Handling Fake Competitor Reviews with Class

November 28th, 2018 Comments off

No business is perfect. At some point, an employee will make a mistake or a customer won’t be satisfied and you’ll end up with an unflattering review. But if you reach out and fix the problem, you may be able to turn that bad review around.

Unfortunately, not all negative reviews are legitimate. In fact, some criticism could be entirely fabricated by your competitors with the intention of tarnishing your hard-earned reputation. The worst part is that research suggests small businesses could lose 22% of their revenue from just one bad online article. Continue reading to learn how to identify and address fake reviews before they ruin your reputation.

Spotting Fake Reviews

It may seem impossible to root out false reviews, but with a few simple tricks you’ll become a pro at catching the counterfeits.

Start by keeping thorough records of every online review mentioning your business. You may want to reference the good ones with customers, and you’ll definitely need to address the bad ones to maintain a clean reputation.

Create a spreadsheet and add columns for each of the following: website address, review, review type, review date, and notes. Next, you’ll want to categorize each review type as positive, neutral or negative. Then, fill in the notes column with any details, including incidents on record or whether you’ve reached out to the individual or website. Finally, open and read each critique and look for these signs of fake reviews:

  • Vagueness — If someone has never been to your store or done business with your company their review may lack detail. Legitimate complaints usually include a name or description rather than generic statements like: “rude and dishonest salespeople.”
  • Me, Me, Me — Deceptive reviewers often default to using more first-person pronouns like “I” and “me”. This is because our brains tend to draw from what we know (ourselves) when fabricating stories.
  • More Doing, Less Seeing — When asked to describe real events, people remember the things they saw and touched. Conversely, when we lie, we usually describe actions because they’re easier to make up.

Reporting Fake Reviews

Once you’ve identified fake reviews it’s time to take action. Unfortunately, many review sites won’t remove complaints unless you can definitively prove that they’re fictitious. But if you gather plenty of evidence to support your claims then they may be willing to help. Try locating sales records and email exchanges, and compare the location of the reviewer to your business address.

While ripoffreport.com won’t remove complaints, reputable sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook are willing to look at dishonest content. Each site has specific guidelines for removing reviews, though, so you should become familiar with individual policies before submitting a grievance.

Responding to Fake Reviews

While removing false reviews should always be your goal, sometimes this just isn’t possible. In these situations, you should submit a rebuttal or response to clarify the situation with readers. However, you’ll need to word your reply carefully so you don’t cause more damage to your reputation. Here are some tips to respond to fake reviews with class:

 

  • Be Patient — Before responding to a fake review, wait to see if it subsides in your search results. Sometimes reviews fall to page 2 or 3 in Google where they won’t be seen. However, responding to them could signal to Google that the content is relevant to your brand, pushing them higher up in the search results.
  • Cast Doubt — Calmly explain that you have no record of an incident that matches the reviewer’s name or situation. State that you take customer service very seriously, and offer to resolve the issue over the phone or via email. Readers may doubt the authenticity of the complaint, and you’ll demonstrate your willingness to fix issues.
  • Talk to the Readers — The author of the fake review will probably never read your response. Therefore, respond in a way that you want potential readers of the complaint to see your company. Using facts and bullet points can also help to build your case.

 

Fake reviews are frustrating and costly, but you don’t have to live with them. Fighting back with class and a strategic plan could be enough to fix your reputation. If you’re still unsuccessful and have the budget, you can turn to more traditional methods like digital marketing and PR to eradicate the negative content. But these techniques often require a substantial long-term investment.

Here’s a quick recap of that strategy again: Record all online reviews about your business. Learn to sniff out fake reviews. Remove what you can, and always respond with the reader in mind. Following this advice will put you on the path to developing a shining reputation for your small business.

 

Jonas Sickler is an expert in crisis communications and online reputation management. His advice has been featured in over 60 publications, including Forbes, Washington Post, CNBC, The Street, U.S. News and Business News Daily. Follow along on Twitter.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Using Two-Step Verification to Keep Your eBay Account Secure

November 15th, 2018 Comments off

A few months ago, I woke up to thousands of dollars of eBay sales.  I couldn’t believe how many iPhones I’d sold!  Unfortunately, I don’t sell iPhones.  Last weekend, the same thing happened to one of my former eBay students.  When she logged onto the site, she noticed that someone had used her account to list five PlayStation gaming consoles and a number of Samsung Galaxy Notes.  She changed her password over and over again, but that wasn’t enough to stop the attack.  Panic time!

 

The problem?  Our eBay accounts were hacked!  In both cases, eBay was alerted immediately, and customer service reps took care of the problem quickly.  Rumor has it that hackers prefer preying on seasoned eBay sellers who have accounts in good standing.  My former student has been buying on eBay for years and is now a successful seller.  And it was pretty obvious why I’d been hacked. I have a feedback score of almost 20,000, I’ve been on eBay since 2005, and I’d recently changed my password to one I’d used for years on numerous other accounts.  But that password change gave hackers the change to move in.  Bad move, Miriam.

 

Blocking hackers from your eBay account – installing two-step verification

Needless to say, I changed my eBay password again and followed the advice of a friend who supports his entire family selling estate sale items on eBay.  My friend cannot afford to have anything happen to his account, so his eBay account is set up for two-step verification.

What is two-step verification?
Basically, in order to log onto eBay, a person has to go through a two-step process.  The first step is inputting your eBay password.    Then, eBay will send you  a security code via text which must be entered as well.  If any of the two steps is not inputted correctly, the person will be blocked from logging in to eBay.

I set up two-step verification on both my eBay and PayPal accounts, and I haven’t had a problem since.

 

How to set up two-step verification in eBay

  1. Click on the “My eBay” link in the upper right-hand corner of the home page
  2. Go to the “Account” tab
  3. Click on the “Personal Information” or “Business Information” link on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Scroll down until you see the “Security Information” section
  5. Under this heading you will see “Two-Step Verification”
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Follow eBay’s instructions on screen to complete the process.

 

How to set up two-step verification on PayPal
If you’d like to set up this feature on PayPal and you have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the summary page, click on “Profile”
  3. Choose “Profile and Settings”
  4. On the left-hand side of the page, click on “My Settings”
  5. Then scroll down and find the “Security Key” section
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Click on “Register a New Mobile Device Number”
  8. Follow PayPal’s instructions on screen to confirm the process.

 

If you do not have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the summary page
  3. Click the “Security” tab on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Go to the “Security Key” section
  5. Click on the link to the right of this section and follow PayPal’s instructions on screen

 

Setting up two-step verification may take a few minutes, but it’s well worth the security it provides.  This extra level of protection will give you peace of mind and will save you time in the future.

 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

7 Online Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

October 12th, 2018 Comments off

Online marketing can open up your business to a whole new world of customers, drive your sales up, and even help you connect with buyers on a deeper level. But what happens when you’re doing it all wrong? Read on to find out how these seven online marketing pitfalls could end up costing you dearly.

1. Not Making Use of Ad Targeting

With online ads, like social media promotions, you can reach tens of millions of people, but the wider you cast your net, the more it will cost you. What you need to focus on is maximizing your ad dollars and that doesn’t mean overspending. It means making the most of the money you do spend. Geo-targeting your ads to reach only the users who have access to your products, or targeting the age groups your product is geared towards will give you more revenue for your ad spend. Plus, it will save you from wasting money on users who are very unlikely to become customers.

2. Undervaluing Social Influencer Promotions

While traditional ads are excellent and the targeting feature makes them much more lucrative, discounting social influencer marketing is a big mistake many small businesses make. If you are careful in selecting an influencer with a large and engaged fan base, who already has the audience you are specifically looking to target, and whose content is in line with your business, you can see a real impact with social influencer campaigns.

3. Buying Fake Social Followers

Investing in black market services to help boost your numbers almost always backfires on brands. Even if your following is high, users can see when engagement is low – and so can Google! This may actually blacklist your website or social channels and decrease the confidence users will have in your brand. Smaller, more engaged audiences always outperform accounts with tons of followers and minimal interactions. Some brands also turn to automated commenting with bot services, but again, this will hurt your business more than anything else.

4. Not Offering Enough Rewards

Customers can have a hard time trusting a new brand on the market. Offering rewards like free shipping, discounts, or other limited promos can encourage your potential client base to give you a try. It’s also great to reward loyal customers so they continue to share your brand with others. Long-term, rewards work in your favor.

5. Not Providing Content

Whoever said users don’t want to read much online was sorely mistaken. Users actually prefer to connect with brands online and engage with them prior to making a purchase. Providing quality content can increase your connection to your potential consumer base and encourage customers to trust your brand more readily. Your content doesn’t need to be excessively lengthy. Choose quality over quantity and make sure everything you post adds value to your website and your reputation.

6. Not Engaging with Followers

Posting great content to your website and social channels is a good start, but you have to go the extra step and connect with your users on a more personal level. When followers comment, you should interact with them. This is your chance to reply, ask another question and really start a conversation with them. Opening up communication with your fan base can boost your engagement and encourage new followers.

7. Not Tracking Your Social Successes and Failures

Whether it’s promotions or social influencer campaigns, you need to keep track of conversions. This way, you will know exactly which ads are working and which aren’t. Some techniques work well in theory, but in practice, may not be right for your particular business. You need to find out which promotions work best for your brand and avoid wasting money on ads and campaigns that aren’t converting into revenue for you. You should also track the page views and shareability of your content to find out what your audience wants and appreciates.

Seller Confessions: My Biggest eBay Fails

September 24th, 2018 Comments off

Nobody wants to lose money, but even the most experienced eBay seller makes mistakes.  Here are three of my biggest eBay fails.  Read and learn.

 The Trader Joe’s Nightmare

About 8 years ago, I bought $1,000 worth of Trader Joe’s sea salt caramels to sell on eBay.  I’d never sold food before, but I looked them up, and they were in demand.  I soon realized that I had purchased too many.  Before I knew it, summer arrived, and I had stacks and stacks of these tasty treats sitting in my garage.  Although we were still getting orders, they were melting in transit.  People were not happy.   Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait until winter to get rid of them because they had an expiration date.  We started eating sea salt caramels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  What else could we do?  I gained five pounds trying to get rid of those suckers.  Eventually, I gave the rest away as presents.  Remember: If you’re going to sell food, always check expiration dates, and be careful buying items that cannot be shipped in hot weather.  Lesson learned.

The Shoe Emergency

Many of our biggest fails involved shoes.  Years ago we did not understand the importance of inspecting preowned shoes before listing them.  Shoes can look brand new but may fall apart the first time they are worn if they have been sitting in a closet for years.  For example, some manufacturers produce soles that do not stand the test of time and will disintegrate or even split in half if they get old.  When we first started selling on eBay, we listed a pair of name brand clogs.  The woman who bought them worked at a hospital and thought they were an amazing deal!  Unfortunately, the first time she wore them to work, she left a trail of rubber wherever she walked.  The soles were literally disintegrating all over the emergency room.  Uh, oh.  Instant refund.

The Fashion Fiasco

In another instance involving shoes, a buyer purchased a pair of beautiful designer heels.  She wore them to work with her favorite outfit.  A few minutes after she got to work, one of the heels fell off – the entire heel.  So embarrassing!  She hobbled around the office for the rest of the day.  Luckily, she thought it was funny.  We quickly issued a refund, and offered to send her a pair of shoes for free.   We now know the importance of closely inspecting all preowned shoes before listing them on eBay.  In addition, we have purchased a one million dollar insurance policy that covers us if anything goes wrong with the products we sell.

Selling on eBay is an adventure, but, like anything, it does come with some risks.  Luckily, each of these fails taught me an important lesson and made me a more successful seller!

 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Gearing Up For Back-to-School Season: 5 Tips to Increase Revenue

August 6th, 2018 Comments off

Back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year – both for e-commerce as well as retail. The only season that doesn’t beat back-to-school is the Christmas and Holiday season. The average back-to-school shopper spends more per household (estimated $510 per child) than the average shopper spends on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day COMBINED!

Pretty amazing, right? That’s why we thought it’s the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into Deloitte’s recent 2018 Back-to-School Survey. The report closely examines the shopping habits of 1,200 parents of school-aged kids (in grades K-12). Let’s take a look at major insights you can use to win the back-to-school season!

#1 Pull Out Your Best Promotions

Parents will be spending about $510 per child this year. Pull out all the stops to make the most of the season. Use your most effective promotions and incentives on these big spenders. Back-to-school shoppers tend to love the hassle-free convenience of free shipping. It’s also the perfect time for that once-a-year BOGO (Buy One, Get One) that makes your products irresistible to shoppers!  Added Benefit:  having these valuable customers make a purchase will keep your store fresh in their mind for the holiday season!

#2 Don’t Ignore Mobile

More back-to-school shoppers are going mobile. In 2018, 49% of shoppers will use a desktop computer to purchase school goods, down from 57% in 2017. Conversely, the number of mobile shoppers is rising year-over-year, with 53% of shoppers planning to use their mobile phones to make purchases in 2018 vs. only 49% of shoppers in 2017. If you’ve been waiting to gear up for mobile e-commerce, now’s the time to kick your mobile presence into high gear! Don’t forget to increase your mobile bid modifiers in your paid search campaigns and test your mobile landing page experience to make sure the customer can easily find what they are looking for.

#3 Get the Timing Right

Parents spend more than 50% of the entire school-related budget for the whole year within the back-to-school season. Don’t let shoppers who will be spending half their budget within a small window of time slip through your fingers. Build urgency into your offers to make the most of the season. Then plan to take a final run at late shoppers who might have been late to make purchases. Let them know there’s not much time left!

#4 Back-to-School Means It’s Computer Buying Season

Back-to-school used to mean buying new clothes, some pencils and notebooks. For today’s students, heading back-to-school in the fall means having a new computer for their schoolwork. 23% of shoppers with school-aged kids plan to buy a computer or other hardware device. The average spend for these shoppers was $299. That’s great to know for computer manufacturers. It’s also important for sellers of laptop cases, computer backpacks, and all the essential accessories that go along with computers.

#5 Pens, Pencils, Plus So Much More

According to Deloitte, more than $27.6 billion will be spent in 29 Million households on 54 million children in 2018. The biggest categories for these back-to-school shoppers are school supplies, but there are a number of related important items they’ll be buying. They’re also looking for apparel, sporting goods, electronics, books, music, plus other related items. The key here is looking broadly enough at what back-to-school shoppers want and thinking about it from their point of view. Yes, that’s notebooks and pencils. But it’s so much more!

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