Responding to Unfavorable Online Reviews

Getting a bad review online can be maddening, but don’t make it worse by responding without putting in a lot of thought to how your own response will be perceived by other future customers.

I have a client who had a very poor review. When you are in business, you can’t please everyone, but in this case the office manager shot off a rebuttal that when I read it, I just cringed. It made a bad situation much worse. It portrayed the office staff as angry, resentful, argumentative, and vindictive. OUCH!

Sometimes a bad review can be a wakeup call. When you get a bad review, step back and look at it, could it be truthful, or have a grain of truth to it? It is very important to take a careful look to make sure that there is not a change needed on your part such as a change in office policy, customer service, or staff retraining.

If you feel that a rebuttal must be made. Focus on the positive, express concern for a problem, offer special attention from top management to repair the situation. Encourage the reviewer to recontact the office for a refund, redo, or credit on future service. Don’t write a hot rebuttal that trashes the reviewer or accuses them of being unfair or dishonest. This will only work to hurt you and make you look like the review was really true based on your hot angry response.

You can’t fight unfair reviews, but you can work to soften the blow and maybe even become better by taking the review as constructive criticism. Just be careful in your response and work to repair a poor situation not to make it worse with your own comments.

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Know Your Cost Per Acquisition to Be Profitable with AdWords

To use pay per click advertising successfully you really need to know what your cost per acquisition is or rather how much you are willing to spend to get a new customer and still have profit left over. Without knowing your cost per acquisition, you can actually be paying Google AdWords for each new customer sale you make or each new customer your get. Google will work hard to spend your money, but it is your job to make AdWords profitable for you.

So, do you know how much it costs for each customer? How to you figure this out? A lead conversion in Google AdWords does not mean a sale. The formula for each business is different. One of my clients told me that for their business, it takes 10 leads to make a sale. Typically the higher the value or price of your service, the more lead conversions you will need to make a sale.

AdWords will track the lead conversions for you, but you need to track sales generated and each month look at the sales generated, total spent on advertising in all areas and then extrapolate to determine your cost per acquisition. In some cases when clients review this information they find which avenue is a better lead generator for their business or that one is more cost effective to use than another. Without this additional information and careful review, you may be spending more than you should on generating new business.

Once you know your desired or average cost per acquisition, Google AdWords has some excellent tools to help balance your traffic and cost per click to keep you within your profit restraints. The conversion optimizer with a maximum cost per acquisition setting is an excellent tool. You can balance what you want to spend with what Google recommends. Remember however that Google is in the business to serve clicks and you need conversions and sales so make sure that the setting you use does not stretch your margin too tightly.

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Are You Watching Your Website Stats? Why Not?

You can’t find out if your website is working for you if you never take a look at your website statistics! It is great to have a website and every business should have one, but sometimes just having one is not enough. Sometimes you need to “nurture” and “feed” your website to help it be the best promotion vehicle in your advertising arsenal.

When I say “nurture” and “feed” your website I mean specifically know what your website visitors are looking for when they come to visit, how long they stay, and what they do when they get there. I have found in many cases by a careful analysis of website statistics will allow us to recommend new pages, optimization, and areas for enhanced engagement with readers. Here’s just one example: from the integrated web search report we get for a client we found over and over that users were searching for a specific product. Based on this information, to make it easy for them to find it and to feed sales, we created new content on the home page to speak to this need and point readers to the shopping and more information sections on the product. In other cases, reviewing Google Analytics, we have found new search terms to use for optimization of content, new terms for AdWords programs, and services that readers are looking for and possibly not finding.

One key indicator to review in Google Analytics is a page’s bounce rate. Over 75% and you have some challenges that you need to address as your readers are not finding what they want or you are directing untargeted traffic to the page with pay per click programs and may need to add negative keywords to your program to cut costs and be more targeted.

A careful review of  your website statistics can be used to really review your online health. It is more than a gage of how many visitors you have a day, the wealth of information can help you develop new services, cater to an audience, and more carefully target pay per click advertising. As Google Analytics is free, there is simply no reason you should not be tracking and reviewing what is going online with your website.

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Alternative Browsers: Have You Tried One?

All the sudden IE9 simply would not allow me to login to my Google AdWords MCC control panel. I am sure it was a change in an update to a security setting done by an automatic update. For a full week I pulled my hair out. I tried to troubleshoot the problem, dropped my cookies, deleted my cache, tried to import cookies from a computer that allowed me on, tweaked registry settings; all to no avail. I was simply locked out with a grey screen.

Sounds like maybe no big deal, right? However if you spend hours and sometimes all day on Google AdWords, as I do for clients, this was a REALLY big deal. In fact, so big I decided that maybe it was time to simply move to a new browser and scrap IE9. I had Firefox installed and also Google Chrome. My assistant swears by Chrome but that is because IE9 works quirkily on his Windows 7 64 bit computer.

I really tried to like Firefox, really! I migrated everything there for two full weeks and worked exclusively with that browser. What I found was that I could get on AdWords just fine but there were two things that I really hated.

  1. On downloading files – which I do a lot of from writers sending me things via YouSendIt.com, the save file as interface is goofy and not streamlined. There simply was no way to streamline the interface.
  2. I hated the bookmark tool. IE9 does have Firefox beat when it comes to bookmarks, organization, and showing them while browsing.

I really tried to like Google Chrome too! I lasted about two days with this browser. Sure it was speedy, but the big drawback was bookmarks. As I live by my bookmarks having to check writers on our client blogs, I have an extensive listing of bookmarks and logins that are used daily and more than daily. I don’t want to hunt around and I want things to be in the order I determine.

Guess what? I am back on IE9 now for everything except Google AdWords, and there I use Firefox. I just simply like the elegance of the browser chrome (frame surrounding the screen), I really like how bookmarks are done and managed, and I really like the very simple streamlined interface for saving files with one “save as” drop down.

Now in your case, you may swear by Firefox, or you may love Google Chrome, but if you have never tried either one I recommend that you do. You won’t personally know which is best for your own needs until you really give them a go. In fact did you know that Chrome is now 20% of the browsing market as of just this past week? Internet Explorer has shrunk to 59% of the market and Firefox has dropped to 28% according to StatCounter. (Read the article.) Take them both for a test drive and see what you think. You may be like me and say ahh, there is no place like IE9!

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EchoSign for Fast Online Contract Signatures

I lost a project with a client last week as the client said that signing a contract and faxing his copy was too archaic and troublesome for him as he is totally digital. I hate to lose any project for any reason and I thought “hmm, maybe the client has a point?” With our firm serving clients worldwide it can be troublesome for some to fax long distance, some clients may not have a scanner to send a copy by email, so I started looking for alternatives.

Here are two sources that I have found that you may want to check out too if you are faced with the same issue:

EchoSign
This is the site that I will be using as I am allowed to use the service free for a set number of signatures a month. Once I find out I like it and use it, I may move to the basic paid program of $14.95 per month. (The will pay me a commission if you click my link and buy, but that is not why I am mentioning them to you.)

I like the interface, it is super easy to use and works fast and sends you and the signer copies that can be printed when the signing process is completed. If you sign up for the free account, you can get five signatures a month free. This allows you to try it out send a few to yourself as tests. If you connect your Twitter account to the application to shout out when you close a contract, you get ten more free signatures to use. I think that this is the perfect solution for my sometime situation.

RightSignature
I really liked the look and feel of this application, but for me on a free trial the document would not load. Never moved past 10% loaded with a Word document or PDF file. If they get this kind worked out, this one could be good.

DocuSign
I really liked this application and if I do a lot of online signing, I will most likely move to this application but with a fee of $24.95 a month it was too rich for me to use when I am not sure I will use it frequently. What I liked was the ability to add a phone number verification before the client could open the document. This makes knowing who you are dealing with much better. Although the interface is much more complicated to use, it seemed more secure, allowed for mouse signature signing (you write your signature by moving your mouse), and just overall seemed more robust and a good match for lawyers and real estate agents.

I don’t want to ever lose another sale by making our sign up process too complicated. You may want to consider this as an alternative for your contract signing process too.

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Google: Get Over PageRank – Move On!

June 30th, on the Google Webmaster blog talked about how webmasters and site owners should move on beyond measuring site success by the Google Toolbar PageRank. The post explains that Toolbar reported PageRank in NOT the same as their patented algorithm PageRank which determines organic placement.

Susan tells webmasters:

“If you look at Google’s Technology Overview, you’ll notice that it calls out relevance as one of the top ingredients in our search results. So why hasn’t as much ink been spilled over relevance as has been over PageRank? I believe it’s because PageRank comes in a number, and relevance doesn’t. Both relevance and PageRank include a lot of complex factors—context, searcher intent, popularity, reliability—but it’s easy to graph your PageRank over time and present it to your CEO in five minutes; not so with relevance. I believe the succinctness of PageRank is why it’s become such a go-to metric for webmasters over the years; but just because something is easy to track doesn’t mean it accurately represents what’s going on on your website.” Read the full article.

The bottom line is that you totally should disregard the Google Toolbar PageRank as an indicator of health or success of your website. Instead you should focus on the following:

  1. Bounce Rate
  2. Click Through Rate
  3. Conversion Rate

A website owner can track all of these metrics using Google Analytics or other premium website statistics program. As Google now only updates the Toolbar PageRank once to twice a year and it is not an accurate representation of what is really happening on your website, now is the time to make a paradigm shift and focus on what is really happening that you can see yourself on a daily basis back on your website using statistics YOU can read.

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