Reputation is everything. It's make-or-break for your brand. Especially in the Internet era, when reputations can be easily built and ruined in mere seconds.
But how can you be sure that the brand you're building is the right one for your target audience? We've gathered the top industry-insider tips on B2B brand reputation management to help you access unrivaled growth and improve your online reputation.
Why Is Brand Reputation So Important for B2B Companies?
Reputation is the power that drives business development. A carefully constructed company image demands attention and outshines its competitors. But with the flood of digital information online, how can you ensure your business gets the attention it deserves?
It all starts with the first step in the marketing funnel: awareness. That is when your potential customers first learn about your company and its offerings.
Awareness can include the following:
- Your company's position in the market
- Client reviews
- Your social responsibility policies
In today's highly competitive market, the first interaction matters. Potential clients will decide whether to proceed based on those few precious moments.
What Does Brand Reputation Management Mean for B2Bs, in Particular?
Brand reputation management isn't just for B2C companies. B2B brands often have to have more robust reputation management systems in place because spending is not an individual decision; it must be approved by a series of managers.
Bad reviews or incomplete information can count against you. Managing your reputation is at the heart of business success. But it doesn't happen to any company accidentally or on its own accord. It requires a lot of work and a solid, tested brand reputation management strategy.
What Channels Can My Business Use for Online Reputation Management?
These are the top online connection channels today:
- Social media. Just because many businesses may not officially allow their employees to use social media at work doesn't mean such channels don't influence decision-makers. Creating a distinctive voice and image of your company, advertising, and followers—AKA potential customers—helps solidify your brand image and build awareness. Social monitoring tools can help track the effectiveness of campaigns and establish user personas.
- SEO Web content. An optimized website is key to ensuring you gain the traffic you want and need. There is little point in ranking for something such as women's shoes when you want to be a leader in IT technology, so be careful that your keywords and SEO strategy support your brand to help you reach the top search engine positions.
- Outreach content. Working with other brands and partners can improve your reputation and trustworthiness. Get your brand out there with reliable partners. But, as always, check their online reputation first.
- Customer reviews. Genuine reviews build trust, which leads to sales. Over 92% of B2B buyers say trusted reviews are a factor that drives them to make a purchase. Quickly responding to positive and negative reviews shows you are active and interested in your clients and their satisfaction.
- Communication channels. Business is a fast-moving world, and your clients want results—and fast. Effective communication channels such as chatbots, forms, and forums connect your customers to your brand and form an integral part of online strategy.
Challenges of Online Brand Reputation Management
Many companies admit that online reputation management is their Achilles heel. It's time-consuming, it takes effort, and it involves a lot of hypothesizing. Especially if you're doing it manually.
That's why decision-makers often opt for automated online reputation management software. Such tools optimize the work of building brand reputation. They allow you to efficiently perform in-depth market research, complete social listening for PR or content generation, gather data on potential clients, and much more.
Top 7 Tips for Brand Reputation Management
1. Get high-quality content on your side
Going online and telling the world your brand exists isn't enough. To get your customers engaged, you need to deliver valuable content.
- Sharing your expert opinion on the industry on your website blog
- Posting the latest news on discounts and new product lines
- Creating guest posts on industry journals
What's most important is that the content speak in your company's voice and work alongside a content strategy. Making a content plan isn't easy, and deciding which info will be the most useful for your customers is hard work. Social listening tools can help.
2. Establish a social media presence
Today, a website isn't enough for online reputation management. Companies are increasingly using social media platforms to further their brand's reach.
Find out which social media sites are the most popular among your competitors and potential customers. The simplest way to do that is to monitor social media using online reputation management software.
Online reputation management apps can monitor keywords across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, and other social media networks. You can then get insights into which social networks have the most mentions of your topics, and where your competitors have gained popularity among users.
But that's only the beginning. You'll need to level-up your social media strategy to be in line with your overall plans for your brand and in line with your company's voice to ensure consistent impact.
3. Track your company's mentions
Feedback is essential. Knowing what your current (and potential) customers are saying about your brand is at the heart of brand reputation management. It's your baseline on whether your campaign is hitting the mark or falling into the gap of what you want them to hear and what they are actually hearing.
Luckily, you won't have to scroll through endless reams of reviews to complete that task—automated tools have come to the rescue.
4. Make your website trustworthy and authoritative
Investing time and effort into your website development pays off with more leads. Companies will always search for reliable providers, and the first place they visit to ensure the credibility of your company is your website.
Making a website trustworthy involves a wide range of elements:
- Design: Outdated websites will make your customers steer away from your company to faster, more reliable competitors.
- Content: Content should be relevant and useful to your potential customers. Add feedback from your previous buyers, references, case studies, detailed descriptions of your products, and valuable data from your company experts on the website blog to show prospects what your brand is all about.
- Functionality: Your website should be intuitive and it should perform seamlessly so that each feature works swiftly and simply. No one is going to wait around while you fix a bug or two.
- Security: Your potential customers should rest assured that they can trust your website with any sensitive data related to their business. Following industry security standards speaks volumes about how you will treat your customers in the future.
5. Engage meaningfully with your clients
Online presence isn't just about posting content and ads. Clients' buy-in to your brand and their participation play a major role in building its reputation. Communication is no longer a one-way street.
You can establish two-way communication with your clients by engaging them in conversation on social media, encouraging them to share their opinions and experiences, and attending interviews to better understand their experience. After all, how will you grow your brand's reputation if you don't know your clients' expectations in the first place?
By engaging with customers, you can learn more about their product requirements, establish a more personalized approach to customer service, and build that sought-after brand-client connection.
6. Harness the power of reviews
Never underestimate the power of a good review—or the damage a bad one can do. People say they tend to trust online reviews and their friends' recommendations rather than ads or other resources, according to a recent study. That makes what others say about your company online a top priority for your business.
Handling reviews isn't simple and can be a lot of work. Fast replies to your reviewers online add more potential clients to your business at best and save you from any reputation losses at worst.
But monitoring reviews 24/7 isn't always realistic, especially if you don't have a huge team. Adding trackers that gather user responses from all sources into one hub can automate the process and make it easier for your community gurus to work their magic.
7. Manage your crisis before it happens
You may be wondering, how can I manage a crisis that hasn't happened yet? The secret is to be prepared. Accumulating issues, poor feedback, or a PR disaster, among other crises, can strike any company at any time.
Get ahead of the game by knowing how you will handle it if it happens so you can protect your brand. Here's how:
- Gather your reputation management team, which should include the team members currently handling your business reputation online.
- Choose a team leader who understands the situation well and can keep a cool head when leading your team toward the goal of crisis eradication.
- Determine the weak points that caused the reputation crisis and work out the plan for its settlement. If the crisis hasn't happened yet, gather your team to elaborate on the steps on how to prevent any reputation risks.
- Monitor all your communication channels, because word travels fast and you should be one step ahead of it. Once a crisis rears its head, it quickly jumps to all online channels and you have to be there to resolve the problem quickly and stop it from spreading.
- Be prepared for various scenarios, and make plans of action in case something goes wrong. Elaborate on strategies that you have in mind. You know how your industry operates, how your clients act, and how your business responds. Adding those details into a list of potential situations will make you more able to resolve a crisis if it occurs.
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A carefully created brand reputation provides your company with outstanding business development opportunities and builds industry trust. It allows you to learn better what potential clients think about your company, as well as gain detailed insights on how to improve the company's product.
Reputation management isn't easy—you need help from a winning team and some awesome technology to help you—but it absolutely worth your time.
More Resources on Brand Reputation Management
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- Four Ways to Improve Brand Loyalty [Infographic]
- The 30 Brands B2B Professionals Trust Most
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- Developing an Indispensable B2B Brand-Inspired Growth Strategy: Mitch Duckler on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- The 10 Most Valuable Global Brands in 2022
- Different Is Better Than Better, Part 2: Sally Hogshead on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]