What IS Online/Offline Reputation Management (ORM) ?
As you read through this page, this will become much clearer; but for now – understand that it simply means the process of actively managing a business’s reputation from the customers perception.
When we say reputation, we’re talking about the traditional use of the word, as in “They’ve got a great reputation for good quality food…”. So, we’re essentially talking about managing a company’s brand/perception so that they don’t lose any business – and actually increase their market-share because of their positive reputation.
It’s really important to understand that there’s little point in spending time and money on advertising, marketing and any kind of search optimisation, if when a customer searches online for a business, they find negative reviews – or no positive comments or ratings as ‘social-proof’. They’ll simply end up going to a competitor who has plenty of positive comments.
We’ve seen clients waste thousands on marketing, PPC and SEO – because they either had bad reviews sitting on the first page of Google (which prevented conversion), or they had strong competitors who were ‘stealing’ all their business – with their strong reviews and social proof. Buyers inherently avoid risk.
This is what is happening right now to millions of traditional ‘bricks & mortar’ businesses world-wide. A continual and steady erosion of sales from new and repeat customers; because of the ‘invisible loss’ of customers to competitors who have a better public image and reputation.
And don’t think for one minute that this only applies to major brands. We have a fish & chip shop client who lost a significant amount of business over a year simply due to 2 (just two!) bad Google+ Local Business reviews (which were actually completely biased and unfair); and the business wasn’t even aware that these reviews existed. The owner had no idea why his business was falling away. Several months later, with the right help, the situation was completely reversed.
This situation is repeated thousands of times over. And when you consider all the businesses that don’t have any bad reviews, but simply don’t have any positive commentary to make them stand-out, you’ll realise that there are literally millions of businesses that are experiencing this silent and hidden loss. Over time, customers will migrate to those businesses that have established a strong and positive service and quality image. For further proof of this social-effect, just look at Amazon or eBay – and the difference in sales between those items with a high rating, and those with a low rating. It’s actually quite scary, from a business perspective, how easy it is to dramatically alter a company’s long-term sales and success with mere customer ‘chatter’.
The Dramatically Changing Business Landscape…
The real key here is that due to fundamental changes in the way that the internet and search-engines have grown and socially evolved, what we used to term ‘Online Reputation Management’, has now become ‘Offline Reputation Management’ as well.
Although the acronym ‘ORM’ means managing your reputation online, it has now become impossible to separate online reputation from offline reputation.
So although we primarily deal with online forms of reputation management and customer feedback, these now form the basis of 99% of a customer’s traditional ‘reputation’, as the internet is where everybody now goes to find & research potential purchases.
The Search-Engine’s Growing Domination…
Whilst some business owners may not feel they have much of an online presence right now, the fact remains that people ARE frequently searching the web for them – and probably talking about them as well.
Most business owners are quite astonished to discover just how often they’re searched for; even if purely for basic details like address, telephone number, directions, opening hours, access, facilities, parking, services provided etc.
No-one uses the phone-book anymore; we just Google it. And if what pops-up on the first page is a bunch of negative about that business, or there is a lot of positive about another similar business – which is only a click away – which way will the customer go? It’s frankly obvious when you think about it.
The Evolution of Marketing…
The bottom line is that marketing for traditional businesses has changed forever. Go back 10 years and you’ll see that the internet revolution has shaped and changed communication and information access forever.
Consider honestly: When was the last time you bought a service or product (big or small) before ‘researching’ it online? And when was the last time you bought something that had a low rating/review? We’re all massively influenced by social commentary, customer feedback and reviews now; it’s basic human nature.
We talk to many businesses owners who continue to operate under the ‘ignorance is bliss’ principle; and then wonder why their sales and conversions are continuously eroding. It’s basically irrelevant whether or not the owner is ‘up’ with the latest technology and systems; they’re moving inexorably forward. And those who don’t arm themselves with an effective system and process could soon be losing their customers – to other businesses that ARE taking care of their public reputation.