The Impact of Online Reputation Management

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Why Reviews Matter

Consumer Research: 85% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase and 89% trust online reviews. (Cone Inc.)

Brand Trust: 72% of consumers trust online review as much as word of mouth. (Local Consumer Review Survey)

The Bottom Line: A difference of one “star” in the average rating in a typical online business profile can lead to a 5–9% difference in revenues. (Harvard Business Review)

Reputation.com’s Two-part Solution

Technology Platform: The Reputation.com for Enterprise technology platform is a comprehensive solution for monitoring, analyzing, and improving online reviews.

Managed Service: A full-service add-on to the technology platform, leveraging our expertise in online reviews and social media to help our customers request reviews, respond to criticism, and manage their social media presence.

Case Study Overview

Review Management vs. Control

A consumer-facing company with locations across the United States contracted Reputation.com to monitor and improve the online reviews of its stores. We conducted a trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of our Managed Service offerings. The trial contrasted two groups of stores:

  • Control Group: Access to our technology platform only.
  • Managed Group: Access to the Reputation.com technology platform, and comprehensive reputation management campaign run by us.

Breakdown: Control vs. Managed

Control Managed Service
Access to technology platform
Access to training materials
Review request email campaign
Responding to online reviews, both
positive and negative
Posting store information to
Facebook and Twitter
Responding to customer concerns
on Facebook and Twitter
Custom weekly reporting
Email alerts of new reviews
Creation of online profiles
Publication of store info on
business listings
On-demand consultations
Calling store managers whenever
problematic issues arose

For more information about these results
or Reputation.com for Enterprise, call:
1-800-REPUTATION

Finding #1: Asking for Reviews Significantly Increases Volume of Positive Reviews

Our client is in a seasonal industry, so we contrasted monthly review volumes for Summer 2011 with Summer 2012. Review management significantly increased the number of positive reviews.

Key takeaways

  • Average volume for the Control group stayed largely the same between 2011 and 2012 and throughout the trial.
  • Average volume for the Managed group was more than 4 times higher during the trial than it was in Summer 2011.
  • Average volume for the Managed group was more than 5 times higher than the Control group during the trial.

Positive Reviews Generated, Monthly Average

Finding #2: Asking for Reviews Significantly Reduces the Proportion of Negative Reviews

We also saw that Managed Service reduced the proportion of negative reviews being published. Not only were the Managed stores receiving more positive reviews, they were attracting fewer negative reviews. The Control group saw no change.

Key takeaways

  • During the trial, the proportion of negative reviews for the Managed group fell by nearly 60%.
  • The Control group’s proportion of negative reviews stayed the same.

Proportion of Negative Reviews

“Managed Service leads to 500% more positive reviews and 60% fewer negative reviews.”

Finding #3: Customers More Likely to Post a Review When Emails Are Sent Shortly After Sale

At the start of the trial, we sent out review request emails to customers who had made a purchase in the previous 6 weeks. Thereafter, we sent out requests to customers daily, following each sale. We saw a significantly higher response rate when customers were contacted directly after the sale.

Key takeaways

  • Customers were 9% more likely to open the request email when it was sent shortly after the sale and more than twice as likely to click through to a review site.
  • Review management provides the highest return when activities are conducted continuously.

Email Campaign Response

Finding #4: Robust Infrastructure is Key to Success

An audit of the reputation management activities conducted for the client demonstrates the importance of a robust technology and support infrastructure. For 31 locations, we sent out more than 13,000 customized emails over the trial period, generating hundreds of new reviews. We also initiated an automatic alerting system for our engagement team, allowing us to promptly respond to exceptionally positive and negative reviews and maximize customer goodwill for the client.

Key takeaways

  • Effective reputation management requires both a scalable technology back-end and a coordinated team of trained individuals.
  • Detailed data collection and regular audits or reporting can accurately measure the impact of reputation management efforts.

Email Campaign Snapshot

No. of stores being managed 31
Reviews analyzed 20,729
Emails sent 13,128
Reviews generated 303
Responses to positive reviews 91
Responses to negative reviews 16

“Reputation management needs to be done systematically on a daily basis.”

Finding #5: Thematic Analysis of Reviews Highlights Operational Deficiencies

During the trial, we analyzed thousands of reviews of the client’s stores, including both Control and Managed groups, looking for words that were strongly correlated to positive or negative reviews.

By looking at the most positive and negative words found in the analysis, we can extrapolate global trends about the businesses’ customers. These are words that customers use repeatedly in reviews — in either a very glowing or a very critical way.

Top 15 most positive terms

  • 14 of 15 are first names of salespeople who assisted the customer

Top 15 most negative terms

  • 6 of 15 are about perceived dishonesty on the part of the salesperson
  • 6 of 15 are about product defects

Key takeaways

  • Personal relationships with the customer are by far the most important factors to goodwill in this industry.
  • The quality of products is also very important.

Finding #6: Posting to Social Media Generates Goodwill

We also saw a significant positive impact from social media activities conducted on behalf of the client’s stores. For each store, we created Twitter and Facebook accounts as required, posted new content, and interacted with social media users.

Social Media Campaign Snapshot for 18 Stores

Facebook
New Facebook page “likes” 97
New Facebook content “likes” 65
Facebook content views 2.944
Facebook posts 52
Reviews posted to Facebook 26
Facebook shares 88
Twitter
Change in Twitter followers +105%
Posts to Twitter 181
Re-tweets 429
Reviews Tweeted 30
Follows 30
Call-outs 189

Key takeaways

  • Social media management drives friendly interactions with customers and provides another way to promote positive reviews.
  • Thoughtful social media posts help to grow a business’s online audience.

“Customer feedback in reviews and social media provides a valuable source of business intelligence.”

Return on Investment

Over the course of the trial, we raised the average star rating of the Managed group by 0.9 stars (3.6 to 4.5 out of 5). According to the Harvard Business Review model, this should lead to a 5–9% increase in sales.

The client sent us sales figures for Summer 2012, contrasting the Control and Managed groups. The Control group saw a slight decrease in sales over the trial period, whereas the Managed group saw a large increase.

Control Managed
Change in Average Sales
Volume During Trial
-6% +14%

These results are significantly better than what would be expected, given the HBR study. The Reputation.com solution provides results that exceed best-case scenarios seen in the real world. This confirms the connection between online reviews and sales, and it underlines the importance of effective review management.

Projected vs. Real Increase in Sales

HBR = Increase in sales predicted by
November 2011 Harvard Business Review
study on the impact of online reviews.

Conclusions

  • Reputation management has a tangible and significant impact on top-line sales.
  • ROI from the Reputation.com solution is nearly double what studies on the impact of online reviews would predict.
  • Actively asking for reviews significantly improves a business’s online reputation.
  • Successful review management requires expertise, a robust technological infrastructure, and personnel trained in best practices.
  • Reputation management must be undertaken systematically on a daily basis for maximum effectiveness.
  • Analysis of online reviews provides valuable operational insights that can be leveraged to win over customer loyalty and drive new sales.
  • Social media management complements and amplifies the positive effects of review management.

For more information about these findings, contact us. We will be happy to introduce you to our Online Reputation Management platform.