Brand reputation is fast becoming a marketing priority in light of increasing highly-publicised company crises; but often, companies are focusing just on their own online assets and not where their brand may be represented on other sites.
Ecommerce companies which sell their products on other retailer websites as well as their own should ensure that the reputation they work so hard to protect is upheld across other websites, too.
Increasingly, companies are selling goods through third-party retail websites such as Amazon, Curry’s and John Lewis, allowing them to reach a larger share of their consumer base and generate a significant profit.
The downside of this strategy, however, is that it deprives e-commerce companies of control. If you exclusively sell your goods through your own websites, your business can manage how products appear to consumers.
But how can you control the way your products are perceived by consumers on platforms you don’t manage? You can’t, meaning that consumers themselves have significant influence on how your goods are portrayed through online channels.
As an example, this is what appears if you type “DeLonghi Espresso Coffee Machine” into Google. Here we see that you can buy the machine across multiple channels. But look how prominent the star ratings are. The consumer reviews of the product vary widely. While Co-Operative and Curry’s users believe it deserves a four-and-a-half star rating, those on The Hut only awarded it two-and-a-half stars.
Look closely and you’ll also see the price differs. While Curry’s sell the machine for just £79.99, Co-Operative have set the price at £149.
Even one negative star rating could lead less customers to purchase your product and if it’s offered for a lower price, these searches could undercut your company’s profit margins because consumers tend to prefer the cheaper option.
Value of reviews
Don’t underestimate the effect that bad reviews can have on the reputation of your product. Statistics quoted by Econsultancy, a global community of e-commerce professionals, show that between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter over two thirds (67%) of consumers from buying a product or service.
Star ratings have a particularly strong effect on consumers, because they appear on the first page of a search for a product on Google. According to online publication Search Engine Land, the first page of an average Google search attracts 92% of traffic.
Therefore, if outside platforms offer one of your products and their users have given it a low star rating on Google, it’ll be seen by other consumers and could dissuade them from bringing their business your way.
Review response tips
With these star ratings being so prominent on a Google search for your product, there are two things you need to do in order to safeguard your business’ reputation online.
First, monitor the product across the web through Google alerts and monitoring software. This will alert you to any unflattering reviews, giving you chance to limit the impact they have on the product’s reputation online.
Second, develop a response strategy for negative reviews. Here are a few tips you can use to respond to negative product reviews to ensure that Google star ratings remain positive:
- Provide effective customer service: Get preventative; ensure you supply first-rate customer service so that your products receive minimal negative reviews. Also, use feedback to improve customer service so the problem doesn’t reoccur.
- Respond quickly: Customers don’t like waiting. Statistics quoted by Lodging Interactive, an email marketing firm, shows that when they contact you, 42% of consumers expect a response within an hour. The longer they’re left to wait, the less likely you’ll be able to solve the issue effectively and rescue your product’s online reputation.
- Strike the right tone: Make sure you train your team on how to respond to reviews. The wrong word or phrase can offend consumers and make the problem worse, incentivising them to leave more reviews which’ll damage your product’s star rating.
- Resolve the issue: People don’t want to hear the phrase, “sorry there’s nothing I can do for you.” When responding to a customer review, it’s vital that you actually resolve the issue. A mollified customer is less likely to share their experiences with others and ensure that your products’ receive more unwanted reviews online.
- Encourage good reviews: High star ratings are an amalgamation of good reviews. Therefore one of the best ways to ensure an unwanted review doesn’t impact your product’s reputation online is to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your website, social media channels and through third party platforms.
Safeguard product reputation
With so many e-commerce platforms, consumer reviews are more important than ever. Bad reviews could lead your product to develop a low star rating on Google, which could put off customers from bringing their business your way. Develop a strategy which allows you to respond to unwanted reviews quickly and effectively, to ensure you safeguard your product’s reputation online and, importantly, make sure that you’re monitoring your product’s reputation.