Navigating the Online World to Become a Successful Business

Word of Mouth is Everywhere in An Online World

In the current business world, reputation can make or break your brand. What consumers talk about your business – about your products and services – either strengthens your position, or you lose ground to your competitors. Therefore a strong online presence is essential to any brand.

Studies show that one in three UK businesses now think negative content is causing them considerable damage.

One in twenty of those surveyed in 2018 stated that this type of feedback can already be estimated in costs of more than £500,000. Bad press with subsequent negative reviews and social media posts were the most damaging cases.

So how do you build a robust online reputation that will strengthen your business to grow and move ahead of competitors?

Give 110%

Traditional customer service never fades away and this enhances customer experience. Retail giants like Amazon and John Lewis have built worldwide brands by relying on excellent consumer service. As they have correctly identified, if you treat your customers well they will return for more – and potentially strengthen your company’s reputation by leaving positive reviews.

Transparency is Appreciated

Issues always arise, but it’s important to not ignore them and deal with them accordingly. If the customer feels in any way neglected, there are now plenty of social media channels to voice their concerns, which will potentially reach a wide audience.

Responses to customers have to be dealt with as quickly as possible and appropriately. In cases when your business is in the wrong, it’s better to acknowledge it, apologise and straighten out the issue.

When KFC ran out of chicken early in 2018, it came forth with an apology very quickly and explained what had happened. The company was aware the usual type of corporate press release wouldn’t go well with its clients. KFC went the extra mile, putting out full-page ads in major daily newspapers showing what company leaders, franchise owners and customers were feeling in a disengaging tone. Its cheeky response to the chicken issue leveraged the situation to avoid negative PR and turn it around, which led to a quick recovery of their reputation.

Deliver on Your Promises

Earning the trust of your customers is very hard, but very easy to shatter. Try to deliver on your promises and offer services and products as you advertise.

If you’re an online retailer like ASOS and you are sure you can uphold to that same day or 24-hour delivery promise, it is great. If you struggle to meet the deadline often times, then you need to re-think your positioning.

Failure to accomplish everything you state constantly will quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction, which more often than not will be shared with the whole online world.

Customer faith and trust are essential. According to a recent research, 64% of people trust online search engines when analyzing a business, therefore make sure that what you promise to your customers is achievable.

A recent consumer survey found that:

  • 97 per cent of consumers search online for local businesses, 12 per cent do it daily.
  • 90 per cent of people read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • 85 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Make the online world your friend, not your enemy.

Digital Marketing Tips for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

In the current competitive digital world, ineffective marketing only means money down the drain. It is of outmost importance to have a well-thought online marketing strategy and execute it accordingly.

Over the last decade, the digital world has evolved massively to become the primary channel for lead generation. Small to medium-sized companies have started to realize the importance of digital marketing. Now small to medium-sized businesses can easily reach a global audience through online funnels.

No enterprise should be left behind, otherwise they lose to competition. Below we have highlighted ways for you to utilize digital marketing to your advantage.

Mobile is Everywhere

As a small or medium sized business, you can directly engage your audience and know who your customers are. Experts argue that corporations have slightly lost their direct connection with the consumer that would allow for a personalized user experience.

The new generation has more alternatives, most of which can be cheaper; therefore brand loyalty is slowly waning. Consequently, expanding your reach online is a great solution to make your business available to people who would have otherwise never heard about it.

Restaurants can benefit by collaborating with widely-used app delivery services like Just Eat, Deliveroo and others that provide customers with a new way of discovering brands.

Retail stores should consider online shopping applications and marketplaces like Etsy to display their products to a larger audience online.

Visibility

If you are in the beginning of your journey into the online marketing space, visibility across as many channels as possible should be a priority. Target platforms where your customers spend their time. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are most suitable for creative industries, where content is mostly consumed visually. Twitter and Facebook should also not be ignored as these are channels to communicate with consumers or receive feedback for products or services.

Analytics

When it comes to running a small or medium-sized enterprise, costs and profitability are the two key metrics to keep an eye on to sustain continued growth. However analyzing your social metrics will help you identify successful online marketing campaigns. The digital footprint that customers will leave can tell you a lot about who is involved with your brand, products or services. Data on clients can be analyzed and leveraged to extract valuable insights on how to streamline your budget and achieve higher sales with a reasonable budget. This information helps keep track of what works, what doesn’t and how you can improve it.

These beginner tips in digital marketing should put you on the right path to launching your business on the worldwide web and start growing an online audience.

How to Maintain Your Reputation on the Web with ORM and Digital Marketing

A fast growing discipline and business necessity, online reputation management (ORM) is widely recognized as a valuable asset which can be one of the most important causes of competitive edge in a fiercely competitive market, and with companies/brands being under constant scrutiny from the business online community, good reputation management practices seek to help firms handle and cope with this scrutiny.

What is exactly is ORM and what does it entail?

Quite simply, ORM is a set of tactics and strategies put into practice across various communication channels, as a way of influencing a company/brand’s reputation online. This could include a range of different tools used for digital marketing across a multitude of online platforms such as social media platforms, websites, blogs, review sites, search engines etc.

With the rise of the internet and mobile technology, marketing and advertising efforts have partially and progressively transitioned to digital platforms. Today’s brands reach their customers mostly through websites, social media, blog posts, videos and other channels, and seek to perfect their online performance based on a hoard of customer engagement data.

Understand the Customer

The key for any business to thrive and rise above their competitors is for them to continuously hone in on understanding their customer behavior and tailoring their products and services to the needs of their customers. As more and more consumers rely heavily on online reviews for their purchasing decisions, brands should not overlook the importance and huge influence of what consumers as well as competitors and regulators within the market say about the brand itself online. The average customer finds social media more trustworthy than brand-generated marketing, thus making social media much more effective than TV commercials or advertising signs, when it comes to drawing potential consumers.

Managing customer relationships across all social channels implies constant communication and engagement with the online community, proactive engagement by responding to comments, questions, reviews left by customers and being receptive to positive as well as negative feedback. Most social media platforms offer specific tools which can help assess how well received certain and help gain demographic insights about the audience and competitors. Apart from insights on followers, one can see the performance of posts, stories, and ads, as well as the brand’s profile in general. The deeper the insight into customer behavior and preferences is, the more likely a brand is to engage them in lucrative interactions.

ORM and Digital Marketing

Certainly, digital marketing is a huge and indispensable part of online reputation management.Digital marketing represents huge potential for brands to expand their client base and grow their business. Another valuable tool for digital marketing is managing content in search engines, which most would first associate with SEO. Comprehensive and relevant keyword phrases and high-quality content increase the chances to push undesirable content further down on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This is achieved by creating owned media such as blogs or websites that promote a brand in a positive manner, which will eventually raise a brand’s ranking on search engines.

However, SEO is not the only instrument that helps in ranking high on search engines. Paid media is another digital marketing tool that can improve an online performance, which essentially involves either displaying ads on social media or running sponsored ads on influencing blogs. With these strategies, a brand can develop a strong and credible online presence, which consequently will drive towards greater results.

Why is digital marketing important?

Digital media is so prevalent nowadays that consumers readily have access to information any time and any place they want it. Digital media is a continuously growing source of entertainment, news, shopping and social interaction, and consumers are now exposed not just to what a company says about its brand, but what the media, friends, relatives, peers, etc., are saying as well. And in most cases, they are more likely to believe them than what a company says. People want brands they can trust, companies that know them, communications that are personalized, relevant and products tailored to their needs and preferences. That is why good and proper ORM along with digital marketing is crucial for businesses that want thrive and rise above their competitors, whilst building and maintaining a positive brand image online.

Reputation Management for 2017

Every year, reputation management becomes an even more important part of building a successful business. In 2017, it’s almost impossible to attract clients without an online presence, and entrepreneurs who fail to take control of their company’s reputation early will find themselves at a disadvantage.

Reputation Matters

People are expressing themselves more than ever on the internet and they’re also increasingly turning to other people’s comments to decide if a product or service is worth buying. 64 percent of marketing executives worldwide say “word of mouth” advertising is more important than other forms of marketing. On a personal level, we’re often taught not to worry too much about what others think of us, but what people say about your business will have real consequences when it comes to revenue. Company leaders can’t afford to not pay attention or to not care. They must take an active role in promoting the company through all internet platforms.

5 Reputation Management Questions to Ask in 2017

At ReputationDefender, we assist businesses with building or maintaining their online reputation. Reputation management is a growing field that changes regularly as search engine algorithms are updated and SEO techniques evolve. Yet there are some basic elements that every entrepreneur should consider if they want their company to keep expanding in 2017.

Here are five basic reputation management questions, as well as some of the ways companies can answer them:

  • What are people saying about my business? – There’s a lot of negativity on the internet. People are comfortable saying things online that they wouldn’t say in person, and sometimes this manifests as unreasonable rants about businesses or services they feel have let them down. As a business owner, it’s easier and more comfortable to just avoid reading these comments, especially since they tend to detract from our confidence in the company. Unfortunately, the last customer’s rant may be the first thing the next person researching your business sees. If you can’t delete the comment, you can at least respond politely and appropriately, so that it will be obvious you’re not the party being unreasonable. Sometimes customers also complain about real issues, so it’s crucial to take comments as constructive criticism and use them to improve.
    1. Google Alerts – A Google Alert for your name, the brand’s name and any related keywords will let you know any time someone leaves a comment on the website or another review site. This will allow you to respond appropriately.
    2. Social Media – Unfortunately, Google doesn’t index social media pages so if someone rants about your company on Instagram or Facebook it won’t be picked up by a Google alert. There are lots of social media listening tools, like Geopiq for Instagram, Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro, Hootsuite and Reputology, just to name are few. Some are free, while others come with a minimal cost. Of course you still won’t be able to respond to a private social media post, but the more tools you have at your disposal, the better the chances of catching a bad comment or review before it does too much damage.
  • What are people saying about competitors? – Don’t feel guilty about eaves-dropping on your competitors. The internet is a public place, so the information is available to everyone, just as your reputation is available to competitors. If online reviews give your top competitor four stars and they only give you three, which business will the next client choose? Probably not yours, unless there are some other mitigating factors. It’s as important to follow competitor’s reviews and comments as your own, so you can see what appeals to customers and work on imitating it. Give customers a reason to pick you over your competitor, whether it’s a different service, a better price, or just higher quality.
  • Is your website attracting clients? – The official company website is the key to attracting clients. It needs to be professional, informational and easy to navigate. It also needs to be optimized to appear at the top of the search result page for your brand. Most website platforms will offer tools to analyze traffic and let you know whether you’re attracting clients who spend time reading material. If the results are unsatisfactory, consider getting a professional SEO audit to figure out what isn’t working and improve on it.
  • What is not managing your reputation costing you? – Many entrepreneurs think that reputation management costs too much or takes too much time. However, once damaging material appears online, it could reduce profits almost immediately, especially if there isn’t already positive material ranking right alongside the negative reviews. The time and money it takes to build a positive reputation is much less than the cost of trying to fix a damaged reputation after the fact.
  • Do I need a professional reputation management service? – This question has to be answered individually for each company. Large companies may hire their own reputation management team as a division of online marketing. Small or midsize companies should consider working with a professional service unless one of the founders already has experience with reputation management or SEO. Many entrepreneurs may feel they can go it alone to start with, but reputation management can be very time consuming and as the company grows there will quickly be too much to do. Working with professionals from the start will help to give the company the best chance of success.

For more information or answers to further reputation management questions, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

How to manage the online reputation of bakers and confectioners

Even though bakers and confectioners don’t have a massive presence on the Internet yet, online marketing is an alternative for them to promote their products, improve the positioning of their brand or increase their sales gradually. With the advent of the internet and the possibilities it brings, there are still many companies that don’t actively use it to their advantage. Confectioners and bakers are no exceptions, particularly in small to medium businesses where daily tasks and a limited staff make impresarios put aside topics that they don’t see as a priority.

To this, we could add an “aura of mystery” that has traditionally surrounded said field, in which bakers and confectioners aim to protect their recipes, their tips, and their secret ingredients. That’s why it seems unthinkable to post in social media a video in which the step-by-step process of a recipe is shown to make the most famous cake of a store or to upload the photo of an artisan bread along with the baking technique that was used to create it.

However, that situation has started to change, particularly in the United States and Europe, where the tendency is to promote and spread the “culture of bread”, in order to get the consumer to learn about bread and value a quality product. In this process, online marketing has turned into a strategically.

Contemporary bakers understand the importance of social media, they organize free courses that they promote through their blogs, they post their recipes and upload photos of what they’re baking. This is a way of generating trust in their customers because they’re saying “this is who I am, and this is my bread”.

The goal

Just like traditional marketing, virtual marketing wants potential customers to know the products or services of a company and understand how they can solve their problems or satisfy their desires. Thanks to that strategy, in time they end up becoming customers themselves.

In order to do so, a series of tools can be used that go from the corporate website accompanied by blogs, social networks, and mailing actions, up until page ads and search engine positioning, among others.

The great advantage is in the fact that presence of this type of channels usually does not imply a big investment and the greatest cost is the time that must be dedicated to this. However, for this to work, it’s necessary to define a work plan adjusted to the needs of the field and the business in particular. None of the tools available on the web would be useful without a well-defined and effective strategy.

Image courtesy of WorldSkills UK at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of WorldSkills UK at Flickr.com

The tools

In any case, the effectiveness of applied strategies depends on meeting the proposed goals. Just as it happens in traditional marketing, online marketing aims to draw the attention of the customers for them to become interested in knowing the company and, in time, acquire its products or services. A few alternatives are the following:

  • The company’s website: In certain cases, this tool is the basis of the entire strategy since through it, customers can get to know products or services, interact with the company, send suggestions, ask questions and acquire the items that they’re looking for in an online store. To do this it’s necessary to have a website which is manageable and interactive, where the user can have a pleasant experience and obtain answers in a timely manner.
  • Blog: In order to succeed, it will be necessary to create quality content and update the blog with a certain frequency. In this sense, you have to be innovative, provide interesting information and listen to your followers. It’s important to provide new contents periodically as well as secrets and tricks. That way you’ll  earn the trust and loyalty of the readers.
  • Social media: If the strategy is centered around social media, it will be important to know, for instance, that it’s not advisable to post the exact same information on Facebook and Twitter, and that each one of those sites is visited by people with different interests.

Bakers should be honest in social media since that is the key to success. Even though many people are still a little afraid of the internet, others show their followers the types of bread they make and how they make them. But it’s not okay to bake frozen bread and tell your followers that it was made in a wood-fired oven. Those sorts of trickeries are always discovered.

  • Email: It still plays a fundamental role in online marketing strategies. It’s perfect, not just to spread information about discounts and news, but to create customer loyalty as well. The most important thing when it comes to sending information to a large audience is to get companies to have their own databases, provided voluntarily by their customers.
  • Community managers: Even though the help of a person is not always required, their presence is necessary when the company decides to create and sustain stable relationships with their customers, their followers and, in general, the users who are interested in the brand. They will be responsible for creating attractive, high-quality contents for social networks, updating the corporate blog, defining the best schedules to post, monitoring the performance of the posts that they publish, creating stable and long-lasting relationships with followers and identifying if, at any given moment, an online reputation crisis arises.

Related content: Read Reputation Defender’s “The keys to online reputation in the field of leisure and tourism”