May 1, 2014: We have a busy May here at KoMarketing, with several conferences this month and summer officially kicking off Memorial Day weekend. That being said, I’ll be headed to Raleigh, NC next week to speak at the Digital Marketing for Business conference. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s a 3-day conference featuring 40 sessions geared toward small businesses, enterprise marketers, and marketing experts.
While I’ve presented on a number of topics ranging from link building to WordPress to content marketing, I’m really excited about the topic for this show, “Building Your Online Brand Through Customers.” I’m a big believer that existing customers are one of the best (and most overlooked) assets of marketing and can play a major role in a company’s brand, especially online.
Now, I don’t want to give away the entire presentation but as a preview, I want to provide a few factors companies should consider when thinking about customers and their online marketing programs.
Influence on Buying Decisions
One of the biggest advantages of happy customers is their willingness to talk about you to others and the positive impact that has on buying decisions. According to Nielsen, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. That also extends to social media where, according to MarketForce, 81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts.
What’s interesting about this is while our B2B buyer survey showed that a company’s social media activity didn’t have a huge impact on the buying decision, a friend or family’s social media activity does.
So how can companies get their customers to recommend them? The possibilities are endless but here are a few articles to get you started:
- Six Tips to Get Your Customers Talking About Your Brand at the Dinner Table
- 5 Ways to Make Customers Ambassadors Without a Referral Program
- 12 Most Important Ways to Build Brand Advocates
Influence on Search Results
As a company that provides search marketing services to B2B companies, we focus a lot on how we can help our clients improve their presence in search results. This typically means creating content, generating mentions on other sites, and even obtaining company/product reviews. Customers can play a big role in each of these things.
We create content intended to answer customer questions and/or help their business, mentions often come from customers talking about the company, and reviews are obviously tied to those using the product/service.
Customers can generate links, drive social shares, and help build trust to a website, all of which are important factors in overall search performance. Customers can also ruin your search results:
Almost two years ago, Casey Movers threatened to sue someone over their Yelp review. The story went viral and now, when performing a search for the brand (in an incognito window), I see negative Yelp reviews, a negative blog post (which has 200+ comments and 1,400 links), and a negative TechDirt article about the controversy. Their branded search results are basically ruined and it’s all because of the way they treated a customer.
I mentioned this in my last blog post, but as Justin Sanger stated at SMX West in March, Google wants to rank the real world, and people talking about companies online is now the real world. Make sure you are the company people are saying good things about.
Influence on Brands
In this age of social media and blogging, everyone who wants to can have a voice…and those voices are being heard. They are also influencing what others see and hear about you, as a company and as individuals. How you are depicted as a brand is no longer just up to your PR team.
As seen in the Casey Movers example above, a singular blog post can make a company look really bad. Or as we’ve also seen, one tweet can make a company look amazing or get a person fired. The list goes on and on.
Businesses need to be aware of what they are saying online and what others are saying about them. Tools like Hootsuite, SproutSocial, and Trackur give you the ability to monitor what’s being said about your business and the industry in general. There are also tools like Followerwonk and Topsy, which offer the ability to identify influencers in your industry. As we saw in the example above, some of them might even be customers.
Building an online brand can be tough but if you can get the right people talking about you in a positive light, you’ll be much better off.