Isn’t the internet fantastic? Consumers have grasped this major contraption and suddenly we have immense power over companies. Gone are the days we rely solely upon their product descriptions and promises. After all, how can we truly trust what a company tells us? They’re just slapping on a big greasy smile, lulling us in, and BAM next thing you know your wallet’s empty. But now we have the capability to hear from other consumers, the good, the bad and the ugly about a company and its products. We have created an online community where we lean on one another, trust one another, and guide one another’s purchases. This is generally seen through online reviews. We have a vast array of blogs, general review websites as well as reviews on specific websites that help us to make our vital purchase decisions. However! Just how often can we trust these reviews?

5 star

Well there are some traps consumers need to be aware of when it comes to trusting these online advice sources.

Website Specific Reviews:

One problem with trusting reviews is that you never know whether the company who owns the site is moderating those reviews. I recently tried purchasing a dress for my 21st next year from Kiss Dresses (see http://www.kissdresses.com/wedding-dresses-ol/wedding-dresses.html). After much research I decided on this website, the reviews looked genuine and I was sucked in by the price. After waiting over 2 months for my dress to be dispatched I MAY have lost my cool and cancelled my order demanding my money back. One piece of research I SHOULD have conducted was for a website like TrustPilot or SiteJabber. These websites are run by independent parties for consumers to help let others know whether a website is trustworthy or not. This website was not!

site trust

Wow! Look at all the positive reviews!

Make sure you look at multiple websites, get opinions from a number of sites, and watch some video reviews on YouTube. You never know if a company has purchased bulk positive reviews. Generally these are purchased from offshore companies that will post review after review with fake alias and addresses (see http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/jan/26/fake-reviews-plague-consumer-websites). Some companies will do this to deceive their consumers and trick them into believing a product is fantastic. It’s much better to trust a website that has both positive AND negative reviews because then you know that these were not moderated by the company, and most likely were provided by real consumers.


This Company Got Slammed!

Lots and lots of bad reviews? Maybe something fishy is going on. Either the company has done something severely wrong (let’s face it, you’d probably hear about in the news) or they’re the receiver for some kind of scam. I learned from Mike Golden at Adsmith China last year on the Monash Marketing China Program trip, that sometimes companies can be at the receiving end of threats from influential individuals. Kind of the polar opposite of bulk positive reviews, but instead you have lots of negative reviews. Mike described these as ‘zombie reviews’. Once again these are usually a single person posting multiple reviews from different aliases. Alternatively it could also be from competitors who want to discourage you from a purchase. When it comes to reading these reviews, perhaps it’s best to look for independent websites that will provide the pro’s, cons and even videos to demonstrate products. Often these independent sources will describe the type of people who would enjoy, or not enjoy a product. And once again; perhaps look at multiple independent sites to avoid bias.


So guys! Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. Next time you want to research online, keep these little things in mind. All the information is out in the big wide web for the taking. Realise the consumer control you hold, and the power you wield!  Are there any other tips and tricks you can think of to give consumers the power in their purchases?? Post a comment below!



ERG! 1475 Emails… Time For The Monthly Email Clear Out

Direct mail marketing. Everyone loves that giddy feeling you get when you open a piece of snail mail. It’s just so darn rare today with the significant reduction in costs and effort to send a mass number of emails on a daily basis; emails have taken over. So with emails becoming the new ‘direct-mail’ what gets you to subscribe to a company’s emailing list? It may be for an online purchase, to receive discounts, to keep up to date with a company’s happenings, or any number of other things. I have to ask, just how effective are these emails as promotional tools for a company?


I know personally, that I get driven up the wall when it comes to the number of emails I get on a weekly, daily, or even hourly bloody basis. I barely even read them anymore. I have actually gone off on a bit of a rant and decided to unsubscribe from a large number of the major culprits filling up my inbox with crap.


The second thing that has begun to annoy me with emails is that it’s the same information, over and over AND OVER! (Yes Bra’s n Things, I got your first 50 emails! I know you’re having a sale!). One of the biggest things to keep me hooked on email subscriptions is the hope that I’m going to get new and exciting news. Once a company sends me about 5 emails consecutively about the same topic, they break the trust and ultimately lose our friendship.


I don’t know about anyone else, but I LOVE junk-mail. I sit there, and order each catalogue from least interesting, to most interesting so I finish on a high. The beautiful thing about junk-mail is I only get one a week from each company. I sit down with my junk-mail in one hand, tea in the other and delve into the blissful world of things I wish I could afford.  What’s more, is I get a variety of products to look at and compare, I don’t have just a single email, containing the words ‘sale’ or a single new product that I honestly don’t care about.

junk junkmail

Emails are supposed to be quick, to the point and easy to read so perhaps they should offer weekly emails (maybe even less frequently to keep consumers hungry) with the top news in the actual email and an online catalogue link attached for those who want to spend the time in the rest of their products and promotions. This could be an easy medium between being an affordable and easy option to reach a large audience, but provide them with interesting information they actually care about. And most importantly is infrequent and makes consumers more likely to look forward to receiving it.


So why do you sign up for an emailing list? Or more importantly what keeps you hooked to email subscriptions and/or what makes you unsubscribe? Is there anything you think company’s can do to improve their email messages or is the information in this mode of communication today just simply not effective anymore? Leave your comments below!

Let’s All Go To The Lobby! To Get Ourselves Some Snacks!

Isn’t it awesome that we can pretty much do whatever we want from home? If you have an internet connection that is! There’s nothing you can’t buy online and have delivered directly to your front door. With such convenience some companies are facing the issue of never seeing their consumers in store! Consider the way Coles and Woolworths now offer complete online services, imagine how much easier it is as a parent to not have to worry about kids asking for this and that, and the little tricks they use like placing the bread and milk at the back of the store to encourage impulse purchases won’t work anymore! Another big company that I believe has seen the brunt of it is the Cinema industry.


Now you may have read one of my previous blog “It’s Not Stealing, I’m Taking A Stand!” so you know I’m not a huge fan of Village Cinemas, but I’ve got to say they really have their thinking caps on! Online booking has become a revolutionary method for a lot of companies in their methods of business operations. So much so that my local cinema at Fountain Gate has actually completely gotten rid of the ticket purchase area and simply combined it with their candy bar because Online booking is so well used and they need to try and convince those few that still buy tickets AT the venue to purchase food as well. So with all of these individuals buying their tickets online, cinemas are losing a lot of income from the candy bar. Consumers prefer to pay the extra $2 booking fee to:

  1. Avoid lines
  2. Ensure they have seats, and the seats they want
  3. If they have kids, they avoid the nagging “mum! I want popcorn! Can I have chocolate?”

So! How can Village convince consumers to come to the candy bar?! I know! An offer of a FREE large popcorn when you order online!


Not only did Village get the bonus $2 for everyone booking online, but they had a line out the door for people lining up to redeem their free large popcorn! I must admit, I would have been one of those suckers if my boyfriend hadn’t grabbed my arm and said “there is no way in hell I’m waiting in that line”.


So once that hard part has been achieved (actually getting them to the candy bar) these consumers generally are super easy to sucker in further. When you think about it, it was quite an intelligent move; popcorn is one of the saltiest foods they offer encouraging consumers to then think “I’m going to need a drink to go with that… and I AM saving money on the popcorn, sooooo I may as well buy some lollies… and an ice-cream…”


Village have embraced the shift to online bookings and conducted a very smart yet simple campaign. These large boxes of popcorn probably cost them next to nothing. It’s amazing what consumers will fall for when they think they’re getting something for ‘free’.

Do you know a company that has conducted a smart but simple campaign online? Post a comment telling us what the company did and why you thought it was so awesome! Or if you have any comments on Villages little trick!