It goes without saying that the internet is an indispensable part of our lives. But it boggles the mind to think how quickly things have developed. The first website (and therefore the part of the internet we call “the World Wide Web”) only went live in 1991.
Back then, only a select few of us even had a home computer, never mind a modem and internet connection too. In the past 28 years, we’ve seen the internet go from sci-fi to everyday; with innovations like search, e-commerce, smartphones, social media, voice operated assistants, internet-enabled home appliances, even internet-enabled cars!
A Helpful Digital Revolution
The conclusion here is that helpful tools become mainstream incredibly quickly. Let’s look at voice-operated assistants as an example.
Voice-operated technology has been part of our lives since 2011 when Apple launched Siri on the iPhone. However revolutionary it felt at the time, it was still tethered to an Apple device and had nowhere near as much interconnectivity to other devices as we enjoy today from our voice-operated assistants.
So where are we now? YouGov data from 2018 shows that 6.6 million people in the UK have a smart speaker device in their home. Additionally, 62% of Brits are already using (or are happy to use) voice-operated devices for shopping, music, web search, and hearing the latest news – that’s according to Mintel in 2017.
The Explosion of Online Touchpoints
But voice operated devices are just one example of how our interaction with the internet is changing. Modern businesses need to stay aware of technological developments and their uptake by the public at large.
In the past, a business’s website was the centrepiece of their operations online – the only digital shop-front they had to maintain. Nowadays, things are more complicated. 73% of traffic with a “high buying intent” happens away from your website (Source: Search Engine Watch, 2019).
But if your prospects aren’t on your website, where are they getting their information? Well, they may be viewing your Google knowledge panel, map locations, social media, online directories, review sites, listening to voice search results – to name but a few!
Businesses need to maintain their presence across all of these channels – as well as their website of course. Consumers have come to expect a multi-channel experience where they can communicate publicly with your business through social media and reviews; just as much as you communicate with them publicly through your marketing collateral.
Your Reputation Matters
Have you Googled your own business recently? Hopefully you’ll only find positive results, but there’s a chance you may find one of two types of less desirable information.
- Incorrect contact details for your company, such as a wrong phone number, email, social handles, address, or opening hours
- Negative opinions about your company on review sites or social media posts
The first one can usually be remedied fairly painlessly. It’s the second one that can have a more negative impact. No.1 may get people calling the wrong number or turning up when you’re closed, but No.2 can do long-lasting damage to your reputation.
Reviews: The New Word of Mouth
Maintaining a good reputation in business has been important since well before the internet, but technology has changed how we spread our satisfaction with a company (or lack thereof) with the world. Before online review portals and social media, we’d tell friends and family what we thought about working with a given company verbally – literally through word of mouth. Pockets of positive and negative sentiment would stay within family and friend groups.
But now there are a wealth of social media platforms and online review sites at our disposal. Our satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a given service provider doesn’t need to be kept under wraps any more – we can now tell the whole world with ease.
As a business owner, this may sound scary. But it’s more of a case of “forewarned is forearmed”. Once you’re aware of these new horizons, you can keep an eye out for both positive and negative reviews aimed at your company and respond professionally. Hopefully you don’t find any negative reviews out there that you weren’t aware of, but we do have a guide that may help turn negative reviews into positive experiences.
The 3 Stages of Reputation in Marketing
At Yell, we have a simple way of looking at digital marketing, breaking it down into three stages – Be Found, Be Trusted, Be Chosen.
The first order of business in marketing is simply being visible in the first place. “Top of the funnel” activities don’t necessarily aim for a sale there and then, they’re more to inspire brand awareness in the prospect’s mind. A consistent and quality-driven approach tips the scales in favour of the next step – trust.
Just because a prospect is aware of your brand, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily buy from you. They need to “know, like, and trust” you first. Your reputation is key here – people will naturally want to learn more about you before they spend money with you; so you need to look closely at how your business is being portrayed online across all touchpoints.
Paid Yell services in this tier: Reputation Manager
Time to seal the deal! Once your prospect trusts you, you need to deliver a high quality online representation of your business to convince them to buy your products or services. The focus here is to create a professional, seamless buying experience, so don’t let yourself down at the final hurdle with a poor website or low quality content.
Put simply, if you take one thing away from this article, let it be this…Trust takes time to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. Take control of your online reputation Click To Tweet