Posts Tagged ‘credibility’

User-Generated Content: How a payday loan company takes advantage of customer reviews

June 12th, 2015

Customer reviews and testimonials can be a powerful source of third-party validation and credibility when added to an overall content marketing strategy.

Today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post looks at how one consumer marketer — in a business area that is potentially hostile to positive customer feedback — initiated a campaign to actively add customer reviews to its marketing mix.

Check ‘n Go is a payday loan company with a focus on short-term consumer lending with retail outlets going back almost 20 years and, more recently, an online option for loans as well. Farhad Rahbardar, Web Analytics Analyst, Check ‘n Go, worked with the company’s Analytics and Customer Acquisition Group. Rahbardar said the team wanted to begin using customer reviews in different touchpoints on the website. The team also wanted to aggregate those reviews through an independent third party to help build Check ‘n Go’s Google Seller ratings.

One initial challenge was internal concern about what sort of feedback customers might provide — or possibly even refuse to provide — given the reputation of the company’s business space. In fact, the company had already found that it couldn’t really get any sharing via social media platforms because, as Farhad said, “Customers are really not fine with sharing their experience getting a payday loan on any social media, which is understandable.”

In terms of asking for customer reviews, he said “We were hesitant about implementing this — the senior management here — just because there’s a stigma about short-term lending and we were unsure if we were going to receive anything positive.”


Begin collecting customer reviews

The team pressed on, chose a customer review vendor and implemented a process for collecting customer reviews. After someone secures a loan, they receive messaging that simply asks them to come back to Check ‘n Go and write about their experience.

“To our surprise, we started receiving really positive reviews,” said Farhad. “Nine out of 10 were either four star or five star. We had a lot of people who were really happy with the fact that we were able to help them.”

The first place Check ‘n Go began using these reviews was on its landing pages, and the team even tested different ways to display the reviews.


Read more…

Transparent Marketing: 3 marketing lessons from the fast-food industry

December 13th, 2013

Quick, convenient and cost-efficient are three words some marketers hope customers will find synonymous with the fast-food industry.

Deceptive, unrealistic and way too expensive seems to be where conversation about fast food goes with the family and friends that I’ve asked for their thoughts.

Clearly, there is a Hatfield-McCoy relationship between Marketing’s hope and customer perception, but does it have to be this way?

Absolutely not.

Some fast-food chains have started to step away from tactics perceived as nefarious to build brand equity on unique offerings, transparency and customer testimonials.

Before you start thinking of where to go for your next meal, let’s take a look at three restaurant chains that have embraced a brave new world of marketing and what we can learn from them.


Much more than a burrito, it’s an upsell

As a frequent flyer to Tex-Mex chains, I have grown skeptical of other burrito-related establishments. I’ve tried plenty of them and the experience is often heartache and, at times, heartburn.

However, one Tex-Mex chain has cleverly strategized a way to increase the likelihood of an upsell with its menu design.


Qdoba Mexican Grill has a unique menu presentation. Many competitor menus start with a choice of meat and continue with the ingredients that follow the assembly line.

So what is the difference?

This is a classic example of passive versus active engagement. Offering all of the choices upfront creates a passive experience in that, “I’m just thinking of what I don’t want on my burrito.”


Qdoba, however, starts its menu conversation with signature flavors and customization, which puts my focus on actively experimenting with different combinations to find the burrito of dreams.

I can also choose vegan and gluten-free options, which is a smart move as the paradigm of healthy eating continues to shift toward a lifestyle of calorie consciousness or for those who require vegan or gluten-free menu options for health reasons.

So how does this relate to a Web conversion?

Take it from Qdoba, don’t be afraid to show off something signature with your offering. Your site should display its value in a way that is suggestive and not submissive. Promoting one item more than another only bothers those who believe in symmetry.

Also, don’t be afraid to engage customers for the upsell.


Why yes, I would like fries from Sugar City, Idaho

Another chain that is helping you decide what to have for lunch at 9:30 a.m. is Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

This establishment utilizes a small menu, a variety of condiments, fries made from Idaho’s finest potatoes, and all the free peanuts you can eat.

What Five Guys offers is a lesson in transparency.

Customers can see their food being made and can be rest assured that their order is fresh with all of the right toppings. This can also serve as a piece of wisdom for marketers to clearly show how a product or service will benefit customers.

In the digital age, transparent marketing is the best way to earn a user’s trust and click.


Endorsements are fast track to breaking the mold

In 2012, Subway became the first restaurant in the fast-food industry to receive the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal Certification. 


This was clearly a game changer for the chain in terms of strategy due to the common preconceived notation that fast food directly translates to unhealthy living.

Subway was able to escape that mold of negative perception by receiving a strong source of third-party credibility.

This goes without saying, but having someone else – including an unbiased group in this case – back your product or service screams credibility and validation.

Read more…

Copywriting: How to improve headlines on landing pages and blog posts

April 5th, 2012

Headlines are tricky little devils. Whether you’re writing them for an article or a PPC landing page, they can carry your campaign to glory or bury it forever.

We gathered some theory on writing great headlines from our sister company, MarketingExperiments, and capped it off with five tips from our editors and a useful process for improving results.

Before we get to all that, keep this in mind:

  • The goal of a headline is to seize readers’ attention and convince them to continue


Headline Theory

There is no arguing it — people are busy. You need to write a headline that convinces them to ignore distractions and pay attention. When people see a headline, their minds want to know:

“Why should I read this instead of doing one of the other 50 tasks on my list?”

The key question is “what do I get?” A good headline answers this in one word, “value.”


4 attributes of value

Picture your ideal customer deciding where to spend his time and energy. He wants something good for his investment. A headline that emphasizes something “valuable” to him gets his attention. He’ll invest a click and continue reading.

Your headline is “selling” your next paragraph and you need to make a good offer (also known as a proposition). Researchers at MECLABS, our parent company, evaluate the power of a value proposition through four attributes. You can use these same attributes to create and evaluate headlines. Read more…

Better Window Than Door – a Transparent Marketing primer

November 11th, 2010

If you’ve spent any time reading content here at MarketingSherpa, or at our sister company, MarketingExperments, I bet you are familiar with this mantra – “People don’t buy from companies. People buy from people.” That very intuitive idea is a big part of a concept – Transparent Marketing – that is the heartbeat driving everything we do. We even offer an article that explains in detail what we mean by Transparent Marketing.

If you just want Transparent Marketing boiled down to the base essentials, here are the five key principles:

  1. Tell (only) the (verifiable) Truth
  2. Purge all vague modifiers
  3. Let someone else do your bragging
  4. Substitute general descriptions with specific facts
  5. Admit your Weaknesses

All five concepts are simple, direct and make a ton of sense. And you know what else? They are harder to implement than you think. Much too often marketers talk to the target audience in the “marketer” voice, and not the “person” voice.

Do you enjoy being spoken down to from up on high by some corporate entity you may or may not even want to engage with in any fashion at all? I know I don’t. Now when that same corporate entity comes at me with little more human-sounding message, suddenly I’m a lot more receptive to donating a bit of my valuable time (and/or cash) to whatever proposition I’m being offered.

Hype is a door, the truth is a window

Here are some daunting figures taken from that article I linked to up there in the very first graf. The numbers are from 2003, but the lesson is timeless:

The average person is assaulted with a barrage of 577 new marketing messages per week.

If we could somehow wire the mind of the consumer as they sift through the conundrum of emails, snail mails, banners and commercials… we would probably hear a resounding response:

“I don’t have time to listen, and I don’t believe you anyway.”

Indeed, experts tell us that people sort their mail in order to find an excuse to trash it. And even if by chance a message somehow escapes this ruthless purge… it probably won’t be remembered.

Statistics indicate that we retain less than 1% of the marketing messages we encounter.

That means that this very week, your company’s pitch is just one of another 577 being hurled at the prospect. You may be #11 or you may be #450, but whatever number you are, it is imperative to win a place among the fortunate 1% that are actually “heard” and remembered.

And this is only half the battle… somehow you must be believed.

The lesson here? If you can avoid churning out the typical jargon and meaningless hype, you have an opportunity to create a very high level of credibility. And credibility leads to trust. Trust builds a bridge to a relationship and that relationship translates into sustained sales. This short thought sequence is also taken directly from our Transparent Marketing article. Did I mention it’d be a great idea to invest in a click and read the whole document?

Here is my editor, and Associate Director of Editorial Content, Daniel Burstein on this topic:

In an age of social media, all marketing is transparent

Flint McGlaughlin’s seminal article, Transparent Marketing: How to earn the trust of a skeptical consumer, was written seven long years ago, and it has never been more prescient. Think of all that has changed since 2003 in the world of digital marketing. The rise of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other forms of social media has turned everyone with a device (you don’t even need a computer any more) and a connection into a publisher. So if you produce marketing that isn’t transparent, don’t worry, it soon will be.

From @BPGlobalPR to YouTube songs about broken guitars, you are no longer just up against your competition to grab mindshare about a product or service, you are essentially competing with your audience as well. They are also diligently working to shape perception of the brand. So let a little sunlight in … before someone breaks your window.

What does Transparent Marketing mean to you?

I posed this question at our MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments Optimization and B2B Lead Generation Roundtable LinkedIn groups.

Kirsi Dahl offered this response at the MarketingSherpa discussion:

In brief, to me, transparent marketing is a term we industry types have created to summarize a growing trend among consumers related to their skepticism of sales and advertising.

Consumers migrate towards brands that authentically engage in meaningful relationships with them. Brands can demonstrate this authenticity through listening and engaging in two-way conversations in places and spaces where their consumers are hanging out (online and in store).

First, I want to thank Kirsi for taking the time to share her thoughts with the group, and second, I want to invite everyone to join the conversation at one of the three LinkedIn groups, or in the comment section for this blog post. What does Transparent Marketing mean to you?

Related resources:

MarketingExperiments article on Transparent Marketing

Blog Case Study: Three Lessons Learned from a 232% Increase in Visits over Eight Months

Transparent Marketing and Social Media: Twitter and Facebook are the new Woodward and Bernstein