One of the oldest and still most influential drivers of local commerce is word of mouth. Though that’s sustained at a high level, the delivery vessel for local chatter has evolved. Social channels like Facebook and Yelp now shape the reputations of brick-and-mortar businesses, not to mention the kingmaker authority of Google.
This month, we will delve into the latest trends and insights driving reputation management, taking Word of Mouth as our theme.
Fueled by the growth of mobile and set to rocket even further north in coming years thanks to voice, unbranded searches like “burgers near me” or “Thai food” are growing as fast as 113% year over year, according to a fresh study by multi-location marketing firm MomentFeed. Unbranded search grew about 30% from 2016 to ’17 and 56% the following year before doubling pace in 2018-19, suggesting the slope of this trend’s adoption could get even steeper in coming years.
Loyalty to local businesses may never cease to be an important factor in brick-and-mortar commerce, but the boom of “near me” searches and the emphasis on convenience in the age of mobile search make a prime online presence for the quick-querying passerby more important than it has ever been. This latest Uberall data indicate that responding to reviews can provide the slight 5-star rating bump that guides an unfamiliar customer into a store she may otherwise pass up for a higher-ranked competitor.
When customers are looking for a quick fix and do not intimately know the shops around them, star-rating averages are crucial. A new report by location-based marketing firm Uberall indicates they are so influential in consumer decision-making processes that a mere 0.1-point jump in a store’s average rating can increase its conversion rate by 25%.
Local businesses are struggling to adapt to a world where online reputation drives offline sales, and fake reviews are making the transition harder. What’s more, the fake review problem is getting worse. A Harvard study found that fake reviews on Yelp grew from 5% to 20% over several years.
There are lots of reasons for this trend, but this is an area where big data can be used to the benefit of consumers and businesses to increase trust. This means it’s on the tech community—not small businesses—to fix fake reviews. Just as media platforms have a moral obligation to avoid the spread of fake news, review sites have a responsibility to their users and businesses to ensure their content is as accurate as possible.
Marketers know that in a world of globalized competition, consumers are one click away from choosing a different product or service. Taking a stand can help brands appear righteous and earn consumer loyalty, which is why brand safety scandals necessitate a massive and speedy PR response. However, responding to or apologizing for such scandals can only be perceived as authentic the first time around—not the second time, and definitely not the third. The endless cycle of brand safety scandals reveals one of two things about today’s brands—they’re either lemmings, or they don’t really care about brand values.
While SMB digital marketing spend has seen a steady rise, SMBs are being more conservative about the agencies and vendors with which they partner. In the transparency era, consolidating spend with a select group of trusted agency partners that offer multiple core services is now the norm.
For agencies that cater to SMB brands, these trends have created opportunities and challenges. There is money to be had, but only organizations that differentiate themselves from the competition and can deliver clear ROI will benefit. So how can SMB agencies show their value to brands and ensure revenue growth? There are three opportunity areas, in particular, that can help.
Beyond the star ratings lies a wealth of information. Sentiment and opinions can be used to shape the way brands develop their highest-selling products. Given the volume of reviews posted each day, however, it would be impossible for most major brands to analyze every customer reaction individually. Instead, a growing number of brands are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology to extract and analyze the sentiment from product reviews. Here are five examples of platforms that offer this type of AI technology for analyzing customer feedback posted online.
Even in a hyper technology-driven world, one of the most influential forms of local marketing remains word of mouth. But of course that universal principle has taken on new digital formats, including social influence and good-old local business reviews. Reviews optimization is the name of today’s game. We spoke to TripAdvisor Restaurant Division Lead Mark Goloboy on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast to find out how his company is innovating in reputation and identify best practices for businesses.
Determined not to fall even further behind their online-only competitors, retailers are investing more heavily in a new breed of review platform. These next-generation solutions integrate written reviews with pictures and videos to create more cohesive omni-channel shopping experiences. Here are six next-gen review platforms that brands are using right now.
At times, the research findings published in our industry seem a little suspect. But in one vertical in particular, there’s a body of academic research that speaks to exactly the kinds of questions we want answered about reputation management—namely, does online review monitoring and response really make a difference to a business’s bottom line?
While it has become commonplace for hotels and restaurants to check their TripAdvisor ratings on a regular basis, the process breaks down as the size of the business grows, causing brands with hundreds of locations to struggle. The digital location marketing platform Uberall is trying to change that.
TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING… Survey: Identifying Best Practices in Reputation and Review Management… As Duopoly Reigns, Ad Tech Industry Consolidates… Happy Returns Expands Into College Market…
As non-review content grows in prominence, brands and small businesses with be forced to reckon with it. Like reviews, such content both reflects and shapes a brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, many brands are still behind when it comes to engaging with local reviews, so these new developments will represent an even heftier challenge when it comes to crafting an effective and scalable strategy. Brands who neglect UGC in local will suffer greatly in comparison with those who learn how to engage.
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Content Market for Visual, Augmented Reality Hits $3 Billion… Even as Amazon Lurks, Drugstores Double Down on Bricks and Mortar… Is Google Using GDPR As an Excuse to Restrict Publisher and Advertiser Choices?…
It’s not uncommon for local merchants to go to the extreme to make a great first impression when customers arrive at their businesses — designing custom signage and selecting window displays with the utmost care — without giving a second thought to the first thing potential customers see when they search for their companies online. Here are strategies that merchants can use to protect their reputations and make a great first impression on the web…