When you are marketing your company online, you should never ignore the importance of Online reputation marketing (ORM), when considering your full strategy. ORM can be misunderstood at times, especially with a common misconception that ORM relates to fake reviews and testimonials. The reality however is much different, with ORM actually making use of legitimate feedback from consumers that can show your company in a positive light.
Another area where ORM gets a bad rap, is the implication that businesses requiring ORM already have bad reputations. Again, this myth is not a reality. ORM can be used both proactively and reactively, but it’s a generalization to say it’s always used as a form of damage control. In any market today, consumers are always looking for peer opinions on companies, products, and services. A big chunk of influence comes from what consumers read online, so you need to maintain a strong online presence to gain exposure over your competitors, and really catch the attention of your target market through traditional internet channels, as well as through newer social media sharing networks.
There’s no good reason for a business NOT to make ORM an important part of their online strategy. There are plenty of benefits which we’ve outlined in our infographic, but before you even begin, you should consider the three main aspects of ORM; appear, engage, and influence.
Appear: visibility is key to your ORM strategy.
You need to have a strong presence before ORM can really make an impact on customers. To be visible, companies need to be ranking in Google and Bing, as well as other search engines, online directories, and review sites. Online visibility can bring so much value to ORM, and there are plenty of case studies to back this up. BIA/Kelsey and ConStat report that up to 97% of consumers will go online to find local businesses. A high percentage of research comes from search engines and online business directories, and BrightLocal tells us that consumer review sites are used by 85% of the market looking for the best company to do business with.
Surveys by other market research and advertising companies lend yet more positive figures to the importance of visibility in ORM. A Survey by LMG showed that 87% of prospective customers will research businesses online that have been referred to them by friends or family. It’s the way in which they search that’s most interesting; while only 35% searched directly for the company’s website, a total of 67% of that group used Google and other search engines to find independent reviews and ratings of the business.
And while we’re talking about online avenues for visibility, let’s not forget about Facebook, Twitter, Google + and the other social networking communities. Over one sixth of the world’s population is on a social network, and 13% of survey respondents headed directly to social media to research consumer opinion about a business.
Because consumers are connected to the internet in almost all aspects of their lives, the opportunities to find information are abundant, no matter where the consumer is. While two thirds of searches still originate from desktop and laptop computers, the rest originate from cell phones and tablets, and that space is constantly growing. Consumers can now search from almost anywhere at any time, so there’s no way you can ignore your online presence. In this digital age, you need to have far reaching visibility to capture the attention of prospective customers.
Engage: Listen to your market, and respond to maintain a trusted relationship.
When it comes to brand loyalty, consumers are fickle. They don’t have time to wait around on companies that disappoint by failing to deliver their needs and demands. So it’s not surprising to learn that over 50% of consumers won’t wait longer than a week for resolution of complaints and issues before they abandon a brand and take their business elsewhere. These numbers were discovered in brand loyalty a study performed by Oracle, and this same study found that almost 90% of customers receiving a poor experience would take their business to your direct competitor. Can you afford to lose this business? And even if you could, would you want to?
In ORM, businesses need to acknowledge and respond to consumers when their reputation is put in to question. A company can take direct action to resolve complaints over social networks and online review sites. Customers should be acknowledged, and where possible an agreeable resolution should be found between both parties. This can help to mitigate the damage of comments about your company, and also set you up for positive feedback moving forward. Whenever there has been a poor customer experience, your business needs to pick up on that, and begin to rebuild the relationship with your customer.
The last step in engagement is building trust with consumers, and showing that your company cares about consumers and their needs. To build this trust, your online presence should consist of editorial content, as well as independent consumer reviews. Respond to customers online, and engage in discussion with them when it’s relevant to your company. This shows an interest in the community, and gives a more personal connection to consumers.
Influence: Maximize your impact by leveraging reviews & recommendations
Your in-house positive content can help your business with an ORM strategy, but it can’t stand up on its own to maximize visibility and build positive customer engagement. Sometimes customers need encouragement to talk about your company on a review site or social network, and it can all start with a suggestion from sales staff, or even be included in communications to customers who are on a mailing list, or linked to your own social networks. Many customers will not choose to do business without first seeing real consumer opinions about a company, so companies cannot risk to ignore independent opinions and reviews.
You can influence the public perception of your company through both personal and online recommendations. Personal recommendations are those delivered through word of mouth between family and friends, but online testimonials are where you are going to gain the most value and exposure. Persuading customers to leave positive feedback about your company begins by providing an excellent customer experience, followed by a suggestion to leave an online recommendation or review for your other prospective clients to see. Consumers who’ve enjoyed their experience will be more receptive to sharing their opinions of your company.
Appear, engage and influence to gain ORM benefits
ORM and the associated ideas are not heavy concepts to grasp. Your brand should be marketed everywhere online, from social media, to early page rankings within the top search engines, and even on internet directories, and consumer review sites. First build your presence, then engage with customers and address concerns to build a strong relationship and experience, and finally you can use these experiences to have customers help you build the positive reputation of your company. In essence, this is all that you need to build an unbeatable reputation online, then the 10 core benefits of ORM will follow.
Many businesses don’t have the time to manage ORM on their own, and that’s where we can help you with our free consultations. Let us deliver the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed, so you can continue to manage and grow your business today.
Don’t delay giving yourself or your business the benefits of Online Reputation Marketing. Call us now at 979-314-7213 or send us a message to see how online reputation marketing can help your business.