3 Essential Elements of Successful Reputation Management for eCommerce Brands
For an ecommerce brand, competition isn’t just other stores or services in your field. It’s the billions of other web pages online. The need to stand out from all that information in a meaningful way continues to grow. In such a fierce environment, reputation management — strategically shaping how customers and the world at large views your brand — requires a combination of business acumen and authenticity so customers relate on a personal level. Here are three ways to anchor your brand’s web presence in maintaining a strong public perception.
Take Your eCommerce Brand to Where Your Consumers Are
For ecommerce, social media can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on how you curate your content and engage your consumers.
First, do your research. Find out where your target personas spend their time so you know which platforms deserve your greatest focus. Then, get savvy. Don’t just have a Snapchat account, for example — add relevant, non-salesy content that inserts your brand into the bigger conversation. Otherwise, your company comes off as disingenuous, which is a death knell in social media circles. Instead, be willing to commit to transparency with your audience and monitor their reactions.
One key to establishing authenticity in social media is your ability to engage naysayers and detractors. You don’t have control over the posters on social media, so instead you must allow the messages to develop and participate openly in the process. Sound scary? Sure. But it’s one of the best tactics for your brand. Trust is crucial, and customers are more cynical than ever about traditional marketing messages. Instead, look to an industry behemoth like Microsoft, which encourages staff members to blog openly about their opinions regarding the company’s products. When Windows 8 released a few years back, not all the employees were fans, and their blogs said so. That sort of truthfulness opens the door for your company to hear your clients’ biggest complaints. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, so find out what people are saying.
Understand Your Brand’s Impact Beyond Products and Services
Another offshoot of social media is the overall knowledge sharing among customers and their friends about all aspects of a company. Buyers no longer care solely about the quality and price of your product. Your company’s social impact, employment policies, global presence and awareness, environmental concern, and even financial integrity all weigh into their choice to invest their time and money. Take, for example, the $20 billion hit Volkswagen has taken on market capitalization since its emissions scandal. That cost reflects much more than paying for fixes to its diesel cars. Consumers and investors alike no longer trust the brand to deliver on its environmentally conscious promises.
Even your leadership’s personal choices influence whether customers are on board. Chick-fil-A still battles reputation management issues years after leaders apologized for maligning certain sectors of society. The hunting habits of the owner of Jimmy John’s became such a focus on Facebook and Twitter that an organized boycott is ongoing. Source: Flickr user MSLGroup Global
Know the Power of the Review in Reputation Management
If you’re of a certain age, you may remember a commercial that defined the concept of viral marketing long before YouTube existed. The model apparently tells two friends about the product, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on.
What was true in twos and fours in the ’80s is exponentially more powerful now thanks to review websites. A single star rating improvement on Yelp equates to 5 to 10 percent more sales for a company. If you’re managing a small ecommerce brand, reviews are doubly important because high rankings on review sites offer word-of-mouth marketing opportunities with little effort on your part.
Of course, you do have to make some effort. Complainers naturally take to review sites more than complimenters, so encourage positive, authentic reviews from happy customers, too. You also have to exercise discipline as you interact on such sites. When someone runs down the company you’re working so hard to build up, the urge to argue publicly and refute the claims is strong. Don’t do it. All you’d be doing is planting skepticism in the minds of future readers who think your company doth protest too much. Thank them for their feedback, and offer ways to resolve specific issues.
Product reviews within your site are valuable, too. Provide easy mechanisms for rating features and leaving comments so buyers have simple comparison tools.
With these three tactics, your ecommerce brand is on its way to reputation management success. Keep monitoring and participating in conversations regularly and, above all else, listen to your customers. They know better than anyone in your office what your brand’s reputation really is.