In an online world where it seems that users are asked to review and rate everything from the latest movies and albums to diet programs and cleaning products, it was inevitable that some marketers might want to “game the rating system” by skewing review counts in their favor. One of the most egregious attempts was conducted by Telltale Games, which had employees post glowing reviews of their new Jurassic Park video game on the Metacritic site. Even though the reviews were identified as being written by Telltale personnel, their contribution of high approval scores served to skew the overall average. The inevitable backlash of “Revenge Zeros” proved how counterproductive the entire strategy was in the first place and the game now sits at a meager 2.8 out of 10, considerably lower than it likely would have been had Telltale employees stayed out of the fray. Zero Bombing Online marketers everywhere can learn from Telltale’s failure to “game their game” and avoid attempts to slant social ratings in their favor, as those schemes are invariably setups for failure. At the slightest hint of subterfuge, online communities often resort to bombing the review site with negative ratings, not only wiping out any temporary advantage the false positives would have given the product, but generally dropping it well down into unfavorable status. It might seem that companies might want to retreat to the more traditional safe-havens of professional reviewers who at least can be counted on to base their reviews on supportable facts, but that strategy may no longer be as effective as it once was. Cousin Mildred > Roger Ebert The tide may be turning from the time when marketers chased the approval of so-called professional critics such as John Dvorak (computers), Roger Ebert (movies) or Gael Greene (restaurants). In the upside down world of social media, a recommendation from a peer (family, friend, co-worker) can carry considerably more weight than one from a world-renowned critic. If cousin Mildred in Humptulips, Washington recommends the latest Stephen King or Clive Cussler book, that single endorsement can have a much greater impact on the individual reader than an enthusiastic review by the New York Times’ Dwight Garner. Vast Gulf between Reviewers & Viewers Yet another obstacle is that reliance on the pro critics can be just as problematic as the vagaries of the public ratings. The Willem Dafoe movie vehicle The Boondock Saints is a blood spattered vigilante fantasy that was largely panned by the critics, earning a mere 17% approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review site. However, out of 291,056 viewers who rated the movie on the site, an overwhelming 93% were in favor, demonstrating that the gulf between “regular” viewers and “professional” reviewers is uncomfortably vast. Even the critic from the famed industry publication Variety crucified the movie, but that did not seem to faze the audience, which largely loved it. While nearly 300,000 reviews are next to impossible to fake, many small and mid-sized entertainment producers such as the lower echelon of video game companies can deem their latest release successful if they receive a mere handful of positive reviews. Therefore the stakes are considerably higher when every review counts. The Best Strategy: Release Good Products Google’s stubborn insistence on blocking every imaginable SEO ploy has left the web world with only one successful strategy: “post good content.” Similarly, in the light of the devaluation of professional critics and the prospect of massive public retributions for any attempts at chicanery, the only real way to be assured of largely positive customer reviews online is to “release good products.”
I must be getting old. I went from my usual pop culture references to dad jokes in this weekly wrap. I even make a “This Land Is Your Land” reference. What is happening? Designing Email Templates for Men and Women I started to write a “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” joke here, but then I realized it wasn’t ten years ago and it probably wasn’t going to be funny (or maybe that’s just my excuse for not coming up with a good enough joke). Gender is a good factor to take into account when segmenting your email campaigns. Learn about Designing Email Templates for Men and Women. Email Personalization? Only if You Know Me, Please It sounds to me like Paul is starting to notice that Big Brother is watching and he doesn’t necessarily like it. Oh yeah. That was a 1984 reference (not the outdated TV show). I swear I’ll work in a more current reference soon. Until then find out what had Paul saying, Email Personalization? Only if You Know Me, Please. The State of Email on Its 50th Anniversary in 2015 You may say, how can Hal possibly know what it’s going to be like in 2015? If you frequently read Hal’s posts on our blog, you would know it’s entirely possible that he has these capabilities. He never ceases to amaze us with his knowledge and wit. I’m saying he might be able to see the future. You don’t need any other reason to read about The State of Email on Its 50th Anniversary in 2015. Support Update: What Is the Benchmark Free Edition? We’re telling you there’s a free edition of Benchmark Email. Do I even need to say something witty to get you to read about it? Check out Michelle’s latest Support Update: What Is the Benchmark Free Edition? How Small Businesses Can Attract Quality Recruits A friend was just telling me that her roommate has Rubik’s Cube Expert listed on their resume. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that would qualify as a quality recruit in your book. Children’s toy experts aside, find out How Small Businesses Can Attract Quality Recruits. Telltale Games Hires Knotice: Video Games and Email Marketing True story: I almost failed out of college my freshman year due to excessive playing of Halo. So you could imagine my excitement when I read a headline involving video games. For all my fellow video game nerds, check out Telltale Games Hires Knotice: Video Games and Email Marketing. Walgreens’ Autoresponder Campaign Has My Order Backwards I was very proud of my internet prowess the other day, until Walgreens almost had me pulling my hair out. Thankfully, the end result was not bald Andy. I would end up getting my autographed photo of Earth, Wind and Fire, but not before Walgreens’ Autoresponder Campaign Had My Order Backwards. Encourage Your Patrons to Share Your Restaurant Email Content You might drink too much tequila if you see the word patron in the context of a restaurant and don’t think of customers. It doesn’t even make sense as the tequila when you make it plural. Nevertheless...that just happened. While I hang my head in shame, find out how to Encourage Your Patrons to Share Your Restaurant Email Content. Yahoo Mail’s New Ad Targeting Software Puts the User in Control Sometimes you can hear a word a thousand times and never think twice about it, but then you really look at it and it just seems so weird. Yahoo is one of those words for me. My apologies if you waste the next 20 minutes of your life staring at the word Yahoo. When you get done with that, see how Yahoo Mail’s New Ad Targeting Software Puts the User in Control. New Event Marketing Manual from Benchmark Email! This land was made for you and me and, according to Pierce in this article, email marketing was made for event planning. I guess I missed that part of the song. It must be true though. Pierce hasn’t ever given me a reason to doubt him. Check out the New Event Marketing Manual from Benchmark Email!
One of the many cool things about email marketing is the fact that it does not discriminate. When used correctly, it can be just as effective for the small business with only a handful of clients as it is for the big brand that needs to cater to thousands of customers. Although it is a mature tactic that has been around for a while, some industries are just recently getting acquainted with email as a marketing tool. A perfect example can be seen in the always bustling gaming sector. In early May, Telltale Games, the video game publisher behind popular titles such as Back to the Future: The Game, Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead announced that it had decided to move in a different direction with its email campaigning endeavors. To get its campaign initiatives off the ground, the company partnered up with Knotice, a direct digital marketing firm that specializes in email marketing among other services. The video game publisher hired Knotice on the recommendation of Steven Allison, Telltale’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. According to reports, Allison became acquainted with the firm while employed by another company in the past. Regardless of how the partnership came about, Telltale stands to benefit tremendously from Knotice’s robust email marketing system, a platform that includes inbox monitoring, comprehensive list management tools, detailed analytics and other powerful features. Utilizing internal data such as site behavior, product interests and purchase history, Telltale now has the ability to target its opt-in customers with communications that are more timely and relevant. Allison noted that the Knotice platform will enable the company’s publishing team to efficiently handle the email side of things, which reportedly entails sending out 200,000 to 300,000 messages per week to roughly one million customers, freeing up its web team to focus on other matters. Email Trending in the Gaming Industry Believe it or not, but Telltale Games is not the only player from the gaming sector to indulge in email marketing. In fact, technology giant Microsoft relies on this method to provide Xbox gamers with news, exclusive offers and free downloads through a newsletter, while video game rental service GameFly uses it to keep its customers updated on the latest releases. These are obviously two well known brands that could survive without email marketing but are probably doing much better with it.Although social is all the rage and mobile is emerging, email continues to be one of the best mediums out there for communicating. The recent deal between Telltale Games and Knotice reminds us that it also one of the most effective marketing platforms. With access to the digital marketing firm’s technology, the video game publisher will not only be able to keep its brand on the mind of the customer, but also target them with relevant communications they are more likely to respond to. Considering that professional email marketing services are the best way for a brand to connect with its target audience, it would not be surprising to hear about other companies in the gaming arena following suit.