your site, customer ratings and reviews serve a purpose. They give your customers a reason to trust you and come back to your site often as a valuable source of information. They help make online shopping more tactile, which results in higher online conversion. There is nothing more tactile than word of mouth (positive and negative) from other customers that have experienced that poduct or service that you are considering buying.

Outside of your site, customer ratings and reviews have virtually none of these attributes, with the notable exception that companies like Intelliseek, Cymfony, and Kaava have the goal of making them actionable.

I would also argue that customer ratings and reviews on your site are far more actionable in the sense that the online shopper is in a different frame of mind than when they are writing for their blog or on a site where they may or may not have a connection (like Epinions). They will be more thorough with their review in an environment focused on shopping within the brand they know as opposed to stream-of-consciousness within their blog.

As a result of our techniques, the average review we collect has a 350 character count, or 72 words. Compare that to the many reviews you read out there on the Web that say “this product is great” or “this product is terrible” and provide you with no actionable information at all. Those reviews move the needle for no one.

The more descriptive the review and the more it mimics offline word of mouth (which usually occurs face-to-face), the more tactile the online shopping experience becomes. As a result, shoppers and companies benefit.

“Operationalize” Customer Centricity

Since smartphone have been one item of your needs, online shops also has growing larger. It changed the way customer buy. From face to face buying goods to be a loyal online customer. It can not be deny that eCommerce get the influence too.

As we speak with many eCommerce companies there is a trend — the desire to become a more customer-centric company. And this is a topic usually coming from a level above the eBusiness or Web department.

It’s a topic that can even come from the CEO, as a customer-centric culture affects every division, department and function. However, it is highly influenced by the growth of the Web as customers are interacting every day with a company’s processes via the web site.

I spent a lot of time developing the customer-centric strategy at Dell and consulting with other companies on word of mouth, and there is no magic bullet for ‘becoming’ customer centric. I guess the easiest way to describe the one source of customer centricity — and yet the most challenging to change — is culture. From culture, the bloodflow of a company, everything follows — technology, policy, brand, product development, hiring, etc.

But let’s say you didn’t start customer-centric, and you want to correct, or redirect, the company towards a more customer-centric trajectory. What do you do?

Bring Your Customer Closer

In my experience, the most important thing you can do is to bring the customer closer to your business and brand in an operational way. This could mean a lot of things (such as ratings and reviews on your web site, of course!).

Process And System Everyday!

But in short, it means that you have put a system or process in place (a company is nothing more than people, processes and systems) that brings the customer closer to the rest of your people, process and systems every day.

  • A research project and presentation is tremendoursly insightful, but we all go back to our day jobs.
  • Attending usability sessions is good, but empathy is short-lived
  • Reading customer comments from the web site is helpful, but forgotten
  • Developing personas helps you understand customers, but then what do you do with them.

Ultimately, it’s the action you take and something that you put in place which is seen every day, so in our day jobs the ecology starts to change. The network and algorithmic effect of bringing the customer closer to what employees live and breathe HAS to change the way they make decisions, because now it’s part of the environment in which they make decisions. It can’t be ignored, forgotten, or dismissed.

Plant A Healthy Virus = A Customer-Centric System

Once in place, a customer-centric system adds a positive virus that can multiply inside the company and among your peers. You can’t do it alone, so the best thing you can do is to plant a healthy virus in your company and watch what happens!

Chosing A Blog Design | How To Blog On WordPress

Blogging is one way to make money in the current internet era. This is the same as having a ‘home’ or place in cyberspace. The house you have to shape as you want. Designing the ‘house’ is certainly an important part that can make you or any person who comes to feel comfortable. Well, in this topic we will discuss about the design of your home or blog. What should you consider when choosing your blog’s design?

Blog Topic

Courtesy : http://theowlsjournal.com

It is the most important consideration when choosing your design. Choose a design that personifies what your blog is about.

Photography

It needs to be taken into consideration. Photographs bring life to a blog. Both amateurs and professionals will need to pick a theme that struts their stuff.

Video

It features are a must now days. The trend is toward using more and more video. Although is is easy to place video with in your blog post, you may consider a theme that features video also.

Show Your Talents

Your blog should reflect your product and services.

Seven Rules of Good Blog Design

  1. Content is king. A blog is about content so keep your design simple.
  2. Stand out. Your design should make you stand out from all the other blogs. You want to be remembered.
  3. Stay ad lite. Do not overrun your blog with ads. Be effective with you ads.
  4. Color. Good use of color will make your blog posts easy to read and a pleasure to visit.
  5. Above the fold. Place all of the important information above the fold; start of content, subscription boxes and important images.
  6. Navigation. Because people will come to your blog by SEO and social media they may skip the front page. It is important that your side bars are easy to navigate. You only have a short time to keep your visitor, so make it easy to stay a visit.
  7. Loads quickly. Do you get impatient when a site loads slow? Make sure to keep your visitors attention with a site that loads quickly.

Take a look around and pick out blogs you like. What is it you like about them? Was it color? Content? Did you want to look around? What persona do you want to portray? What will make you stand out from the rest? What colors do you like?