Positive feedback

Ra’anana-based start-up VocalReferences makes it easier for businesses to share customer testimonials.

Ra’anana-based start-up VocalReferences makes it easier for businesses to share customer testimonials. (photo credit: PATRICIA CARMEL)
Ra’anana-based start-up VocalReferences makes it easier for businesses to share customer testimonials.
(photo credit: PATRICIA CARMEL)
It’s common to hear, “There’s an app for that,” whatever “that” might be. And indeed, during the last few weeks of unremitting terrorism, there were several Israeli-developed war- and security- related apps available for download: Tzeva Adom (Red Alert in English) for Android and iPhone alerted users to sirens wherever they were wailing; another app, called SOS, developed by United Hatzalah allows users to send a distress alert to specified recipients.
During some of the worst moments of this war, I indulged in a fantasy that peace and harmony among the peoples of the globe were merely a download away, a sort of virtual Iron Dome, if you will. But sad to say, there is, as of now, no app for that.
Inevitably, many companies have been negatively impacted by the war, especially small businesses that depend on a robust economy and positive exposure to the public. To enhance visibility of small businesses, the VocalReferences app offers a set of tools that allows merchants to capture, display and share video and text testimonials that can be displayed over a range of platforms.
The rationale behind the app is that testimonials are important for a small business in order to build sales, explains David Barth, cofounder with David Wenner of VocalReferences, two immigrants from North America who operate out of Wenner’s Ra’anana home.
Says Barth, “The app is a marketing tool that allows users to harness the power of video to display positive feedback from customers wherever it will have the greatest impact on their website and over social media.
We support textual and audio testimonials as well and we’re now introducing a simplified way to add video.”
According to Barth, the success of video as a marketing tool exceeds that of standard text by more than 20 percent.
“Video is a very powerful medium,” he says. “Potential customers visiting a merchant’s website are more likely to remain there, because watching a video increases eyeball time at the website and people are more influenced by what they see than what they read.”
Wenner concurs, “We tell our customers, the merchants, that seeing one of your customers talk about your business is good marketing strategy. You’re not only promoting yourself, you also have more exposure on the Internet because the search engines access the video repositories [as distinct from text content] and video is more likely to rank on the first page of search page results.
“For example, one of our customers is a real-estate agent and he couldn’t understand why he was suddenly getting so many calls. His website wasn’t showing up on the first page of the search engine results, but the video was and people were calling him as a result.”
VocalReferences is intuitive to use. After registering as a user, the merchant can select to create a self-promotion testimonial using video, text or audio, with an option to add a photo to the latter two. This can be done from either a mobile phone or from a computer. Each video is limited to 45 seconds. The testimonial is then uploaded according to the display options predefined by the user, for example to the merchant’s website, You- Tube or Vimeo accounts, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.
By default, the video can be uploaded to either the VocalReferences YouTube account or merchants can use their own YouTube or Vimeo accounts, the latter option currently available only from an Android smartphone.
The videos then alternate between YouTube and Vimeo.
The merchant is provided with a TinyURL (web address) where he can store all the videos.
“They can use this address for marketing purposes if they don’t have their own website. The address is also a good resource for backing up the testimonials,” says Wenner. “We built the interface so the merchant can choose to put the video on any page on his website; if his business is online, placing the video on the page where the customer makes the decision to buy the goods or service can help tip the balance in his favor.
This can be done easily, it’s just a matter of cutting and pasting a few lines of code – you don’t even have to call your webmaster.”
Satisfied customers can submit testimonials in any format – video, text or audio – from either the merchant’s website or by sending the merchant the address of a video uploaded to YouTube. The merchant has total control over which testimonials to display and where to display them.
Explains Wenner, “A customer can visit a merchant’s website and submit a testimonial directly on the website itself. Right there, the customer can say, ‘I use this product and it’s a great product and this merchant gives great service.’ We also added an option for the customer to recommend the merchant to his friends; in this way, a single testimonial can be broadcast multiple times.”
The app includes several value added services, including a feature that automatically shares every testimonial on the merchant’s website to his Facebook page.
“The idea,” says Wenner, “is to give added value to the valuable time the merchant lacks to invest in a testimonial.”
The writer has worked for over 20 years in hi-tech. If you have a question about any of the products featured in this column or have developed a product you’d like to share, contact: patricia.jpost@gmail.com
• Website: www.vocalreferences.com/vrapp/ home/homepage
• Download from Google Play (Android smartphones); App Store (iPhones)
• Third party app available at the Wix App Market • Basic service: Free
• Premium services: $15.99 per month; $159 per year