The Art of Online Reputation Marketing
As the owner of a business I presume that you already have a website which you use to attract new customers to call you or just find your address and come to your place of business.
You already know that your prospects are looking online from their computer, smart phone, or tablet to find a solution to a problem they have, a solution that you offer.
The question in most peoples’ mind is “who should I do business with?” And while they’re looking they’re also considering the most reputable business with whom to do business.
The bottom line is this: You want to be sure that your business is the business your prospects call, and not your competitors.
That being said let me start by asking you a question.
Would you buy a product or service that has bad ratings or reviews? Of course not, because no one wants to have that same bad experience when they buy a product or service.
But here’s the more important question…
...If three businesses were virtually identical, business A had four good reviews and two bad reviews. Business B had no reviews at all and business C has 6 five star reviews.
Which one would you choose to buy or book an appointment with?
Obviously it’s C because we all understand and it’s literally just part of our culture now, in everywhere that we go, whether it’s looking for a rating on a TV show or movie or restaurant we go to. Because we all want to have a great experience and we’re looking to make sure that a company is consistent with delivering that experience or that product or service.
These five stars are like a huge billboard saying, “I’m the right company for you to choose.”
So this is what consumers, individuals, and companies do every single day. They go online and they're looking to find the most reputable company to do business with.
Plus, make no mistake about it, only one bad review can send the prospect from your website or your listing online to someone else's. That means the difference between your phone ringing and your competition's phone ringing. Therefore, you’re only one customer away from a bad review.
Before I get into the details, let me first make a distinction.
There are a number of fine companies out there that do what is called “Reputation Management.”
What I’m talking about is “Reputation Marketing” and what you’re going to learn about in this document may well shock you because your competition has no idea about the power of reputation marketing versus reputation management.
Reputation marketing is the most effective way to market because reputation management is obsolete. Let’s face it; in your business you don’t make money managing. Managing is literally an expense of the company.
You make money marketing. When you’re marketing something that’s when your sales increase. That’s when the value of your company increases.
Smart businesses start with reputation marketing and the game of online marketing just changed to give five star companies a huge advantage over their competitors in the marketplace.
Now, obviously there are many ways we can market our products and services to get more business right?
So it’s important at this stage to first talk about the “three main drivers of change” that are impacting your business and how to leverage them.
Then we’ll talk about “the four key marketing systems that you need to optimise, to maximise revenue growth” at your business and I’ll show you how, and why, “Reputation Marketing” plays an integral part in all of these elements.
95 percent of the businesses I have worked with over the years, don’t know how to leverage these drivers of change and they’re also are missing AT LEAST two out of the four critical, proven marketing systems that are necessary to achieve maximum business growth.
The businesses who understand how to leverage the three main drivers of change and who are leveraging all four marketing systems,they’re growing .Fast.
The acceleration I’m talking about isn’t a short-lived “sugar-rush” kind of growth. It’s the sustainable and responsible kind—the kind that complements your ethical standards and supports your long-term vision for your business.
You’ll discover that the systems I’m talking about aren’t gimmicky, revolutionary or impossible to implement. They don’t require you to turn your business model upside down or become something you’re not.
In fact, these four elements are the foundational building blocks that every successful business must optimize in order to achieve the growth they’re looking for. But again, my experience tells me that most businesses are not taking complete (or efficient) advantage of each of the four systems.
At the end of this document, I will share with you a strategy that can be implemented immediately to ensure that your business get’s off to the very best start possible so that you can start maximizing the return from your marketing budget, immediately.
In the Last 10 Years, There Have Been Dramatic Changes in the Marketplace . The competitive landscape for businesses has changed dramatically over the last several years, and will continue to change at an unprecedented pace.
Why? The continued development and distribution of technology has radically changed the way consumers are buying—how they hear about products and services; how they research them; and how they make a final purchase decision.
There are three main drivers of this change that are impacting your business. You need to be aware of them and you need to leverage them.
The three drivers are:
I’m sure these are all terms that you’re familiar with; however, you may not be exactly familiar with how these things will impact your business, your business’s customers desire to do business with you and the decisions you need to make at our business to make sure that you’re capitalising on these changes.
So, let’s go ahead and jump into them.
According to recent poll data, 92 percent of adult Internet users in the U.S. use a search engine (Google, Bing) to find information online—with the majority of this group performing keyword searches on a regular basis.
“When you look at educated and affluent individuals, search engine use climbs to as high as 98 percent.” These statistics simply underline what you and I already know:
Search is King.
Everyone who has access to the Internet uses a search engine to find relevant and useful information, and according to Google’s own data, 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online1.
Got visibility? The upshot of these facts is clear: If you want visibility for your business, you need visibility in the search engines, particularly Google.
Search isn’t just king—it’s a kingmaker too. High visibility in Google can mean more website traffic, more customers and referrals, more sales activity, and more profit for your business.
The good, the bad and the ugly: there for all to see . But visibility is a double-edged sword. Customer reviews of your business are visible too.
What if some of these reviews are negative?
What if they’re scathing?
Well, the bad news is they can haunt your business for years and have a crushing impact on your bottom line.
On the flip side, good reviews can fuel positive word of mouth and generate referral traffic like you’ve never seen!
Ranking matters. Here’s what we know about how people use search engines: after entering a keyword into Google and being presented with pages and pages of blue text links, consumers generally don’t dive very deeply into the results (95.91 percent of all clicks occur on page one).
And of page one results, people tend to focus on the top three.
The top result alone commands an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent.
So it’s not enough to be “on Google.” If you want to take advantage of the popularity of search, your website needs to be listed at the top of the page and above the “scroll line” for the search terms relevant to your business.
Small businesses have (finally) embraced social media. 90 percent of small businesses are on Facebook, and 66 percent of them are spending more time on social media than they did a year ago.
We’ve all heard enough hype about social media to last a lifetime (or two). But there’s a good reason, because there’s actually something to the hype. The social web has truly been a game changer.
The rapid rise of social media is pretty breathtaking. Just think: Facebook grew from a curiosity in a Harvard dormitory to a global force with over 1 Billion users … in less than a decade.
Facebook seems like old news now—a presence in our lives that we take for granted—but it’s worth remembering how recently this shift has taken place.
Study: 59 percent of U.S. consumers use social media to vent about customer care frustrations.
A common misunderstanding that small businesses have is that Facebook and other networks are just for kids, and thus their target market isn’t represented demographically on the site.
But the stats tell another story—the opposite story, in fact.
In the U.S., almost two-thirds of all Facebook users are over the age of 35. Two-thirds of U.S. adults use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
People aren’t just ON social networks. They’re GLUED to them.
The average U.S. Facebook user spends a whopping 7 hours and 46 minutes on the site each month.
That’s a full 15.5 minutes the average American spends on Facebook every single day!
The upshot of all of these numbers is pretty straightforward, but I’ll spell it out just in case:
Your customers are on Facebook.
They spend a LOT of time there. They’re sharing, tweeting, liking, pinning, friending, starring, following, fanning, posting, hash tagging, uploading, re-tweeting … you name it.
So if you want to reach them, capture their attention and make a pitch for your services before your competitors do … you’ve got to at least meet them halfway.
Sharing experiences … and frustrations People are taking to the web to share their experiences with brands, and what they’re sharing with their friends and family members isn’t always flattering …
59 percent of U.S. consumers are using social media to vent about customer care frustrations. This isn’t just happening on Facebook, but on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google+ Local and others. 7 in 10 who read reviews share them with friends, family and colleagues, amplifying the impact of these comments even further.
More and more businesses are beginning to realise that, while they can’t control what people say online, they can (and should) monitor and contribute to the conversation in an effort to influence the overall tenor.
They’re realising that having a proactive online presence that’s focused on adding value to the customer experience is the surest way to grow and preserve their brand reputation—and protect themselves from the stray musings of a few unhappy souls.
Another big reason to get involved in social media is that you have to do it to stay relevant.
Your clients expect it, and if you fall short of their expectations, they’ll be more likely to do business with the business down the street.
Even way back in 2008, 93 percent of customers expected companies to have a presence on social channels, and 85 percent expected companies to interact with them on those social channels.
That figure has only grown as the social media era has matured.
You can either join the conversation or let your competitors do all the talking.
It’s up to you!
70 percent of all mobile searches result in action within one hour!10
Look around you: You'll see a steady stream of consumers surfing the web on smartphones, iPads, Androids, and Kindles.
And this is a trend that's hardly slowing.
It’s almost impossible to overestimate the impact of the mobile computing revolution.
In fact, the proliferation of cellphones, smartphones, e-readers and tablet PCs might be one of the most underestimated and under-hyped shifts in business today.
Today, 87 percent of Americans have mobile phones. It’s their No. 1 most-used technology device, with 73 percent saying so versus only 58 percent saying it’s their desktop PC.
When you pause to consider what these new devices are capable of, and how quickly they emerged from high-priced novelties to ever-present, “can’t live without them”12 gadgets, it’s pretty unbelievable.
“We have never lived in a time with the opportunity to put a computer in the pocket of 5 billion people. Practically everyone is going to have a general purpose computer in their pocket, it’s so easy to underestimate that, that has got to be the really, really big one.”
The potential of the smartphone age is deceptive. We look around and see more people talking on phones in more places and playing when they’re bored. This is just the beginning. In time, business models, infrastructure, legal environments, and social norms will evolve, and the world will become a very different and dramatically more productive place.
The revolution will be mobilized It’s clear that the future of the web is tied to smartphones and tablets and other mobile devices. More and more, people who visit your website will do so from a small-screened device instead of a hulking desktop or laptop.
What does that mean to you, the business owner?
People have adopted mobile phone technology faster than almost any other household technology.
It means that if you want an effective web presence that supports your business goals, you need to have a website that supports a multitude of platforms, specifically the smartphone.
In fact, a study from Google found that that 6 in 10 mobile users will leave a website if it’s not optimized for small screens.
If your business's site looks cramped, cluttered, or illegible when viewed on a tablet or smartphone, you run the very real risk of turning away your most valuable asset: your customers.
In a weak economy, mobile matters Think this “mobile” stuff is much ado about nothing? Let’s put this into perspective .
The economic recovery is a sluggish one. People are still worrying about losing their jobs. Millions of homeowners owe more on their mortgage loans than what their homes are worth. Credit-card debt continues to weigh down households.
These are challenging times for consumers. As a business owner, you don't want to give them any more reasons not to buy your products or services. Further, you don’t want to add any additional friction to the process of buying your products and services!
A streamlined website for mobile is a new must-have. Particularly when you consider that people with smartphones are still turning to search engines to look for information.
Search to purchase What’s more, studies show that when people use their smartphones to search for information, they’re more apt to take immediate action. They search from where they are and go immediately to what they find.
70 percent of all mobile searches result in action within one hour!
Do you search online before deciding what businesses to buy from? Do you choose a company based on the recommendations you heard from friends over social media? Do you carry a smartphone with you at all times?
Just about everyone I ask these questions to, answers yes to ALL of the above!
And again, these trends are only accelerating.
The important thing now is to ask the hard questions and seek out the answers—even if they shake things up a bit:
How do these changes impact the way consumers interact with my business? ● How do these changes impact my business’s growth? How do these changes impact the way I approach the marketing of my business?
Given all of these revolutionary changes we’ve discussed—search, social and mobile—you might be worried that you are going to have to make drastic, revolutionary changes in your business.
That’s not necessarily the case.
Our experience shows that there are four key marketing systems that need to be optimized in order to maximize growth in today’s wired, always-on and hypercompetitive marketplace.
The marketing systems I’m about to present aren’t even new! They’re not gimmicks that were cooked up in the ivory tower or by some pie-in-the-sky TED-talk guru.
They’re proven concepts that have been tested, re-tested and tested again in the marketplace.
These are the four elements every business needs to plan for and optimise to maximise their growth potential.
Data shows, and my experience proves, that each of these can account for about 25 percent growth on their own, and combined have a compounding effect that can ignite growth to 100 percent or more.
Let’s briefly run through each element and explore how maximizing these 4 R’s could significantly impact growth at your business.
What are you doing to proactively manage, protect and monetize your most valuable asset—your reputation?
As we discussed earlier, it has never been easier for potential customers to find out what others think about your business. This is both good and bad (depending on what people find).
As you know, nowadays people search online before they buy. We know that people put a lot of stock in what they find and read online. In fact, a recent Nielsen study shows that 70 percent of consumers choose to do business based on online feedback—even when it’s feedback from total strangers!
Recommendations from personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are “the most trusted forms of advertising.”
Look who’s talking (about you) : Customers, Prospects ,Competitors, Disgruntled employees, Ex spouses,Former business partners, investors ,Trolls .
This probably isn’t anything new to you, and there’s a decent chance that, like most of the businesses I talk to, you are not very pleased about some of the things people have written about your business!
Whether it is positive or negative in tone, most of the content about your business that is available online is not even being created by you anymore!
Consumers are critics and publishers now. They all carry tiny “printing presses” in their pockets!
Reputation is more important than ever .Businesses have always relied on their reputation.
But the stakes are even higher today because of how easy it is for consumers to find information about businesses before they buy.
What’s more, as we’ve already discussed, negative reviews can get lodged in the search results, hanging like an albatross around your neck and dragging down sales.
In choosing your business, how many reviews do you think a consumer looks up before making a decision to investigate your business further? Well, the answer is 10.
What if you only have a couple of reviews on Google and they’re five star reviews? What do you think is going to happen? Well you stand a very big chance that they will stop there and not go any further.
What about trusting your business? How many reviews does a business need do you think for consumers to trust them? Well, the answer is between 6-10.
The magic number really to be safe is you need at least 6-10 five star reviews for your business to be trusted.
Now this is powerful because on all the different review sites when people go there to look up your business, if they don’t see that you can be trusted, then the majority of your marketing budget will go down the toilet.
Let’s talk about reputation marketing a little bit – some amazing stats or return on investment that companies get when investing in a reputation marketing strategy. You can see here that there was actually a test done by the University of California in Berkeley and they looked at 320 different business.
Here’s what they found - that if you increase the rating by just half a star you can actually increase business by 19%.
This is why reputation is literally exploding this year for business and they’re taking a serious look at this. We did a very important focus group that talked about referrals. Because reputation marketing has a huge impact on the number of referrals you get.
Most importantly, it has a huge impact of whether those referrals will ever buy from you or not.
It kind of works like this, Sally goes to work. Maybe she needs to get a massage. She turns to Julie and Julie says, ‘Hey, I know this great massage place. It’s down the road.’ Then she says, ‘what’s the phone number?’ She says, ‘I don’t know. Google it.’ So she refers the business but doesn’t necessarily have the phone number and address on hand. Typically people will go and Google it or they go online to find out more information. Pretty standard.”
Here’s the most important question. After being referred to a business and you go online, what do you do next?
And here’s what we found;
52% look for online reviews and ratings. 5 out of 10 people that refer you will go online and look for your reviews. If they don’t find them, the chances of them going on to buy from you online are very slim.
But 35% actually go to the website. Therefore, having reviews on, at least, the homepage of your website is vital for conversions.
13% actually go to social media. Again it’s vital that you have five star reviews throughout your entire social media like Facebook, twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
It’s very important that you see what the behaviors of customers are now versus what they were two or three years ago.
Reputation management again was a great strategy for businesses in the 80s and 90s and early 2000s. But in todays’ market, it’s reputation marketing that’s going to take it to the whole next level for your business.
Does reputation impact online or traditional marketing? Does it affect TV and magazine ads, newspaper, radio or direct mail or just SEO, social media and website marketing?
It affects all of them!
People typically don’t remember the URL of your website in a newspaper, magazine or radio ad. But they do remember your name. They do remember that offer along with your name or your product and they’ll type that in. And then what happens?
Again, your reputation is going to be front and center for them to make a decision on whether they should buy from you or not .
90 percent of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; seventy percent trust opinions of unknown users.
We’ve established that your reputation impacts all of your marketing including referrals. Let me now define ”Reputation Marketing” for you. Let me do it by just quoting Wikipedia because this isn’t something that’s been around for 20 years.
This is a new innovative approach that is crushing it for small businesses. Wikipedia says the ”Reputation Marketing” field has evolved from the marriage of the fields or reputation management and brand marketing.
Now we just talked about reputation management in the beginning of this document by saying that it’s coming from a defensive of posture. Then, brand marketing is a very expensive endeavor. So when you do brand marketing, you try to market your swish or your logo or your colours. You can’t track your ROI on that. So I think both of these strategies for huge companies could be effective. But for small businesses, they’re not very effective at all.
What has happened is that the management and brand has been dropped and combined into a new strategy, which is ”Reputation Marketing”.
“Build a five star reputation online then market your reputation to get more customers.”
What are you doing to ensure that more people know about your business today than yesterday?
It’s my experience that a business that wants to grow needs to make sure that more people know about it today than did yesterday.
If you’re not meeting new people and telling them about your products and services, you’re not developing a pipeline of potential new customers and you are going to see fewer sales in the future as a result.
This sounds pretty obvious, I know. But I’m always surprised when I talk to small business owners and ask them about their promotional efforts.
When I look at the pipeline-filling activities of small businesses, I see mostly a scattershot approach.
A campaign here and there … with only a vague idea on whether they are getting a positive return on their investment.
No wonder so many businesses become skeptical of marketing:
They’re doing it wrong!
Very rarely do I see coordinated, systematic and metrics-driven efforts to reach a wider audience and drive more prospects (i.e. people who are interested in what you’re selling) through the front door.
But this kind of focused, ongoing and intentional approach is exactly what’s necessary to reach more qualified prospects in a cost-effective—not to mention satisfying! — manner.
A once-in-a while, ad hoc marketing strategy is not going to get the results you need to achieve consistent business growth.
What are you doing to upsell, cross sell and repeat sell to maximize the lifetime value of your customer base?
Once you've done all of the hard and often costly work of getting a customer, you need to make sure to maximize the lifetime value, or LTV, of that customer.
Whatever metaphor you want to use … mining your backyard … picking the low hanging fruit … the point is the same:
It makes more sense (both financially and from an efficiency standpoint) to fully capitalize on your existing customer base than to be constantly on the hunt for new customers.
The more value you can generate from each customer, the less you have to spend on marketing, which means you can increase your profit margins and/or reinvest the savings into your products and services—in the process making your business even more attractive to your customers!
In practice, this can mean increasing the monetary value of each transaction or increasing the frequency that customers buy, either by offering add-on services or upsells or cross-sells.
McDonald’s offers the classic example: ‘Do you want fries with that?’ ‘Do you want to supersize your order?’
These days there are so many cost effective and trackable ways to bring customers back to your business.
To give you just one example, consider SMS coupon campaigns.
Despite having easy access to new and cool tools, most business in our area are leaving money on the table because they’re not maximizing the resell potential of each customer.
What are you doing to use your successful relationships to create new, organic opportunities so that you can spend less and make more?
Since you’re doing such a great job taking care of your customers and keeping them happy, the next best thing you can do is set up systems to maximize the benefit you get from them, right? So that they are doing the marketing for you!
Well, it’s well known that if you just leave it up to people to do referrals for you, very few will—even if they are
very happy with you.
You have to make it very easy—almost effortless—for your happy customers to refer your business if you really want to maximize the referrals you generate from them.
Attracting a new customer can cost five times as much as keeping an existing one. Referrals make great customers We all want referrals because they help us save money on marketing, right? Well, there’s even more to gain from referrals than cost savings:
According to a case study noted in the Harvard Business Review, customers that come from referrals are, on average, about 18 percent more likely than others to stay with a company and they generate 16 percent more in profits!
Friends referred by friends make better customers.
Why are referrals so powerful? Because they channel the power of social proof. Social proof is a fancy way of saying that we humans are easily influenced by each other. We’re pack animals.
When a member of our pack (family) or tribe (social circle) recommends a product or service, we take that recommendation very seriously.
Similarly, when someone in a position of power, prestige or authority recommends something, we are very quick to act on that recommendation.
You see the applied power of social proof everywhere: in TV ads, when you see a celebrity endorsing a product;
on the radio, when the person hosting the pledge drive tells listeners that so-and-so donated X to so-and-so charity; on the back of a novel you’re reading, when you see testimonials from other notable authors; and on the web, when you visit sites like Yelp.com or tripadvisor.com and Google+ to read consumer reviews of local businesses.
Moving from passive to active, ad hoc to systematic Almost without fail, most businesses I talk to have no clear referral generation system.
They essentially think that referrals are something that you simply wait and hope for … but the reality is that
referrals don’t just happen, you have to go out and get them!
And if you’re going to spend the time collecting them, you need a system that effectively channels your efforts into tangible results.
My friends at the Referral Institute specialize in teaching small businesses how to build a systematic approach to “Get Referrals For Life”. I highly recommend you check them out as their strategies and techniques are exceptional.
Those are the four R’s of this R-4 Marketing Framework.
The idea behind it, again, is keeping it simple, keeping it focused.
But, the whole concept starts with “Reputation” which is why it’s at the base of the triangle holding everything else up.
By focusing on building your reputation first, when you start reaching out to new prospects via word of mouth and other marketing methods, (PPC, SEO, Social Media, T.V. Radio etc.) when your prospects search for you online and see your 5 star reputation, they will have much more confidence to pick up the phone and call your business before your competitors.
Your reputation will give your prospects much more confidence to buy from you, because they want to get the same experience as all your other happy customers who left those glowing reviews about you online.
This new and innovative approach will almost certainly help you to get more referrals and maximize the return from your marketing budget.
It will also give you at least 6 – 9 months edge over your competitors, because they don’t know, what you now know.
The question arises, how do I build the perfect reputation marketing strategy?