April 18, 2006, 12:00 AM

How Modernoutpost.com moderates the consumer voice on its site

The notion of a completely open forum has some marketers wary of inviting the consumer voice onto their web sites. Modernoutpost.com takes a moderate approach with a service that captures and posts not reviews, but testimonials.

The unpredictability of what people will say about a brand or product in blogs, review forums and other forms of consumer-generated media is keeping many online retailers on the sidelines regarding their use of these vehicles on their sites. But some of these outlets afford marketers more control of what goes up than others do. Ratings and review features, generally moderated for language and other factors, are one such vehicle. A Canadian-based service, KudosWorks, that captures and posts on the site testimonials, not reviews, takes the idea of control a step further.

“A lot of people in word-of-mouth marketing feel all you should care about is having somebody out there talking about you,” says Herbert Ong, CEO of Genuosity Inc., which developed KudosWorks. “We focus specifically on the positive. So we capture testimonials. If you sell fishing poles, and just sold one to somebody, it’s logical to ask them to share that with their friends. Because their friends are going to be your target market.”

Marketers using KudosWorks get access to two links from the technology provider: a link to a Kudosboard seal they can post on their site and a link to a testimonial capture page their site can present to customers. Customers who’ve purchased something from a retailer that uses KudosWorks get an e-mail a few weeks after purchase seeking feedback on the product and inviting customers satisfied with the experience to write a testimonial. Interested customers are directed to the Kudosboard icon back on the retailer’s site. A click there pops up the testimonial capture page, which explains how to enter a testimonial in text, video, or audio form.

Customers who enter a testimonial and who send it to a designated number of friends are entered into a rewards contest. But Ong says that KudosWorks presents an authentic consumer voice on marketers’ sites-an issue in any effort to moderate online consumers’ comments where they’ve been invited to speak-with a program design that motivates referrals of existing testimonials, but does not motivate consumers to create testimonials in the first place.

Graham Morfitt, vice president of marketing at outfitter Modernoutpost.com, says he’s more comfortable with capturing and presenting testimonials via KudosWorks than he is with some other consumer voice vehicles. “You are creating a positive image for yourself, and you have more control than you do on a blog or forum,” says Morfitt, who has been using the service on Modernoutpost since last year. “They’ve built in a lot of controls on what we display, who we display, and how we ask people. As a marketing tool, this is the closest thing I have seen to being able to control word of mouth.”

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