Michael Reynolds in General on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Inbound marketing includes tactics like SEO, social media communications, email marketing, and blogging, and can drive highly qualified leads to your organization. While these techniques can be very effective for increasing awareness of your business, have you thought about what happens when prospects start to do research into your online reputation?
Online reviews and ratings can play a big part in helping prospects decide whether they want to do business with you. To learn more, we sat down with Polly Wood, Head of Strategic Projects for Reputation.com.
SpinWeb: What is reputation management?
Polly: Reputation management is the practice of monitoring, analyzing, managing and addressing the online information that creates a detailed impression of who you are to others.
SpinWeb: What types of organizations do you typically work with?
Polly: We work with all kinds – small and medium businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and individuals who range from politicians to high profile executives to professionals or even college students.
SpinWeb: Without naming names, of course, what are some ways that your customers' online reputations have caused harm to their marketing efforts?
Polly: We’ve seen some customers underestimate the importance of online reviews. That’s fairly significant because studies show that 78 percent of consumers think it’s very important to research service providers online before deciding to do business with them, 89 percent trust online reviews, and 72 percent trust online reviews as much as word of mouth.
The online review space is clearly enormously influential on consumers’ buying decisions so ignoring online feedback, responding in a defensive or unprofessional way, or failing to be timely are big issues.
SpinWeb: What are some ways your customers' online reputations have helped their marketing efforts?
Polly: Our customers use our tools to aggregate and analyze their online reviews – so they can see what’s being said, understand the trends over time, and respond quickly. We’ve seen our customers use the platform to generate intelligence they can use about their business. For example, a customer could see that a particular employee shows up over and over in results for positive reasons. The customer may decide to send that employee to a branch of the business that is not doing as well so that person can train the employees there. That’s meaningful action that will have a big impact.
Our customers who choose to use our proactive reputation management tools also generate some great returns. We customize campaigns for clients so they can ask their customers for honest feedback, via email or even through in-store tablets we provide. Building up or broadening your review base is smart practice.
SpinWeb: What is the most common mistake you see your customers making when working on their online reputations?
Polly: Every customer would like just-add-water, instantaneous results. Reshaping an online reputation takes time. As more accurate content is generated and published, it slowly rises to the prominent positions within your search results and by default, pushes down the results that are unbalanced, outdated, untrue, etc.
SpinWeb: What industries are typically most affected by their online reputations?
Polly: The advent of technology means that no industry is unaffected by online reputation issues. Whether our client is a family doctor or a Global 2000 company, they must contend with online reviews, blogs, news articles, social media, etc.
SpinWeb: What websites and services do you recommend that businesses are most concerned about when thinking about their online reputations?
Polly: Establish yourself on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Make sure you get in the online directories like Google Places. Create a Tumblr account. Constantly check your search results and Google yourself. When it comes to online, ignorance is not bliss!
SpinWeb: Should B2B companies have different concerns than B2C companies when it comes to online reputation?
Polly: No. Everyone should be concerned about their online reputation. Negative or erroneous content online can affect a sale to a client today or a business deal down the road. Everyone needs to pay attention to their online reputation and make sure they are presented accurately.
SpinWeb: What advice do you have for companies that would like to maintain a positive online reputation?
Polly: First, do good work. Provide a good product or services, make sure your customer service is top notch, and work hard to quickly resolve issues. Establish a presence online via social media, blogs, online directories, etc., and update these routinely to help keep these prominent in your search results. Monitor your online reviews so you can be aware of issues and ask customers to review you on the sites that matter most to your business.
SpinWeb: How does reputation management integrate with inbound marketing efforts, like SEO, social media, and content creation?
Polly: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more focused on people who do not know you exist, whereas Online Reputation Management (ORM) is for people who know who you are or are doing research about you. With search becoming increasingly local, we are seeing ORM be a major part of SEO as well.
For example, a Google search for a plastic surgeon in Denver will give several doctors and tie them to a map. That map has reviews listed for each doctor as well, so even in a generic search, there is a visual impression that conveys the quality of that doctor. Furthermore, if a client then goes to compare several doctors online, which is likely given more than 20% of healthcare related searches are for a specific provider, then your ORM efforts will be what helps give the best impression.
SpinWeb: Anything else you would like to add?
Polly: Don't underestimate the impact your online reputation has on your revenue. It can have a significant impact on your business.
SpinWeb: Thank you for your knowledge and insight. We really appreciate it.
Polly: My pleasure!
Polly Wood currently acts as the Head of Strategic Projects for online reputation management (ORM) firm Reputation.com, Inc., where she has contributed her expertise and proficiency in administrative capacities since January 2011. In her role as Advanced Client Solutions Manager for one of the leading ORM companies of the day, Polly Wood assists both individuals and businesses in taking control of their online reputations by protecting their sensitive information and defining, monitoring, and defending their images.