This is Part One in a Two-Part Series
We live in a 24/7, ultra-connected world.
Yet it’s still surprising that so many companies don’t understand the impact of their online reputation or take steps to improve it. Just like word-of-mouth marketing fueled business growth for small town companies in the last century, today’s businesses are significantly impacted by online word-of-mouth. Even if you consider yourself to be a small-town company, your customers live in a larger world – one that has good things and bad things to say about your company.
How Much Does Online Reputation Really Matter?
The way that consumers find out about, research and connect with companies and products has changed forever due to the Internet. Often times, your potential customers are doing a great deal of initial research online before they decide to make a purchase (or even visit your website, for that matter). They rely on several sources of information to determine their buying decision – and those most often include online resources.
What the Internet has to say about you and your company can play a significant role in your company’s income. If something isn’t up to par, from your fulfillment services to your online ordering platform, customers are going to share their experience with others – which can lead to lower sales and related issues.
In Weber Shandwick’s report The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust, the firm discovered that there’s a strong correlation between a company’s online reputation and their ability to make greater sales. They estimate that 60% of market value is attributable to a company’s reputation.
This survey of consumers revealed six important truths about corporate brands and consumer decision-making:
- The corporate brand is just as important as the brand of a product.
- Corporate reputation plays into product quality assurance for consumers.
- Any disconnect between corporate and product reputation will trigger a strong reaction.
- Although products drive discussion about a company, reputation is a close second.
- Consumers shape reputation instantly.
- A company’s corporate reputation contributes to their market value.
Consumers have a lot of influence. Consumers today have a tremendous influence over what others in their lives buy and, thanks to the interconnectivity of the web, what strangers buy as well. People have an overabundance of data on any company they want to do business with – and much of that comes from online.
Weber Shandwick’s research showed that 83% of respondents use online reviews and 81% use online search results to determine the quality of a company. New sources were used by 79% of respondents, and a company website was used in decision making by 74% of respondents. Social networks were used by 49% of respondents.
Clearly, your company’s online presence plays a major role in your overall reputation. So how do you make it happen?