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How your online reputation is impacting your business

How your online reputation is impacting your business

Element 62 -Reputation Management

How your online reputation is impacting your business

It’s a fact of life that you can’t please all the people, all of the time.  And while a negative comment here or a bad review there may not seem like a big deal,if left unchecked,this kind of negative feedback can quickly have a negative impact on your business. 

Managing your online reputation not only helps presents your company as an industry expert or authority, but it can be instrumental in driving more business to your door, and that translates into real revenue.

Using tools and strategies to enhance your online reputation can be a game-changer, in the current climate. What people say about your business matters, and negative comments can be damaging. 

Did you know that; 

  • 87% of customers will read online reviews before buying
  • 83% will depend on word of mouth recommendations
  • 67% said that online reviews directly influenced their decision

Those are big numbers, and with so many buyers being affected by what they read, it really is important to pay attention to how your business is perceived online.

If your company is relatively new and you are lucky enough to not have any negative reviews, you may still be affected as potential customers looking for information perceive not enough reviews almost as badly as negative reviews.

What can you do?

Tracking and improving your online reputation may seem like a monumental task, but it’s not without its advantages. Evaluating and improving your online reputation will help you to represent your business well in the digital space. Managing your companies reputation effectively can help you to reach more potential clients, grow your customer base, and succeed in the long term.

Element62 supports companies by providing a Digital Marketing Toolkit to help small business users and solopreneurs to manage their online reputations, listings, and reviews all from one easy to manage location. 

Improving your online footprint and brand presence can be done by using our one-stop platform to –

  • Evaluate your current online reputation 
  • Assess your business image
  • Be more active on social media
  • Manage online content
  • Encourage positive reviews

Building a positive image by getting active across all of your social media channels will help you create trust and by personalizing your business you can drive more engagement. Being active and accessible may also help to remove or negate negative content as it ages. 

Along with reinforcing your brand, good online reputation management shows your client base that you are responsible and trustworthy. Improving credibility with transparency and a consistent brand message can turn your company from one that looks questionable, into one that customers want to do business with. 

Among Millenials and Gen Z buyers, a digital footprint is essential to review the activities and review suitability of possible businesses. So if your product or service targets a younger generation, having a good online reputation will reach this market segment where they interact most. 

While solid management of your online presence will drive business and attract new customers, it will also help you to retain existing clients. Being active and maintaining social accounts and other online outlets help to keep your business in front of clients both new and existing. 

So the next time they are looking for a product or a service that your company provides, their instinct will be to visit your website or online store first. If you need any more convincing then check out this fact. 

In a survey by BrightLocal, 94% of customers said ‘that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. “

With statistics like that, isn’t it time you took a good look at your company’s online reputation and used it to generate more business?

Brand Value – Why it matters

Brand Value – Why it matters

If, like many of us, you are wondering where the money is right now, the short answer is Tech. And the figures are mind-blowing!

Tech companies dominated the Best Global Brands 2020 report from Interbrand with Apple, at an estimated $322.9 billion as the company with the largest brand value. Amazon follows at $200,677 million, demonstrating an impressive 60% increase in brand value, compared to last year.

In the relentless disruption of the covid-19 pandemic, communication brands and social media have flourished. Instagram (#19), YouTube (#30) and Zoom (#100) are all appearing in the rankings for the first time. Although a diverse list, there is no doubt that Silicon Valley technology is on top in every sense of the word.

The Worlds most valuable brands 2020
The worlds most valuable brands 2020

So why does Brand Value Matter?

With numbers like these, it’s clear that brands offer the potential to create incredible commercial value for companies and corporations. The old adage that “People buy brands, not products” – is particularly relevant in the Covid-19 climate. Differentiation is key to long-term profit, growth and staying power. Brands that have achieved differentiation fared better throughout the covid crisis than those who failed to exploit their differentiators. This is because people don’t have relationships with products; they are, however, loyal to brands.

An ever-growing school of thought insists that brand is essentially more important than any product or service. There are several reasons for this, the first and most obvious being that brands are immortal, products date. Brands build communities, inspire ideas and motivate change at a time when one-dimensional products are struggling to satisfy the demands of a technology-driven, global communication society.

Secondly, increased internet access in developing countries and a boom in e-commerce and online business practice have opened new geographical markets. A blossoming middle class across Asia, Africa, and South America is increasing competition for relevant brand names, keywords and descriptors in multiple languages, but mainly English. These are large population countries with enthusiastic audiences and a wealth of opportunity for hungry, new entrepreneurs driven by the need for change. Increased competition drives up the value of existing brands while forcing new brands to be more creative in defining their brand identities, value propositions and other brand assets.

So

In this maelstrom, the challenge of brand performance management continues to be a demanding one that requires highly experienced professional partners and a complex multi-discipline strategy to deliver.

The hard truth is simply that great products, branding and advertising are simply not enough to differentiate businesses in a climate of intense competition for the attention of today’s discerning buyers. They want brands to be more than just product or service providers. They want them to be community builders, problem solvers and allies for change. They want human experiences with technology-driven efficiency, which meet them halfway – after all, attention is currency. If you want them to spend it on your brand, then you must return on that investment with something of value. Because in this world, where time is at a premium, that is essentially what attention is – an investment.

Changing buyer behaviour highlights how brands can potentially be worth more than all the other assets of the company combined – many of which depreciate in a way that brand doesn’t. Brand valuations can be complex to ascertain, but experts report that the share of brand value across industry segments can equate to around 40%, on average, of a company’s value. Not a percentage to ignore.  

Brand is no longer just nice to have. It’s a long-term investment which can pay for itself – if you look after it. If you want to know more about how your brand is performing, please contact us to find out more about how our brand audit service can reveal opportunities for improving your brand position and value.

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Seven Things Non-Marketers Need to Know About Marketing.

Seven Things Non-Marketers Need to Know About Marketing.

Marketing is one of the fastest-changing industries on the planet right now. While marketers are frantically trying to adapt to keep up with the endless opportunities that it creates for clients, equally as many businesses are trying to understand what they can, and should, be doing to keep up when in-house resource or marketing budgets are restricted.  

So, before rattling out social posts, recording  podcasts, designing ads or updating your website, here are seven things about marketing your business which you should know:

  1. Marketing is Easy.
  2. Marketing is Hard.
  3. Marketing Matters.
  4. Marketing only matters with a plan.
  5. Customers want to hear from you.
  6. Customers don’t want to be interrupted by you.
  7. Small, Authentic and Relevant Trumps Big and Generic Every Time.

At first glance, this list may seem a little contradictory at times. How can something be both easy and hard? Well, lets run through them one by one.

  1. Marketing is Easy.

Modern marketing has never been so accessible, particularly digital marketing. This level of accessibility means that many of us are marketing ourselves, our companies or our products almost daily, without really thinking about it. Anyone with a social media channel can grow a following and quite possibly retain them – but to what end?

Combine that with an online smorgasbord of courses, tutorials, forums etc and you can probably piece together enough to post regularly and receive a level of engagement.  In short, the actual implementation is not rocket science.

  • Marketing is Hard.

However, despite the high level of accessibility for the deliverable aspects of marketing, Marketing is underpinned by strategy, financial and data analysis, technology, psychology, sociology, creativity and cultural intelligence.  While anyone can ultimately market their business with limited knowledge, the application of deep knowledge and experience of these skill sets unlocks new opportunities to inform, influence and motivate your clients and buyers while building trusted relationships which delight and instil brand loyalty.  While there are many marketing tasks that business owners could and arguably should undertake in-house, the complexity of the sector demonstrates a need for experts and niche specialists to help cut through the noise of competitors fighting for the very same clients or buyers attention. While there are just as many courses available for each of these niche areas, it is experience and a deep understanding of how these niches interact and intersect which is key to delivering compelling campaigns, content and messaging.

  • Marketing Matters.

In an online world, the dividing line between Sales and Marketing is thin. For online success, many marketers favour content marketing supported by SEO, SEM and Online Advertising using a variety of metrics to assess their productivity and value. At a high-level for most companies, Total Sales provides the primary indication of marketing success. Identifying, implementing and leveraging your online offer is key to ensuring your brand profile remains high to those audiences that matter. A well-thought-out strategy implemented with testing and revision can keep your brand at the forefront of client minds, at the moments that matter, informing their purchasing decisions and shaping their opinions.

Marketing done well can tell your sales teams who they should target, why, in what way and when someone is primed to buy, cutting out a lot of the donkey work and interruptive sales methods of old. Imagine your business was a bird. Sales and marketing are each of its wings.  Imagine the importance of balance required to soar upwards and the calamity that can unfold when they are out of sync with each other. When sales and marketing work together, brands can fly, but when they are silo’d there is a strong probability that the business will struggle to make its mark. If sales are your target metric, then sales-enabled marketing should be a pillar in your strategy.

  • Marketing Only Matters With A Plan

Ill thought-out marketing wastes time, costs money and can quickly lose engagement and even clients. Audience attention is precious. You should respect that and keep it in mind. If you want them to invest in your brand, you need to give them a reason. Understanding their need, knowing their pain points and either providing solutions or the possibility of one should always be at the centre of your communications, whether online, by email, in print or broadcast. Social media is the greatest challenge, as it requires a high degree of self-control to post informative, engaging and consistently relevant information every time. The temptation to see Social media as a testing ground for random, unconnected posts with no actionable purpose, is a common one, but also a dangerous one. It is a  waste of your client/buyer attention; they don’t want to be your guinea pigs. They want specific, relevant info that helps them solve problems.  Secondly, dependent on your business, you might be judged on your consistency and ability to stay on message. Trust is built on consistency and relevance. No-one follows an Accountant on LinkedIn to hear what he had for dinner or to read his blog on birdwatching at the weekend. Unless, its part of a ‘getting to know you’ campaign, complete with relevant links and calls to action running simultaneously with a product or brand campaign for instance. In short, occasional indulgences with purpose can only be useful as part of a strategic plan.

  • Customers Want To Hear From You.

It’s simple. Customers with a need for your product want to hear from you. They want to know about the product for sure, but they want to know about the company, and it’s people too. There are all kinds of factors that buyers consider before signing up to a product or service. Still, the primary ones in my experience are price, need and ethical/moral satisfaction.  Satisfaction is a big one. If the experience they get from engaging with your brand makes them feel good, then you massively increase your chances of converting them and their network. Why? Two reasons, satisfied people are likely to be happy to engage with you in the future and in most instances, will recommend your product or service to others. Conversely, an unsatisfied customer is likely to block your emails, unsubscribe from your newsletters and express their dissatisfaction loudly. Finding the right formula for engaging with the right people, at the right time, every-time is a vital part of marketing strategy development.

  • Customers Do Not Want To Be Interrupted By You.

We’ve all experienced it – Annoying popups, never-ending spam emails, incessant chatbots that won’t take the hint, followed by thrice-daily phone calls and follow up emails from everyone who works for the company you made a casual enquiry about yesterday. They haven’t answered your original query and yet, they are already getting on your nerves. So you block/unsubscribe without waiting for the information you requested and move on to the next one while enduring the 10 ‘Are you sure?’ emails pinging through your next three meetings. Grrrr.

Situations like these are often examples of weak planning or potentially poor marketing automation, with no consideration for the potential client/buyer’s wants and needs. When did badgering anyone ever move anything forward positively?

Knowing what they want from you, you can now respond with a quick ‘thanks for visiting’ along with a link to a blog or video explaining how our company can help allows them to choose if they want to see more and potentially answer some of the questions they may have.  After responding to their initial query, you can decide on a reasonable timeframe within which to contact them again and make the content relevant to their need.  This way, your contact – which they requested – is solving their problem, not draining their time or diverting their attention elsewhere.

7) Small, Authentic and Relevant Trumps Big and Generic Every Time.

The guru  Seth Godin said “Don’t find customers for your products. Find products for your customers”. Somewhat counter-intuitively, modern marketing is not about gaining the largest audience; it’s about targeting the smallest viable audience. That means that by focusing your time, spend and resources targeting those qualified leads who want or need your product and understanding their needs to ensure your product meets them, your conversion rate will increase along with your ROI. Once your target market is engaged, they become your cheerleaders to the wider world.

In summary, a change of mindset by business owners could go a long way to relieving some of the stress you feel about marketing your business. Understanding what you can and should to do in-house, when the support of a consultant can help to shape your in-house strategy and when a specialist or even an agency may open new doors and allow you to compete on an equal playing field – and win.

Wherever you are on your businesses marketing journey, Element 62 can help from strategic planning right through to refinement and evaluation.  We also advise on marketing automation, development, training and recruitment of your in-house team. After all, who knows your business better than you? Building a skilled and knowledgeable team is a natural step for a growth-focused business and getting it right saves time, money and resource. But its also not a necessity.  Schedule a free 60-minute discovery call to see how we can help you  and your team to grow and thrive through these fast-moving and uncertain times.

Assets at Risk: the challenge of social posting in hostile environment operations.

Assets at Risk: the challenge of social posting in hostile environment operations.

Concerns about safety and social media are not exactly strange bedfellows. Every day we are bombarded with information on how to protect ourselves and our privacy online but how often do we stop to wonder if we might unthinkingly be sharing information that could put others at risk?

How often do we read between the lines, to see what is NOT being said? And do we respect that decision?

Last week, a client working in a high-risk area posted a photo showing a close-up of their product in use. The photo was taken with care. Every effort was made to ensure the platform’s anonymity and location. The headlining comment cautiously stated the location on a continental basis. Neither the platform, country, project or the operator was named; a carefully planned, pre-agreed comms strategy to allow the business in question to keep people updated with products and services while protecting the lives of those on the ground in an unquestionably hostile area. That evening, a comment popped up in the feed – ‘Hey, that’s the [inserts platform name] in [Inserts country]. I just came back from there not long ago”. A conversation around the asset in question develops with a colleague; the logistics of getting there, the remoteness of the location, the terrible weather at that time. All information, publically shared.

Inadvertently, in just seven words and a little chit-chat, a carefully managed communication strategy is destroyed. Onboard and transitioning crews may be endangered and somewhere far away, security teams could be scrambling to respond to an upgraded threat level.

As soon as the post was spotted, the comment was removed and thankfully, to date, no lives were lost in this instance.

However, the ongoing kidnapping of oil workers in Africa and South America continues to underscore the need for extreme care in some of the world’s high-value production zones. Millions are spent protecting the locations, project schedules and roster changes and yet, it appears that the greatest threat to safeguarding assets and the life of remote workers, may come from the well-meaning support of an engaged online community that fails to understand the risks of posting key information in their commentary.

This has been an ongoing challenge from a communications perspective and I doubt I am alone here. As a digital marketer, an engaged community is rarely a bad thing and followers that care enough to engage and comment on posts – priceless. This post is not meant to discourage comments. Interaction is always good, but a little mindfulness in our online commentary could save lives in these types of situations. this presents the question of how we can best engage with active social users to encourage better consider of not just WHAT is – or is not – being said but also to take a few seconds to wonder WHY.

On the back of these discussions, we have been brainstorming ways to address the balance of protection and promotion. Some of the suggestions we are considering to allow continued posting, where there may be a degree of commercial sensitivity or physical safety issues include:

  1. Educating followers by beginning posts with notice – i,e “Company identity and location withheld to protect life and safety of assets”.
  2. Consider the use of stock photography where possible to reduce the potential for id or information disclosure. This does raise the question of post validity of course but that’s a question for another day.
  3. If necessary, restrict or turn off comments on sensitive posts to prevent wider discussion.

If you or your company has experienced something similar, I would be keen to hear how you are approaching this challenge. Even with everything we know about social and how it works, the human inclinations of users continue to present new challenges. Every day is indeed a school day 🙂