Maintaining a strong reputation should constantly be a factor in the back of every business owner’s mind. With the help of the internet, word can spread in a matter of seconds. As a result, brand reputations are extremely fragile.
Although perception of your business from an external perspective is an intangible concept, studies have shown that customers form their opinions almost instantly upon discovery.
With that being said, there are many factors that come into play on how people see your business from the outside. Let’s talk about five of them.
Customer service is (and always has been) the most important factor in shaping the perception of your business. With the rise and prevalence of online methods of trade and business, and the availability of cheaper goods and services, a common misconception that is taking root is that customer service isn’t as important as it used to be.
Actually, customer service has become even more vital to success of a company both online and offline. Ruby Newell-Legner writes in her book Understanding Customers that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a single negative experience.
These days, online reviews hold a very heavy stake in consumer choices. In fact, 90% of customers claim that their buying decisions are influenced by them. With this in mind, poor customer service can lead to the loss of current customers, potential customers, and future customers. In turn, your brand perception falls apart.
Going above and beyond to create “wow” experiences with your customer service plays a huge role in how people look at your operation. With an oversaturation of competition, one poor experience will lead consumers to ditch you without a second thought.
Email generates the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
Needless to say, email is one of the most important facets that define your brand perception. Each of your emails should be flawless and delivered to the right person at the right time.
Typically, email marketing is initiated when a visitor signs up for your newsletters and other forms of promotion. Basically, those people want to hear what you have to say and those email get read. Therefore, email marketing is a golden opportunity to bring relevant information right to their doorstep (inbox).
One of the most important things to keep in mind with email marketing is determining what “good and bad” emails are, and how often to send them. The last thing you want to do is waste your subscribers’ time. You also want to be sure your newsletters and promotional content are geared towards the right people. If you have just one subscriber list, the recipients are most likely at different stages along your sales funnel. Therefore, it is wise to segment your lists accordingly, and send each email with a specific goal per segment.
Also, everything you send should be properly synced across all devices. Over half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. If your email messages are not synchronized, it certainly will not bode well for your brand reputation.
Startups too frequently make the mistake of not giving due respect to email as a branding channel – some entrepreneurs and solo proprietors even make the cardinal mistake of using a generic or personal Gmail account for their business emails instead of one associated with their website domain. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good email hosting platform with reliable delivery, spam filters and cross-device syncing features.
Social Media Presence
With over 2 billion worldwide users, social media is perhaps the most important ingredient to your overall brand perception. Maintaining your profiles and keeping everything up to date with relevant information should be a priority. Doing this shows visitors that you care about how your brand is represented online and you are putting forth the effort to post information that people find valuable.
There a many ways in which you can promote a positive image with your social media presence. For one, learning what your target audience is buzzing about. Using social monitoring tools, you can target specific keywords or topics to help determine the hot button issues within your industry. From there, you can create meaningful content that plays to those interests and garners positive reactions.
Next, be sure you are engaging with the users that interact with your posts. One of the main reasons that brands use social media is to help add a humanized touch to their brand messaging. By starting and maintaining direct conversations with followers is a phenomenal way to keep them engaged and create a lasting impression.
A company website has become much more than just an extension of your brand. These days, it is the front-and-center of your operations. With this in mind, building a seamless, intuitive website is crucial in showing the masses what your business is all about.
Having a slow, outdated website can say a lot more about your brand than you think. For one, it can make people wonder if you’re still in business. Second, it can be a common inference that if your business interface is bad, every other aspect of your brand will be similar. Third, and most importantly is you use your website to take payments or take visitors’ information, a poorly designed website can it seem like you don’t have the means or knowledge to keep their data secured.
According to research conducted by Stanford on web credibility, 75% of users admitted to making judgements about a company’s legitimacy based on their website design. Unfortunately, the saying “Never judge a book by its cover” does not apply to online user behavior. Investing a good designer will undoubtedly be one of the most vital business decisions you will make.
Where you appear on a Google search plays a huge role in not just how your brand is perceived, but how it even gets noticed. In fact, Advanced Web Ranking conducted a study on click-through rates from organic search results and found that on page one resulted in 67.60% of all clicks. Page two and three garner 5.59% and pages six through ten account for 3.73%.
With this in mind, ranking on the first page of Google is unbelievably valuable to getting your brand out there and noticed.
Even though Google is famously quiet about how exactly their ranking algorithms work, there are many things you can do to help boost your standing. First of all, Google rewards fresh, relevant content. Be sure that every piece your produce is optimized for the keywords based on user intent. Do some keyword research and find the best terms related to your niche that people are searching for. If you were in need of your product or service, what would you type into the search bar?
In addition to a well-designed and intuitive website, Google looks for mobile-friendliness and factors that into your ranking.
Developing a good brand perception depends heavily on your online visibility. Deciding between hiring an in-house SEO expert and outsourcing to an agency can be tough. But, a professional approach can definitely do wonders to get your brand messaging in front of as many eyes as possible.
The business landscape is changing as quickly as consumers’ opinions. The way you present your business in the public eye should be evolving to pinpoint the most relevant trends and ideologies to among the masses. In a marketing world dominated by the internet, this is a job that never sleeps.
Featured image: Laura Lewis on Flickr