Shop till you drop Use product review search engine, Wize.com, to source product insights

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

wize search engine logoProduct recommendation sites have evolved beyond good product/bad product reviews.   The new breed actually looks at search behavior and serves up products based on specific customer needs.

Take Wize.com for example.  It gathers and analyzes product reviews from hundreds of sites, including  Amazon, BestBuy, CNET, Target, and Walmart.  Wize recently rolled out some new features and an upgraded search algorithm.  The gist being, customers don’t have to sift through countless product reviews to find “the best dishwasher for energy efficiency” or “the worst camera for night shots”.  Wize finds these results for them.

wize product review search engine

While this is an impressive feat from a semantic search perspective, we think marketers could use a site like Wize.com to their advantage.   For example, what features are being highlighted about your product?  Who are your competitors by feature?  Not to mention, the obvious – are the reviews favorable?

Wize is geared towards consumer goods, so we wouldn’t recommend it for a service industry or general brand monitoring.   The idea here is to learn how customers are searching for/finding your products – and more importantly, what is leading to a sale.

Wize also pulls in results from social sites. In addition to customer reviews, users can read real-time tweets that mention the product they are interested in.

Overall, we're pretty impressed with Wize's offering. The site is easy to navigate, and it succeeds in being a useful shopping resource. You can search by product/brand name, category (health & beauty, electronics, etc), product type, or browse Wize's recommendations based on their own search algorithm.

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  Form follows function Create an elegant survey and embed it in your site with Google Forms

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

google_logoSurveys are an easy way to let customers weigh in on your products and offer up new ideas.  We’d probably use them more if price wasn’t a factor.  I mean, paying for every question and survey participant kinda deters you from using a tool to its full potential.

We recommend taking a look at Google Forms.   This data collection tool just got a makeover, making it less clunky and more user-friendly.  Not to mention, it’s free.

If you’re not familiar, Forms is part of Google Docs.  We’ve discussed the virtues of Google’s whole productivity suite in the past – it’s web-based, easy to use, and the fact that it’s free is definitely worth mentioning again.   Prior to the upgrade, Forms was a very basic offering.  You’d create questions and input fields, share a link with survey participants, and watch as the live form populated a spreadsheet.   Simple.  Efficient.  Boring.

Now, creating (and taking) a survey with Google Forms is fun.   The interface is cleaner, with customization options within the form builder (e.g. multiple choice questions, supporting text to explain a question, etc).  You can also add a theme to your survey, which makes for a better presentation than a plain, black and white screen.  Google offers up a library of 60+ designs to choose from.


When you’re finished formatting the survey, you can share via email, direct link, or embed the form in your website or blog.  As survey results come in, you can view the data in real time, either through a Google Spreadsheet or in graph summary.  It would be nice if you could put the graph on your site, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Feedback is a crucial ingredient in any marketing strategy. What Google has done here is make their simple form service a real contender for your survey needs.   You’re getting the same functionality and frills as a paid solution, with no penalties for success.

Google Labs is like Google's playground for new products and feature updates. There's a whole section devoted to enhancements of their core products: Gmail, Documents, Calendar, Toolbar, etc.

The Digital Marketing Standard was a survey of over 100 top marketing executives to get their take on digital marketing and how they've adapted their strategy and workforce for the digital age.

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  Extra! Extra! Take content on the go with Tabbloid’s RSS to PDF service

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

tabbloid logo

Using an RSS Reader is a great way to stay on top of industry news and trends.  You can easily digest an hour’s worth of content in about 5 minutes of headlines.

But what if you want to access content while away from the desk – or – better yet, being away from your desk is the only time you have to catch up on news articles?

Try using a service like Tabbloid, which converts all your RSS feeds into a printable PDF newspaper.   There’s no cost or account set-up involved.   Simply plug your RSS subscriptions into Tabbloid, and the service generates a personal edition just for you.  You can even schedule recurring Tabbloids by supplying your email address and setting a delivery frequency (daily, weekly, etc…).

Tabbloid is a great option for the road warrior who has downtime at the airport and in between client meetings, especially if you’re not packing a laptop or smartphone (or just despise reading micro-print on a micro-screen).  The service works smoothly, and the PDF document is quite readable.  There is, however, one tiny hiccup.

My Tabbloid didn’t pull the full story, just the headline and lead sentence/paragraph.  This isn’t Tabbloid’s fault, but rather, the result of how a blog is published and where the page divider (i.e. “read more” tag) is inserted.  Regular RSS readers are probably used to this convention, because the full story is always a click away.  Tabbloid headlines do link to the on-site article, but if you’re looking at a printout, that’s not exactly useful.

I found with some creative editing to my RSS list, the problem could be fixed (e.g. feed growth! publishes full articles for your easy viewing pleasure).


Tabbloid Sample

Many sites, including our own, pull feed content from other sources. You can easily add Delicious bookmarks, Tumblr blogs, and anything with a JSON API to your site.

Tabbloid is actually an HP product. No hidden agenda here (psych). The more you print, the more likely you are to need printing supplies like paper and ink, which HP happens to sell.

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  Whet your appetite Create a branded chat room and invite participants from Facebook and Twitter with SavorChat

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm

savorchat logo

Even the most tepid digital marketer has a Facebook or Twitter page (right?).  One way to get the most out of the experience is to invite your friends and followers to participate in brand-related discussions.

SavorChat is a free service that lets you create group chat rooms and invite participants from your favorite social networking sites.  The idea being, you already have the guest list, you just need a space to throw the party.

Setting up a chat room is pretty straightforward. You don’t need a SavorChat account, because the service works with both Facebook Connect and oAuth (for Twitter).   Once you’re logged in, simply create a new chat room, giving it a name, date, duration, and category.  Twitter users have the option of adding a Twitter hashtag too (i.e. #MyBrandName).   You can also add a room description and privacy settings.  Stealth mode hides your chat room from the public and search engine indexing, and if you choose, you can password protect your room to limit who has access.

savorchat screen

Once you save your chat room, you’ll be given the option to invite participants directly from your friends/followers list, publish (or tweet) your chat room, or grab a link to invite users outside of the social scene.  Everyone is herded to a SavorChat space.  A chat remains open as long as you want, so it can be used as a brand message board in lieu of a real-time chat room.

If you’re looking to do some homegrown customer research, look no farther than your own social networks.    Anyone willing to follow your brand is probably game to give you feedback.  SavorChat is providing a free venue; it’s up to you to get the conversation started.

Recently, Best Buy launched Twelpforce, a corporate Twitter account on steroids where Best Buy employees man the Twittersphere, offering advice, promotions, etc to brand followers.

Branded chat rooms have been making the rounds for years (e.g. Meebo). Most actually have more features and functionality than SavorChat, but what they don't have is the automatic social integration of Facebook and Twitter.

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  Jabberwocky Get the scoop on websites and online retailers with SiteJabber recommendation community

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 22, 2009 at 11:56 am

sitejabber logo

We review all sorts of sites and services on feed growth! and walk a fine line between recommendation and just the facts.   If you’re looking for someone to give you the low-down on how a product or service works or if an e-commerce site is trustworthy, check out SiteJabber Beta.

SiteJabber is a recommendation community for websites.  Think Yelp for online properties, instead of brick-and-mortar businesses.   The idea being, before you invest time in a site (or money in the products it promotes), see what people are saying.

SiteJabber is arranged by topic (Business, Shopping, Health, Music, Technology, etc), but you can also search by name or check out the most loved websites, the most hated websites, and latest reviews from the homepage.  You can write a review yourself (requires registration), request a review from the community, or answer someone else’s request.

sitejabber screenshot

We were curious to see if any of our feed growth! ideas had met with praise or criticism.   We did find reviews for Tumblr, Twitter, and Google’s GrandCentral, as well as write-ups on established sites like Mashable and TechCrunch.  However, SiteJabber just launched, so it will take some time for the site to populate with the smaller guys and start-ups.

We do like where it’s going.  There is a need for transparency in online business.  As publishing and e-commerce platforms become more abundant and easy to use (not to mention free), we’ll continue to see more sites pop up – good and bad.

Firefox users can install a SiteJabber add-on to their toolbar that will tell them if the site they are visiting has been reviewed by the SiteJabber Community.

Facebook Connect proves itself useful again. Facebook users can automatically log into SiteJabber and publish reviews that they write to their wall.

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