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Transcript of Overcoming Objections in Sales

Transcript of Overcoming Objections in Sales written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Break Through the Noise book cover

John Jantsch:  Today’s episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples, Co-Founder and CEO of Shareability. In his book Tim reveals his secret sauce for how to capture the attention of millions of people online, without spending millions of dollars.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jeb Blount. He is a sales acceleration specialist, founder of Sales Gravy and the author of a couple books, Fanatical Prospecting, I think we had him on here for, and then also, the book we’re going to talk about today, Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting Past No. So Jeb, welcome back.

Jeb Blount: Oh, thank you. I’m glad to be back on. I appreciate you having me on.

John Jantsch: So, objection seems like a pretty specific part of the sales process. So let’s start out there. Why a book just on that aspect?

Jeb Blount: Well, if you think about most sales books, there’s a little part in the very back of every sales book on objections. There are very few books that have been written on objections and even in training that we deliver and that corporations deliver to their people, objections kind of take a back seat. But, when we think about objections and what objections are, you’re dealing with objections all the way through the entire sales process.

Jeb Blount: From the moment that you get someone on the telephone and you’re prospecting, they may tell you, they don’t have time for a meeting to throwing out red herrings in the middle of your sales process that take you off track, to micro-commitment objections. Getting them to advance to a next step. Then finally, buying and selection commitment objections.

Jeb Blount: So, no matter what you do, no matter what you sell, no matter how you sell it, there’s a great democracy in objections and objections are everywhere in the sales process, but we just haven’t addressed it. What I realized is that when I was dealing with entrepreneurs and I was dealing with people in marketing and I was dealing with people in sales and even dealing with people in nonprofit, almost all the questions that they ask about me is, “What do I do when someone tells me no?”

Jeb Blount: That’s why I made the decision to write this book and to really break down the science of objections, the science of why they hurt so much and why do buyers give us rejections. Then creating frameworks that allow people, in the moment, to deal with those objections, get past them and keep their deals advancing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, because for a lot of people, objection is really rejection. I mean, they don’t get past the early on stages and that’s where people give up. I think a lot of what you’re saying is, you got to expect this stuff and you got to look for it and you have to overcome it, maybe multiple times. I think that’s probably the part that makes… I don’t know how to say this the right way. That’s the part that makes people not like selling so much, but it’s also… Isn’t it the part that people get really good at it, enjoy the most?

Jeb Blount: Yeah, I think you’re right. So, persistence is a virtue, especially in sales and in business. I opened the book with the story about a guy that called me 71 times and ended up selling me a software program that changed my business. It changed the trajectory of our company. It helped us grow very fast and if he hadn’t been so persistent, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. So, he really helped me out.

Jeb Blount: I tell the story in the book where I called Fujifilm, was a client that I was looking to do business with. I called them over 50 times until they finally met with me. Which I think is what people miss in this, is when I showed up, they had their head of sales in the meeting and the head of sales was trying to hire me to come work for their company because he was so impressed with my persistence.

Jeb Blount: So, when we’re talking about persistence, in a lot of cases, we’re talking about the objections that you get really early on. Which are the harshest objections and they can be rejection that you get. So, when you call someone up asking for time, you’re interrupting their day and you’re asking for the one thing they don’t have any of and that is time. Those particular objections are the things that, I think make people run from sales the most.

Jeb Blount: Those aren’t the only objections you get, but those are certainly the harshest objections. The thing about objections is that they aren’t necessarily rejection. Sometimes they are, especially when you’re prospecting. But our brains treat an objection like it’s a rejection because we perceive it to be that way. In the worst cases, we anticipate that we’re going to get rejected. So we never even make the call or make the approach because we start worrying about what’s going to happen when someone tells us no.

Jeb Blount: In the book itself, what we really deal with is that feeling that you get of rejection, whether it’s anticipated, whether it’s real or whether it is perceived. That feeling that you have is much more biological than psychological. So, it’s important to be aware of where it comes from, so that in the moment, you can rise above the emotion that you feel and choose your response. That by the way, is the real key of getting past the objection and getting to what you want.

John Jantsch: Well, and I’m going to guess, I could be wrong, but that person that called you 71 times believed in the value that you could receive and that’s what kept them coming back. Am I way off base there?

Jeb Blount: Absolutely. Well, I think two things. One, he had absolute conviction in the quality of the product that he was selling and he was right about that. It is a high quality software and also, he had done a really good job of targeting. So, he had done a very good job of deciding which companies were the best fit for that product and my company Sales Gravy, we’re a fairly well-known sell training company. We work across the globe. We have a high profile. So, one of the things for him was, if I can get Sales Gravy to buy this, then I can get a lot of other training companies to buy this because I can tell them that Sales Gravy’s my client. I knew that was part of what he was doing and he was up front about that. About what an important prospect we were to him.

Jeb Blount: So, when you have the right prospect, where you know that what you’re selling is a fit and you know that you really help them, then that gives you that emotional reason to keep facing the fact that you’re getting knocked down, knocked down, knocked down because That told him to go away a dozen times. It allows you to do that.

Jeb Blount: Thankfully, he had so much conviction in what he was selling that he didn’t stop and it’s made all the difference for us as an organization. I can tell you straight up, the software that he sold us has helped us double the size of our company three years in a row. That’s how powerful that was.

John Jantsch: So, let’s focus on the prospecting part, which a lot of that was what he was doing. For a lot of people, that’s the hardest part. I mean, 90% of people couldn’t get past that because it’s so easy. It’s like, “No, and I don’t have time for you.” Click. To the buyers defense a little bit, I mean, I get those calls all the time and I just don’t have the time to invest in determining a lot of times, as I suspect you did, that that software was a good fit. No matter, all the promises, it like, “Yeah, I get that five times a day. What if it doesn’t?” So, I can’t take the time. So, how do you get past the fact that a lot of people just see that as you interrupting?

Jeb Blount: Well, you are interrupting. I mean, it’s just the fact of the matter. You’re interrupting and you’re asking them for the one thing that they don’t have any of, and that is time. So, there’s a couple of things. One of the things that Richard did really well in this situation is that he built familiarity. So, the last time that he got me on the telephone, I knew who he was. I’d heard his voice. I’d seen dozens of emails. He stalked me on LinkedIn. He called me and left me voicemails.

Jeb Blount: When I finally had a moment, I was in the situation where I couldn’t say, “No, I’m not going to give you time.” Because honestly, as a human being, with some level of empathy, he had just earned the right to have the conversation. The second thing that he did was, he was able to change his message. Because he left me so many voicemails, I heard different messages. So, he built these little commercials for me along the way.

Jeb Blount: So for him, he did that. I mean, he got to the point where I knew who he was and he had earned the right and part of like you said, “Do I know whether or not this is really worth my time?” Part of that is that the salesperson keeps showing up over and over and over again. Because if you think about it, most sales people hit the no once and they never call back again and I see that everyday in corporate America. When we’re working with people, working with a sales person, the question they ask is, “How many times should I call?” The answer is, that they currently have is, “I call once, they tell me, no. I never call back again.”

Jeb Blount: A great example is, I was working with this small company up in New York City and they sold advertising into restaurants. So, I was out with their sales people on the street in New York City, cold calling restaurants. We’re walking door-to-door, walking in and interrupting the day of restaurant managers in New York City, the hardest place in the world to sell. When we walked in, they told us to go screw ourselves.

Jeb Blount: We got told no in about 60 different languages and then, we went back the next day and went back the next day and went back the next day and it took about five times of walking in and them seeing you before they would give you a second look. Then they would say, “Yeah, get out of here but come back tomorrow.” And you knew you had cracked them and then, you’d come in the sixth time and then, they would give you a few minutes. You go in the seventh time, you got a meeting because their filter for whether or not it’s worth their time to invest in you was basically predicated on, did you have the chops to keep showing up over and over and over again?

Jeb Blount: I did the same thing. I love salespeople it’s what I do for a living. But I tell salespeople to go away all the time and it’s the ones that keep at it that eventually will at least get in, or I will at least look at their message. If I look at their message and I determine it’s not right for me, I’ll be respectful enough to tell them why it’s not the right time or right for me, rather than just brushing them off with, “I don’t have time.”

John Jantsch: Yeah. So in a way, you’re asking them to invest in you, before you’ll invest in them and I think that’s a great way to look at it. So, we talked about the prospecting one. You mentioned red herrings and micro-commitments and the fourth one, kind of that buying commitment. So I guess maybe, just briefly state what those are and then, I’d love for you to talk about some tactics for kind of turning those around.

Jeb Blount: Sure, so red herring objections are really not… they’re not real objections. But typically, when we’re in these conversations, sales conversations, especially for entrepreneurs, we feel nervous. A lot of it is because we have everything on the line and we feel a little bit vulnerable. In those initial meetings, what will happen is, you’re having a conversation with someone and they’ll say, “Well listen, I can’t talk anymore until I know how much it costs.” Or, “I just want you to know I’m not buying today.” They’ll throw something like that out really early in the conversation and what happens is we end up chasing that and we burn all the time that we have with them, dealing with something that’s not really a price objection. It’s just what they say. They don’t really have anything else to say to you.

Jeb Blount: So, it’s important in those situations, that you acknowledge it. So, the way I acknowledge anytime I get a red herring, is just write it down on a piece of paper, ask them if there’s anything else. Then I moved directly into my conversation, which usually sounds like this. I’s say, “If it’d be okay with you, let me ask you a few questions about you and then, we can talk about what we do and you and I can determine from there, whether or not it makes sense for us to keep talking.”

Jeb Blount: So, I use this process where I just, I pause for just a moment, acknowledge it, write it down and then, I ignore it. Most of the time red herrings never, ever come back up again and sometimes they’re important. Write it down, come back to it later. But don’t allow a red herring to disrupt your conversation. Maintain control and keep the meeting moving the way you want it to move.

Jeb Blount: Micro-commitment objection is really simple. All of sales is a set of commitments. So prospecting is asking for time. Sales is asking for commitments and those commitments are small micro-commitments along the way. So, for example, if I’m selling something and the best way that I can determine what to sell you is to go walk through say, your warehouse or walk through your building or take a look at your data or spend a day in the life with one of your AR clerks, whatever the case may be. If I’m doing that, I want to ask for micro-commitment and the more micro-commitments I can get along the way, the more my buyer’s invested in the process. Which means it’s more likely that they’re going to see it through to an outcome and my opportunities not going to stall.

Jeb Blount: So, I’m constantly asking people for my micro-commitments at test engagement and make sure that we’re moving forward. But from time-to-time they’ll say, “No.” They’ll say, “I don’t understand why we need to go do a tour of my warehouse. I mean, it’s just a warehouse. Why can’t you just send me a quote?” Or, “I don’t know why we would need to do that.” Or, “Why don’t you just email me the proposal and then, I’ll call you and we can meet later versus setting up a meeting with you.”

Jeb Blount: The thing about micro-commitments is all you have to do is just explain the value. These are real, low-key objections. They’re not harsh. They’re rarely rejection. We get a little bit flustered, but all you have to do is explain the value. So if someone says, “Look, I don’t know why we need to do this.” I say, “Listen, the reason that this is important is because the way I work as an organization is that every solution that I build is custom to my client’s unique situations. Until I get to know you, it’s going to be impossible for me to put together a blueprint for how we would serve you. All I’m going to need is about 15 minutes of your time to go through this information. So how about Thursday at two?” Really simple. If you can give a good explanation, they will rarely tell you no.

Jeb Blount: Then finally, they’re buying commitment objections and buying commitment objections are just people’s… They’re concerned about making a mistake. It’s their fear of taking risks. It’s their attachment to the status quo. What I’m doing now, even though it’s not perfect, it’s probably going to be better than taking a risk of change.

Jeb Blount: With micro-commitment or with buying commitment objections, it’s really about building your case through discovery, making sure that you’ve done all your work along the way. You really understand what’s important to them, why they would do this and it’s relating to them as a human being. Making sure that you are clarifying exactly what they mean. So, if someone says, “Your price is too much.” My question’s always. “How so? Help me understand that.” Because sometimes, it’s maybe the startup cost but not the ongoing cost.

Jeb Blount: Then the key here is, with buying commitment objections is recognizing that buying commitment objections almost always come from a place of fear. It’s just natural for human beings. We’re adverse to risk and along… as we’ve gone through our lives, when we avoid risk, we have a tendency to stay alive, so it’s part of our makeup. So, you have to minimize their fear while maximizing the future outcomes, while showing them what they’re going to get. The best way to have the ammunition that you need in a buying commitment objection is to have done a good job in the sales process doing deep discovery and built a good business case.

John Jantsch: Just to let you know, this episode is brought to you by Break Through the Noise, the new book by Tim Staples. If you’re a marketer, an entrepreneur or a small business owner and you have a limited budget to market to and connect with your customers, you need break through the noise. Tim Staples shares the nine essential rules for mastering the art of online storytelling and provides tools to help you outsmart the social media algorithms, increase your share of voice and build your brand. Breakthrough the Noise by Tim Staples is on sale now, wherever books are sold.

John Jantsch: So you spend a good chunk of the book talking about asking as a skill and how and why. I think that’s a part that most sort of beginning salespeople miss, is that they want to show up and talk about their stuff and a lot of times, we’re not even giving the buyer a chance to object to anything because we want to talk about ourselves. So, how do we develop this habit of making sure that we’re asking plenty of questions before we start trying to sell anything.

Jeb Blount: Well, I think first of all, you’re exactly right. You’ve got to ask questions and do discovery. The easiest thing to remember is this, when you ask for the sale, if you haven’t asked questions to begin with, you’re going to be dealing with price. So, you’re going to go straight to the bottom, deal with price because that’s the only thing that differentiates you. When you ask great questions, when you get out of your own way, rather than just pitching and explaining and telling, when you do that and then you go, “You want to buy?” The only way they can buy from you is based on you lowering your price because you created no differentiation from your competitors. So that’s one part of asking.

Jeb Blount: One is asking questions. Open-ended questions, artful and strategic questions that provoke awareness in building your business case. The problem with salespeople, more often than not with asking, is they don’t ask for what they want. So for example, if I want to come do a tour of your facility, I have to ask for that. If I want to sell, I have to ask you to do business with me. If I want time, I have to ask you for time.

Jeb Blount: The problem is, is when we ask, it creates this deep sense of vulnerability. We ask with confidence that we want something, then the person could tell us, “No.” We begin anticipating that we’re going to get rejected and therefore we don’t ask at all. What we do is we sit and wait for the prospect to do the job for us. That they’re going to somehow come to their senses and close the deal or give us time or what have you and it just doesn’t work that way.

Jeb Blount: One of my favorite quotes from Jim Rome is that, “Asking is the beginning of receiving.” I mean, if we want a deal, we have to ask first. So, asking is the most important discipline in sale, asking for what you want. If you want to get something you have to ask for it. We start the book that way because when you ask, you are going to get told no. When you ask, you are going to get rejected. Those things are true and when you begin anticipating that or when you change your behavior because you don’t want to feel the pain of rejection, all of a sudden you stop asking or you ask in a way that is so passive and insecure, that you’re never going to get what you want.

Jeb Blount: So, what you need is first of all, to understand where that pain comes from so that you can be aware of it. Awareness is the mother of change. But, next you have to have a set of frameworks, so that when you ask and you get the objection, when it happens to you, that you can rise above the emotion. What I teach people when I’m working with them on objections is that the emotion that you feel about being rejected, because it’s not comfortable. Nobody likes to feel that way. That happens without your consent. You don’t get to choose the emotion. The only thing you can choose is how you respond to that, what you’re going to do next, how you rise above it.

Jeb Blount: One of the really simple mechanisms that we teach people is something called the ledge and it’s what neuroscientists call the magic quarter second. So, when you get someone telling you no, an objection, that happens at the… your response the emotional level and it kicks off something called fight or flight, which changes your physiology and it changes the way that you deal with it and it makes it really hard to think.

Jeb Blount: So the ledge, this magic quarter second, gives you just a moment to get your neocortex or your thinking, rational brain in executive control over your response. So, for example, if I asked you for time and you said, “Jeb, I’m too busy today.” My ledge in this situation would be, that’s exactly why I called because I figured you would be. I say that every single time. But just that simple moment of having something that I say and respond to, anytime someone says that to me. Someone says, “Your prices are too way too high.” I always say, “How so?”

Jeb Blount: But because I have that, it gives me a moment to think and if I can have that moment to think, I can get out of the emotional state that I’m in, that makes it difficult for me to respond and get back into a rational state that allows me to be in control of my emotions and therefore, deliver a response that helps me get past the objection.

Jeb Blount: The one thing that you must take to the bank and understand about your interactions with people in a sales conversation, is that the person in that conversation that exerts the greatest amount of emotional control is the person who has the highest probability of getting the outcome that they desire?

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think it probably, also has a little bit of impact of disarming the sort of knee jerk reaction. Like, “I’m too busy. You’re priced too high.” I mean some of that’s just defense, isn’t it? If we aren’t prepared to sort of deflect that defense mechanism, we’re never going to get a chance to show the value we can bring.

Jeb Blount: Yeah. I think it’s probably, when… We think about that more, “Let’s focus on disrupting the pattern.” So, when someone says, “I’m too busy.” Typically, that’s just their… It’s a reflex response. That’s why I call them buyer scripts, right? So, it’s just what they say. So, if you say, “I’m too busy.” I’m going to say, “That’s exactly why I called, because I figured you would be.” There not expecting that. I mean, they’re not expecting a salesperson to say that. They’re expecting me to argue with them or to say, “What’s a better time to call you.” I just say, “That’s exactly why I called because I figured you would be and all I want to do is find a time that’s more convenient for you.” I say that every single time. It’s got about a 70% probability of getting the person to tell me yes.

Jeb Blount: So, in that particular case, I’ve got a stock response. I was just working with a rep who is selling into CFOs and he sells software that helps them reduce their SGNA costs and he was having a hard time dealing with it, when the CFO said, “I’m not interested.” Because they all say, “I’m not interested,” because they’re too busy. His response, the way that he broke that up, he said, “That’s exactly what I thought you’d say because every CFO I call tells me they’re not interested, before they learn that we can rapidly reduce their SGNA costs and give them the ability to invest that money in places that grow the business.”

Jeb Blount: The week before he was using that turn around, he got four meetings. The week that he started using the turnaround, he got 18 meetings. So, it was just breaking through that little bit of resistance and doing something that allowed him to rise above the emotion and then, disrupted the pattern of that CFO, “I’m not interested.” That moved them to a place where they were willing to meet with him and that’s when he began… could begin to make the case because you can’t make the case on a simple prospecting call. It’s moving fast. You interrupted their day. You need to get the meeting to have that conversation.

John Jantsch: All right, I’m going to end on one you can probably swat right out of the park. But I’m going to ask you this question because I’m sure that lots of listeners out there and lots of folks who come to you probably have this. So you have a story in there that yes has a number and you essentially say, “If you ask…” Like a lot of salespeople, you have to ask enough people in order to get to yes with somebody. But here’s my question, so you had the number in there 11. You asked people to sing, Mary Had a Little Lamb and you said, typically somewhere around 11… by the 11th person, you finally got somebody to do it. So, let me ask you this, does that mean though that 10 people were damaged along the way?

Jeb Blount: No. I mean, the story is, I was in New York City. I was more damaged than not because I was usually getting F you, when I asked the question. So, I was the one that was getting damaged. But most people answer… I asked them… They went on with their life. I mean, they may have at dinner said, “Hey, this crazy guy on the street asked me to sing, Mary Had a Little Lamb into a camera.” But more often than not, they just forget, they have no idea.

John Jantsch: Let me make sure I focus on that. You use that as an example. So let’s say, just in the cold calling environment is what I’m really asking. So yeah, you finally find somebody who will meet with you, but the 10 people… And I’m saying damaged, that’s harsh. But I mean, are the 10 people that you interrupted, had a bad experience?

Jeb Blount: Well, only if you’re a total schmuck. But other than that, no. A great example of this is, I was working with a group up in Atlanta and we were doing cold calls. I was working, we’re working with them doing cold calls. The fourth person I called was just the meanest, most awful human being. She was so ugly to me and I’ve made thousands of calls, but she really hurt my feelings. Then I was even thinking that this is Atlanta, Georgia. So usually, you get told no nicer than you do in New York City.

Jeb Blount: So, it was bothering me, but I couldn’t flinch, because I’m in front of a bunch of reps that I’m training how to do cold calls. So, I kept on going, but finally it was bothering me so bad, I went back to the top of the list and I called her back 30 minutes after I’d called her the first time. When she answered the phone, I did exactly the same thing that I’d done the first time. And she said, “Yeah, come on by on Wednesday.” She didn’t even remember that I called her. I don’t know what she was in the middle of. I don’t know what was going on, but that happened.

Jeb Blount: My son called me earlier this week and and said… he said, “You’re not going to believe this.” He said, “I talked to the CEO two weeks ago, who told me that to go away. I’m never going to do business with you and oh, by the way, I’m busy for the next six years. So, don’t ever call me back again.” He said, “I was sitting there and I was thinking about it. I’m like, I’m going to call the guy back.” So he said, “Two weeks later, I called him back.” He said, “I changed my message up just a little bit.” And he said, “I ended up getting the meeting.”

Jeb Blount: It’s like, that’s what happens to people all the time. Is that you get off the phone thinking that that person is still thinking about you but they’re not. It’s probably no different than, someone cuts you off in traffic and you drive on and you’re so pissed off at them and you’re thinking about them grinding your teeth and thinking about all the things you can do with retribution and meanwhile, that person is driving on. They haven’t given you a second thought. They’re just going on with their day. All you are is an inconvenient interruption and they forgot about you the minute that you got off the phone. Unless of course, I mean, if you’re just a total jerk on the phone with them, they may not forget you, but that’s just so weird for sales people to do that.

Jeb Blount: Usually, I try to get past an objection a couple of times. If I don’t, I hang up and I move on and I call them back a couple of days later. So you’re not going to cause any damage calling people, doing prospecting, having conversations. More often than not, you’re going to create respect because you’re willing to call back. Which, I think is essentially, what happened to my son when the CEO realized that this kid who’s 21 years old wasn’t willing to back down. That CEO had deeper respect for him and was willing to give him 20 minutes of his time.

John Jantsch: Jeb, where can people find out more about you and Sales Gravy and any of your books?

Jeb Blount: Absolutely. All my books, I’ve written 10 books, they’re on Amazon. So, you can grab those, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Most bookstores, most airports you’ll find my books. is my flagship website. We have thousands and thousands and thousands of free resources there that you can grab. You can get my podcast, along with this one. Because this is the podcast Mark and I listen to every single week, but you can grab my podcasts on all the major podcast providers, Sales Gravy, G-R-A-V-Y, is the easiest way to pop that in. YouTube channel thousands are… Thousands, about four or 500 videos there, I think. Then, you can catch me on all the major social networks. I’m @salesgravy, wherever you go.

John Jantsch: Well, Jeb it was great catching up with you and hopefully, we’ll run into you there soon out on the road.

Jeb Blount: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Overcoming Objections in Sales

Overcoming Objections in Sales written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jeb Blount
Podcast Transcript

Jeb Blount headshot

On today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jeb Blount, author of 10 books on sales, leadership, and customer experience.

He is also a sought-after speaker, who delivers hundreds of keynote speeches, trainings, and workshops each year around the globe. Blount also advises leaders through his training programs, Sales Gravy and Innovate Knowledge.

Blount and I sit down to talk about his latest book, Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting Past No. He shares what he’s learned over the years about the art of sales and getting from a no to a yes in sales discussions.

Questions I ask Jeb Blount:

  • Why write a book focused solely on the topic of objections?
  • What are red herring, micro-commitment, and buying-commitment objections?
  • How do you develop the habit of asking questions before jumping into your sales pitch?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why the feeling of rejection is more biological than psychological, and what you can do to overcome it.
  • How to create a moment to think so that you can get past the objection with rationality.
  • Why breaking through the initial resistance can change the whole sales conversation.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jeb Blount:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Break Through the Noise book coverThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Break Through the Noise, the new book from Tim Staples. Staples is the co-founder and CEO of Shareability, a company that uses content, data and technology to drive explosive growth for major brands like AT&T, Hyatt, and the Olympics and major celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, John Cena and Leonardo DiCaprio.

In this book, Staples shares his nine-step approach that anyone can use to launch their product or service, capturing the attention of millions of people online, without having to spend millions of dollars.

Learn more about the book and order your copy here!

from Duct Tape Marketing

How to Build a High-Converting FAQ Page on Your Website

FAQ pages represent a crucial component of the customer conversion funnel. Anyone who lands on this page has already identified the need for whatever you’re selling and is now entering the consideration phase of the purchase process.

Your FAQ page can provide them with the information required to finalize their buying decision.

However, I see so many websites that overlook the importance of this landing page. I read lots of FAQ pages that sound more like an afterthought, as opposed to a page that’s been designed to drive conversions.

FAQ pages must have a purpose. Don’t just add one to your website because you feel like it’s a requirement and you want to fill up space.

While most websites should have a FAQ page, yours could be doing more harm than good if it doesn’t have any clear intentions. It’s possible that your FAQ page is driving people away from buying, as opposed to drawing them in. Obviously, you don’t want that.

For those of you who are currently neglecting your FAQ page, it’s time to make changes. The rest of you might not have an existing FAQ page and want to add one from scratch.

Regardless of your situation, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll show you how to address common problems with FAQ pages and learn how to optimize them for conversions.

Ask the “right” questions

I’ve seen plenty of FAQ pages that have a great design, layout, and optimal user experience. But to be blunt, the questions are awful.

Somewhere along the line, so many sites have lost the meaning behind frequently asked questions.

Anything related to where your company was founded, how many employees you have, or where your CEO was born does not belong here. You can include details about the history of your company on your about us page. I have a separate guide on how to create an impactful about us page on your website.

But adding irrelevant or useless questions and answers to your FAQ page is just going to confuse your visitors.

They’ll end up having a more difficult time finding information that will answer their actual question. So you need to have questions that are more related to conversions.

Check out some of the questions on the Allbirds FAQ page.

All Birds FAQ

This company has an ecommerce platform for selling shoes direct to consumer. So all of the questions are intended to drive sales.

They have questions related to how the shoes fit, sizing, returns, exchanges, refunds, and shipping. All of these are important to the consumer buying decision.

Allbirds does not offer half sizes in their shoes, which is definitely something that might throw some of their shoppers off. But they have questions directly made to address this potential concern.

Do you offer half sizes? Will the shoes stretch? Do the shoes fit a wide foot?

These are all logical questions that someone would ask before buying. You want your customers to feel confident when they’re shopping.

Buying a product, such as sneakers, online can be a challenge. Customers don’t get a chance to try on different sizes, walk around, and see what feels good like they would in a store.

But Allbirds alleviates any uneasiness by asking the right questions on this FAQ page.

If you’re still unsure about how to ask the “right” questions, just see what your customers are actually asking. Take a look at questions and comments from:

  • Submission forms
  • Customer emails
  • Live chat
  • Social media comments and messages
  • Phone support

Keep a database to track all of these questions and group similar ones. If lots of people are asking the same thing, it definitely belongs on your FAQ page.

Simplify the navigation

Like the rest of your website, Your FAQ page must be frictionless.

You might have great questions and answers, but if your site visitors can’t find them, then your FAQ page is going to fail.

Do your best to try and emulate an in-person shopping experience. If a customer was in a physical store, all they would need to do is find an employee and ask their question. Sure, sometimes that employee might direct the customer to another department or something like that. But in the end, the question is answered directly and timely.

Don’t make people hunt for answers on your website.

If the format of your FAQ page is just questions followed by answers repeating all down the page, visitors will have to keep scrolling to find what they’re looking for. This is not ideal. They might even overlook their question, which wouldn’t solve their problem.

Take a look at how Microsoft simplifies things on their FAQ page for software downloads.

Microsoft FAQ

Right away, you’ll see that there are two categories to choose from.

So the website visitor can narrow the results depending on if their question is related to Windows or Office. That way any Office questions won’t have irrelevant Windows questions that need to be sifted through.

When a user clicks on one of the options, the menu expands, without redirecting to a new page.

Here’s what it looks like if I click on Office.

Office FAQ

All 12 questions can be read without having to scroll. This makes it extremely easy for people to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Now, imagine if there was an answer directly below each of these questions. It would take up probably four or five times the amount of space on the page.

That layout would be much more challenging and require additional scrolling and text to read through. But this approach by Microsoft is clean and simple.

If you want to know something specific, like how long it takes for software to download, just click on the question and the answer will expand below it.

Office FAQ Expanded


If a site visitor has multiple questions, it’s still easy for them to navigate and find answers to everything.

Here’s the way you need to look at your FAQ page. If a site visitor has a question and it does not get answered, they aren’t going to convert. It’s that simple.

So if you approach your FAQ page trying to design the navigation in a way that’s optimized for user-experience, then it will increase the chances that people will find what they’re looking for.

Keep the answers short

Another common mistake that I see made on FAQ pages is the length of the answers. Everything needs to be clear and concise.

For the most part, your FAQ page should be fairly broad. You want everything to appeal to as many people as possible.

So you won’t have super-specific questions that require in-depth explanations.

But even for a general question that most people would ask, you still need to keep the answer concise. You don’t need to answer everything. Certain details can be left out.

I’d rather see FAQ pages with 30 questions that have short answers, as opposed to 15 questions with long answers. So if you currently have long paragraphs on your FAQ page, see if you can take one question and break it down into two or three.

This will provide a much better user experience.

Visitors shouldn’t have to read through an essay or short blog post to get a simple answer.

Let’s say that a website visitor is able to locate their question and ends up reading through a long answer. They might end up having additional questions, based on the length and details of that answer. You don’t want that to happen.

So sharpen your writing skills and only include the most important information related to the question.

Check out this example from the PayPal FAQ page.

Paypal FAQ

Look at the first question—what is PayPal?

Talk about a loaded question. PayPal is so many different things. They offer services for businesses, consumers, and websites. They could probably answer this question in 50 pages if they wanted to, going into details comparing PayPal and Stripe for ecommerce.

But no, they take a much simpler approach. The entire answer is just three sentences.

If they got into all of the specific details of PayPal, what it is, what it does, and who it’s for, it would only confuse the initial question. The answer above is clear, concise, and still answers the question.

Offer added support

While a FAQ page should be written to help most of your website visitors with broad questions, sometimes it’s just not enough.

No matter how good your questions are, how great the answers are, or how simple the format is, some people will still need additional assistance. That’s OK.

If it’s going to take a little bit of extra support to get people to convert, then give it to them.

Just make sure that all support options are available. Here’s how Samsung approaches this on their FAQ page.

Samsung FAQ

The first thing I noticed when I landed on this page was the list of categories. Samsung is a huge company, so it makes sense for them to start this way.

But as I stayed on the screen without making any actions for a while, this pop-up window appeared prompting a live chat session.

They obviously have this triggered to appear whenever someone doesn’t scroll or click since the implication would be that they can’t find what they’re looking for. I love this approach.

It’s much better than forcing the site visitor to go back and find another support page or make them go through countless questions manually until they find an answer. That’s just too many added steps.

Put a live chat window directly on your FAQ page.

Furthermore, Samsung has a phone support button in view at all times as well, as I pointed out in the screenshot above. So the customer has options.

Can’t find a solution on the FAQ page? No problem. Just pick up the phone or speak with one of our live chat representatives. This strategy should be incorporated into your FAQ page if you want to drive as many conversions as possible. The extra effort will go a long way.

Optimize for SEO

When you’re crafting a high-converting FAQ page, you need to keep the big picture of your website in mind. Nothing screams big picture louder than SEO.

For the most part, FAQ pages are designed with the idea that a visitor will land somewhere on your website, have a question, and then navigate to the FAQ page. In many cases, this very well might be the case.

However, you can set up your FAQ page to get traffic directly from organic searches as well.

So every question doesn’t need to be brand-specific. For example, let’s say your website offered web hosting plans for small businesses. Your FAQ page could ask, what is shared web hosting?

This question isn’t exclusive to one of your products or services. But it’s definitely something that one of your prospective customers will search for online. Your question could end up in the SERPs, driving more traffic to your website, and ultimately leading to conversions.

A great tip for finding SEO questions is to just use Google.

Let’s say you sell sneakers. Type in keywords that you’re trying to rank for, like “sneakers for travel,” and then scroll to the bottom to view related searches.

Based on these search suggestions, you can get SEO-inspired questions for your FAQ page.

So you can add questions related to shoes for walking all day or stylish shoes for Europe.

Another way to improve your SEO is by creating dedicated landing pages for your questions. Now, this slightly contradicts what we talked about earlier in terms of user experience. Redirecting people every time they want to see a new question could be a bit annoying.

However, these dedicated landing pages that interlink with each other can give you a boost in terms of SEO, if your website architecture and sitemap are optimized properly.


FAQ pages are critical resources for your website visitors.

Anyone who lands on this page is on the verge of converting. Sometimes getting a question answered is all it takes for them to finalize a decision.

So stop wasting time and space with FAQ pages that don’t add real value to your site.

Focus on questions that are related to conversions. Keep the user experience in mind by simplifying your design and writing concise answers. Offer additional support options for people who still have questions. Go the extra mile and optimize your FAQ pages for SEO.

If you follow the tips that I’ve covered in this guide, you can turn your FAQ page into a conversion machine.

from Quick Sprout

How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount...

The post How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days appeared first on Copyblogger.

from Copyblogger

#CMWorld 2019 Interview: Andrew Davis on Showing, Not Telling

The post #CMWorld 2019 Interview: Andrew Davis on Showing, Not Telling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

from Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

How to Tweak Your Emails and Website for Mobile

When it comes to your B2B marketing strategy, your tactical approach to mobile should be different than that of your offline and online strategies. And, it’s not just about the screen size or functionality.

There are other aspects to both your email campaigns and website that you’ll need to tweak in order to create a more effective user experience (UX) for your customers and prospects as part of your mobile marketing strategy.  

Mobile Email Campaign Changes

When it comes to planning mobile email campaigns, here are some things to differently knowing you have a different screen size and platform:

  • Be more visual and less wordy. Knowing that your clients and prospects are receiving hundreds of emails a day laden with content, be different and offer them an aesthetic experience with visuals or video. Focus content on creating a relevant subject line and engaging header above your visual.   
  • Focus on an intuitive presentation. It should fill the screen of your mobile device audience member in a way that presents a clear and readable way to absorb your email message. Ensure that the email marketing service that gives you templates offers this intuitive media inquiry feature, so your email looks great whether it’s viewed in landscape or portrait mode.
  • Minimize email weight for fast load time.  Load time becomes so much more critical in the mobile environment, so you’ll need to minimize image file size, so they are mobile friendly.    
  • Consider layout and placement for touchscreen screen use. Your email layout may also need to change considering how users interact with it compared to a desktop email. In this case, when it comes to a call to action (CTA) with a link in a mobile email, the user will most likely use their fingers or thumbs. Test that your layout allows for the user to easily complete this action rather than becoming frustrated and losing that potential conversion.
  • Plan for different outcomes. A user that opens a mobile email versus a desktop email may have different intentions, so you need to plan a different outcome or goal for mobile email campaigns. For example, your research on mobile users may indicate they are more likely to engage with a mobile email that encourages them to download a report, podcast, webinar, or presentation because they have more time to review this content while working from their mobile device.
Mobile Website Improvements

The tweaks you need to do when it comes to viewing your website on a mobile device involve essentially creating an entirely different website that works for mobile devices, including screen size, functionality, touchscreen capability, and load time. A mobile-responsive website design will automatically recognize and adjust to the device it’s viewed on, which delivers great value in terms of time and money ROI. Similar tweaks like those suggested for mobile emails related to visuals, minimal content, and easy functionality and interaction also apply to your mobile website strategy.

Other tweaks to make to your mobile website include:

  • Consider additional features that drive value for the mobile user. These features could be the ability to download any app your company offers directly from your mobile website versus sending them to a third-party app store. And, if you don’t have an app, this may be the time to consider how you can add one for various interactions, including loyalty programs and exclusive content.
  • Emphasize other mobile-friendly platforms. When a user is on your mobile website, they may want to find you on social media to follow or like your profile, so make this as easy as possible. Include embedded social media buttons and related online channel connections on each page of your mobile website so the user can click and connect when they’re ready.
  • Create mobile landing pages that address specific audience segments. Your mobile website has to have mobile-friendly and relevant landing pages related to certain mobile campaigns to amplify your message. This is also an ideal tactic to connect with your mobile audience on a local level. Combine the mobile device’s location services with intuitive technology and you can deliver local-first landing pages to specific audience members who are in those areas.
Test Everything

From tablets to various smartphone products, it’s important to test all your mobile marketing interactions to ensure they work well and deliver that frictionless user experience that keeps users engaged with your mobile presence. Beyond testing internally, find external users willing to test and provide feedback so you can continue tweaking until you optimize your mobile results for your business.


Consumers check their mobile devices 150 times a day at least. Do you have a mobile strategy in place? Find out what you need to “Go Further with Mobile Marketing.”

Read the guide.


from Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Sharpen your search marketing skills with an SMX workshop

Choose from one of seven expert-led workshops in SEO, SEM, content, and video marketing (plus a beginner’s Boot Camp!).

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

Facebook to remove thousands of outdated interest targets for advertising

(Don’t panic.) The interest targets will be phased out in the coming months.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

Facebook Business Manager with bulk permissions management rolling out

A new look and bulk permission and asset assignment features should make getting things done faster if you know where to look.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

Is your martech leadership failing on SEO? Probably

Jessica Bowman helps address some of the common questions that an otherwise well-versed marketing technology leader might have about enterprise SEO.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

Transcript of Why Reviews Matter to Your Business

Transcript of Why Reviews Matter to Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


Break Through the Noise book cover

John Jantsch:  Today’s episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples, Co-Founder and CEO of Shareability. In his book Tim reveals his secret sauce for how to capture the attention of millions of people online, without spending millions of dollars.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Aaron Weiche. He is the CEO of GatherUp, a review and customer feedback platform, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, is getting reviews, customer experience feedback, all that good stuff that we need to do to understand who our buyers are, and what we do that’s unique. Aaron, thanks for joining me.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me on, John.

John Jantsch: Let’s just talk some basics. I mean, I assume everybody knows what reviews are, those things that Google, and Facebook, and things, people have been leaving for years, but now they’re on these digital platforms. Let’s talk about how important they are, that we kind of take over, or at least participate in that process.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, two really big high level signals that I look at and put a lot of trust in is one, just what you see when you do a search at Google itself, and that I test is, whether I’m looking for a product, or a hotel, or a service, who’s going to take care of my lawn. Almost all of those results nowadays in some way, shape, form, or another are accompanied by review stars.

Aaron Weiche: We definitely see a very strong signal from the biggest window into the web through Google, that reputation really matters, and they are bringing it to the conversation right in that search result, very high, and very visible for a user to interact with. Then, the second is just around a lot of studies in the last handful of years that show overwhelmingly, to the tune of like 85% or more, that we trust online reviews as much as we trust talking to humans that we know. When you kind of combine those things of a very high trust level, and it’s very visible, and Google doesn’t do things by accident, I think that’s a very, very large signal to any small business that your reputation is tied to how you’re viewed in the world.

John Jantsch: There’s certain industries, nail salons, restaurants, hotels, I mean you’re under three stars and you’re just done because people really count on those for those. But, would you say that, that has now kind of permeated out to just about every industry?

Aaron Weiche: Absolutely. No one is void of reputation being part of that decision, and the best way I summarize this is, we have every option available to us when we do a search now, right? Even when you get into a very obscure business or service provider, you still might have three or five choices that you can look into. Time is such a huge commodity, we’re not going to call, or fill out a contact form on all of them. As a consumer, we’re looking to make the most informed decision, and reach out to one.

Aaron Weiche: When you look at that, brand and reputation is often one of those big factors, and what do other people have to say about working with this business. Are they reputable and trustworthy, because I’ve never used them before, and are they worth me putting a call into, or giving up my email address, or filling out a contact form?

John Jantsch: Do you think that consumers understand the difference between what we might call first party and third party reviews? In other words, you go to a website and they’ve got all these glowing reviews on their website, but then there’s Google who is aggregating these theoretically in a sort of impartial way. Do you think consumers understand the difference between those?

Aaron Weiche: I think they do a little bit, but what I think is even more important to the consumer is, is there depth, and is there information, and are there answers in those reviews? I think that’s much more of a deciding factor, because if it’s helpful to the consumer, I think they start to look at less what’s the source, how is it organized, what’s the rating scale, and everything else. But, if they’re able to get answers to their questions, and be able to identify with what they’re reading and have that aha moment where they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s me,” the way this person is describing this, or their experience with it. I think that’s what’s most important to them.

Aaron Weiche: I think when you do a good job of bringing that type of content to the table, they really don’t care how it was acquired, or what went on with it. They’re just happy that they have the answers that they need to move forward.

John Jantsch: Okay, so on Google’s five point or five star scale, is there a perfect aggregate score that you should be aiming for? Here’s the genesis of my question, I mean you see these ones that a plumber, and I’m not picking on plumbers. But, 147 reviews, all five star. Do we believe that?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, I definitely think small business owners and marketers, we fall victim to the perception of perfect. As a long time SEO industry friend of mine, Matt McGee once said, we don’t live in a five star world. I think it’s important for businesses as well. One study I cite a lot when I give talks is, Northwestern and PowerReviews did a study, and they actually found that 4.2 to 4.5 was the most trusted. That showed that you’re doing a great job, but you’re also not perfect. Because, just as you noted, when you see this large quantity of reviews and everyone has had this perfect experience, there is a part of you that says, “That seems a little bit too good to be true.” I think authenticity is a really big part of it, and I tell people all the time, don’t obsess on being perfect. Definitely focus on being great, consistently over and over again.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think because we all know people that, you can give them $100 bill, and they’d give you a three star review, you know? I mean, some people just won’t give anything five stars.

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch: I agree with that. Do you think that business owners, small business owners should get proactive? I mean, be asking every one of their customers for a review, or does that somehow taint it?

Aaron Weiche: I think more important than that is, you should be asking and understanding what your customer thinks. I get that Google reviews are so visible. I call them … right? They’re like sprinkles on the doughnut. They’re what attract you to the window, and get you to look up close, and have you thinking about it. But, I look at whatever your customer thinks about their experience with your business, how it went, that’s more important. Whether they tell Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or whether they tell you directly, you need to know what they think. Absolutely, you need to be proactive with that, because we’re all inundated with so many things to do, and things we forget, and whatever else. If you’re not taking control, and taking the time to ask that customer, and make it really easy for them to give you feedback and talk to you, then you are falling short in what you can do to understand that, and ultimately turn it into marketing power for you.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I’m going to give you a little tip here, behind the scenes secret of something that I do.

Aaron Weiche: Ooh.

John Jantsch: We work with a lot of small business owners, one of the first things we want to do is match their message to their market. Guess what one of the best sources of information about what their message really should be, or what their unique difference is? A lot of times if somebody has a lot of glowing reviews from not just five stars and done, but like they wrote a paragraph about them, nine times out of 10 phrases and themes will come out of those reviews, that really do suggest, “Here’s what this business does that’s unique.” Or, “Here’s the problem this business really solves.” A lot of times we’ll build marketing campaigns around the content from their reviews.

Aaron Weiche: Yep, that’s absolutely perfect. I would take it a step further, I often tell people, do that research on your customer or your competitors reviews as well, right? Where are they driving these amazing experiences, and are you giving that same type of experience, or are you falling short and you need to change something? You’re right, reviews are a goldmine for what really makes a customer happy, and you need to make sure that you’re marketing and telling that story so that others desire to come have that same experience.

John Jantsch: I’ve worked with businesses over the years that have claimed, “Hey …” And we know, they have happy customers, they have repeat customers, they have advocates, but they can’t get them to write reviews. Is there something that actually tips somebody over the edge so that they’ll make that effort?

Aaron Weiche: Service all day long to me, is really the big one. We even see it within our own business, that they like our software, and they might write nice things about our software, but the minute that we are asking for feedback or a review after one of our support teams helps somebody solve something, or guides them in a direction, the response rate on that is through the roof.

Aaron Weiche: For a lot of businesses I always look at like what is that aha moment when you’re serving a customer, that you can see they’re really happy, you’ve solved a problem, you’ve relieved pressure, you’ve given that solution. That’s when you want to be prompting them, or letting them know how important a review is, or even them talking to you about the experiences, because they’re in that euphoria of what took place. That’s what I usually look to analyze with the business, and that’s the time you need to be asking.

Aaron Weiche: Secondarily, you just, you have to make it easy for them, right? Time is our biggest commodity, so if you can’t make it happen in a couple of easy clicks and in a really short interaction, you’re going to lose out. We all get these surveys in our inbox, right? You fly on an airline and they ask you to take a survey, and you get 30 questions in and you now, you liked that brand and now you’re like, “I really don’t like you. You’ve just stolen time from me within my day.”

John Jantsch: Just to let you know, this episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples. If you’re a marketer, an entrepreneur, or a small business owner and you have a limited budget to market to and connect with your customers, you need Breakthrough The Noise. Tim Staples shares the nine essential rules for mastering the art of online storytelling, and provides tools to help you outsmart the social media algorithms, increase your share of voice, and build your brand. Break Through The Noise by Tim Staples is on sale now wherever books are sold.

John Jantsch: Is there a proper moment in the customer experience to ask for reviews, feedbacks? Again, I know there’s no like one answer to that.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah.

John Jantsch: But, should the sales people, the technicians, the marketing people, I mean should everybody be doing it or is there a sort of proper sequence in your opinion?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, well I think you hit upon what’s probably most important, and that it’s a human on your team asking, right? Even if you use an automated solution like ours, but that team member says, “Hey, just so you know, within the next day you’re going to get an email asking for some quick feedback and to write a review,” that’s build a relationship and saying like, “Hey, I provided you with great service. Will you repay that favor by giving us a review, or giving us feedback on our business?” We see that when that human ask is coupled with timing as close to the service as possible so that they haven’t forgotten about it, or missed details with it, or anything else. That’s really the winning combination, is that human ask as close to that service or experience.

John Jantsch: I know this will vary by lots of industries, but is there sort of a globally accepted kind of impact rating for star reviews? In other words, for every half a point, and again I’m just defaulting to Google because they have such an easy scale. But, like going from 3.5 to 4.2, does that have a measurable sort of percentage of impact of sales?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, the one study that I know is probably quite old now was from Yelp, that they basically equated like a half star rating into what it would be for revenue within a restaurant. I can’t off the top of my head remember those numbers, but that’s the last really data driven study that I’ve seen on that.

Aaron Weiche: We tend to look at it a lot of times because we capture, and this is a whole ‘nother topic, but we capture net promoter score, which basically helps a business understand how likely that customer is to refer you. We just see a super strong correlation between those that are happy and willing to refer you, are also willing to give that digital referral, and write that review. We see it inside of that, and I think if you, over time, looked at businesses that have a high NPS and a high rating, you’re going to see them succeeding in their profit and loss and their sales, much more than anyone else.

John Jantsch: Well, and I know anecdotally, I mean when I’m traveling and I’m looking for a place to eat because I don’t have a recommendation, I mean there’s certainly judgements I make about if it’s under four or something, you know? I’m probably going to look elsewhere. I mean, I think a lot of people probably kind of operate in that same sort of vein.

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch:Do you think that there are demonstratively demographic trends to this? In other words, is a 30 year old only relying on reviews, where maybe a 60 year old is going to be asking somebody via email, or text, or something. Have you seen any? Those are just wild examples, but have you seen any correlation-

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch: …Demographically to the use of reviews, and their reliance on reviews?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, what we have seen more is that evening out a lot more, and no surprise, right? When you have all of this information right in the palm of your hand in your smartphone, I think that’s really increased the access, and the amount of people wanting to rely on those things.

Aaron Weiche: Now, I think what we see more of happening is yes, a younger consumer, anywhere from 18 all the way up to 35, or even that next jump of 44, 45, they use it almost exclusively. Where, then when you trend into some of the olders, it’s going to balance out in some of the upper age brackets, where reviews are part of that consideration, but they still want some human referral, and maybe a few other sources to go along with it. Where, the younger you scale down, if I see it on the review site and I feel good about it, I’m good. I don’t need to ask any personal recommendations, or anything else.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about the topic nobody wants to address, what percentage of reviews do you think are just blatant spam?

Aaron Weiche: I don’t know if I can give you a number, but I can tell you, too high, too high of a number. This is definitely a critical thing facing the industry as an overall, right? Google has really jumped leaps and bounds, multiples above how many reviews any other review site has. But, in doing so, anytime you go all in on quantity, quality suffers, and they have very little, and there’s been a lot more coming to the surface on fake reviews, bot reviews, all of these different combinations of spam reviews.

Aaron Weiche: We’re hoping in work in this industry, and we want its authenticity to play out, and have longevity, that something needs to be done there. Then, you even have on the other side, Yelp which is very polarizing for small businesses. They have something in place, right? But, they also, it’s so secretive to how they filter out reviews and things like that, that also causes distrust. We actually have both sides of the coin right now. We have somebody whose paying so much attention, and trying to make sure that only the best reviews from trustworthy people and whatever else are the ones that are showing, but they go so far to extreme that people don’t trust how they’re surfacing the results.

Aaron Weiche: Then, on the other side we have somebody who it’s such an open floodgate with so little being done, that when you start digging into a lot of things, that can cause a lot of distrust. It’s definitely probably at least at a five, 10%, maybe even more mark, which I think is just a shame considering the firepower that these companies have, to actually institute some pretty basic things, or just be more transparent on what they are doing with it.

John Jantsch: I loved your qualifiers in there, you said definitely, probably, maybe, at least five percent, I think is what you said. Not to pick on them too much because everybody else has, but Yelp sort of brought some of that on themselves, I think, in terms of marrying the selling of advertising with a review process. A more cynical person than I might suggest that there’s some things that are not so right there, but I know you have to be nice, you have to play nice because you don’t want them mad at you.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about responding to reviews. What’s your take on that? Should every review you respond to, what’s your take?

Aaron Weiche: My personal take is, especially for a small business, absolutely do that, for a couple of different reasons. One, for the next customer that’s researching and looking to do business with you, it sends a strong signal that you’re listening, you pay attention, and you care to respond to your customers. It makes them envision how they’re going to be treated with you, respectfully. That, you’re going to listen to their needs, both online and off, and it’s a really good trust signal.

Aaron Weiche: Secondarily, when you do this through most platforms, it’s going to email and alert that customer that you’ve responded, so it’s another customer touchpoint, you’re thanking them for taking the time to write that review. All great things, and maximize those touchpoints with your customers, and let everyone see that you’re interactive with your customer base.

Aaron Weiche: Now, that grows exponentially when it’s a critical, or a bad review. You want to first respond to that customer and try to save that relationship, let them know you’re listening. Own the problem. Nobody wants to hear, “Well we were short staffed, the basement flooded,” yada, yada, yada. All they want to know is that if they ever came back again, they wouldn’t have this same poor experience, and that you care, you’re doing something to solve it, and you’re owning it.

Aaron Weiche: After that, you also…solving it for that person, you want to make sure that those next customers also see like yeah, they’re not perfect, but if something does go wrong they listen, they’re reasonable, they’re respectful, and they try to make it right. At the end of the day, that’s what most consumers want, is that confidence that if something does go wrong, they will be treated well, and the business will try to make it right with them.

John Jantsch:  Yeah, I have…obviously business owners get emotional about a negative review, particularly, “Well, that customer was unreasonable,” they just want to fire off their response to that person. I always tell them, write your response not to that person, write your response to the public, because that’s who’s going to see it.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah.

John Jantsch: I think that’s a good way to approach it, but it’s also, it’s, “Hey, they’re saying bad things about my business. How dare they.” It’s hard to take the emotion out of those, isn’t it?

Aaron Weiche: It totally is. I always tell people, because I do this for myself. I put myself in an emotional timeout when that comes in. Step away from the keyboard, let the emotion wear off, reread it for the facts that are there on what went wrong. The wait was too long, the food was cold, an expectation wasn’t met. Whatever that is, and then yeah, great point. Write it that way.

Aaron Weiche: I always tell people, write it, and then read it out loud, right? What does it sound like when you read it out loud to yourself, or to someone else? I also tell people, it’s not the emergency situation you feel like it is, because when you get a bad review, you suddenly think the entire world is reading that one star review that’s out there, and that’s not the case. You’re better off taking time to compose the right type of response, editing it multiple times, getting other people to weigh in on it, and two days later posting the right response, than you are rushing, being emotional, saying the wrong thing, and causing even more things to go wrong than what already went wrong with that review.

John Jantsch: I think we can all agree the social proof aspect of reviews, I mean I go there, I look them up, and they’ve got 25 reviews, and they all seem really good. What in your opinion is the SEO value of reviews?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, I think really big value because, just as you pointed out, there’s kind of this content goldmine in there, especially when you’re providing a great experience and service, and that customer’s going to write about it. They’re writing from … in marketing, right? It’s always write from the persona of your customer. To me the big win here, is this is persona generated content. Let’s say I’m planning a trip for my family, I have four kids going to Disney World. I’m on TripAdvisor reading reviews on a hotel. Well, the minute I see someone else talk about that they have four or five kids, the same boatload that I have, and I start looking into how they spent their time, and what they did, and did the place they stay have all the amenities they want. I start to identify with that, I have met my equal persona.

Aaron Weiche: I just think that’s so important for a business to understand, that we all write great things about ourselves and our copy, how we’re the best, and the greatest, and an awesome staff, and all these other things. But, reviewers I think, they speak the language of the average consumer because they’re not trying to sell something, they’re just sharing what their experience was. I think that’s such a win, when the consumer can consume that.

Aaron Weiche: On the flip side for Google when they see that, that consumer is likely using keywords about the business, locations about the business, the types of terms a searcher is going to type in as well, and you’re bringing all of this additional content to a page that you wrote 300 words about your business. Well, if you bring in 30 words … or, 30 reviews about it, you might double the amount of content that’s talking about your service product, or your business.

John Jantsch: Aaron, we could talk all day about this, but better wrap it up and tell people where they can go to find out more about GatherUp, and the various services that you offer small business owners?

Aaron Weiche: Absolutely. If you visit you can get a very detailed look at what we do, what our feature set is, case studies of businesses that we’ve worked with, our blog is very active, we share a lot of knowledge from the reputation and review space. We always invite you to come in and be able to learn from all of that.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks for dropping by, Aaron. Hopefully we’ll run into you some day soon out there on the road.

Aaron Weiche: I appreciate it, John. Thank you.

from Duct Tape Marketing