In a time where news about crises in a business spread like viruses do, and the tipping point of issues is basically under one hour, effective brand reputation management can help protect companies.
Today, brand reputation management is more important than ever to businesses, and the rapid progression of technology has made it easier for companies to track and monitor the conversations and sentiments around their brands. However, technology is a double-edged sword. While it has made it easier for businesses to find out the issues that audiences need to be addressed, it has also made it easier for people to share negative reviews and comments about businesses.
Studies show that 74 percent of customers read two to ten peer reviews before they trust a brand. Eighty percent of these customers only trust businesses with four to five stars reviews, which means that each negative review leaves a business reputation at risk.
When managing a brand’s reputation, online and offline audiences might not have the same perception. Therefore, organizations should conduct research to help determine how different audiences perceive the business, allowing for the ability to single out the best way to manage online and offline reputations. Although an organization might use different methods to manage online and offline reputations, a cohesive story should be delivered to both audiences.
What is brand reputation management?
Brand reputation management refers to all the activities performed by individuals in an organization or the organization at large in an attempt to create or maintain a certain frame of mind/perception about themselves in the eyes of the public.
The process of managing a brand’s reputation involves identifying what people are saying or feeling about the business and taking steps to create a general consensus that is in line with business goals.
Reputation hugely impacts the buying decisions of consumers today. A good reputation not only increases the value of a company, but also attracts customers and provides motivation for employees. Effective brand reputation management is divided into three phases:
Reputation building: this is the first stage for all new businesses. At this point, businesses focus on providing a strong foundation that will enable growth. Reputation building begins with creating the brand and making it visible through:
- Having a website
- Having social media profiles on Facebook Twitter, and Instagram
- Monitoring what people are saying
Reputation maintenance: companies work to preserve and enhance their good image because maintaining a good reputation is cheaper than recovering from a damaged one. Reputation maintenance is like insurance to a company, and can be achieved through:
- Building relationships with relevant websites that can help boost reputation through guest posts and content repurposing
- Investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to keep content at the top
- Making websites and content mobile friendly to allow easy navigation for users
Reputation recovery: at one point in its lifespan, every organization is bound to face a reputational disaster. Such a disaster can be in the form of bad rankings, negative reviews or direct attacks from competitors. At this point, damage control strategies such as responding to negative reviews ought to be employed.
As already established, having a good reputation is vital in today’s competitive business landscape. Here are three effective ecommerce brand reputation management tactics:
1.Create a strong online presence
Having a strong online presence is important for both small and large businesses as it helps to monitor opinions, steer conversations and correct any misinformation about products and services.
Businesses should strive to have at least one social media profile. While most organizations are tempted to set up profiles on every social media platform, not all platforms will work best for all organizations. Businesses need to find the social media platforms in which their audience is most active on and invest in reaching them through those channels.
Since negative sentiments spread like wildfire, companies need to make sure to have a great social listening tool in place to alert them any time the business is mentioned. A crisis communication strategy for responding to bad publicity is also recommended and ensuring all employees are aware of it and on the same page.
To strengthen online presence, websites need to be updated frequently and ecommerce businesses available on review sites. Linking back to those review sites is also recommended.
According to David Anderson, author at the IHateWritingEssays review platform, “being available in different review sites makes it easy for customers to leave and find recent peer reviews about you, which not only improves your reputation and visibility but also helps move the customer smoothly and quickly along the buying process.”
2.Improve customer satisfaction
This is a no brainer. The more satisfied customers are, the less negative reviews they will leave on business social profiles and review sites.
Customer satisfaction is key to business growth, and it can be achieved by delivering what is promised and improved customer experience.
Customer experience is slowly overtaking price and product as the basis on which customers decide to purchase. With stellar customer experience, a business will always have an edge over competitors.
To enhance customer experience:
- Outreach to individual customers to make them feel valued
- Conduct surveys to find out which areas require improvement
- Stay in constant contact with all current customers via various means such as email
- Deliver excellent customer support throughout the buying process
- Follow up on customers to find out if they had trouble using products
3.Develop an excellent content marketing strategy
Content marketing is one of the pivotal elements of brand reputation management. Content marketing is a component of inbound marketing that focuses on producing educational content that helps solve the common problems that audiences face.
Unlike other forms of marketing, content marketing is not sales oriented. Instead, it is education oriented. Once people start to notice the useful messages that are being shared in content marketing, they will share them with their friends, family, and colleagues, portraying the business in a positive light and expanding brand presence. When focused on empowering consumers vs. generating revenue, brand reputation improves significantly.
How does brand reputation management help businesses?
Sixty six percent of customers rely on online reviews and rating to determine if a business is worth buying from; and 97 percent of customers research a business online before buying its products. This means that any form of negative publicity can result in loss of the majority of prospective customers and that businesses must work round the clock to manage unfavourable publicity.
Negative publicity can sink a company if nothing is done about it. Not only is a business difficult to run with a poor reputation, but it is also expensive.
Here’s a case in point. In 2011, United Airlines damaged musician David Carroll’s guitar and refused to pay him back. In protest, David Carroll wrote a song and created a music video titled United Breaks Guitar, which got more than 15 million views on YouTube. After the video was released, United Airline’s stock fell by 10 percent, and the company lost $180 million in shareholder value.
Ultimately, the singer-songwriter had to do what he does best: Compose a song and produce a music video. He put it up on YouTube, and let viewers do the rest and make it viral. It didn’t take long for people to sing along to “United Breaks Guitars.” After 15 million views on YouTube, United Airlines could no longer afford to ignore Carroll at this point. They finally contacted him, offering payment to remove the viral video, but for the singer-songwriter, it was no longer about the money (in fact, he asked United to just donate the money for charity). Carroll went on to produce two more songs following up “United Breaks Guitars”, earning a total of 12.5 million negative impressions towards United Airlines.
Active brand reputation management helps business owners and employees to detect issues before they turn into crises and solve them using various strategic approaches. For instance, in the case of David Carroll, had United Airlines had an effective reputation management strategy, they would have realized that Caroll was angry about his broken guitar, and responded positively to his demands that they foot the cost of repairing the damaged guitar.
Additionally, effective brand reputation management helps to improve reputation and position organizations as leaders in their space which, in turn, builds confidence and customer loyalty. Effective brand reputation management is important for both small and large scale businesses as it:
- Builds trust and attracts customers
- Improves search engine ranking
- Gives the business a professional image
- Increases positive ratings which boost revenue by 5 to 9 percent
- Saves on hiring and retention costs as businesses with a good reputation attract quality talent
- Gives businesses an edge over their competitors
Remember, whatever a person says about a business becomes valuable for all potential customers.