The Age of Online Reputation Management:
Why Brands Should Listen To What Consumers Are Saying About Them
Reputation has always been a form of currency. But in today’s digital landscape, a brand’s reputation is more important than ever before. As a society, we are placing increasing emphasis and trust in Google search results, Amazon reviews, and influencer recommendations on social media. This means the importance of maintaining and managing our online reputation is growing. And rapidly so. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 91% of people now trust what they read online. We’ve left the age of information and entered the age of reputation.
Your customers are talking. Are you listening?
What makes a brand successful in the digital age? According to an article by HBR, today’s most successful brands don’t just do things differently; they also think differently. In the past, brands worried about what they said to customers. Today, however, brands are more concerned with what customers are saying to each other. The conversation has shifted from, “Is this a brand that I look up to?” to “Is this a brand that makes my life easier/better?”
While old school companies focus on traditionally positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, forward-thinking digital-focused companies position their brands directly in the lives of their customers. That is to say, they engage with customers not as buyers, but as users and promoters. They are shifting their ad dollars from pre-purchase promotions to post-purchase renewal and brand advocacy. They’re marketing efforts are no longer strictly sales-focused, but now also dedicated to relationship-building.
Consider the following pairs of brands: traditional (old school) vs. digitally-focused (new school). Examples include Hilton/Marriott vs. Airbnb; Coca-Cola vs. Red Bull; American Express/Visa vs. Vemno; BMW vs. Tesla. Good brands, on both sides, to be sure. The big difference? The overall customer experience.
Old school brands like Marriott, BMW, and American Express rely heavily on the legacy of their reputation and how they’ve been perceived by consumers in the past. In contrast, new school brands like Airbnb, Tesla, and Venmo focus not only on the acquisition of the customer, but everything that happens before and after the transaction, whether in delivery, service, education, or sharing.
Can you guess which group has more loyal customers? Not surprisingly, it’s the group that focused on the entire customer journey, not just the sale. What’s more, the customers of the new school brands exhibit stronger brand advocacy and more spontaneous recommendations to friends. These customers are also willing to pay a premium—on average 7% more—just for the experience of interacting with the digitally-focused brands. They were also 8% less likely to switch brands once they’d been converted. Pretty cool, huh?
Today's online shoppers have a considerable hold on brands. From small startups to medium-sized businesses to large corporations, the rise of social media and online reviews has meant a distinct shift in power to consumers when it comes to brand reputations. Customers are now powerful enough to make or break companies with their online feedback.
Traditionally, customer service and loyalty have taken back seat to marketing campaigns and lead generation. Those days are over. Today’s digitally-focused brands, by contrast, are elevating customer service and loyalty from a “resource-starved cost-centers to key drivers of growth and profitability.” The brands that are most successful treat their customers as users, not on buyers.
It’s All About Relationships.
Brands are waking up to this new reality and doubling down on reputation monitoring and management as an essential, critical, and integral component of their overall growth strategy. You can’t opt out of having an online presence in today’s digital world. However, you can be proactive in managing it. It’s never too early (or too late) to start managing and taking control of your brand’s reputation. The best brands know that their customers' perceptions will define them. And they use this knowledge as a tool rather than a hindrance to success. They know that what’s out there—what they say and what their customers say—matters, and will continue to matter into the future.
They understand reputation management is about much more than self-promotion. And goes well beyond advertising. It’s about adding real value to your audience—your followers, influencers, users, and target markets. Whether you want to enhance brand awareness, head off an impending crisis, or boost Google searchability, it’s important that you are saying the right things to the right people, and saying it well. Your brand’s response to online reviews, what you say on your website, and what you post on social media platforms really, really matters.
After all, not all content is created equal. No matter your industry, the message needs to be, “Look how we are making your life better, before you’ve even spent a dime with us. Think how much more we can do if you buy/use our product.” As you continuously engage, build positive relationships, and post interesting and valuable content, you’ll see your presence online improve and grow in strength.
Want help managing your business or brand’s online reputation?
We can help! Reputation Studio is an Enterprise Online Reputation Management (ORM) platform that consolidates customer reviews into one dashboard, automates the routing of reviews to teams, posts responses in real-time, and applies AI to provide actionable insights and track the sentiment and intent.