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The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Akamai Money column [The Honolulu Star-Advertiser :: ]
[August 31, 2014]

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Akamai Money column [The Honolulu Star-Advertiser :: ]

(Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 31--Question: What is the most important form of marketing online? Answer: If you would have asked me this two years ago, I would have said being at the top of Google for whatever your customers are searching for was the most important form of online marketing. Today, I would say the most important form of marketing online is reputation marketing with the goal of creating a 5-star reputation online, and then marketing that reputation to get more customers.

All the latest research shows that consumers, who are searching online for a company, want to see reviews that other customers have shared. According to Nielsen, online reviews are more trusted than any other form of advertising next to a referral from a friend or family member.

Online reviews are more trusted than anything you say about your company on your website.

They also are more trusted than a radio or TV ad. In fact, BrightLocal found that 72 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.

Q: Does Google still matter when marketing? A: Google still is absolutely important when marketing your business, but they know that the social trend is shifting so they have adjusted accordingly. If you search for your company name online, you will see that Google has merged your website with their Google Maps listing.

Right under your website, they've also displayed reviews from your customers. If you have more than five reviews, they show the star rating, which further grabs the attention of searchers and the likelihood that they will read your reviews.

Q: Why is reputation marketing important today? A: A company called Real Strategic recently surveyed hundreds of people and asked them what they do after their friends refer a business to them. As many as 87 percent said they immediately go online to check out the company referred to them. This behavioral trend is why reputation is the most important form of marketing today. If you have a bad online reputation, it will override your SEO (search engine optimization), social media and traditional media marketing efforts because the instant that your customer types your name online they'll see the negative reviews.

According to one study, one bad review could cost a company 33 customers. Yet, on the other side of the coin, a University of California-Berkeley study found that just a half-star increase on a restaurant's Yelp rating increased their nightly reservations by 19 percent. So just getting a few extra reviews from your customers could increase your revenue by nearly 20 percent.

Q: How can a company implement a reputation marketing strategy? A: First, you have to know what type of "reputation" that you have online. You can have a bad reputation, no reputation, a good reputation or a 5-star reputation.

You can improve where you stand with customers by implementing a four-step process. First, build your reputation by getting positive reviews from your customers. Second, use those reviews in all of your marketing. Feature them on your website, on your social media accounts and in YouTube videos. Third, manage your reputation by monitoring exactly what is being said about you online on all the different sites where customers can leave reviews. Finally, create a reputation marketing culture in your company. Your employees should know the importance of reputation marketing and implement your plan every single day when they are interacting with your customers.

Q: How can my company get more reviews? A: You can print business cards with links to your different review sites. When a customer is leaving, you can encourage them to visit the link and leave feedback. You could also create a review hotline where customers can call and leave a voice mail about doing business with you. This works well because you can post the audio testimonials to your website and also use those in your other marketing materials.

"Akamai Money" seeks out local experts to answer questions about business in Hawaii. If you have an issue you would like us to tackle, please email it to and put "Akamai Money" in the subject line.

___ (c)2014 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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