Online reviews allow e-commerce retailers to establish themselves as authentic and trustworthy in the eyes of consumers, but getting customers to leave feedback when they purchase products online isn’t always an easy task. Reve Boutique owner Meital Benaroya says she uses Zuberance to identify and reward her biggest “brand advocates.” Using Zuberance’s self-serve platform, Benaroya sends out questionnaires asking customers to rate her business on a scale of 1 to 10, and automatically asks customers who’ve given scores between 8 and 10 to post full-length reviews.
How important is social media for an online business? Is Facebook still the most important platform as far as social recommendations are concerned?
It’s our main focus, as far as a social platform. It’s where we’ve really been investing in getting our customers interacting with each other and seeing pictures, posts, and promotions. But now, also, I think other platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are becoming even stronger. Because they’re all connected, you don’t always have to be on Facebook. You can put out [content] through Pinterest or Instagram, and then have it automatically updated on Facebook. I guess the Facebook presence is the most vital, but you don’t have to only promote through Facebook now that everything is connected.
Is it a challenge to stay on top of so many different platforms?
It’s just keeping up with all the new marketing tools that are out there. Pinterest is now a new thing. It’s getting Pinterest up, the page up, and getting our followers to pin and post. Instagram is something that we’re pushing really strong—just as much as we’re pushing Pinterest, but Instagram I feel is really strong right now. People react to pictures, and they’re ‘liking’ and commenting. It has the same effect as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all in one. [It’s just about] creating contests and keeping up with what bigger businesses are able to establish much faster than small businesses.
With so many marketing platforms out there right now, how do you decide which are worth using?
Being that we’re a small business, sometimes we don’t have the funds to put into different platforms and all the companies that approach us. But, a lot of times companies that are still in beta reach out to companies like mine and said, “Hey, why don’t you be a part of our beta? We’ll help you use our platform and do a little tester.” So I end up going with the ones that are still in beta. Whatever the platform is, they want to push it, so they push my company. That’s usually the ones I go with.
I know that you’ve been working with Zuberance for a while to build word-of-mouth marketing. Can you tell me more about how that’s going?
Basically, we’re taking my contact list—my email list of potential customers and existing customers—and we’re reaching out to them and asking, “Would you recommend us?” We ask them [to rate the boutique] on a scale of 1 to 10, and those who vote 8 through 10 are then asked to post a review. That’s one way we do it. Another thing we’re doing is asking them, “Would you recommend us?” and saying, “What do you like about us?” Instead of asking for a review, it’s a different type of question. “What do you think we should change? What’s good? What’s going on?” We get more feedback [by asking] not only, “Would you recommend us?” but also, “What do you think is great about us?”
Going forward in the future, what I really want to do—which I see a lot of other bigger companies doing now—is in order to get a promotion, [customers] have to write a review. It sends out an email and asks the customer, “Do you want this promotion?” If they do, then they have to link their Facebook, and then it asks for a review. Then the reviews get posted to the company’s website. I’m doing the same thing with Zuberance with existing reviews and recommendations that we’ve collected from our customers. We’re taking those and putting them on the homepage of my website so people can get a better idea of the feedback for my company.
Do you have any sense of whether the word-of-mouth marketing campaign you’re working on with Zuberance is effective? Is it helping bring in more sales?
That I have yet to find out. It’s something that, when you’re a small business, it’s not your main focus to get people to write reviews because you might not have all the capability and the people and the funds to get it done. Having a platform like Zuberance to get it done for you is pretty helpful. Also, I just got an email from Constant Contact and they’re pretty much doing a similar thing, with getting social campaigns done via email and connected to Facebook.
It sounds like email marketing is really important for you. How have you gone about collecting emails for your subscriber list?
They come from orders that have already been placed; customers that exist and customers that have signed up to our email list and are subscribed to that, and also through Facebook. We gain someone’s email address by asking them on Facebook. [When we ask] “Would you recommend us?” they automatically have to plug in their email address when they submit a review.
So Zuberance helps you collect email addresses, too?
Yes. They send out posts. If you check my Facebook page, there’s an app on the side and it asks anybody who’s visiting the page, “Would you recommend us?” It sends them to a page where they have to input their email and then put in a recommendation—and only if they vote 8 through 10, then we ask them for the review.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Click here to read more Street Fight local merchant case studies.