On the social media scene, the profiles of businesses and individuals are sometimes indiscernible from each other. They interact with and react to each other’s content while they search for the most personable tones. You need only cast your mind back a matter of weeks to Yorkshire Tea’s #SueYoureShoutingAtTea to realise that some of the most powerful brand interactions in the digital world are the moments in which your brand becomes a person.
Modern marketing is a two-way communication; where a printed advert in a newspaper is a statement, digital marketing is a conversation. Of course, you can promote and celebrate your products and services, but your customers can also reply to you in an instant from anywhere. From TripAdvisor to Twitter, and even on the world’s homepage, Google, you are constantly under review.
These seemingly uncontrollable reviews terrify many small business owners. But they don’t need to. Receiving reviews, positive or negative, presents you with an opportunity to be human. The way in which you decide to address your reviews can turn even a terrible review into marketing gold. Nobody expects perfection; people know that even the most well-intentioned business will sometimes have customers who did not receive a perfect experience. Reviews, innately, have the ingredient that so many marketing messages look to create artificially; authenticity.
Taking the opportunity to explain why someone had a bad experience and to take ownership of it can reassure both the user who has left a review as well as other users who may be considering using your services. On one hand, you may have had a difficult customer. Let’s say you run a hotel, and you had a guest who wanted a first-floor view of the high street but complains of the associated noise. Their review may not mention the fact you offered to relocate them in the hotel, solving their noise complaint. Your reply gives you the power to tell your side of the story, and illustrate to other users how this experience was the fault of an unreasonable demand made by the customer.
On the other hand, explaining what your business would do differently in the future – if the poor experience was attributable to you – can show a user that you’ve learn’t and visitors won’t have the same negative experience with your company. Either way, reviews represent an opportunity to humanise your business, and show growth. Because these opportunities can come on a range of platforms and in a variety of forms, you need to be on the lookout, or you might miss them. What’s more, consider having a strategy for reacting to them.
Are you going to react on each platform?
Are you going to ask the reviewer to contact the business directly?
If you choose the latter, it’s important to respond publicly in some way on each platform; not necessarily for the benefit of the reviewers but so that the watching potential customers – whose purchases are up for grabs – can see how seriously you take aftercare, and that you see your customers as people, not just profit. Without reviews, your product development and marketing & branding strategies can only amount to educated guesswork and will struggle to be more than reactions, chasing the crowd.
By ensuring that you have a comprehensive ‘listening’ strategy, you can get ahead of the market. You’re the expert in your field and often, consumers don’t know exactly what they want until it’s put in front of them. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but the next breakthrough in your industry is just as likely to reveal itself through a frustrated review as it is in a focus group.
If your listening strategy includes positioning, action and tone, then your business can start to capitalise on the opportunity of reviews. Celebrate the good reviews, and learn from and acknowledge the negative. Either way, reviews can be the most powerful arm of your marketing strategy.
To find out more contact Joel Rush at AsOne Digital Business Development on 0161 368 9100 AsOne.co.uk