Brand.com exec: Brands not addressing how mobile impacts online reputation
By Chantal Tode
August 21, 2013
Mobile's growth impacts brands' online reputations
With product research increasingly moving to the Internet, managing a brand’s online reputation has become an important focus for marketers. However, many are not keeping up with the new set of challenges introduced by mobile.
While some brands spend significantly on digital ad strategies, many are not addressing how mobile is being used at the point when a decision is being made, leaving little room for marketers to insert themselves into the process if they are not there already, and the growth in voice search services such as Siri. As a result, brands do not have as much control as they could about the story that is being told about them, which can negatively impact the return on their marketing dollars.
“We are not working towards this fast enough,” said Mike Zammuto, president of Brand.com, Philadelphia. “In our client base, overwhelmingly, clients contact us because of the way they are represented for desktop, we see that for our customer base, mobile is really a secondary thought.
“That is something that really is going to change, but I don’t really see companies catching up yet,” he said. “I think it is a big area for improvement.”
Here, Mr. Zammuto talks to Mobile Marketer about some of the challenges marketers face with reputation management because of the growth in mobile and why it is critical that these be addressed.
How is the growth in mobile impacting online brand reputation management?
There have been a lot of changes in the way that people research things, mobile being the primary beneficiary of it. So more than ever, it is critical for companies to look at how they are represented across a variety of mobile media and really try to take control of that.
Certain segments are more impacted by this than others, such as service businesses, a destination, restaurants and hospitality.
Whether when someone is traveling or at a point-of-purchase location, whether it is researching goods at a retail store or trying to pick a restaurant or movie, the thing that ties a lot of mobile together is that mobile becomes the platform upon which people are making decisions they are going to act on immediately.
So you don’t have a lot of time as a brand or as a company to lift that stuff not going your way. That is why it is really critical that you build a strategy around these things, that your message is getting out and other peoples’ aren’t.
What are the biggest challenges in reputation management from a mobile perspective?
Because mobile app development in particular and social media have become so broadly spread, almost anyone can come out with a mobile app these days, there is really a huge explosion in the way that other people can be talk about your product or your brand.
You have to combat that by making sure you are presenting as much rich content, optimized to represent your company really well. Otherwise other people are going to tell the story about your products and services in place of you doing that.
Some of the big challenges come from review sites and mobile apps. Depending on how anonymous or how well they do managing their own content, those things can be helpful to a client or can be very damaging to a business.
Another thing to look at is search. With mobile, there has been a big explosion in voice search and particularly Siri, but certainly with other apps as well. The advent of Siri has really made search results as important to a mobile customer as they are to desktop businesses as well.
The challenges also extend to Facebook and Twitter.
Some of our clients have built as part of the reputation management campaigns a strong Pinterest strategy. It works really well if they are in a segment that naturally gets a lot of engagement in Pinterest, such as clothing, food, travel and women’s clothing.
How you are represented across all of these things and how your reputation management strategy ties these things together to present your company well is really important, especially to certain segments.
Why are marketers not moving faster to address how mobile is affecting their online reputations? This is anecdotal, but I think that the decision-makers at a lot of businesses - small businesses maybe owners, larger businesses maybe marketing departments - tend to be not demographically from the groups that are adopting mobile quickly.
The other thing is there is the traditional need to always put yourself in your customers’ shoes. And, when you are sitting in your office trying to decide how people are going to choose your products over others, the natural thing is to gravitate toward your own desktop instead of thinking about the customer driving around in their car.
What are the risks for marketers of not moving fast enough to address mobile’s growth?
The big risk is that they spend money on marketing campaigns that don’t get the lead that they want and they see decreasing return on that investment. Because it doesn’t pay to have people recognize your brand or visit your site if when they are searching for them, they are not hearing your side of the story.
This is a common problem we have these days, especially with larger brands. They have very established relationships promoting advertising and marketing but, what they are not doing is thinking about what is the end result of that. When people go and look for me online, are they seeing aggregated information that is going to promote me closing my deals or are they seeing a mix of stuff that is controlled by other people?
The review sites are one of the best examples. There are companies, particularly larger companies in the services area, that spend billions on marketing and a surprising amount of that can be undermined by a few anonymous reviews on Yelp.
That disconnect between the marketing dollars going in on one side and it leading to the experience that you need to convert those customers on the other side, is a major problem.
What can brands do to better manage their online reputation?
Step one is for brands to recognize that their online reputation – broadly speaking what people see when they go and do research on them or search for them on search engines in particular – strongly determines how successful their marketing is going to be.
Step two is figuring out what people actually are saying about you. We have a series of free monitoring tools that people can use to get a really good sense of what’s being said about them across the Internet.
Step three involves creating a strategy around control. And that usually involves connecting your marketing and public relations story to a reputation management campaign of some kind that involves really honing and crafting those search results to deliver the really high quality content that people are going to care about. Not advertorial stuff, but educational things, informational things that will help those people - particularly in the mobile environment - make decisions with all of the information available to them.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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