There was a time not long ago when hidden diamonds in the rough sat undiscovered, only to be enjoyed by the locals and their friends. Many people took pride in the discovery of hole-in-the-wall, local establishments, but true regional, national, or even global exposure required years of hard work or a marketing miracle.
The quick proliferation of technologies that support two-way, real-time engagement, specifically customer feedback and opinion, has radically changed the name of the game. Today, with a little luck, a great product and a commitment to doing what is best for the customer, many mom-and-pop establishments have successfully and quickly positioned themselves as reliable and coveted purveyors of a variety of goods and services.
Reputation management – that is, the hands-on engagement of a business with external sites that contain information and opinion about businesses – has become the ultimate tool to help small businesses run with the big dogs and take their marketing up a notch, oftentimes achieving fame that goes beyond their city limits.
Let’s take a look at how online presence through third-party review sites in tandem with intentional engagement is changing the way we market for good, giving the underdog a chance to shine in ways that were never before available to businesses with limited marketing budget.
From Undirected Broadcasting to Laser-Focused Engagement
One of the most extraordinary benefits of socially oriented and opinion-based marketing is the ability for a small business to reach out to consumers who are specifically searching for the types of goods and services the merchant offers. Review sites such as Yelp equip shoppers with a variety of search parameters that allow them to connect with a business that perfectly meets their criteria. Considerations such as location, quality, price, and even child-friendliness are right at the fingertips of consumers, with the added value of the credibility fostered by the fact that most assessments are not a simple marketing spiel but the true opinion of other community members just like them.
Saying Goodbye to AA Air Conditioning and Hello to Best Air Conditioning Repair
It was not long ago that almost all local businesses depended fully on Yellow Pages as the main source of customer-initiated lead generation. In fact, a great number of local businesses selected their branded name with more weight to alphabetical order than to market appeal. After all, being the first business listed for your category was the equivalent of ranking #1 in Google.
Thanks to the rise of customer feedback tools and platforms as well as review sites, businesses no longer have to depend on an alphabetically advantageous yet boring and weak name. Instead, they are able to dominate their space purely based on performance as measured by the opinion of those who count the most: their customers. Through astute reputation management strategies, hard work, and quality, a business can achieve a really strong position on most search engines in response to quality-associated keyword strings such as “best restaurant in Manhattan” or “best-rated mechanic in San Francisco.”
While it is true that Yellow Pages has attempted to evolve into a digital setting that includes customer opinion, giving businesses the best of both worlds, businesses are no longer trapped in a single marketing channel.
No Cost or Minimum Cost and Diversified Placement
The most popular review sites have no cost of entry, giving an even ground to all businesses, regardless of size or income. Additionally, businesses have the advantage that comes through diversification. There are many general and specialized review sites that can help businesses with brand amplification by allowing them to reach wider audiences.
In the instances where businesses are required to pay for engagement, the third-party review sites provide businesses with a variety of tools and resources that can increase the speed of review acquisition and provide the businesses with customer data essential to the decision-making process associated with marketing and product development.
Review sites are platforms for sales-conducive dialogue. No longer are business owners limited to heralding their pitch. Instead, they have the unprecedented opportunity to answer specific questions and engage with individuals who have expressed a personal interest in their offering.
User-triggered conversation has proven to increase conversion, and provides businesses with unique advantages when it comes to the shaping of a customer base with high levels of brand loyalty. Small to medium businesses who have already engaged in proactive reputation management are enjoying the fruits of their labor through increased exposure and the ability to reach far more customers than ever before.
Radical Message Amplification
With sites like Yelp receiving just a little below 1.5 billion visits in 2014, business owners cannot and should not deny the powerful amplification available through these sites. More traditional marketing approaches such as direct mail, television advertising, and magazine ads are, at their best, good for brand recall, but when it comes to conversion they are a hit-or-miss proposition.
Through review sites, your business receives exponential amplification where it matters the most: with consumers who are researching products or services just like what you offer. Want to see how reviews are helping you go even further? Take a look at how syndication is affecting the way your business shows up on the web.
More Effective Feedback Loops to Better Manage Your Marketing Dollars
Conducting marketing research was, until now, a luxury left for big retailers. Small businesses often took a trial-and-error approach that often proved costly, and in some instances devastating. Fortunately, the introduction of review-based data mining provides businesses with real-time customer feedback to help them assess the success or failure of a variety of business initiatives.
Through careful tracking and monitoring of customer-generated reviews, businesses can now optimize their offering without wasting marketing and operational dollars on services, products, or experiences that don’t align with the specific needs and wants of their most loyal customers.
Crystal Clear Access to Competitors’ Data
In addition to business intelligence related to their own operations, businesses are now privy to information that can help them evaluate and understand the performance of their competitors. Through review-based, competitive analysis, businesses can glean a great deal of knowledge of what drives business next door, and seek ways to redirect attention to their own shop.
Proactive ownership of online reputation holds the key to a highly effective marketing strategy. ReviewTrackers can help you centralize your efforts, resulting in more time-efficient reputation management strategy that frees you to do what you do best: serve your customers.