Yelp Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Yelp Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Yelp Reviews

Did you know that customer reviews are a huge contributor to get you top Google rankings? Many consumers look at Yelp reviews. They also look at others like Facebook, Google My Business, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack. You have to look at The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Sometimes we don’t like the negative feedback reviews. They aren’t always 5 stars. But here is a tip. It is not so much the review, but how you respond. If you ignore it, you deserve the review. You didn’t bother to reply. Either an apology or an explanation, will improve your image to potential customers. They don’t always expect a glowing review. But they sure do look at how you handled one.

Responding to reviews will also improve your SEO. Did you know Google will give you a higher ranking if you respond to your reviews, whether good or bad?

Yelp recently won a battle with the Supreme Court of California. It was about removing a negative Yelp review, a case between a law firm and one of its customers. Yelp fought it based on the principal of internet free speech. Here is the article. You be the judge.

https://www.yelpblog.com/2018/07/a-case-for-the-internet-hassell-v-bird

I love Yelps’ response at the end:

As we have observed before, litigation is never a good substitute for customer service and responsiveness and had the law firm avoided the courtrooms and moved on, it would have saved time and money, and been able to focus more on the cases that truly matter the most — those of its clients.

This fiasco reminded me of a blog article I wrote last year.  I think under these circumstances, it bears repeating.

Lemonade out of Lemons: Handling a Bad Review

Do you freak out or become angry if someone writes a bad review about your business?  You worked so hard and yet some of the people that receive your services didn’t feel they had a good experience.  It’s like a soccer punch to the gut.  How do you not take it personal, it’s your business your passion, your life!  Can you turn those negative comments and feelings of rejection into something positive? Yes, making lemonade out of lemons?

Bad Review

This Review is Killing Me

A study by Northwestern University stated, “consumers think a business is more credible if it has a mix of good and bad reviews”.  Yes, they want to see some bad reviews.  If consumers only see shining accolades, it can actually damage your image.  It creates skepticism.  Are all those reviews real? No business is perfect.  You cannot possible meet expectations of all your customers.  When consumers review bad reviews, they look to see how the business owner responded.  The response is the most important element. Positive customer service is what people are looking for.  They want to see how you handled it.

Not responding is deadly to a business owner.  The consumer may think you don’t care.  Or you will be judged “guilty” as charged.  Even if you think the review was not justified. Or someone being obnoxious. It might be someone writing on behalf of a competitor. You MUST respond.  If it is a legitimate complaint, own up to it. Take responsibility in the comment. Take this opportunity to say, “Mr. or Ms. Customer you are right” and then offer to fix it.  If you think it is bogus, try to find a diplomatic way to address the review. Your customers will see that the complaint was not realistic. For example, you could say in a nice way “my style is a different than XX and so unfortunately we may not be a good fit.”

The good thing about reviews is that they are not usually anonymous.  Example if it is a Yelp or Facebook Page review, you will see who sent it.  They may not use their own name. But you have the ability to send that account holder a response, public or private message. Even if you prefer to send them a private message, make sure you write a public comment first. This way others can see you responded.  You can say something like “hey David, I got your review and would like to dialogue about your grievance.  Love to send you a private message? I aim to please my customers”.  Your viewers will see that comment. They’ll know you are going to take care of David, even if David’s complaint was not justified.  Or you could say in the comment “David, stop in or give me a call so we can resolve the issue. Your complaint is important to me”.

The last thing to remember about responding to negative reviews:  Don’t wait.  Waiting is deadly.  Don’t let 24 hours pass beyond a bad review. If not, consumers are already making judgements and it isn’t good.

Social Media has changed the entire playing field today.  Everything that everyone writes good and bad is out there for the entire world to see.  You can’t hide so turn it to your advantage.  By the way, if you get an awesome review, go ahead and comment on those as well.  Someone took the time to write to share their great experience.  Let them know you appreciate it.  People do check out reviews in helping them make decisions about who they want to do business with.

Use your reviews to improve your customer service and make a better product or service. Respond to your positive and negative reviews as fast as possible.  It helps your customers know you, like you, and trust you and that is the name of the game.

Have some sweet lemonade.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned On Vacation

Entrepreneurs can be found in many places with all sorts of career focuses. While recently vacationing with my husband on an Alaskan Cruise I had the privilege of discovering a new entrepreneurial type, the “tour guide”. For those of you who have never cruised, at each port of call, you can select a choice of many excursions for your day ashore.

My prior cruises were to the south where tour guides work all year round. Many times, English is their second language which consequently often limits the personal discussions. Touring Alaska was a totally different story. Tour guides for cruises are limited to a 6-month time frame. Most of the tour guides we met were seasonal residents of Alaska and their first language was English. A lot easier to have a good conversation.

Though technically they were employed by some touring adventure company, or the cruise company, it was on a contractual basis which allowed them to pick their availability.  Of course, since for most of them this was their yearly bread and butter, they usually worked 6 days a week to maximize their income.  Tips are a large component to their income so the experience they deliver is critical.

So, what made them be entrepreneurs even though they contracted with a company?  This was discovered in the stories they offered.  We are talking a pretty cold place in the winter and so many of them choose to hoof it after the cruise season ends.  Many went home, some went to sunny places south, or some like our tour guide Rhonda traveled to exotic places.  Others used that time to pursue additional education, some focused on writing a book, or creating art.  I consider this an entrepreneurial life.

As I listened to their stories, I fantasied living their life.  Making people happy, sharing local history and geography, telling stories. I am sure it’s not all as glamorous as it sounded.  But oh what fun to lead a hike to a glacier……until I ran in to the big grizzly bear!!!!

Ok. Back to reality. Each of us entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.  We offer different products and services.  One of the things I noticed was that these guides were always promoting themselves and their company.  You would think we are “one” visit and done, but I am sure the thought is we are networking opportunities to encourage others to sign up for their tours.  I was offered business cards to give a review on Trip Advisor, or “like” on their Facebook Business Page, sign up for a photo contest, all to stay connected and share my positive experience with others. Even guides use online marketing.

Entrepreneurs at the Dog Musher Camp love working with their dogs

One last thing, we noted many other kinds of entrepreneurs in Alaska: shop keepers, fishermen, hunters, gold miners, dog sled mushers and handlers, and more. Learning about dog sled mushers is another incredible story.  Wow! I wouldn’t want to live in a place so cold in the winter, but I am glad that my business allows me to travel there. Thank goodness. It’s the best part of my life.  Work and play on my terms.  Does your business support the lifestyle you want?  Find your passion and interest and build your business around it so you love what you do and it gives you the lifestyle you desire.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Now I Wrote My Ebook, What’s Next?

Ebooks are powerful marketing and sales tools. You have taken your knowledge and skills and put in writing a training or inspiration for your audience. Some ebooks are leads for sales and other times they are the sale. Either way, since they live on the internet, there needs to be a process to upload and distribute them to your prospects or customers.

Here are four ways to showcase and market your ebook:

  1. Lead Magnet. When you request people to subscribe to your email program, it often helps to encourage sign-ups with a freebie, bribe, or gift, whatever you want to call it. Your ebook is something of value that you want to give away for free that teaches on a specific topic and creates credibility for yourself. You can create your ebook in word and save it as a PDF.  Your PDF needs to have a place to live, so we suggest you use your email platform ( if it can host PDFs), Google Docs, or Amazon Web Service (AWS). While AWS is the most secure, it is a cost based service. Whatever email platform you use, a link to your PDF can be attached to the thank you email. As soon as someone subscribes to your email list or newsletter, they will immediately be able to download your ebook.
  2. Gift Give-away. When you are a speaker at a conference, workshop, webinar, wouldn’t it be awesome to offer your eBook as your Call to Action (parting gift). If they would like your eBook, all they have to do is give you their email address. That’s one way to capture their contact information. If you are selling your eBook on your website or Amazon, you can provide a special coupon with a limited time offer. More on this later.
  3. Website Sales. You can create a website landing page where you can host the eBook(s) and a link to pay for it.  This requires a little work to create and you will have to do your own advertising to get people to your website.
  4. Sell on a third-party platform. Amazon or iBook’s are the most common place to sell your ebook. The added advantage is this method of distributin your ebook prevents other people from sharing your content. When deciding between iBooks and Amazon, take the time to research which one will pay you the best royalties. The biggests limitation of iBook is that you are knocking out all Windows, Android, & Kindle device users. Amazon tends to be the most popular way to distribute ebooks because of it’s popularity and ability to market globally.

Here are a few hints on creating your eBook for Amazon that you may have overlooked that are worth considering:

Font choices – Using one font is best. Standards are Arial, Times New Roman, or Courier.

Hyperlinks – Make sure they are preserved in your ebook prior to saving and uploading.

Page Numbering – Don’t number your pages as they will be automatically numbered depending on the device read on.

Graphics – Use your own or royalty free. Don’t get sued for using someone else’s graphics.

Cover – Make it dazzle. People really do judge a book by its cover. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words. Use as few words as possible with title and author name. You also want to make sure your cover will still look good when its reduced to a thumbnail.

Last thoughts:

 If you decide to use Amazon, using Kindle Direct Publishing is the best choice. KDP helps you create and design your eBook Amazon’s software. You can also upload your own PDF. Kindle can still help you create a cover even if you have created your ebook prior.

If you are selling or giving away your ebook, you will want to blast the word out. You can have links to where to find your ebook. Post details on your website, social media, or include links in your emails. Offer discounts or free for limited time frames. Lastly, you can bundle the purchase with a course.

Whether you want to make money with your ebook or use it to help sell your other products or services, it will help build your credibility. Hopefully you have now learned some new ideas to make your ebook an even greater success.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

You Thought Building a Website Was Easy?

Think Again!

Building a website is a complicated process and requires a lot of thought. After being involved in building a website for our own business and building websites for our customers, I think I could write a book. It ain’t easy. First there is building a brand-new website. The second is revamping an old one. Both require lots of planning. Whether you are thinking about creating a website or want to update your existing one, I think this blog article will give you a few insights to help you have a better website building experience. Maybe even save you a few dollars.

Before you go to the expense and trouble of building your own or hiring someone, your first step is to determine why you need a website? Is it just to provide information or will it be a place for people to buy your products or services, which means it will require ecommerce integration. If you just need a page or two, you may want to just create an About.Me Page or purchase a do-it-yourself website builder like Weebly, Wix, or Square Space. If all you need is an ecommerce site, you may want to check out Shopify or BigCommerce. That may give you all you need.

If you decide you want a full-blown professional website using WordPress, you will need to choose a web hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator, or Bluehost. You will also need to buy a domain, which you will have to renew each year. While it’s not mandatory, it makes life easier if you buy your domain from your webhosting company. If you can get a discount when you purchase these products, you may want to buy a few years in advance. Next up is purchasing a WordPress Theme. While there are some free ones, they should avoided like the plague. Free Themes can have security issues and may not be current with the continuous  WordPress updates. Our favorite WordPress Theme is Divi, which can be purchased from Elegant Themes. We highly suggest you purchase a SSL certificate to keep your website secure for your customer and give you better ranking in Google searches. Finally, a few extras that we also recommend purchasing from your webhost provider is a backup plan, security protection against hackers, and premium email accounts.  

The SSL Certificate creates the locked padlock and makes your site secure.

As you can see, expect to pay a few dollars right out of the gate. Some of these costs will need to be renewed every year, so keep that in mind. Don’t buy a website package unless you know your business is going to be around for a few years.

Bottom line, you will need to do some research. You want to be sure that you have a website that is modern and responsive for mobile devices, since most of your customers will be seeing your website from their phone or tablet.

Heads up, this is just as important! You need to pay a lot of attention to how you want your website to look. Here are a few things to consider:

  1.  Audience – Know who you are building your website for. Do you have one ideal customer or several? Make sure your website answers the questions they will be asking when they visit your website.
  2. Colors and Fonts – It supports your brand identity and sets the tone of what your customers can expect from you. The rule of thumb for the color is one dominant color, one complimentary and one background. You may want to check out some color psychology articles to make sure you pick colors that will attract your desired audience. Font choices should be complimentary and limited to 2 or 3 max.
  3. Layout – How many pages do you want? How do you want the layout for each page? For example, a 4-page layout would have a Home page, About page, a Services or Product page, and a Contact page.  A 5-page layout would also include a Blog page.
  4. Content – It is a good idea that even if you are hiring someone to write your content, that you write some basic information to give your content/web designer an idea of what you want to express to your customers. Otherwise they won’t know what you want, and you may not like what they write. Save everyone time, anguish, and money.
  5. Graphics – Go find the graphics and photos you want. Ask your web designer what size they should be, so you get the right size and make sure they are clear.
  6. Tag Line – Create a compelling tag line. It will surely be the first thing they see when they click your website. Wow them if you can.
  7. Email Subscribe Box – You need a call to action (email subscribe box) so that people who visit your site are willing to give you their contact information before they bounce. Our suggestion is offering some sort of free gift. Like a free eBook, white paper, or free consultation that they would like and has value. If they want it, they will have to surrender their email. That is your goal. Make sure you already have an email platform (ex. MailChimp) to store that email address. You can add a subscribe or sign up button on your website that links to your email program.
  8. Social Media – You can also add your social media links to your website like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  9. SEO – you will want to do some research or work with your web designer to determine what are the right key words to have on your website. This helps optimize your website and blog for Google searches.
  10. Google Analytics – To track your website’s performance, you will need to have your website connected with Google’s web tools.

One of the biggest issues we have noticed in working with our customers when building their websites, is that some of them have not thought out what they really want in advance. They leave it to the web designer. It sets someone up for disappointment.

You may love it, or you may hate it. Do some research before you hire someone. Check out your competitors. What colors are they using? Do you like their choices or do you want a different look? The website you are building, or redoing represents you. Make sure you love it.  It is the face of your business.

Doing his website due diligence.

WEBSITE CHECKLIST

With this information, you will be better prepared to create the website you want and will be proud of. Most importantly, your website will attract your prospects and turn them into customers.

  • Determine need of Website
  • Web Hosting Company and fees
  • Domain and fees
  • Email Addresses
  • SSL
  • Color (3) and Fonts (3)
  • Graphics
  • Content
  • Number of Pages
  • Call to Action
  • Email Subscribe Button (have an email program)
  • Social Media Buttons (at least 1 or 2 social media programs)
  • SEO – keywords
  • Blog Articles (optional)

P.S.  One last thought. Think about who will maintain your website after its built? You can’t just set it and forget it. Websites need to be updated with content and and monitored for various software updates. Regardless of who is going to maintain your website I suggest you ask your web designer for the user id and password used to set up the website. This way you will still be in control and will never be held hostage.  You can use that web designer, someone else, or yourself to do the additional updates that will absolutely be needed.  But own your own website “keys”.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

What in the World Is GDPR?

Are you ready for GDPR? Do you even know what GDPR is? Well, if you use email marketing to promote your business, listen up. GPDR is being implemented on May 25, 2018. If you have ANY European customers – you need to know about this.

The General Data Protection (GDPR) is a new Europen Union data protection and privacy regulation. It specifically protects the export of personal data outside the EU. The intention of the new law is to give Europeans more control over their personal information. How this affects American businesses is that our email marketing practices must now take into account these regulations.

One component of the regulation is that you MUST have verifiable consent for any European email subscribers on your list. This means you need written documentation on when and how your European prospects and/or customers agreed to be on your email list.

 

 

For the most part, if you are already working with a professional email marketing provider they’ve probably got your back. As a MailChimp customer, the Launch4Life team has already received several emails and blog posts alerting us to this new regulation. Since MailChimp already has strict rules in place about having verifiable consent for all email subscribers – for us it’s business as usual.  However, if you haven’t heard anything from your email marketing provider, we suggest you get in touch with them ASAP. You just want to make sure there’s no change to your standard email marketing protocol.

The implementation of GDPR next month is is just another reason to make sure you never manually add people to your email list without their consent. With all the SPAM regulations that are currently in place in the U.S. and Canada, and soon Europe, there is obviously a growing need to protect people’s privacy.

 

 

Last week I received an email from a business colleague I know in Toastmasters. He sent the email to me and 148 other people. He used his Gmail account and put all of our names and personal email addresses in the TO field. I let him know how upset I was with what he had done. He not only gave my email address away to 148 people I don’t now, but also made me vulnerable to any SPAM bot programs residing on their computers. Doing things like this is not cool.

Always remember that if someone gives you their email address it should be treated with confidence and respect. Practice the golden rule of email marketing – “market to others as you would have them market to you.”

As we entrepreneurs and independent business professionals expand our customer base globally, it’s imperative we “play by the rules” at home and abroad. For this very reason, it helps to at least know the basics of GDPR now before it’s implemented next month.

 

GDPR Resources

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

*A helpful guide (in plain english) from the folks at MailChimp

 

Data Protection: Rule for the protection of personal data inside and outside the EU

*Full text of the GDPR

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Stop Spamming with Your Email List

 

If I go to a networking event and collect a bunch of business cards, can I add them manually to my email marketing program? Maybe. It depends on the circumstances. If you asked them if you could put them on your list, YES you may. Ask them to write “yes to email” on the card so you have evidence. If you didn’t ask or you didn’t hear an explicit yes, then NO you may not add them to your email list. Here is the question I am asked a lot, “Surely it is ok to add these people if I have an “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of my email, right?” Not so fast. The front end subscribe is as important or even more important than the unsubscribe button at the back end. Email subscribers must be permission based.

Many people argue that it is ok to add the names now, beg for forgiveness later if they get caught. Doing it the right way from the get go, not only keeps you out of trouble from violating your email program’s terms and conditions, it keeps you out of trouble with the CAN SPAM and CASL laws, and it is the best way to grow your list. The people on it should be the people who are interested in hearing from you. People who want to learn from you. People who will probably buy your products or services down the road, or at the very least refer you to other potential buyers. Your email list should be permission based. So why jeopardize it with subscribers who didn’t give you permission to be added to your list. Some email providers do offer exceptions with the “permission based”.  Some will allow you to add people that are called “implied consent”.  These would be people that you have as customers.  It is ok to add them to your email list, for casual email blasts but I wouldn’t add them to a newsletter list. If they didn’t sign up for the newsletter they may unsubscribe. Besides, why would you want someone on your list that doesn’t want to be.

If you ignore the terms and conditions and you end up with a lot of unsubscribes or accused of SPAMMING, you may get questioned by your email provider and are at risk of having your program suspended or cancelled. In case you are one of those people who are skeptics and would argue I am wrong, I have added a few links at the bottom of this article to add credibility to my advice. Grow it right and your email list will give you golden opportunities to share your message and drive sales.

Hey look, I know it is hard to build that list. You have made the wise decision to have an email program and you want to grow that list. This news is frustrating. I don’t want to have this blog be all about gloom and doom. Below are some tips to help grow the list, the right way.

Ways to get people to subscribe to your list.

 

  1. If you are a guest speaker at an event, pass around a sheet that clearly asks, “Would you like me to stay in touch, join my email list”.  Have the meeting and date at the top of the sheet. They can add their names. Totally voluntary. You have clear evidence that they gave you permission.
  2. Add a subscribe button to your website. Add a subscribe button to your Facebook Business Page. Blog articles or Ads, or Social Media posts can encourage people to subscribe to your list.
  3. Put a subscribe button on your tablet or mobile phone. When you are at meetings you can suggest they subscribe. Hand them your tablet or mobile, so they can sign up right on the spot.
  4. You got those business cards. Send them a personal email reminding them how they met you and invite them to join your list and have a link in the email for them to sign up. That is not spamming. By the way, great place to let them know about your “lead magnet”.

Links to learn how to keep you business email program out of trouble. Know your audience and what is expected of you.  Forewarned is forearmed.

 

Save these links for later reference.

 

Definition of SPAM: https://www.spamhaus.org/consumer/definition/

Here is iContacts SPAM policy: https://www.icontact.com/legal/anti-spam-policy

Here is Constant Contacts SPAM Policy: https://www.constantcontact.com/legal/anti-spam

Here is Infusionsoft’s SPAM policy: https://www.infusionsoft.com/legal/aup

Here is MailChimp’s SPAM policy:  https://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/compliance-tips/the-importance-of-permission AND https://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/compliance-tips/terms-of-use-and-anti-spam-requirements 

NOTE:  Both Infusionsoft and MailChimp takes SPAM so seriously that they are already adhering to CASL (Canada’s Laws) and require you ALWAYS have EXPLICIT permission and proof. By the way, new rules are coming out for dealing with Europe. Important to know if you have International Clients.

Regarding Governing Agencies: 

CAN-SPAM ACT (USA)

 https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/statutes/controlling-assault-non-solicited-pornography-marketing-act-2003-can-spam-act

FCC (USA)

Regulations about mobile communications (texting and SPAM) that are now also extending to regulations on commercial email:  https://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/canspam.pdf

CASL (Canada)

https://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/compliance-tips/about-the-canada-anti-spam-law-casl

NOTE: CASL also applies to Americans who send emails to Canadians – law permits only EXPLICIT permission based emails.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com