We're at the point in time where modern technology can influence consumer buying decisions within seconds through the use of mobile devices. We're not talking about mobile websites or intentional mobile marketing but rather online reviews and testimonials.
Through various blog posts Google continues to affirm that 1 out of 5 searches are related to a customer's location. Those location searches trigger the organic results to include Google Places listings and online review websites. Most of the time each of these results is accompanied by a set of star ratings.
Google tweaks the SERP layouts continuously. As of this writing, the review stars appear in the AdWords ads, Citysearch.com listings, and Yelp listings. Note that Google specifically includes the stars next to the AdWords ads instead of the Places listings in the organic search. This is their way of driving more clicks to the ads, which of course, increases Google's revenues.
We've pointed out the AdWords star ratings so you understand that, unless you are paying for AdWords, the reviews you get on Google Places won't attract as much attention as those on Yelp, Citysearch, or any another review site.
Now let's switch topics slightly to one of our ongoing tests with QR codes. Back in August 2011, we sent out QR codes to a select few jewelry stores to test how effective they would be when the QR code sign was hung inside the store.
For our test we created a few QR codes that lead users directly to the mobile page of a review site so customers could leave a review. Each store was instructed to put their QR code in one of three places.
The concept behind this test was to see if consumers would be willing to scan a code, visit a review website, then actually post a testimonial before they even left the store. The QR code makes the process simple to do with a smartphone.
Admittedly, not many people know how to use a QR code, but consider for a moment that you could ask every one of your customers to go home and leave a review on Yelp... only to be left out in the cold. Few customers will make the time, or even remember to go to the review site of your choosing and leave a review.
Let's get back to our QR code test... Our testing period was August 25, 2011 through March 25, 2012. Yes, that's a long 7 months because QR codes simply are not widely understood yet, even if they are appearing everywhere. They are becoming a standard in marketing with or without that mainstream awareness, right before our eyes.
Location 1: Inside front door
This location was chosen in hopes that customers, without prompting, would stop and look at it as they walked out and scan the QR code to leave a review. During the 7 months this location had fewer than 10 scans with an average of 2 reviews.
Location 2: Hung on a wall at a customer waiting area
This location was chosen in hopes that customers, while waiting for some type of service, would take the time to figure out what a QR code was, scan it, and leave a review. During the 7 month test this location received 27 scans with 6 reviews. These scans were unprompted.
Location 3: At point of sale, under a glass counter top cover.
We actually had 2 variations of this test: stores that pointed the QR code out, and stores that ignored it and hoped for the best.
For the stores that pointed the QR code out they had about 13 scans in 7 months with 5 new reviews.
Stores that hoped for the best had about 7 scans, but no reviews posted.
We're viewing this micro test as a success. It took a long time to wait for the results, but now that we see them we know there is clear value in using QR codes to acquire more reviews. The best location seems to be at your repair counter, or other typical waiting area.
In tomorrow's Daily Golden Nugget we'll give you the steps to creating your own QR code so you can take advantage of these findings.