April 2014 -
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Archive for April, 2014

Be Thy Self – and Only Thy Self

Posted by Roger McManus in reputation management

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

It seems so easy to enhance your image online by typing out a few glowing reviews – or asking friends or staff to do so. The cost is far greater than the benefit. And, there are far safer, economical ways to accomplish the objective.

Being “thy self” is not psychobabble about being true to your spirit. A few businesses have destroyed their online reputations by pretending to be customers making complimentary statements on review sites. Gaming the system does not work. Producing or inducing fake positive reviews is a very short-sighted strategy. And, it can create legal problems you don’t want.

The State of New York went after Lifestyle Lift a plastic surgery practice for having its own employees flood the Internet with positive reviews. According to a release from the Attorney General’s office, “Lifestyle Lift employees published positive reviews and comments about the company to trick Web-browsing consumers into believing that satisfied customers were posting their own stories. These tactics constitute deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct under New York and federal consumer protection law.”

Computers are very smart creatures. They discern patterns of behavior and track the source of input very accurately and a million times faster than the human brain. It is hard to beat the system.


The term “astroturfing” applies to businesses that create fake comments online that improve their readers’ perceptions. Google+, Yelp and most other review sites have built in systems to catch fake reviews and have their own systems of punishment in place. As in the case above, civil penalties can be issued by various state or federal agencies, as well.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued clear guidelines for the use of consumer reviews in online advertising. The fact is that most business owners, when asked, never considered online reviews to be advertising in the first place. The FTC sends the clear message to business owners that they must “follow the principles of truth in advertising” when using online reviews to promote their businesses.

The Sneaky A.G.

Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman of the State of New York decided that online reviews were a matter of public interest and safety. He set up a sting where he would locate businesses willing to pay for positive fake reviews to be written. Under the theory that such actions constituted false advertising, he prosecuted 19 companies and levied $300,000 worth of fines.

Inherent Negative Bias

The challenge for business owners is the system is inherently negatively biased. Customers call on a trusted business and simply expect good, professional service and, with rare exception, receive it. When they don’t (or perceive that they don’t) they tend to get motivated to speak up online. This can be very damaging to a business. A single negative review which is visible above dozens of positive ones can cost you a prospective customer – or many.

It is this negative bias that is the foundation for the solution we provided by reputation management companies. The consumer is asked a few questions to determine a customer’s satisfaction with the transaction experience. If the customer is not satisfied, the system generates a text message to a responsible person at the business – perhaps the manager – so immediate remedial action can be taken before the customer is driven to share the less-than-happy experience online. In the majority of situations when the customer has something nice to say, the system guides him or her to posting it online.

Playing by the Rules is Actually Easier

The whole review process is set up for consumers to have truthful information about companies with whom they may do business. Good, solid business owners just need a way to get customers to do what they tend to do any way – say nice things. Skirting the law to scam the system is a short-sighted strategy.

This article is part of a series dealing with the new relationship between service professionals and their necessary connection to the Internet and online exposure.

Roger McManus is a principal at Mpact Magic (www.mpactmagic.com), a reputation management company that focuses on the service industries. Roger is the author of Entrepreneurial Insanity (Amazon) directed at small business owners who are stuck as the hub of their business’ wheel.

The AdWords Experts Take on Dynamic Remarketing

Posted by Ryan in adwords expert

Friday, April 11th, 2014

One recent change related to Remarketing that we are excited about is Dynamic Remarketing. Dynamic Remarketing is a new & improved version of Remarketing. Unlike some of the updates released, there is some truth to the improved part of that statement.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Remarketing allows your ads to show to users who previously visited your website as they browse the internet. We have had success with several of our clients with Remarketing as this feature allows ads to show to people who have previously engaged in your website content for as long as 540 days.

Dynamic Remarketing takes the Remarketing process one step further. For those advertisers with a Google Merchant Center account and are opted into Dynamic Remarketing, it allows for:

“Customers on your remarketing lists (to) see unique ads customized to each of them based on their visit to your site and on how close they got to completing a purchase”

This is a VERY powerful and potentially game changing feature. Google took what was already a strong performing feature and allows users (that have a Google Merchant Center account) to better tailor and target their Remarketing efforts.

If you don’t already have a Google Merchant Center Account, you will need to get this set up.

Next, you will need to create a new campaign and to set your Campaign type to Remarketing.
screenshot of setting up dynamic remarketing

In the below section, you will need to make sure that the small checkbox is checked off next to Enable Dynamic Remarketing and to click the blue Set Up Dynamic Remarketing Button.

screenshot of how to enable dynamic remarketing
Once this is set up, this will generate code for Dynamic Remarketing. If you are already running Remarketing ads, one thing to keep in mind is that the Dynamic Remarketing code is separate from the code generated for standard remarketing. Just like Remarketing code, the dynamic remarketing code will need to be added to every page on your website

For each page, there are a few variables that you need to add to the code for each individual page. The elements that need to be added are ecomm_prodid (Product ID from your Google Merchant Center Feed), ecomm_pagetype (what type of page is visited based on the categories provided by Google). One thing to note on the ecomm_pagetype setting is that all pages have to be broken down into one of the following categories (home, searchresults, category, product, cart, purchase, other) & ecomm_totalvalue (how much product is being sold for).

One cool feature about Dynamic Remarketing is that it will automatically create four separate audiences that will start to build and these audiences can be used to fine tune what flavors of Dynamic Remarketing you would like to target and how much you would like to bid for each flavor.

The audiences that get created with the creation of Dynamic Remarketing code are General Visitors who are people that went to your website but didn’t view a specific product, Product Viewers are people who viewed specific product pages on your site but did not add anything to the shopping cart, Shopping Cart Abandoners are people who added products to the shopping cart but didn’t complete the purchase and Past Buyers people who purchased products during the past.

The creation of these audiences is very powerful as this gives advertisers the ability to bid more or less based on how engaged past visitors were in the website content. The way the ads work for people in the Product Viewers section is if for example a person previously viewed a page about “Green Widgets”, when they get matched to an ad through Dynamic Remarketing, they would see an ad for “Green Widgets”.

One thing that is also available is the ability to create ads for Dynamic Remarketing within the AdWords interface. Within the AdWords interface, you can select things like color scheme, logos, background, fonts, ad size, etc. The one downside is that the Google Documentation does not give guidance on configuring Dynamic Remarketing ads to ads created outside the Google Interface.
With that being said, we are optimistic about the changes and updates available through the Dynamic Remarketing feature and we are glad to have this in our arsenal of tricks to help our clients’ accounts!

Keywords Outside the AdWords Data Box

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords expert

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Thinking-Outside-BoxI spend a large amount of my day discussing online marketing strategies with clients and often people are looking for the right answer. You know the one that fits clearly on a multiple choice test and is the right answer. The challenge with marketing is there are no right or wrong answers, there are different answers. This causes a great level of frustration because we all want to look at data and clearly understand what it means and how we can leverage it. What many think of as marketing facts are really clues and the difference is important. It is a very rare situation where marketing data creates a clearly defined fact and this is because marketing is not simple.

Part of the complexity comes from factors that are outside the data set and one of those is the impact of entertainment or news media. Recently we had a client that had a product on Shark Tank that was closely associated with their business.  The product pointed out a problem with home security and it caused the traffic on associated keywords to spike. While it was clearly outside of the data in Adwords, here is what the spike looked like in trends.


In this case, Shark Tank caused a search term to jump by over 400% and it opened a very real opportunity for an established company that had nothing to do with the show. Our reaction to this was to open new keywords and develop a landing page that served the demand created by the show.

In the past we have had several of these including a product mention by Oprah, which caused traffic to spike to several thousand percent in just a few minutes. This one we knew was coming so we watched it as it happened and the flood of traffic was just amazing to watch.

It’s not just entertainment and news, other outside factors can drive your results much more than the ad copy or keywords you pick. My favorite example of this is snow removal and no matter what we tried results for this client were horrible; that is until it snowed! Another client did basement waterproofing and I jokingly said during a strategy session that what we need is a really good rain storm. This happened a few days later and the client called me back told me to put his ads on hold because his business was booked solid for over 30 days and the phones just keep ringing.

AdWords search traffic serves demand but it cannot create demand.  AdWords starts after the search is submitted so clearly it is not intended to create demand. If the task in front of you is to create demand then you need to consider image ads in the display network or other placement strategies.