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Online reputation management: Seven steps to success

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30-second summary:

  • Apparently, it’s crucial to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises. Moreover, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights.
  • Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, shares a strategy to tackle the challenges of online reputation management. 
  • Right from setting up your online reputation management (ORM) protocol to becoming proactive about getting reviews, there’s more to discover. 

There’s no need to explain the importance of reputation for businesses. The good word of your customers, potential or existing, is the best promotion tool you have. Meanwhile, scandals and criticism can ruin companies. Reputation becomes even more important during the times of crisis when emotions are heightened and any mistake can lead to a full-blown scandal. 

The internet really just amplified the importance of reputation: news and rumours travel fast, but on social media, they travel even faster (and reach more people). Who among us hasn’t checked the reviews before purchasing a product or hasn’t checked out a brand after seeing a friend praising it on social media?  No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you online, sharing their opinion on social media or leaving a review on Yelp and the likes of it.  

It would be wrong to think about online reputation as something separate from your “real-world” or offline reputation: with three billion social media users and counting your online reputation is simply your reputation, it affects purchasing decisions both online and offline.  

For example, Gillette’s polarizing campaign “The Best Men Can Be” gathered a lot of negative feedback (as well as some positive). Social media users publicly denounced the company and promised to stop buying Gillette razors. That wasn’t the first time a social media scandal led to calls for a boycott of the company, Nike and Uber being other notable examples.  

Besides the obvious need to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights. Once you start paying close attention to your reviews and mentions online, you’ll learn what people love about your product, what they think you could improve, and what influences their decisions the most.  

All this makes reputation management more relevant than ever. You simply can’t ignore online conversations around your brand if you want to have a successful business. Luckily, the digital world gives us a lot more tactics and tools to monitor and actively improve our reputation than the offline world ever could. This article covers online reputation management step by step, giving you specific guidelines to follow.  

How to manage your reputation online 

Most businesses already conduct some type of online reputation management (ORM), for example, answering customers’ comments and posts where they were tagged. But to make your reputation crisis-proof, you need a robust workflow, and that’s what this article is all about. You can use these steps to revise your existing ORM workflow or build a new one from scratch. 

Step one: Set up your ORM protocol

Before you even start going through your online reviews, you need to establish some guidelines. These will help you and your team to know when to respond to reviews, do it appropriately and quickly, and know the best way to act if there’s a threat of a reputation crisis. This protocol can be as thorough as you like depending on how much you are synced with your team, but here are some questions to answer to figure out the guidelines: 

  • How fast should you answer? Obviously, the quicker your response, the better, but it’s a good practice to establish the minimum response time required for your team members. 
  • How transparent are you willing to be? This will help you determine if you want to go into all the nuances when responding to a customer or simply reassure them that you’re working on the issue. The recent trends prove that transparency is very much appreciated by customers.  
  • What tone of voice should you use? This, of course, will depend on your brand. Should you be cordial or professional and straight-to-the-point? Can you make jokes? Oftentimes a funny response to a complaint can go viral. For example, Oatly is one of the brands that heavily uses negative reviews in its marketing putting an ironic spin on them. But would it fit your brand’s image? 
  • Who will be the spokesperson(s) in case of a crisis? If the need arises, who will be giving the official statements on behalf of your brand? Is it the CEO, or the PR manager? Again, you can decide on the answer based on your company’s image — if you’re trying to build authentic relationships with customers and/or have a charismatic leader, it’s only logical that your CEO will do the talking.  
  • Should you automate your responses? Automation cuts your response time to seconds and allows you to save on staff, but can you be sure it won’t anger your customers? In the example below, the customer grew frustrated after trying to solve their problem on Twitter and getting the same scripted message from Amazon. 
  • Should you always respond? Some brands take their pride in the “always respond rule”, and for smaller brands, it’s actually a must — the more engagement you get, the higher your brand awareness, especially on social media. But once you start getting a ton of mentions at once, you might need to start prioritizing. Besides, sometimes negative reviews can just become trolling — and if there’s one rule you need to learn on the Internet, it’s “Don’t feed the trolls”.  

By answering the questions, you should have a clear outline of dos and don’ts for your social media, community, and PR managers. 

Step two: Choose and set up a monitoring tool

You could try tracking your online reviews and mentions manually, but without a specialized tool, it’s practically impossible. Online reputation management tools enable you to find mentions of your company on social media, in the news, and on review aggregator websites. There is an array of monitoring tools for different needs and budgets, such as AwarioBrandwatchReputology, and others. How do you choose the right one? 

As with the previous step, there are some questions you could ask yourself and your team to decide which tool to settle on: 

  • Platforms it covers. Of course, when we are doing online reputation management, the more feedback we find, the better. But for some businesses specific websites or social media platforms are crucial: for example, TripAdvisor for tourist guide companies or Instagram for clothing brands.  
  • Sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is one of the core features in ORM. It helps you focus on dealing with negative reviews first and see the overall share of negative and positive mentions of your brand.  
  • Special features. Are there any particular requirements that your team might have? Do you need influencer analytics to quickly prioritize reviews with the biggest reach first? Or do you maybe need a tool that could easily be integrated with your CRM/task manager?  
  • Pricing. Reputation management tools vary greatly in pricing going from Enterprise-level analytical powerhouses that cost thousands of dollars, to much more affordable options for mid- and small-sized businesses. Make sure the core features you’re looking for are available in the plan you’re ready to pay for! 

Most tools offer either free trials or demos to get you acquainted with them, so you can investigate before you are ready to invest. 

Once you settle on a tool, you need to set it up to start monitoring. You can monitor your brand name, the name of your products, the names of key public figures in your company. Don’t forget to include common misspellings of these words and phrases – it’s a common mistake that brands make when monitoring their reputation which results in missing a lot of feedback. 

Most tools allow you to choose some filters for your monitoring efforts: to find reviews only in a certain language, from certain countries or platforms.  

If there’s a topic that causes particular concern for your reputation (for example, Shell and oil spillage), you can create a separate monitoring alert for it using a Boolean search mode.  

Most reputation management tools have a notification settings tab where you can choose when and how you want to receive notifications. 

Now that you’re finished with your setup, it’s time to check your online reputation! 

Step three: Check sentiment analytics and mention spikes

The first thing to do every time you go to your online reputation management tool is to look at the dashboard. This is typically where all your analytics are visualized so you can notice if something is out of the ordinary right away.  

sentiment graph - online reputation management (ORM) tool

First, look at your overall sentiment and see the shares of positive and negative mentions. This will give you an understanding of your overall reputation. You can select different time frames to get a closer look at a certain moment in your company’s history, or vice versa choose as big of a time frame as you want to get a historical perspective.  

mentions graph

Other important graphs here are the number and reach of mentions, specifically, sudden spikes in it. A sudden spike in the number of mentions means that a lot of people are talking about you (hopefully, for a good reason) and a sudden spike in reach can also indicate that some influential account or website mentioned your brand. A lot of stories nowadays emerge on social media and paying attention to spikes allows you to get on top of the story right away.  

Step four: Deal with the social media mentions

Now that you’re sure that there are no reputation crises unfurling at the moment, it’s time to deal with individual mentions. I suggest focusing on social media first since it’s the media with the biggest “sense of urgency”, that is, the medium where people expect you to answer the quickest. According to the study by The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect a brand to respond in 60 minutes or less.  

Most tools have some kind of a feed that gives you access to individual mentions. For now, filter out everything but the mentions from social media platforms: we will deal with the rest a bit later.  

Usually, social media mentions are sorted by date with the newest mentions displayed first. You can filter them to see negative mentions only to make sure you respond to the unhappy customers first, and then take a look at the neutral and positive mentions, thanking users and sharing favorable posts. Testimonials are an extremely powerful way to promote your brand, so don’t neglect the positive reviews you get, use them. 

The mentions, both positive and negative, can be a great source of customer insights as well. Pay attention to constructive feedback, you can even tag them to come back to them later or share them with your colleagues. 

Step five: Check review sites

Now that social media are dealt with, let’s move on to other types of review platforms: Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and any industry-specific platforms you might come across.  

To find these reviews, do the opposite of what we did in the previous step: filter out all the social media mentions as well as the news. Some tools like Awario even offer a whitelist feature which is used to prioritize certain domains — this could come in handy if you want to make sure you’re getting mentions from specific websites popular in your industry. 

Most websites allow you to respond to reviews once you verify your brand’s account — as with social media, start with the negative ones. You can also share the positive reviews on your website and social media through plugins or screenshots. 

If you allow reviews on your own website (if you’re running an eCommerce business, for example), now is a good time to go through them as well. 

Step six: Check mentions from the media 

Granted you haven’t noticed a sudden change in the sentiment or number of mentions at the third step, media outlets and blogs can wait until you’ve dealt with social reviews. Of course, if you’re in the midst of a PR scandal, the news becomes a much more important source. Also, these steps could be tackled by different teams – social and reviews sites can be taken care of by community managers and news and blogs can be handled by the PR professionals. Nevertheless, they will still be using the same online reputation management tool. 

Filter out everything but mentions from news and blogs. Then the workflow is pretty much the same: check the negative articles first, then the rest. You can reach out to bloggers and journalists to try to swing their opinion in case of negative coverage or thank them and possibly build lasting relationships.  

Step seven: Become proactive about getting reviews

Some communication specialists may treat reviews as a headache: the truth is people are much more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones. This discrepancy can create a feeling of despair when it comes to online reputation management, but this only means that you need to become more proactive about getting reviews from your customers. 

The secret to getting more reviews is asking for them! You need to set up a consistent system of encouraging your customers to leave reviews on social media and review platforms. You can do it manually or use automation tools (Buffer, Mailchimp, Delighted) to schedule social media posts and emails encouraging users to leave reviews and add review-requests plugins to your website. Resharing positive reviews on social may also encourage other users to post praises to your business. You can even run a social media contest focusing on positive reviews as the main challenge for your followers. Get creative! 

To sum up

With proper preparations, online reputation management becomes a piece of cake. Once you have clear guidelines in place (which can be perfected over time) and set up a reputation management tool, there should be no trouble for you to make your reputation crisis-proof. 

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.

The post Online reputation management: Seven steps to success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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Marketing Strategies

Questions to Ask When Planning for Personalization (5 W’s and 1 H)

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Thinking about deploying personalization or strengthening your program? You may be looking to improve your digital experiences and take advantage of personalization’s proven benefits, related to increasing loyalty, conversions and more. When you treat your audience members like the individuals they are, these benefits often soon follow.

Now more than ever, technology enables you to deliver relevant messages, offers and experiences to your audiences across touchpoints, and automatically trigger next best actions, all at the 1-to-1 level.

It takes some coordination and planning to establish the foundation for success. Especially for companies just getting started, it’s helpful to ask – and, of course, answer – a variety of questions. We’ll look at the 6 key questions as they relate to your personalization planning efforts.

WHO…

  • are we targeting? Think about who you want to reach with your various personalization efforts. This will impact your campaigns and the type of personalization employed (e.g., rules-based, machine-learning-driven or both). In some cases, your targets will be audience segments, personas or industries. You may also want to distinguish between customers and prospects, and new vs. returning visitors. Many times, companies also look to map recommendations and experiences to each individual – and that person’s unique behaviors, history, preferences, stage in the buyer’s journey, etc. – to drive deeper connections.
  • is involved? Who will help? The size of your company and your marketing organization – along with the channels and touchpoints where you’ll be deploying personalization – will impact the size of your team. We’ve also seen many companies, particularly large organizations, establish an internal Personalization Management Office (PMO). PMOs function as the main personalization strategy, solution and technical resource for the company – serving as the main point of coordination across business divisions.

WHAT…

  • skills do we need? You likely already have some people on your team who can help implement your personalization strategy – including in roles such as web marketing, email marketing, product marketing, merchandising and analytics. If your personalization solution doesn’t require coding or the involvement of large teams, you can likely leverage the skills and talents of your existing staff. As you dive into more sophisticated strategies, you may want to hire additional resources – such as a director of personalization, to maximize the impact of your efforts. The ideal candidate would have a background in personalization campaigns, as well as experience with other digital marketing campaigns too.
  • content and creative do we need? You probably already have a lot of the content assets, geared toward different personas, industries, etc., within your organization. Still, there may be some gaps, and it’s good to identify these early on, and allocate resources toward their development. For example, if you want to create multiple homepage experiences for different audience segments, you’ll need to write new copy and design new images.
  • data sources will we use? Data underpins a successful personalization strategy. Behavioral data, attribute data, explicit “zero-party” data and third-party data, related to your customers and prospects, will likely fuel your efforts. (See more information on those data types in this recent article.) Organizations often amass and collect that data across their channels, but it can be siloed across teams and systems. Start thinking early about bringing your cross-channel data together into a central system, so it can be part of each person’s unified customer profile (UCP), used to trigger in-the-moment experiences. Even if you’re only deploying personalization in a limited number of channels (for example, just email and in-person), it’s still helpful to collect and synthesize data from other channels (e.g., web and mobile app behavioral data), to determine the most relevant and timely experiences for each individual.
  • campaigns will we start with? Go for some easy (but still important) projects and wins, such as reducing your homepage bounce rate with a dynamic hero area or boosting clickthrough rates by tailoring calls-to-action. Rather than attempting to boil the ocean, it’s often easiest to start in a single channel, demonstrate success, and then expand the scope and sophistication of your efforts.
  • resources are available to me? It can be helpful to see how other companies in your industry (and even outside your industry) are using personalization, for some inspiration.

WHY…

  • are we deploying personalization? In other words, what are our goals? Though it’s toward the bottom in this article (because: who, what, where, when, why…), this is actually the most important question to ask – and the first one you should tackle as you begin your efforts. Document your goals with personalization (e.g., improving engagement, increasing email sign-ups, driving more revenue, optimizing conversion rates, etc.), and tie them into larger, corporate goals. Keep these goals front of mind as you evaluate and plan potential campaigns.

HOW…

  • do we know if our campaigns are working? Many platforms natively include A/B testing and multivariate testing capabilities, so you can evaluate your campaigns against a control, measure lift and optimize your efforts.
  • can we measure success? Think about the goals you set and how you can measure them. For example, do you have a method for scoring customer engagement? How do you measure lift? Is revenue tracking tied to the success of your website? Mapping out the analytics that are essential to supporting your personalization initiatives will enable you to put the reporting aspects in place starting from Day One.



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Sixty orbits

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Birthdays are contagious. No one actually remembers the day they were born, other people remember it for you. And the way we celebrate them is cultural, a shared process that keeps changing.

People keep track of birthdays, and today used to be mine.

Sixty of them.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that many. Time flies when you’re busy. Lots and lots of projects. Countless friends made, lessons learned and ideas shared. Quite a journey, with lucky breaks and advantages again and again, beginning with my parents, the cultural identity, time and town where I was born… I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey without you, thank you.

But today’s not my birthday (no need to send an email or a card). I’ve never really liked my birthday (it’s a long story involving a non-existent parrot), and the only reason for this post is to talk about who owns my birthday now.

What happens if we start celebrating our birthdays differently? Today belongs to the 20,000 + people who are on their way to a permanent supply of clean drinking water because readers like you brought their birthday (and mine) to charity:water. Thank you. Now, particularly now, when the world is in pain and when so many people are wrestling with health, the economy and justice, it’s more urgent than ever to think of someone you’ve never met living a life that’s hard to imagine.

And today, because it celebrates a round number, I’m hoping you will join in and help us break charity:water’s birthday record. And maybe donate your birthday too. Better still, if you subscribe as a monthly donor, you become a core supporter of a movement that changes lives with persistence and care.

How it works:

If you have the ability, I’m hoping you’ll click here and donate to charity:water to celebrate what used to be my birthday.

And either way, I’m hoping you’ll also donate your birthday to them. Because when it’s your turn to celebrate a missing parrot or a lost cake, you can ask your friends, and they can do what you just did.

It’s hard to visualize 21,000 people, mostly kids, fighting illness because the water in their village is undrinkable. That’s about three times the population of the town where I live. Thanks to all of you, my projects, including this blog, have already raised nearly a million dollars to build long-term solutions to this problem.

Will you help me double that?

Even one kid who lives the life he or she is capable of is worth this blog post and worth your support.

Thank you.



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SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.

They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!





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