Survey: Identifying Best Practices in Reputation and Review Management

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Multi-location brands that use reputation and review management to manage local marketing and advertising are more likely to say that their marketing efforts are effective, according to Street Fight’s latest survey. Analysis of the survey identified several related strategies that correlated strongly with marketing effectiveness, including trying to respond to every review and working with a reputation specialist with its own technology.

Big brands and retailers remain fairly conservative in their use of digital marketing technologies and tactics in support of their local branches, franchises, and resellers. But they continue to increase the local portion of their digital budgets. Street Fight surveyed 250 local marketing managers and decision makers at big brands in June, and over a third (36%) of them said they used reputation management services to manage and evaluate their local advertising and marketing.

To identify best practices in local marketing, Street Fight compares self-reported effectiveness with spending, technology usage, and other marketing operations issues. We asked respondents, “How effective would you say your company’s digital local advertising and marketing is at the following objectives?” In the figure below, the green bars represent how many of the entire survey base rated their efforts as “very effective.” The orange bars show the portion of those that used reputation/review management.

The results show a modest correlation of reputation management use with more effective digital marketing, pretty much across all marketing objectives. On average, reputation management users were almost one-fifth more likely to see very effective results. That’s a higher correlation than we saw with other tools, including third-party digital dashboards or data management platforms (DMPs), or lead nurturing/marketing automation.

Over half (56%) of the respondents said they had staff dedicated to reputation and review management. Over a third (37%) said they used a mix of internal staff and services or technology providers, and only 18% outsourced it completely. Using that same correlation analysis, the mixed staffing approach appears to work best, especially for lifetime customer value and customer support.

Ad agencies, review response services, and social media specialists were the most common partners. Although relatively few (12%) said they used a specialized reputation and review management supplier with its own technology, they were the ones with the highest effectiveness correlation. Across objectives, on average that group was 45% more likely to rate their tactics very effective.  

How brands should handle customer reviews—as well as overall reputation management—will be a key topic at Street Fight parent company Brandify’s conference next month in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, we looked at how our survey takers were responding to reviews to identify which approaches seemed to align with marketing effectiveness. The figure below illustrates some of our analysis.

A third of the survey respondents said they tried to respond to every review, and an identical number tried to do so for most reviews. Relatively few responded only to negative reviews, and only a handful said they didn’t respond at all. The best results, based on the effectiveness analysis, come from trying to respond to every review. Those companies were also 45% more likely to be very effective at their objectives, particularly at the bottom of the marketing funnel—from conversion through retention and support to lifetime value. Likewise, those that tried to respond within a specific timeframe, e.g., within 24 hours, also saw improved effectiveness. Responding to negative reviews with a customized offer seemed to work, too.

Finally, 15% of the companies we surveyed said they hosted customer reviews on their own site. But that approach also showed a very strong correlation with overall marketing effectiveness. They were especially good at conversion and increasing lifetime value.

David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.

Click here to learn more about best practices in reputation and review management at the Brandify Summit: Building the Next Generation of Local.