"You must unlearn what you have learned."
When Yoda said that to Luke Skywalker a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (i.e., the 1980s), he wasn't referring to digital marketing.
Nevertheless, the old Jedi Master would make a terrific CMO today.
And if he had traded his position on the Jedi Council for a cushy desk job, he might have imparted these words of wisdom to Padawan marketers.
1. 'Judge me by my [presence], do you?'
A strong presence is the most important element of online marketing that local businesses can focus on: Half of all mobile searches are conducted with the intent of finding local results, and 61% of those local searches result in a purchase.
Accordingly, business owners require a simple way to control their online visibility and promote their reputation effectively.
The main areas to focus on for establishing an online presence are as follows:
- Online listings: Making sure listings are accurate and consistent across key sources
- Online reviews: Generating and promoting reviews and addressing negative ones
- Mobile-friendly websites: Providing an effortless browsing experience for customers
- Social activity: Maintaining active social accounts on the most relevant networks with consistent profile data and engaging content
Without a solid social presence, a mobile-friendly website, and accurate listings featuring positive reviews, you may as well be waving your hand in front of Google and saying, "These are not the search results you're looking for."
2. 'Difficult to see. Always in motion is the [listings environment].'
The world of online listings is more fragmented than the plot of The Phantom Menace.
In a nutshell, four major data providers control most of the Internet's listings data: Infogroup, Neustar/Localeze, Acxiomb, and Factual. If they don't receive updates from authoritative services, they default to traditional sources of information, such as public records (think tax files and other government indexes). Those sources can be out of date, and their refresh timeframes are unpredictable.
According to our research, businesses that push their information to the four major data providers via listing management tools show a 172% increase in their overall listing accuracy, while the accuracy scores of those that do not correct their data stay extremely low (around 10%).
Moral of the story: If you offer marketing solutions to local businesses, start investigating presence management solutions to help them continuously correct their data and generate recurring revenue for your company.
3. 'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger... anger leads to hate... hate leads to [bad reviews].'
Getting a bad review can feel worse than being chained to Jabba the Hutt and forced to wear nothing but eyeshadow and a degrading space bikini.
The trick is to control your temper. Most consumers post negative reviews because they can't connect with someone at the business who can solve their problem. Therefore, listening for feedback and replying in a timely manner can mitigate a lot of potential damage.
Of course, that won't be the case for all negative reviews. The best way to deal with truly disgruntled customers is to apologize publicly (so others can see that you care about your customers' experience) and then take the conversation offline.
4. 'A Jedi uses [Marketing Automation] for knowledge and defense, never for attack.'
Marketing automation is like the Force: Most people use it for good, but some others are tempted by its Dark Side. The goal, of course, is to collect as much information as possible and put it into action without coming off like a stalker.
For agencies and media companies that sell products and services to small and medium businesses, automation opens up a gold rush of opportunities. For example, imagine creating campaigns that deliver personalized content about the specific solutions your firm sells and sending them to your prospects, then tracking which ones the prospects engage with to spark phone calls and conversations with your reps.
Superior to cold-calling, right?
If you provide demo accounts or sample reports to each of your prospects with rich data about their businesses, you're guaranteed to receive higher opens, click-throughs, and overall engagement. And if you can surface that information directly to your outbound team so they can follow up with prospects the moment they interact with your message, then good relations with the Wookies—err... sales reps, you shall have.
5. And, finally, in social media: 'Do. Or do not. There is no try.'
This one's self-explanatory, folks. Post regularly to your social channels and work on delivering quality content that will resonate the most with your audience.
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That's all we've got time for today, Padawans. Hopefully, this was a helpful outline of some of the principles of online reputation and presence management—a massive opportunity for anyone who sells products and services to local businesses.
Till next time, may the Force be with you.