Beyond ORM? Don’t Just Manage Your Reputation, Improve It.

In the Digital word, your business standing means everything. Your reputation (in either scenario – good or bad) can quickly reach your potential customers. Most of these likely customers look up online for the businesses they need.

While a good positive review can be awesome thing to have, one negative review can hold the potential clients in their tracks. And as word spreads fast this could very soon mean hundreds of lost customers.

Google has always mirrored the real world while trying to ranking the businesses in local search results. It has sought to prefer and reward businesses that are more popular and well known within their specific market areas. These are the businesses that are held in high regard by their customers and are known as one of the best in their industry, these are the ones which people refer their friends to.

And this is exactly what the people as want to see in their search results. Nobody wants to know about businesses with poor reviews as long as there are other available with a much better track record of keeping their customer engaged and happy.

With the advent of digital, businesses have to be very cautious of their reputations as the word spreads fast. The entire history of their ability to satisfy their customers is available on hand for any prospective buyer.

What Makes Reviews Important?

On an average you will find close to 75% to 90% consumers reading online reviews as they consider a purchase. And quite a few of these consumers trust the online feedback as much as they would trust the suggestions from people they know.

When consumers read different feedback on multiple websites made by people of diverse backgrounds and different preferences and standards, they start trusting that feedback. Combined with the overall opinion of the business, they start relating to the factors that are more important to them. E.g a traveler might be more interested in the guest’s opinion of how reliable is the hotel’s pick up service and check in processes and less interested in other parameters.

Looking beyond managing reputation

Traditionally, reputation management has been more about the businesses’ efforts to influence the opinions of their prospective customers and what they read about them online.  Their efforts have been more about being able to garner enough positive reviews to be able to douse any negative feedback.

For 2016 and beyond however, the companies need to be more proactive and focus on developing their reputation. The effort spent on reacting to poor reviews or reducing their visibility needs to be replaced with proactive effort on building a positive image.

Developing A Positive Reputation

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There was a time when small businesses used to get by even while offering mediocre products or services and often times ended up doing quite well for themselves. As long as the office or store was located in a prime place and they advertised in the right places, it would get enough foot falls and new customers regardless of the quality and experience provided. Word of mouth did not travel very fast or very far in those times.

Today’s digital age is different. No business can escape from their customer’s feedback and views. Folks are all connected online through various mediums. Mobile devices, smartphones etc have become constant companions and are being used for constant exchange of ideas and views, for communication, to gather information and learn from experience of others. Customers of today have ready accessibility to all information about a particular business or store including the opinions of their other customers. Hence it’s important for businesses to continuously focus on building a positive reputation.

Impact of Reviews on Rankings

There was a time when reviews weren’t given much weightage for any local search. It was from 2009 onwards that Google revamped its local algorithm and provided a significant weightage to reviews and thus making it an important factor for search rankings. The idea was to incentivize local businesses to share more online reviews on Google.

This also led to a surge in the number of fake reviews, forcing Google to take steps to reduce them. These included having requirements like mandating a legitimate profile to be able to log a review and also reducing the weightage of reviews on page rankings.

Till date, reviews impact the rankings – though as per the latest view of search practitioners it carries less than 10% of the weight. You can still get rating stars for your site and it’s widely believed that if you have 10+ reviews on your page it does help your rankings. In the days to come, Google may toy with making the review sentiment also a factor in its ranking algorithms. That would mean its search algorithms start mirroring the real world as closely as possible.

Reviews: More Than A Ranking Factor

Businesses now need to really start considering reviews as more than just a ranking factor. They should now be looking to focus on developing their reputation through as many positive reviews as possible. The game is now more about proactively developing the reputation than just about managing it.

The customers will soon be looking for ways to know which the businesses that they should really consider. This is already being enabled in some industries through ratings. So while ranking will help only so much, it will really be a combination of the rankings and ratings that will eventually matter in getting the mindshare of your customers.

People are also getting savvier in how they search and what they look for. Quite often the search is for “best” of what’s available rather than just looking for what’s out there. Take an example of a search for doctors. Nobody these days would search for the cardiologists in their area, they will almost always search for the “best cardiologist” near their pace.

Your Net Promoter Score

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This is a score that’s based on the likelihood of others recommending your business to their friends and colleagues. It’s a nice way of measuring how the reputation of your business is building up over time. If the Net promoter score for your business is on an increasing trend over time, it signals that you are doing a decent job of satisfying your customers and are able to a good set of online reviews that contribute to the growth of your business.

Whether you chose to use the Net Promoter Score® to grow your business or not, the concept behind this scoring methodology is really good. You need to be actively seeking feedback from your customers and take required actions based on the feedback received to help you improve your offerings.

Continuously monitoring and updating the process can help you to quickly respond to any kind of negative feedback or complaints and can help you to set things right before the customers go ahead and publicize any negative feedback.

Typically most customers tend to leave reviews only in exceptional scenarios i.e either their experience has been very good or really bad. Hence taking steps to mitigate any bad experiences by seeking feedback and by addressing the grievances is a good way to help you generate a positive opinion and good recommendations.

Actions Speak More Than Words

We can find plenty of examples where businesses’ refused to acknowledge the concerns raised by their customers and ended up getting really bad reviews. However, if you are able to demonstrate that the feedback was well received and necessary actions taken to improve the situation, the customers will appreciate it and will return for more business in future.

Your commitment to continuously improve your operations and business based on the feedback of your customers can help you differentiate yourself from the competition and make you one of the best and most preferred choices in your area. This approach will also help you draw more new customers.

Today, search engines like Google tend to reward the businesses online for being one of the best in the offline world. So it’s imperative that you work towards continuously building a good reputation and drive actions for enabling it.

UX Vs. Marketing: Can The Opposites Attract?

The User Experience (UX) is still a “field in evolution.” Research shows that UX and marketing have directly opposite fundamental core values.

The prime purpose of marketing is to sell to its customer, while on the other hand main function of UX is to serve the needs of the customer. One campaign, one application, or one digital product simply cannot do both.

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Marketing is selling

Marketing is the art of persuasion. Basically it is a strategy for positioning and advancing products or services to the ultimate consumers. Marketing is not done to build better products or experiences, and it also does not work on a service philosophy. Thus marketing is done in order to persuade, seduce and attempt to influence people into buying the products and services.

On the Contrary User Experience is serving

If the objective of marketing is to create value for the business, then the aim of user experience is to create value for the customer. It is generally defined as a user’s outlook towards a brand, system, or service. UX is concerned with an emotional or behavioral aspect of the brand. UX practitioners do things like create user personas and journey maps, regularly test digital creations with users in order to discover their needs and help them accomplish tasks in the most suitable and effective way possible. UX also about conducting research, building personas, and monitoring user environments. These elements give a clear understanding into a company’s brand perception, performance, and any trouble areas that need some sort of fixing.

Building a rich and healthy UX not only determines a more effective campaign, but it can also strengthen a company’s social culture, increase its digital foot traffic, and make way for a higher return on investment (ROI).

Example of the Failure of Branded Apps

Since both marketing and UX try to realize their goals through understanding human behavior, it’s easy to see how the two are becoming complex. Recently, several articles have been published on the convergence of marketing and UX. Some people suggest that UX should be a subset of marketing and there are many informational pieces on how to use UX design for marketing purposes. However, it is previously seen that consumer applications considerably fails when they try to perform the various functions of marketing. To understand this better let us take an example of the study conducted by Deloitte on failure rate of branded apps

  • In this study it was seen that 80% of all branded apps are downloaded lesser than 1,000 times.

  • That only 1% of all branded apps reach 1 million downloads.

  • The main reason for these Branded apps are performing so poorly is that it cannot serve and sell all at the same time.

    Branded apps that are successful do not ask the questions like, “How can we use this app to increase the brand affinity?” On the contrary they ask the questions that are very user-centric like: “What do our customers need, and how can we best serve them?”

    Some marketers argue that all apps must be useful and they ought to serve a need or they shouldn’t exist at all. There are two questions UX departments ask when tasked with building a branded app:

  • Why will a consumer download this particular app

  • Why would they continue to use it?

  • If the answer to any of these questions is not service-based, then there is no need to develop the app at all.

    Market research has revealed that launching an app for marketing purposes will harm the brand and will not create brand affinity if it is not completely service-based during its first three versions. The only metrics to judge the success of the app are how many stars it receives and how many people download it. It’s no surprise that many branded apps with a marketing prominence have turned to gamification.

    Summary

    While the core values of marketing and UX are not compatible yet they are main assets to a company if they are managed wisely and in good balance. They will certainly be required to work in conjunction with each other because they share the mutual interests of understanding human behavior and building brand loyalty. Companies should look at creating separate Marketing and UX divisions that equally provide value to the brand from different directions. Both of them need their individual leadership, equal budgets and they must maintain a healthy competition.

    Marketing functions creates revenue for the subsequent two quarters, but having a sound digital application that provides great service will help generate revenue for the following two years. Effective UX is its own form of marketing and can reduce the amount of time it takes to promote and market a brand.

    How A Brand Can Use Influencers To Target A New Niche – Make The Most Of Influencer Marketing

    Today “Influencer Marketing” is gaining popularity and there is a lot of buzz surrounding it. The term “influencer” is wriggling its way through the tangled web. Marketers create content with the intention to engage their target customers and to win them through persuasion. But today’s consumers are well aware and very perceptive. They do not want any kind of interference with their decision making. The minute anything smells of “ad” they get put off and just move on. Today’s savvy customers have an identified set of sources they trust and not look at companies, as they did in the past. Even one positive feedback or recommendation from these sources can carry more weight than the brand’s most wonderfully crafted content. Undeniably, the brand-crafted content has its own place and value and is required in building the brand’s trust with the customers. But then one can’t ignore the fact that most of the times the content that has the maximum effect is the one which comes from sources your customers trust and relate with.

    Who are these Influencers?

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    In today’s time, the word of mouth recommendations and criticisms spread very quickly through the social media. Influencers are people who are active on social media and blogs. They also are brand advocates and niche promoters who are consolidating massive followings.

    This new type of savvy contributors often know more about ways to engage with digital medium through content and social media and not very proficient in engaging with brands or agencies. It is the niche content that they generate focused on a very specific topic that makes them so influential and famous. There is no scarcity of such bloggers today. These contributors can be classified based on their target segments e.g. cooks, technology geeks, sports buffs, pet lovers or even something like mothers of toddlers or teens.

    The consumer today are easily influenced by fellow consumers for their purchasing decisions. They now look at and follow what these people post on their snapchat, Facebook pages, Instagram, YouTube accounts, Pinterest and Twitter feeds. Whatever be their background or area of choice, these social media influencers are selecting their niche and attracting audience in large numbers. By creating branded content with social media influencers, brands can amplify their message and seduce their niches.

    Why Does Your Brand Need Influencers?

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    With the decline in traditional outbound marketing practices, influencer marketing is becoming one of the most convincing ways to draw the attention of the customers. Modern day consumers don’t pay attention to the billboard advertisements and are not lured by the commercials. They are independent and want to research a brand on their own and they go with word of mouth of a trusted friend.

    Thus an influencer is the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. This idea of brands partnering with such savvy bloggers and other social media influencers is often referred to as “influencer marketing”. The entire concept is based on identifying these “trusted” sources for your target customer segment and collaborating with them to generate and distribute the suitable content to your audience.

    When you partner with an influencer, they not only bring their audience but also bring their audience’s network as well. Because these influencers have a loyal audiences following them, they have the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, and flat-out sell your product through their recommendation or story about their experience.

    Steps to Engage With Niche Influencers

    Although Influencer marketing has many advantages, it may not yield the desired results if you are not partnering with the right influencers. You need to able gauge and measure the amount of impact your partner is able to make. And this will need a deeper analysis than a simple metric like number of unique visitors or number of clicks.

    Here are five recommended steps to take when you are in the process of identifying your partners for “influencer marketing” for your brand.

  • Do Your Research
  • Foremost understand the niche which you want to target. You should have a clear cut idea of the consumer demographic, relevant topics of discussion, and how your brand fits into the niche. You need to first assess if the influencer’s content aligns well with the messaging you intend for your brand before you even start looking at any kind of metrics. Like for example, just anyone who is blogging on food recipes may not always align in terms of their content with your specific “heath food” brand. Read through that blogger’s archived posts to get a sense for what kind of consumer they are

  • Identifying the key influencers
  • A proper research is required in Identifying influencers. If you know your niche well, you will notice names which come up frequently, either as content authors or references. Use these names as a starting point and jump in. Find out who they follow, search across related keywords and hashtags. Most often when it comes to choosing an important influencer, it’s a matter of quality over quantity

  • Engaging With The Influencers

    Niche influencer marketing is not like the traditional B2C marketing where the influencers and their followers passively consume the brand’s message. Now the brands should seek to proactively involve with influencers by showing interest in their content. The aim is to add valued input to the conversation and establish a relationship and prove yourself as a useful member of the community. Depending on how interactive the audience is with a particular blogger, how many times they secure a return visit can tell you how well they are able to connect and engage with the audience and this will assert the value they are able to bring to the brand.

  • Making A Plan
  • When reaching out to influencers, it is better to be as accurate and thorough as possible about your proposal; you don’t want to leave any kind of ambiguity in the mind of the influencers as to what exactly it is that you want them to do. This involves careful planning and thought you’re your end about your own goals. Whether it’s creating relevant content or a developing a marketing campaign, use this step to plan and prepare before you connect with the influencer. You may have new content which fits well within the influencer’s range of discussion, or you may choose to use the influencer’s expertise as a jumping-off point. Give them the platform and make it as easy as possible for them to get involved

  • Reaching Out To The Influencers
  • You may reach out to influencers online, still use the same business etiquette which you would use in person. Make sure your request is proportional to your relationship with the influencer and frame the conversation accordingly.

    Niche influence marketing is not about taking over an influencer’s feed, but about asking him/her to provide her own perspective. Just as content marketing values connecting with the customer experience, you should connect with influencers as partners with their own brands to curate

    Leveraging Their Influence

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    It is perceived that bloggers who have a lesser share of sponsored content are able to garner more trust and appear more genuine. First hand experiences that include personal use or reference of a product, service, or brand are more trusted than direct product reviews. Furthermore, compelling and engaging stories also get more shares and comments than product reviews and deals.

    For your niche area, you can collaborate with bloggers to come up with content that is of good quality, is authentic and resonates well with well with target audience.

    Also your company and your brand should look at building relationships with these influencers through constant interactions, loyalty programs, and exclusive discounts. These strategies show that companies are willing to go these few steps farther to show appreciation for what influencer can do for them. Remember that these influencers are doing the heavy lifting for your company – so it’s important to keep them on your team and working for your brand.

    Additive And Divisible Content: The Trick That’ll Double Your Content Success

    In recent years, Content marketing has exploded and companies are looking for new and more realistic ways to reach new customers. However, as the companies ramp up content marketing, they often find it challenging to create sufficient engaging and relevant content for different publishing platforms that they want to efficiently reach. This is where Divisible and Additive content comes into picture.

    Divisible content and Additive content are fairly new terms—so before we divulge more into the let us quickly understand them.

    What Is Divisible Content?

    Divisible content is an effective strategy for streamlining content creation. It offers companies an easy and economical way to create a large batch of content with marginal investment. In this strategy a longer, more in-depth piece of content can be broken down into smaller sections which are capable of standing on their own.For example:An e-book with individual sections that are each released as separate articles.

    Additive Content:

    It is the opposite of divisible content in which smaller pieces are combined into a larger project. To continue with our example of the e-book instead of releasing the e-book in form of different articles, it also could have been approached the opposite way. A few popular articles could have been mashed together into an e-book.

    How to Create Divisible Content

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    Identify A Single Messaging Focus

    Each main asset you create should cover a single topic the purpose of which is to deliver a focused message. You can look for topics that will help track with your own goals.

    Create a Comprehensive Piece of Content

    The divisible content strategy aims at creating a main asset that covers a topic thoroughly. The more robust the content, the more opportunity to create divisibles. This asset can come in many forms like an e-book, infographic, slideshow etc.

    Break Out And Reformat Divisibles

    Identify the pieces of your core asset to re-purpose in various formats. Find as many opportunities as possible. Many divisibles, such as info-graphics and blog posts, can be broken down even further into micro-content geared up for social sharing.

    Publish Content

    The owned, earned and paid channels can be used to distribute the content. Ensure that all the owned publishing platforms are optimized for content and likewise all the content is optimized for all publishing platforms. All this is done to maximize reach.

    What are the Benefits?

    By re-purposing your core content you extend the lifespan of work you already created which in turn saves you time, money and brainstorming.

    By focusing on a single theme or closely related themes, all content helps support and deliver a strong central message. A divisible content strategy creation also provides a clear structure and schedule for content creation and distribution thus streamlining the process for all concerned departments.

    You can also tailor each “divisible” to a specific audience thus helping to deliver your message more effectively. A comprehensive content may seem too dense to market to a variety of audiences, using tailored content helps provide points of entry for different demographics. Moreover, all created content maintains visual consistency, which preserves and promotes your brand identity.

    Summary:

    Overall, additive and divisible content offer a huge advantage for firms engaged in content marketing operations. They can just build on the existing content framework, avoid the hassle of going through hoops of compliance process again and again.

    Especially for the companies in their early stages, adding on and reusing their old asset framework to create additional content is a simpler and quicker way to grow their publication.

    You would certainly need to watch out for the risk of becoming repetitive. This can be addressed by mixing up the distribution and packaging of stories. Of course, the other challenge is that not all of the content can be re-purposed. You will need to figure out the best possible way to manage around this as well and think of possible ways. As an example, it could be a situation where an earlier info-graphic image can be reused as part of a tweet.

    It’s imperative that your content marketing strategy incorporates additive and divisible content and leverages it to reach out to a wider audience through multiple channels. Re-purposing your content will enable your business model to be more economical. It can also help you position a consistent and a strong central message through all channels effectively and at the same time enable you to promote your firm’s brand identity.