Internet Marketing Strategy & Your Business Reputation
The rules of the game have changed. One negative blog post or product review can spread online in a flash and change the direction of a company and your internet marketing strategy needs to accommodate for this. New business partners, customers and want to learn as much as possible about you and your company before creating a relationship. The search engine results for your company name are many times your only first impression.
This is still true if you’re a small business owner. Most of your customers are the people who live within 25 miles of your storefront and they are going online to review you and ultimately, this impacts your bottom line. The proliferation of Yelp!, Angie’s List, and other social review sites are evidence of this. Therefore, your business should be concerned with the online footprint you’re making and build an internet marketing strategy around cultivating a consistent, positive impression.
One of my favorite personal stories of this is about my Yelp! review of a local wine bar. I went in one San Francisco Sunday afternoon and no one was behind the bar. The lone patron sitting at the bar informed be the hostess had left to get a coffee, leaving the store unmanned. I wrote a scathing review about this and invited the store’s owner to contact me for any further information. He did, and the employee was fired. But the review still sits in a strand of online commentary about the wine bar and will never be removed, only diluted.
More statistically, than anecdotal, is this finding from a report by Weber Shandwick called The Company Behind The Brand: In Reputation We Trust [PDF]:
96 percent of consumers took some kind of restrictive action when they learn that a product they like is produced by a company they have a negative relationship with.
The report continues, the most frequent response was that consumers stopped purchasing the product (40 percent). This means consumers were twice as likely to discontinue buying a product they like, from a company whose reputation they don’t like.
All of this speaks to the importance of creating an internet marketing strategy committed to delivering a positive Web presence. The new consumer approach reads like this:
- With the proliferation of good online tools consumers are using social word of mouth, online reviews, and other online content to form a judgment about your company.
- The judgment they form is then strongly tied to whether or not they decide to purchase your product.
- When these consumers are conflicted, they will take the time to search for more information about your company and your brand. They’re then using this information to ask essentially, “should I buy from / use this company?”
- And with new ease-of-use, mobile apps, and strong user adoption, this consumer’s ability to share his or her judgement via social media channels has proliferated into a frequent practice.
In the end, online reputation management is important for businesses of any size. Good internet marketing strategy is about creating a positive Web presence to make your brand one that people trust and want to engage with and use social media to promote.