Reputation management. You might be imagining a celebrity who needs to do damage control after sharing something inappropriate during an interview with TMZ. In reality, reputation management is crucial for any business, big or small. Even a company who doesn’t have a dedicated Reputation Manager is – or should be – engaging in reputation maintenance and amelioration on a daily basis.
So, what does reputation management for companies look like? In a nutshell, it means influencing and controlling a company’s reputation (shocker, right?). However, with the growth of the internet and social media, the notion of reputation management has transformed into online reputation management. The latter makes search results a core part of a company’s reputation, meaning you control what shows up when someone looks you up online.
An important piece of the online reputation management puzzle is online reviews. Online reviews are crucial to any business that wants to keep control of their online reputation. According to The Online Department, “Online reviews have created a new form of marketing and communication that bridges the gap between simple word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback that can move virtual mountains for a business.” The importance of online reviews for businesses is truly mind boggling.
Why are reviews so important?
When it comes to word of mouth, online reviews have taken the spotlight. They are now the ultimate “word of mouth endorsement.” The stats speak for themselves:
Before we get into the importance of positive reviews, we should discuss why it is at all important to have reviews. In other words, what are the consequences of having no reviews? You might think that no reviews is better than bad reviews, but this is not always the case. Without reviews, people doing research on your company are lacking the evidence that you are a real brand that they can trust. Without a number of online reviews to your name, you are missing out on new business.
Imagine this: You own a restaurant. Someone is visiting the area and looking for a place to eat. They use their smartphone to determine which restaurants are available to them. The search results show yours and one other establishment on the same street. Your restaurant does not have a single review on Yelp, Google, Facebook or any other platform. The other restaurant has several 4 or 5 star reviews. In that moment, it does not matter that your restaurant has tastier food or better service, the customer will pick your competitor. Without reviews, your business lacks credibility and looks questionable. Prospective customers will wonder why there aren’t any reviews, thinking “Is this business not popular? Does no one know about it? Is it a bad restaurant?” Every time a potential customer comes across your business online – and 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business – you might be losing them to the competition.
While it’s important to have reviews in general, the impact positive reviews have on your business is astounding. Here’s the impact online reviews can have:
- Increase Sales
This is what it comes down to: online reviews will lead to increased profit. Reviews give customers the information that they need to make the decision to purchase a product or service from a business. Today’s consumer is highly informed, conducting their own in depth research before buying anything. Reviews are an important part of this research and can be the tipping point in decisions where there is little-perceived product differentiation. Again, imagine you are picking between two hair salons. If both salons offer the same services, fall around the same price point, and are in the same area, the reviews will be the tiebreaker. A consumer will almost always pick the establishment with better reviews as this is the differentiating factor between the two.
According to Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents who read online reviews are influenced by the reviews in their buying decision. Even more noteworthy is that for every $1 of online revenue influenced by reviews, that impact is multiplied offline by 4x or 5x.
- Strengthen Customer Loyalty
Reviews go hand-in-hand with loyalty. Customers who take the time to leave a positive review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to that business. There is a much higher chance that they will keep coming back. Think about the good reviews you have written on Yelp, as a customer. You probably frequent those places a lot more often than the ones you didn’t review. The act of leaving an online review establishes a relationship with the business, allowing customers to feel like they have a voice. Consumers want to be able to provide feedback in a meaningful way and know that their voices are heard by both the business and their peers. These reviews will then drive new prospects to your business, making it a tool for both customer acquisition and customer retention.
- Improve SEO & Ranking
Online reviews work towards improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp and so on. The more that is written about your business online, the more important a search engine considers you to be. Besides moving up in ranking, you will also be featured in a wider array of keywords. With reviews coming in, your business website will have a steady influx of SEO keywords that help your business strengthen its online presence. These new keywords will help to bring up your website in search results when customers are looking for the type of product or service you sell. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Online reviews are as critical to your local SEO strategy as link building citations and on-site optimization.
- Spark Brand Advocacy
If you’ve started collecting reviews, you will soon realize that they are worth a great deal in terms of marketing. Reviews can offer your business benefits that a simple marketing campaign just can’t, they keep working long after the review has been posted. It fosters continual brand awareness, with your customers taking the role of brand advocates. And it’s safe to say that if your customers left a positive public review, they might also be recommending your business offline to their network. Treat these customers well and recognize their efforts, as they are your personal brand influencers.
- Better Serve Your Customers
Reviews can tell you where you are excelling and where you might need to improve. By being open to this feedback, your business will be able to better serve customers and adapt accordingly. This will create an even more positive experience, giving customers a sense that their voice is heard and taken seriously. In fact, 78 percent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. It’s important to take all reviews into account. Some companies make the mistake of glorifying positive reviews while brushing off negative ones. Both, however, hold equal value and should be handled accordingly. More specifically, ReviewTrackers found that 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical.
How can you manage your brand’s reputation through reviews?
With AmobiApps’s newest product release small businesses are able to harness the power of positive reviews. Your branded mobile app will become even more powerful, being a consistent source of online reviews. So, how exactly does this reputation add-on work? With our mobile reviews campaign, app users will be prompted to review your business on the most popular online review sites, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. We ensure only the reviews with positive ratings get published, while you can directly handle the negative feedback as a business owner.
The customization component is what really sets our reputation management system apart. You can set up triggers to send review requests when the app users are experiencing a positive interaction with your brand. For instance, users may receive a prompt right after they redeem a reward or after they have enjoyed their meal. Based on a user’s actions within the app, you can determine when they are most likely to leave a positive review about your business.
Most companies send out emails asking for reviews days or even weeks after the customer’s purchase. By doing this, they are forcing customers to do the hard work of remembering the details of their last interaction with the brand, long after it has happened. According to Groove HQ, “we already know that customer loyalty is built on making your customers’ lives easier, and that principle extends to asking for reviews, too.” So, the best time to ask for a review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind. This makes it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review. The Reviews Campaign, then, allows you to send out review requests at the right time depending on your business.
Once you have set up your campaigns, sit back and watch the results come in. You can track metrics that matter, like total requests sent, total reviews received, and level of satisfaction. And if you have a franchise or multiple locations, you can set up and track performance for each location separately. Each Reviews Campaign will be tailored to reach the right people at the right time. As 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review, this reputation management model will directly drive new business.
Mobile App Helped Local Italian Restaurant Grow 33% Every Year
A local and upscale Italian restaurant, needed a way to build customer loyalty and brand engagement. A mobile app provided a way to engage customers beyond the confines of the establishment through push notifications and a gratifying loyalty program. Now, the restaurant has dramatically increased customer retention, as well as revenue and year-over-year growth.
Build Customer Loyalty & Engagement
The Local Restaurant was already successful, but they wanted to build loyalty and engage customers – also outside of the establishment. The owner previously used email campaigns; his forte was writing strong emails that gave rise to his list of 47,000 subscribers. Adding an app to his marketing repertoire would increase engagement even more and add to the restaurant’s success.
Exciting Loyalty Program & Push Notifications
The mobile strategy was simple: focus on the loyalty program and push notifications, and do these right. If a restaurant is more pricey than usual, a customer might think twice about dining there (even if it is their favorite place). Benedetto’s created a loyalty program that overcame this initial barrier by providing customers with a generous reward – a completed mobile punch card can be redeemed for $50. In addition, the owner uses his persuasive writing skills to send out push notifications to these loyal customers.
“The fishmonger brought fresh stone crab to the backdoor one evening, so Chef Ben sent out a push notification letting everyone know about his catch of the day. The message went out 5pm and he was sold out of crab by 7pm!”
Increase in ROI & Customers Retention
By adding a mobile app to the marketing portfolio, Benedetto’s was able to grow the business with 33% every year, for the last 3 years. The simultaneous marketing endeavors, including quality emails, powerful push notifications, and an exciting loyalty program, have allowed Benedetto’s to dramatically increase customer retention and engagement. The restaurant also has over a 1000 loyal customers actively using the loyalty program on a regular basis.
Growth Every Year
KEY SUCCESS FACTORS:
Zeroing in on the key value you can provide to customers and translating that into an app.
Using the KISS approach (= Keep it Simple, Stupid) to determine app features and executing them perfectly.
Mobile App Helped Local Italian Restaurant Grow 33% Every Year
What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?
Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.
But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence, and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.
Busting The Myth
We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.
The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?
Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.
For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.
An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.
Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
The best way to drive customer retention? A loyalty program. What’s more, 87% of shoppers say they want loyalty programs and 68% of millennials say they won’t be loyal to a brand if it doesn’t have a good loyalty program. Besides the high demand for it, loyalty programs can be extremely beneficial to the company’s bottom line. Loyalty programs increase overall revenue by 5-10%, with loyal members spending more money and buying more frequently than non-members. A mobile solution, then, allows a small business to focus on what is most important and beneficial to their growth.
For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.
Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.
We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.
A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.
This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.
Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.
Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.
This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:
- A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
- A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
- Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000 annually.
So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.
How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!
Unraveling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App
How Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Fitness Industry
Health and wellness is quickly becoming a top priority for an increasing number of people, and a core component of this trend is fitness. With this growing demand comes the inevitable growth in gyms, trainers, and related experts all vying for health conscious customers. It’s a 3.4 trillion dollar global industry with several different niches. It doesn’t matter if your approach is holistic, straight up about hard science, program/method specific, or general as in telling clients to just eat healthily and exercise. What matters is that your gym stands out in its niche.
As with most things these days, an individual’ s quest for a healthier self usually starts online. Nearly three-quarters of people online researched wellness and fitness trends in 2015. A gym owner’s first instinct might be to have an amazing website built. While not exactly a bad idea, a better one would be to get a mobile app. People are attached to their phones, as evidenced by nearly everyone at a gym either having them strapped to their arm or breast. This is even more true for tech-savvy millennials. People look to their devices to help them with everything they do, and this includes exercising. Here is what the right gym mobile app can do for a gym, and why they should get one.
Reasons Why Gyms Should Get a Mobile App
- Social Media: Social media plays a big role in a gym’s business strategy. It is essentially their online face and personality. It is often what potential members first interact with. It also plays into the habits of Millennials who tend to trust health and fitness news shared by their peers on social media. A mobile app can help ensure that your gym is what they are sharing.
- Content Creation and Optimization: Whether your gym caters to the hardcore CrossFit enthusiasts or to the donut and pizza crowd who wants some light exercise a couple of times a week to balance things out, a mobile app can make sure that your product gets marketed to the people you want to buy it. It’s not enough to only offer your product at a physical location. Gym consumers are looking for a personalized experience, not just a fitness program. High-value and informative SEO based content is essential.
- Influencer Marketing: Think of marketing the same way as exercise plans and equipment. The machines and routines from twenty years ago still work, in terms of getting into shape, but modern equipment and newer regimens are better. Or at the very least, they bring in new members who are hooked on the next big trend.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that ads don’t cut it anymore when it comes to the savvy millennial gym-user. They are looking for tangible information that they can trust. One way for gyms to do this is to effectively brand their trainers and promote them, or provide a virtual coach. One research study found Influencer Amplified Blog Posts were eleven times more profitable than banner ads.
- Membership Platforms: The most reliable revenue stream for gyms are from regular members and membership fees. This residual income is invaluable. An app can add value to a user’s membership by letting them see class schedules, upcoming events, and programs. It can also give them reminders to go workout. One of the main reasons people quit gyms is because they get out of the habit of going. An app can keep them in the habit by reminding and gently urging them to go.
- Streaming Workout Videos: Technology has made it where businesses can operate beyond their walls. Gyms are no different. Classes can be streamed, either live or recorded, for members who can’t make it to a physical location. Trainers can post videos where they give exercise and nutrition tips. It’s even possible for trainers to run one on one sessions through the app for those out of town members.
- Online Reputation Management: Brand reputation is more important than ever and vital for long-term success. Nearly all users will research a good or service online before buying, including your gym. Use technology to show potential members why yours is the best, what your focus and message (your USP) is. Having a way for your app users to comment and rate your gym is an excellent way to make sure your online reputation is a good one.
- Fitness & Workout Tracking and Wearables: Technology and fitness have always gone hand in hand, which makes the trend of wearable technology to track workouts come as no surprise. The first quarter of 2015 alone saw the sale of 11 million Fitbits. App support for these devices, such a syncing and tracking progress, can go a long way to attracting, and keeping new members.
- Workout and Gym Experience Personalization: People want a personalized experience instead of being part of a one size fits all, assembly line approach. Apps allow a gym to let users personalize their workout experiences. They can be a virtual trainer, real-time exercise planner, or even a pocket workout buddy.
(Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Fitness Industry
Mobile App Solutions for the 21st Century Gym
- Be Where the Gym Users Are: Millennials will be your primary gym members, and they are tech-savvy and constantly on the move. There is a good chance that some of that tech will be wearable. They have blurred the lines between work and leisure, and it all fits into their “near me” lifestyle where they search for goods and services close to their location, i.e. a coffee shop “near me or a gym “near me.” Near me searches are growing at a rate of 146% per year, and a key part of what gets businesses “near me” found are mobile apps. When people do these types of searches, they have already committed to making a purchase. If they don’t see you in the search results, they will not choose you. A mobile app will make you part of the mix.
- Apps and Community Engagement: Millennials care about the community they live in, and want the businesses they engage with to be ethical and socially aware. Mobile apps can make that connection, and let the app user get in on it by making them a part of any effort. They can be part of 13.1 runs, marathon walks, Tough Mudder Competitions etc. where their participation benefits a community oriented charity or organization, and an app can help facilitate this.
- Apps and Video Go Hand in Hand: Video is essential for every successful business of the future, and this includes Gyms. Members will want streamed workout videos, motivational videos, and informative offerings. Apps bring that streaming to your user’s hand.
- The Whole Package: Mobile apps can deliver your message to gym members with educational and wellness information that builds your brand’s authority, trustworthiness, and makes your gym the first place they check when they have any questions or needs.
- Membership: Mobile apps can offer gym members a value-added such as instructional videos, virtual guides, and workout reminders via push notification. This also helps with member retention rates by keeping them engaged outside of the gym walls. An app could also make membership renewals much easier and convenient for users. One tap and they’re a member for another year.
- Reputation Management: Because more people research a business before buying a product or service, it is imperative for businesses to take proactive steps to manage their reputation. Mobile apps can link directly to places like Yelp, Google Maps, and Facebook where prompts can ask users to rate their experience and leave feedback – all simple and seamlessly integrated into the app interface.
- Syncing to Wearables and Trackers: Millennials love tracker’s so to keep them loyal to your gym brand you need to get the wearables syncing with your app, which creates the added value they so crave. The analytics from the wearable can be taken and combined with your service which allows individuals to share, monitor, and measure success then they will enthusiastically want to keep using your services.
Gyms and Mobile Apps: Success Stories
- Wellfit Personal Training
WellFit Personal Training is a Newcastle Personal Training studio created to deliver maximum results to its clients, offering both 1-on-1 and small group fitness services. Clients are able to sessions straight through their smartphone with an easy to use online booking system. In addition, you can stay up to date with all of Wellfit’s community events and connect with all of their social media platforms. Other features include the ability to receive timely push notifications from the gym in case any personal training session times are changed or canceled.
The Mobile Industry Benefitting Small Businesses – Focus on Gyms
Gyms and fitness-oriented businesses are driven by their members, and a growing number of those new members are Millennials. Because Millennials are so tech oriented, gyms will have to embrace the same technology in order to be successful.
Mobile apps meet gym users where they are (no matter where that might be), and combined with wearable technology, enhance the member’s experience which in turn boosts the gym business. The service a gym now offers must extend beyond the four walls of the gym itself, or in other words members expect to be able to workout at them gym even when they aren’t there. A mobile app gives them what they want – a complete package that inspires them, informs them, and adds real life value.
Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Fitness Industry