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Marketing

Published May 13th 2015

Marketing: What’s Your Strategy for Dealing with Online Reviews?

Online reviews and forum posts in a B2C company are essentially an extension of Customer Services, but due to the high ranking nature of some review and for

Great listening – the ability to hear and respond appropriately to conversations about products and services – has long been a major pillar of strong brand resilience.

But as the scope and amplification offered by online platforms grows, many are finding it tougher than ever to monitor and react to potentially damaging posts.

And with peer-to-peer and third party review and forum sites becoming ever more powerful and gaining traction as the most trusted sources of information about brands, finding ways of controlling content is becoming one of the most pressing business concerns brand managers face today.

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In today’s ‘transparent’ review landscape, it seems no-one can afford to ignore any conversation about their brand.

Should you adopt a more pro-active online review strategy?

What’s the commercial case for investing in a more formal approach? And how much should you be spending on what is undoubtedly a modern business essential?


The changing landscape

Online reviews and forum posts in a B2C company are essentially an extension of Customer Services, but due to the high ranking nature of some review and forum websites, they often become a marketing issue.

More customers now will write an email, submit a review or ask questions or air complaints online and companies are confused about the approach they should take.

In the last year, we’ve seen more and more global clients looking for help dealing with reviews and related forum posts – and it’s an issue that won’t go away.

The newly released The Business of Reviews Report makes this clear. It demonstrates the power of these often skewed online reviews – and the need for brand managers of all kinds to take them seriously.

The research, conducted by One Poll, found that more than half (51%) of the 1,000 UK businesses asked had already been affected by unfounded reviews or trolling in the last year.

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A further three quarters (76%) were concerned about the effect third party review sites might have on their company.

Worryingly, 17% went on to admit that they felt the problem had the potential to destroy their enterprise altogether, with one in eight – 13% – afraid it’s getting worse.

So in an age where negative and malicious content can be posted and shared in an instant, taking a pro-active approach is a must.

As well as providing an illuminating snapshot of the current situation, we hope this original research will serve as a call to action for brands who want to do more to protect themselves.

So how do you go about creating an effective online review and forum strategy?


Building your strategy

While there will always be situations where fast, reactive action is appropriate, in the longer term creating a solid review and forum management plan – as part of a wider profile-building exercise – will help protect your brand against unfair posts.

Customer service functions and marketing departments need to work together. The management of offline and online complaints should be consistent.

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Apologize and respond to reviews if you have an active account on the larger review platforms. Leave other visitors to the site reading your comments not the reviewers.

Monitoring for negative comments and conversations is equally as important for highlighting positive comments.

We advise to promote positive comments, but address negative comments as if it was a complaint. Many of the companies that we work with have, until relatively recently, have generally ignored online comments.

This has resulted in volumes of dated commentary on a variety of websites, some ranking highly in the search results, which isn’t great for building trust and promoting brands.

It’s a commercially-astute course of action too.


Investing for your success

The Business of Reviews Report reveals that 20% spent of the businesses and brand managers we interviewed spent £10,000 trying to tackle reviews in 2014 (another 18% reported a £30,000 spend).

And that number is rising, with 23% planning a £10,000 budget this year.

For that investment to work hard, we’d suggest that at least some of that money has to be invested in specialist support.

One in five brands acknowledge they need to do this – and have considered creating an online review strategy – but are now looking for help putting it into place.

A further 22% of businesses have already created a specific in-house role to try and deal with the problem and another 25% have called on a specialist agency for help.

But despite the clear cost and brand benefits, almost a third (32%) of those questioned for the study, do nothing at all.


 

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Are you one of them?

If so, now might be the time to start thinking about investing in a service that will protect your brand’s reputation, not just today, but in the long-term too.


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From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.