Tag Archives: Online shopping

How to Get More Positive Customer Reviews, Using Get Five Stars

By Vedran Tomic –

Online reviews have become important — and positive reviews are crucial for businesses.  Two customer review trends are important to know.  First, prospective customers are increasingly relying on online reviews to make purchasing decisions.  Second, there’s been an explosion in fake reviews online.  It’s gotten so bad, that sites like Yelp and the New York  Attorney General have been cracking down on fake reviews.

Where does this leave small businesses?

Businesses have an increasing need to get positive customer reviews. At the same time, small businesses also have to keep things ethical, even in the face of competitors who may be playing dirty.  A product called “Get Five Stars” can help satisfy both of these needs.

What is Get Five Stars?

Get Five Stars is an online app or tool that guides you through the process of how to get positive customer reviews.  It helps you:

  • request testimonials and reviews from legitimate customers;
  • identify which customers are less than happy or giving negative reviews, so you can attempt to turn them back to positive;
  • encourage customers to share their positive reviews online at major review sites;
  • place reviews and testimonials on your own website in a Google-friendly way, leading to greater visibility in search; and
  • monitor new reviews on public review sites as an ongoing reputation management process, so you can stay informed and be proactive.

After all, if a customer is willing to recommend your business, don’t you want to show that review off?  And don’t you want as many other prospective customers to see it as possible?

Plus, the proactive nature of Get Five Stars helps you catch negative reviews.  That way, you can attempt to resolve any issues before they cause lasting harm.

In essence, Get Five Stars gives you a process and shows you how to get positive customer reviews.  It helps you organize and streamline the process of requesting and displaying customer reviews, and increasing their visibility online. That way you can make the most of them for online visibility and to convince new shoppers to buy from you.

How to Get Positive Customer Reviews – Getting Started

The process to request reviews from your existing customers is straight forward.  Right in the dashboard, business owners can insert customer names and email addresses.  You could add customer data from your invoicing system, a Contacts app, or a CRM database — or insert it manually.

Then, of course, you are going to want to communicate with customers.  To do that, you call up pre-built email templates (see image below).

How to get positive customer reviews using Get Five Stars

Customize your email message, and then send it to your customer requesting feedback.

It’s a two-step process with customers. As part of the process, you:

  • Ask them to rate your business privately first.
  • Then after you have a chance to review the feedback, if it’s positive you can ask the customer to go to a public review site to leave feedback there, too. If it’s not so positive, you have a chance to fix it.

The process is kicked off when the customer receives an email that looks like the image below, with an invitation to leave a review by clicking a big button “Provide Feedback”:


Simple Review Process Based on Net Promoter Score

Customers are busy.  Most don’t have the time to spend writing a long review or filling out a lengthy survey.  The beauty of Get Five Stars is that the review system is easy peasy.

Get Five Stars uses the Net Promoter approach to customer feedback.  There are just two short text fields to fill in — the title of the review,  and a brief comment with a maximum of 250 characters.

Customers then are asked one question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”  Customers then rate the business from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best (i.e., most likely to recommend).  The customer simply moves a sliding scale button to rate (see below).

Net promoter scores - how to get positive customer reviews

If a customer answers by giving a rating below a 7, then the small business gets the information and can follow up. In this way, potentially negative reviews can be addressed proactively.

Some small business owners and managers may not be familiar with the Net Promoter feedback scoring system.  The app gives the business owner a little tutorial on Net Promoter scores in a popup window.

Once the customer feedback is returned, you have a place in the dashboard where you can see all your feedback.  Then from there, you can send out another followup communication to customers that left positive feedback, asking them to leave the review on various public review sites such as Google, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, Facebook and other places.  On the app’s dashboard you choose which review sites you want to request the customer to leave a review on.  Remember, you can’t place the review on the site for them — but the app makes it easy for you to request and assist the customer to do so.

Interestingly, co-founder Don Campbell downplayed Yelp when we spoke with him.  He said seeking out Yelp reviews may not help you. “Unless the reviewer is an avid Yelper the review is often filtered out and doesn’t show up publicly on Yelp,” due to Yelp’s algorithms.  Also, he points out, the app’s language does not actually request leaving a Yelp review. It is against Yelp’s guidelines to ask for reviews.  Therefore, the app simply includes a small message in the email asking customers to visit the business’s page on Yelp.

Place Testimonials on Your Website

The reviews you get back can also be embedded on a page on your company’s website (see below) using a small embedded bit of  javascript code.  There’s also a WordPress plugin to put the testimonials into WordPress sites.

Embeddable review unit from Get Five Stars

The embedded testimonials also appear as HTML on your website page. The reason that’s important is that when they are in HTML format, the reviews can get indexed by search engines.  Reviews are structured using the format, a markup language that Google understands.  That means they can under certain circumstances show up in the snippet of text presented in Google search result pages.  When you have gold review stars appearing near your website name on a search page, it helps your brand stand out.

Getting too many reviews too quickly can be almost as bad or worse than too few reviews. To a search engine or review site getting too many too fast may seem suspicious. So let’s say you start using the product and do a one-time communication to all your recent customers asking for reviews.  You’re going to get a lot of reviews back.  You may not want to display them all or encourage all those customers to leave public reviews, at one time.   The business owner or manager has control over the timing.

Monitor Reviews at Public Review Websites

Get Five Stars also monitors key review sites, as part of an ongoing reputation management process. You get a dashboard that is regularly updated, to see how many reviews you have and the average rating (below).

Monitor reviews at public review websites

This way you don’t have to visit each of the review sites separately.  The Get Five Stars system will also send you an email when a new review appears.

According to co-founder Don Campbell, by being proactive you can have a big impact on how your company is presented to the world.  He described the case study of an optometrist that had just one review showing on Yelp and it was a very bad “1 star” review.  The optometrist knew this customer.  His frames had broken, but that incident had been fixed.   The optometrist KNEW the customer had been made happy.  In that case the optometrist was able to contact the customer.

The monitoring dashboard would help to let you know so that you could contact the reviewer and ask him to update the review if you know the issue has been resolved. Or you could leave a message yourself clarifying inaccurate information in the review, such as a restaurant review that gives a bad rating for a dish your establishment does not even offer.

Using Get Five Stars just as a review management platform would mean only scratching the surface of what this tool has to offer. Get Five Stars is capable of serving as a proactive reputation management mechanism.  If you use the tool to its full potential, it can pay for itself many times over.

Who “Get Five Stars” is Best For

Get Five Stars is ideal for B2C businesses with large customer bases as well as service businesses, especially professional service businesses.  If you are serious about using data to improve your systems to grow sales and increase customer loyalty, then Get Five Stars can make the end-to-end process efficient and manageable.

The Get Five Stars system is a cloud software service.  You access it and use it online.  It is designed to review a business, not review individual products.

It’s priced at $29.95 per month (discounted to $24 per month if you pay annually).  There a 15-day free trial offer, too.  No credit card is required for the trial.

This app is designed to be used by a single business, a business with multiple locations, or an agency (such as a marketing agency) managing a number of  businesses.  The individual business can also manage their reviews directly even if they get access through an agency.  Discounts are available for agencies. Even small marketing agencies managing four businesses will find it cost effective and a time saver.

The Get Five Stars system was developed by Mike Blumenthal, an expert in local search, and Don Campbell and Thomas Hasch from Expand2Web.  The company is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Online Retail Is Booming And Reductions In Shipping Costs Can Save A Fortune.

amazon-warehouse-2 On the face of it, mail order and internet retail have much in common. However, the ease with which customers can make purchases online has meant that latter has had far more of an impact on the way we shop for goods than the former. While mail order businesses occupied a relatively small niche, e-commerce is now the norm with thousands of businesses dispatching products to their customers every single day.

Overheads and costs

But while online retailers benefit from having fewer overheads, there are still costs associated with this way of doing business. Chief among these are shipping related costs. Every purchase must be dispatched via post or courier and this costs money. However, it’s the same for every firm. The key is to carry out the task as efficiently as possible in order to steal an advantage.

Time is money

What takes up people’s time in a warehouse? Where time can be saved, so can money. A great deal of time is spent either packaging goods or keeping records and both processes can be accelerated with the right approach.

It is important to have the right tools at your disposal. In the case of packaging, this means appropriately sized bags and boxes which are easy to fill and seal. It might take five seconds to fill one type of packaging and 10 seconds to fill another. These are seemingly insignificant amounts of time, but extrapolate that to a full working day, week or year and an extraordinary amount of time can be saved. When people know what type of packaging to use, where to find it and how to secure it, goods will fly out of the warehouse and more will be achieved.

Record keeping is of course important, but if you take advantage of modern technology, time can be saved here too. Most courier firms offer software which will allow you to print your own dispatch labels and you can then put together a system where products are associated with their tracking codes. As soon as you have printed a label, the data is recorded automatically.

Loading the van

At the end of the working day, the packages will be collected. A great deal of time can be saved here as well. If you are loading packages onto a van or wagon individually, this will be a laborious, time-consuming task. However, if you invest in appropriate equipment, it can be completed in a jiffy.

The exact equipment you need will very much depend on what you send out each day. It may be that a simple platform truck, trolley or sack truck will be sufficient, or it might be that you need a pallet truck – perhaps even a forklift. Using equipment like this will save staff time and allow them to concentrate on other tasks.


Many online retailers have expanded rapidly and their warehouses haven’t always kept pace with overall growth, clinging to working practices which are best suited to small operations even when shipping volumes have mushroomed. It might be worth reviewing methods to see whether greater efficiency might be achieved. Sometimes seemingly minor changes within a warehouse can lead to enormous savings, particularly when shipping is one of a business’s greatest overheads.

Ian Bagshawe encouraged his manager to invest in a pallet truck from and his firm found this simple move saved several hours of time each day.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

An Executive Guide to Choosing the Right Courier Service

new_courierAt one time if you wanted to send something from one place to another you used the post. Courier services are a relatively new phenomenon, first appearing in the UK around the late 1970s and growing out of taxi services. They typically offer additional features when compared to normal postal systems. These include fast service and same day and guaranteed delivery windows. Originally couriers would often be used to transport urgent documents but the use of email has seen a shift in the business model. The growth of courier services now is partly down to the boom in mail order deliveries thanks to Internet shopping and partly to more businesses using ‘just in time’ production methods.

Courier companies range from small ‘man and a van’ operations to large companies, with medium sized local companies somewhere in between. Larger companies are likely to offer extra services such as deliveries to overseas locations or the ability to handle awkward or fragile loads.

If you need a courier service then it’s important to look for one that’s going to be responsive to your business needs. That means having the flexibility to cope with different sized consignments and to be able to accept jobs and collect packages at short notice. The latter is especially important as one of the main reasons for using a courier is speed. You also need a pricing structure that’s easy to understand so you know you won’t get hit with unexpected charges.

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Courier

  • How fast can they collect?
  • Can they guarantee delivery to your timescale?
  • Do they offer a 24 hour service?
  • Are there limits on size and weight of packages?
  • Is online tracking available?
  • How is proof of delivery provided?
  • Are goods insured in transit?
  • Will there be additional charges?

Some additional features you might want to bear in mind are any special requirements you may have. Do you need to transport hazardous substances or high value items for example? Some couriers specialise in this type of work. If you need to send packages overseas, can the courier company advise you on the customs and taxation requirements needed for a particular destination?

If you’re looking to use a new courier company for the first time then it’s worth checking out their reputation online. Testimonials from happy customers are a good sign; look for recommendations and ratings on popular forum and consumer websites not just on the company’s own site. See if you can contact existing customers too. Be aware that some websites offering courier services merely act as brokers allowing you to compare prices from a range of different services. If you’re using one of these make sure that it gives you enough information about the courier that will actually be used. If you’re in doubt check out the website of the service directly or search online for more information.

Most companies now offer tracking services so that you can see where your parcel is in the delivery process. This gives you additional peace of mind and in many cases you can also give your customer the tracking information so they can see for themselves the status of their delivery.

When it comes to getting in touch, if you contact a courier by phone take note of how quickly they answer the call and how professionally they deal with your enquiry. If you book online make sure there’s a number you can call in the event of problems.

There’s a mass of information available on the Internet so it’s easy to research your chosen courier company. You can find their reputation via customer reviews that will vouch for their reliability, efficiency and price.

It’s easy to select the lowest cost when choosing suppliers for any goods or services. But when you’re looking at a courier service it is, if anything, even more important. If your goods arrive late or damaged then it reflects badly on your own business and you risk losing a customer.

If you require a same day courier, Manchester like other large cities has so many options in the courier business for you to choose from. So get researching and find one that suits your needs.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 Tips For Making Repeat Customers Out Of Online Shoppers

Okay you’ve finally opened your online shop.  How exciting!  Now all you need is shoppers.  Better yet, you need customers, repeat customers! Here are a few tips that will help you earn repeat customers.  Some of the tips are no different than if your store were a physical one yet some of are special to online shopping.

1. Be Attentive, Polite and Courteous

Online shopping can be a bit scary.  Reassure your shopper you are legit with the utmost customer service.  Always, when corresponding with a customer, either over the phone or the Internet, be polite and courteous; be attentive to their needs.  It doesn’t matter how many times it seems you’ve been asked the same question, answer it as though you’ve never heard it before.  Treat each and every shopper as you’d expect to be treated.  And, if needing to get back to a customer, do so in a timely manner.   Superior customer service will help lure shoppers back.

Always follow up with your customer feedback.  You may receive feedback on one of the many forms of social media, directly, or elsewhere, but whatever the case, always acknowledge it.  Take joy when you get complimented but take notice and learn from any negative feedback you may receive. Do not delete negative comments! It may be tempting, but this will only decrease trust in your company. It’s much better to acknowledge and see how you can right the situation.

2. Know Your Market

Know who your buyers are.  Promote your product or service by concentrating on that particular market.  Let people know about you.  Put yourself out there.  Use social media as a form of advertising and if blogging write enthusiastically.

Keep in touch with your customers.  Use email marketing (newsletters, promotions, specials) and again, social media to remind them who you are.  Just be sure not to over do it.  You want to be remembered and thought of not be a nuisance.

3. Have A Respectable Company Web Site

Make sure your site is easy to navigate.  Have it inviting yet simple.  A quality e-commerce platform helps to simplify the shopping process.  The verbiage should be in easy terms and easily understood.  Your return and refund policy needs to be precise and direct.  Keep everything simple and to the point.

When offering online discounts, free shipping, two for one specials, etc, again keep it simple and easy to use and navigate.  There is nothing more frustrating than a website that’s confusing and difficult to use making purchases difficult.  Be user friendly.

4. Offer Free Shipping

Shoppers love free shipping.  It’s a great promotional tool especially when your business is just starting up.  As your business grows, you can still offer free shipping but it is advised to offer it with a set minimum purchase in order to receive it.

5. Ship Internationally

Since you have an online business it may benefit you to ship not just locally but internationally as well.  Being online your store is available world wide; people from all over the globe can view it.  Hopefully, by shipping internationally you will gain recognition, repeat business, and increased revenue.

There are stipulations and additional cost associated with international shipping.  The delivery time and customs often delay the package a bit, but will make it there.  Check with you local post office for rules, regulations, and cost for exact details.

No matter what form your business is, superior customer service and quality products is key to the growth of any business and in getting repeat business.  It’s important to let your customers know you appreciate them and value their business.  Offer the occasional special promotion.  Make them want to purchase again and to spread the word about you.

Cathy West is a freelance writer from California.  She is a domestic diva and a physical fitness enthusiast.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Significance of Lead Scoring in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms – those that allow ‘dripped’ marketing by email, text message or another form of contact – have become incredibly popular as more consumers integrate the internet into their daily lives.

What is ‘Lead Scoring’?

Lead scoring refers to the process of choosing how close a lead is to purchasing based on where they are in the prospect cycle. For instance, if a prospect visits a website and spends two or three minutes browsing around before entering their email address into a form and leaving, they would likely score very low. Conversely, a prospect that has clicked through from a marketing email, browsed an online shop and added items to a shopping cart is likely very close to making a purchase, and would score much higher.

Motivating the Prospect to Take Action

Lead scoring is the best way to make marketing automation software work with high efficiency. Leads that are already close to purchasing or have made a purchase in the past are going to be turned off if they receive marketing material directed at cold prospects and brand new leads. By using a multi-step marketing campaign, leads can be coaxed to higher and higher scores and eventually converted when they are ready to purchase or end up making an impulse buy. Leverage marketing automation software to continually provide more and more motivation for the prospect to respond, and they will take action accordingly.

Creating a Long-Term Conversion Plan

The vast majority of prospects won’t convert the first or second time they are contacted. As a matter of fact, research suggests that prospects – especially those being contacted via email – may take up to ten or more contact points before they are converted into paying customers. This is where marketing automation software comes in handy; these automation platforms never forget about a prospect, and can be set to contact them with new content indefinitely. Invest the time and resources in creating a long-term contact and conversion plan for your prospects and with a few tweaks along the way it is sure to pay off.

Without a doubt, modern marketing automation software platforms offer marketers the ability to connect with leads and prospective customers far better than has been possible in the past. As long as campaigns are planned, executed, analyzed and optimized for improvement, there are few better ways to market to leads generated online.

John is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo marketing software.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Difficulties of Succeeding in Online Retail

Retail in the real world is a tough place. As an independent retailer, there will no doubt be some big competition sitting only a few shop doors away, drawing customers away from you. An independent retailer has to be incredibly strong to survive, particularly during a period of recession when customers are already holding back on how much they spend.

And online, things aren’t really that much easier. So a small retailer online needs to ensure they offer a very attractive proposition to online searchers, one that stops them going over to big, trusted names they already know. A smaller retail website needs to stay very niche and choose a large range of products within a small area of trade.

Staying Niche

I see so many independent shops online trying to be an entire department store, selling all sorts of things. It might work in a physical shop if they have one, but rarely translates online unless you’re a well established store. Stick to something you’re really enthusiastic and knowledgeable about. If you have a shop that sells all sorts of gift items, homewares, collectables and trinkets, your website doesn’t have to exactly reflect that, so choose a few, very strong product ranges and have a website tailored around that. For example, if you sell kitchenware in your shop, you don’t need to have a general kichenware shop, joining all the other sheep out there. Be different, be quirky! Have a website tailored to colourful kitchenware, high-end kitchenware, the list goes on!

Strong Products

Another thing independents will rely on is direct product searches. If their website appears high in Google for specific product terms, you’re going to get a lot of quick wins that way, as long as your pricing is right. If you have the right products, ones that are widely sought after, you’re going to find online retailing much easier. But profits are still a worry, particularly if you’re trying to be the very best on price. You’ll be much better off buying a very rich and diverse product range from your supplier if you can afford it, and your while initial costs will be high, you should be able to achieve a better profit margin.

Be Attractive

Once someone has landed on your website, you need to show them exactly why you are trustworthy and just as good as the major retailers. Show them how quickly you dispatch items, whether you have free delivery and what payment methods you offer. Eliminate all the reasons why people might come off your website, to keep them there and buying from you. You have much more powers of persuasion on the internet than in the real world, as you can show something everything they need to know in one go.

So, be niche not broad. Choose a strong selection of products and give people reasons to buy from you rather than elsewhere.

Saswa is an independent jewellery store in Wales, selling niche ranges such as Carrie Elspeth jewellery.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Insect in a Web – Always with a Spider

It was five in the morning when I headed on to a town next to our city. As I used the bus for transit, I saw a lot of establishments on the sidewalk. I noticed fast food restaurants, printing shops, banks, convenience stores, internet cafés, coffee shops, bars and many other businesses. Epiphany struck me when I realized that many of these businesses have been around for quite a long time. I remember when I was young, I used to play computer games in some of those internet cafés. I even tried skipping classes in order to ace a game among my friends and classmates. I also remember that I usually bought candy in the convenience stores to feed my sweet tooth.

These businesses have created quite an impression to other people and, personally, to me. I could not really imagine how these establishments went through  the years. I could not comprehend their hardships and sufferings, and the people in charge who made it all happen.

Then I got to the town I was heading for. It was not as urbanized as the city I came from. In comparison, it was a little bit silent and hushed. There were some internet cafés and local pubs around the town. Curious enough, I went to one of their internet shops to figure out how technologically advanced or delayed the people were. When I opened the door, I was greeted with a view of over forty computers.  A piece of mounted paper on the wall said the rental rate was less than a half dollar.

As I passed by some computers, I noticed that the computer renters were blogging. Some are outsourcing and promoting other company through online writing. Some others were doing graphic design and web development. I approached one of them and asked how long he has been doing that and he answered, “For almost a year already.” Despite the town’s quietness, the people are indeed catching up with technological advancements.

That was when I realized how  businesses like these internet shops keep up with the industry. Businesses have sub-businesses regardless of how small they may be. The shops have customers who in turn have personal customers. They interminably work together for good. With the people’s resiliency, each contributes to an indirect assistance of sustenance to every business in the web of establishments.

Your author Chris Marentis writes about what he has learned in over 25 successful years in business, he specializes in local search engine marketing at his local internet marketing company Insect in a Web – Always with a Spider.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Are you making something?

the wisdom of Seth Godin

Making something is work. Let’s define work, for a moment, as something you create that has a lasting value in the market.

Twenty years ago, my friend Jill discovered Tetris. Unfortunately, she was working on her Ph.D. thesis at the time. On any given day the attention she spent on the game felt right to her. It was a choice, and she made it. It was more fun to move blocks than it was to write her thesis. Day by day this adds up… she wasted so much time that she had to stay in school and pay for another six months to finish her doctorate.

Two weeks ago, I took a five-hour plane ride. That’s enough time for me to get a huge amount of productive writing done. Instead, I turned on the wifi connection and accomplished precisely no new measurable work between New York and Los Angeles.

More and more, we’re finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren’t. I can appear just as engaged (and probably enjoy some of the same endorphins) when I beat someone in Words With Friends as I do when I’m writing the chapter for a new book. The challenge is that the pleasure from winning a game fades fast, but writing a book contributes to readers (and to me) for years to come.

One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work. The distractions come along with the productivity. The boss (and even our honest selves) would probably freak out if we took hours of ping pong breaks while at the office, but spending the same amount of time engaged with others online is easier to rationalize. Hence this proposal:

The two-device solution

Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.

Go, make something. We need it!


Tags: , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: