In today’s digital era, maintaining a positive brand reputation is more important than ever before. It can drive sales, help you to attract new customers and retain existing ones, and make a valuable contribution to your bottom line. In contrast, taking a hit to your reputation can spell disaster. It makes sense to make tracking the reputation of your brand a core activity. The good news is that there are a number of handy tools and techniques available to help you. Read on to learn more about the importance of brand reputation management and the strategies you can use to make sure you can monitor and quickly respond to changes.
How exactly does it differ from brand perceptions? Brand perception describes the image of your brand in the minds of current, past and future customers based on the products and services you offer, which can be partially managed through carefully designed marketing activities. For example, customers have perceptions about the quality, value and variety of the goods that you sell, and you are, to some extent, able to shape these perceptions through actions such as your advertising, distribution strategy and pricing strategy.
The reputation of your brand, on the other hand, is something very different. Think of brand reputation as being the degree of credibility and trust you convey to your customers and to the public more generally. Essentially, it is your company character, and that can’t be managed in the same way as brand perceptions. For example, while you can use promotional strategies to alter perceptions of your brand, you can’t promote your reputation. Building the reputation of your brand takes much more of a sustained effort. It is earned through fulfilling your value propositions and brand promise. That’s why it's important to use a brand tracker to continually monitor your brand reputation over time. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The power of sentiment analysis can help you track brand reputation without sifting through loads of data.
Sentiment analysis involves analysing snippets of text for their tone in order to understand what people who are talking about your brand really think. The snippets can be anything at all but typically might be online reviews, tweets, comments and customer feedback. Using sentiment analysis, the subjective undertones of the expression are analysed to give a sense of attitudes, opinions or emotions towards a topic. Sentiment analysis classifies the text in three ways:
Obviously, the more positive the sentiments towards your brand, the better your brand reputation is likely to be. So, your goal should be to try to boost positive sentiments and to reduce the relative proportion of negative (and neutral) sentiments. But, to do that, you first need to conduct sentiment analysis. Let’s take a look at how.
In the past, sentiment analysis was a manual activity. Having to comb through reviews and feedback to gain a sense of what customers were thinking was obviously a difficult and time-consuming job. Today, thanks to digital tools and machine learning, sentiment analysis can be performed in real time and with minimal human effort, freeing you up to focus on responding to negative sentiments and driving positive reputation. Some of the tools that are available include:
Another approach you should consider using to track brand reputation is keyword research. This essentially involves getting inside the minds of your customers to understand the language that they use when searching for content online. If you know that customers searching for vintage leather handbags online tend to search for “vintage leather bags” rather than “vintage leatherware”, you’ll be in an excellent position to be able to design the language on your website and elsewhere in order to appeal to your target market. You can then also monitor that same language to learn more about what is being shared online that’s relevant to your brand.
There are two different types of search that you can use to perform keyword research: branded keyword search and non-branded keyword search.
Monitoring both types of search patterns can highlight elements of your brand reputation. Obviously, monitoring branded keywords will be crucial in understanding what is being said about, or linked to, your brand. However, if you also keep an eye on non-branded search patterns, you can learn what is being said about competitors (which helps you to make inferences about your competitive strategy) and identify opportunities to better connect your brand with popular search terms.
Without using dedicated keyword tools, you can actually learn a lot about the keywords people are using with tools built directly into your market research platforms. For example, let’s suppose you wanted to test ad creative. Within your research, you could build a question into your survey that asks, “What is the first word that comes to mind when you see this?” The answers will yield many different keywords, which you can use to inform your strategy moving forward.
Online reviews are customer opinions and recommendations shared on dedicated platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yelp, or on platforms where sales take place, like eBay and Amazon. Many businesses describe online reviews as a double-edged sword. It is a way to conduct brand reputation monitoring. On the one hand, a positive review is a free source of positive advertising for your brand. But what about negative reviews? These have the power to destroy your reputation. There are three main reasons for this:
For these reasons, continually monitoring online reviews based on a careful brand reputation management strategy, brand reputation monitoring and responding to them appropriately represents a crucial part of your overall brand reputation strategy. In addition, reviews are a vital source of information that can help you to identify weaknesses in your business or operation, which in turn can improve your value offerings.
Thankfully, there are a few review management tools out there to help you quickly monitor reviews, and these can be adapted into your brand reputation monitoring protocol:
Waiting for a crisis to occur before starting social media reputational repair can be too late. It’s imperative to have a social media monitoring strategy
Social media monitoring is the process of reviewing, analysing and tracking who is discussing your brand and what they’re saying via social media. Monitoring your social media means looking at hashtags, keywords and discussions that are happening within your business’s social media environment. Let’s take a look at some of the tools you can use to help with social media monitoring.
Make it a habit to regularly monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, your products and your competitors. Respond in a productive way to both negative and positive posts. Clearly, given the number of different platforms and users, it can be a challenging task; however, there are tools that can help.
Probably the most important source of information about customer reactions to your brand is the feedback provided by your existing customers. Brands spend a lot of time and cash trying to appeal to new customers, and certainly that is important, but don’t forget about your existing ones! They're a crucial source of feedback. Existing customers can provide insight into their purchasing experience, into the usability and features of your products and services, and the quality of your customer service. By tracking these insights, you can identify patterns and trends in negative feedback, take swift corrective action where necessary (therefore preventing negative opinions from escalating and being shared widely) and amplify positive feedback.
First, let’s make sure we’re clear about what we mean by customer feedback. Feedback provided by customers is any insight or opinion into your products, services or company provided by a current or previous customer. What we mean by that is that customer feedback does not necessarily have to come in via formal mechanisms, such as a customer feedback form or an online review.
Feedback is sometimes shared verbally in-store, or it can be gleaned by a follow-up communication in which a customer asks you how a feature of your product works. Since feedback comes in a number of different ways, you need to be constantly alert. Let’s also look at some specific strategies that you can use to explicitly elicit valuable customer feedback.
These days, there are numerous ways you can collect customer feedback. Some of the most popular approaches are:
So there you have it: the importance of maintaining a strong brand reputation, and a range of powerful strategies you can use. If you’re ready to start gathering customer insights, our customer experience solutions can help by allowing you to gain the data you need to get on the fast track to customer loyalty success.
Momentive offers insights and market research solutions. Get started today with Momentive Brand Insights solutions including our Brand Tracker. You’ll get up-to-date insights into the health and reputation of your brand quickly. Spot trends, track key metrics and see how your brand grows and changes over time.