Does a bad online reputation really affect sales? We talk to business owners, CEO’s and Board Directors every week and the response is startlingly blind.
Sales executives and reps seem to have a hard time imagining that people are always Googling them, their products or services for reviews, discussion etc. This is most applicable for people who do not use the internet much themselves.
We had an executive of a financial company who was oblivious of the fact that his customers, current and potential, were Googling their name with a suffix, i.e. “Your Company Name Reviews” and other variations such as, “Your Company Name Scam”.
Let’s look at some internet usage stats for 2013.
If you look at the sheer numbers of internet users for the top countries, you will see that the ranges show from 65-80% user penetration for whole countries.
Internet by age & annual usage trend
The graph above, courtesy of creatingresults.com, shows the ever increasing number of internet users by age. We have here an obvious deduction:
The internet is the primary source for knowledge, reference and brand recognition around the world.
No matter your industry, whether it is selling shoes in your e-commerce store, selling insurance, investment advisors, marketing providers or chimney sweepers; if you service people you will start to have a trace online.
A Recent Case Study
We were approached by a client who dealt with large accounts. After 10 years of doubling their business each year, in 2010 the trend stopped and took a steep dive, slashing profits and clients in half over a 2 year period. Baffled and stressed, the executives reviewed the matter and found they were the victims of an online defamation campaign, setup by competitors.
Let’s not talk about the drama, lawsuits or anything else which occurred, but we will focus on the symptoms.
- Our client had almost doubled their marketing budget in an attempt to revert the 2 year slump
- Extra marketing costs resulted in a continued slump
- Vendors cancelled due to bad online reputation
- Existing clients bought into the “smear campaign” and dropped out
Cleaning it up
After Massive completed a full analysis and detailed breakdown of every defamatory comment, link, article etc, we got to work. Cleaning over 30 essential keyword search results from page 1-5.
Within 3 weeks the search results were clean – filled only with truthful, bonafide reviews and information.
The money/effort/time being wasted on marketing kicked into action and within a month, they had a steady flow of new customers walking in the doors, much like in 2010, before the attacks.
What do we learn about sales and online reputation management?
The summary here is this. If you find yourself trying to swim up stream when selling, or pouring huge funds into marketing with little or not result, it may be time to:
- Get a review of your online reputation and,
- Clean it up as fast as you can.