Yelp reviews now on Bing local searches

It is official. Days after Google's new rating and review system came into existence, search giant and competition Bing is now boosting their search results with Yelp's reviews. Yelp is big, and reviewers on yelp are growing everyday. Yelp is now present in many countries just like Google. This move would be seen as a  step forward that Microsoft is definitely not out of the game, yet. But will yelp help Bing become a better search engine and gain some of the market share? Too soon to predict that. Since there has been so much talk about reviews and ratings, it makes one wonder how many reviews and ratings and word of mouth companies will come into existence as this space is clearly at its infancy.

Reviewer gets more importance in Google Plus Local reviews and ratings

Google merged Google Places into their social network Google Plus. Yes, it makes sense. It does make sense to involve people into the places since people are spending more and more time on social networks. As we read this, Google Chrome has already surpassed Internet Explorer as the world's most popular browser. With 97% of people already searching for local businesses, was Google after the remaining few percentages of people? No. This is just a move forward in how social networks are going to be in future--a single place for us to hang out, chat, call, shop, entertain ourselves--all from at the press of a button called Google on our desktops!

Back to the topic at hand--It is clear that word of mouth  A.K.A online reviews are becoming more and more important to make shopping easier for buyers. Local business reviews scene has exploded (with even fake posters and companies who sell such services). Google has taken this seriously and hence they bought Zagat to improve their overall reviews and ratings system. Yes, it has taken away some of the good's like 5 stars, which were easy to spot and pleasing to the eyes, but things change for better. 

Few reasons why the new reviews system is better:

1) New reviews and rating system gives user more insights into experience of other customers with the business, simply because their review system has more factors.
2) There is less chance of reviewer being fake since everybody needs to be on social network
3) Ratings are more important now. As pointed out in the summary in the pic, ratings are clearly indicated as bad, good or excellent.
4) Reviews by more frequent reviewers (or the top reviewers) will be given more value now. How much exactly ? We do not know, and what exactly does this mean in terms of direction of reviews and ratings remains to be seen.
5) Now the pricing info also shows up right next to the reviews for restaurants. For me, overall price is a big factor in purchase decision, and hence this new element to review is going to be very important.

Forming communities of customers is a way forward. Having customers connected to you is the best way to market your business. More customers who are ready to write good reviews for you, the more business you will get online. We will keep you posted on more about the new reviews and rating system.

Keeping customers through blogging--blogs are like reviews written by yourself

Blogs are underestimated, at least that is how it looks like. Most of the social media agencies who handle blogs for businesses fill the blog with repetitive and banal information. Rarely does the blog go beyond talking about services and coupons of their business. Worse, Google doesn't like such blogs with repetitive content. Blog is a important space for so many reasons, and I feel companies need to tap into the potential of blogs.

1) We can use blogs to announce meaningful updates related to the business.
2) We can use blogs to show knowledge and ability to educate people who are searching for information
3) Updated blogs builds trust with customers since they feel you are taking active interest in your company and that you care--hence you are a business who cares about their customers too.
4) Technology companies and persons can build brand and be known in certain niche once users know that you blog regularly about certain topics.
5) Blogs can be used for building meaningful links to the website giving more visibility to your site.
6) Blogs can be used to show examples of handling customer complaints or to thank the customers. Again everything contributes to how people think about your business and such information from you can only persuade more customers that you are reliable.

Still don't believe it? Am I just saying this? OK, imagine you have to pick a company between Keepcustomer and company ABCXYZ for your "Internet stuff", which company would you pick? Of course I know you will Google them. What after you find the below search result page for the search "Google Local reviews and ratings?"

Full screenshot to view other blogs on the same page:

That was our blog from last week, more analysis for the new Google local changes are coming in our next few blogs.

 Point made, blogs are important and we all should use them to our advantage. Since as a company our top focus is word of mouth and customer retention, we help customers disseminate customer experiences on their blogs and also use the blog to build brand (and hence get more customers).

Google+Local Pages now in search results, 1 more tool to suppress negative feedback

The new changes in Google local space are creating a lot of confusion for the time being. For now, businesses and marketers need to give Google time to settle. No matter what the changes are, local business search continues to dominate the search engines and there are plenty of review sites for finding out about a particular business in your area.

There is a interesting thing of note that marketers will now pay attention to (or at least they should)--Google+Local pages of businesses now pop up in search results for local searches. We already know about popularity of Google plus results in search engines. Google Plus is supposed to be collecting fresh content from everywhere, and hence gets preference over other search results. This means now Google Local plus results will be in top results for all the local queries. This is a great for 2 reasons:

Google plus local pages on search results

1) Google+ Local page is like a new website for all businesses.
2) The search result can now be used to displace any bad review site on the search results page.

It is not necessary that it will displace your bad reviews listing from search results, but there is a good chance that it will. So how can business owners and word of mouth marketers take advantage of it? By encouraging customers to be part of the circles on local pages, we can increase relevant content on plus page and use it to our advantage. More the content and more engagement will almost guarantee plus page to show up in search results.

How much does facebook really influence word of mouth?

Is Facebook going to become a calendar that we go to and see what our plans are for tomorrow? It doesn't look like so. Is it going to make people leave the friend-chat and actually buy a jewelry by clicking on an ad? (possible, but how much is debatable).

While Facebook tries to prove advertisers about the value of ads on their network, I feel facebook will not truly become the power it should until Facebook creates a recommendation engine based on people's preferences (anything that points to the fact that some purchase is about to happen).  Let me give an example:

 John is a plumber is New York city area. John uses Facebook to keep in touch with his friends and he finds out that he can promote his plumbing business at the same time. How? By starting conversations about his service. His near friends on facebook and not so close friends now know who to call next time the shower is clogged (even after using Draino). So John successfully used Facebook to grow business. Say if Facebook starts recommending John to somebody who is in the friendlist of John's friend, Facebook becomes a recommendation engine. article shows some evidence to support what we are talking about here, but again, the kind of recommendation engine we are talking about gives John the advantage because John would be recommended by his customers, instead of his friends (who know nothing about plumbing or haven't bought from John). Essentially, instead of being confronted with an Ad, which a consumer would have to again research online, the consumer can be directly connected to business if the business is recommended by customers of the business.

Cut to chase: Facebook needs word of mouth recommendation rather than forced ads. People like things that they trust. People chose things when they are recommended by friends (word of mouth that we talk about all time), Facebook has to create that trust among its users. There are other platforms that are available where companies are using Facebook to create referrals, but will Facebook do it? That remains to be seen.

Word of mouth marketing spending to increase by 14.5% in next 2 years

Word of mouth marketing is not new, it has always been existing. Internet marketing focused on ad spaces, SEO, social media and other forms of direct and indirect marketing, but now word of mouth is making some serious inroads. WOMM budget is growing rapidly since the last 3 years and it will continue to be on top of every marketing firm's Internet marketing agenda. Spending money to make your customers your marketers is smart marketing. It is inexpensive compared to most of the other marketing tactics, but its real rewards are far beyond getting customers for your business.

  1. WOM marketing and keeping customers is the best way to secure your business. If you have customers, and your customers are so happy with you that they give your referrals, offline and online word of mouth, then you are doing something right. You can sleep well, and you will not worry about getting new customers all the time since you know you already have returning customers.
  2. WOM not only secures you, but it makes customers feel more secure about your business. Think about it, won't a customer think good about your business if you are proactive in asking your customers about their experiences? This itself goes a long way in establishing trust for your business and place you in the top half of companies doing business.
Considering the amount of customers businesses lose just because of ignoring customers, it is safe to say that word of mouth is definitely the marketing channel no business can ignore. The rise of womm budgets is just a  indicator of things to come. 

Source: Forbes and related websites. Article written by engineer from