We've all heard stories about organizations who have had dissatisified customers go online and post to their blogs about the lack of service or lack of benefit received. It's no secret that with the ease of creating consumer generated content can come backlash and negative publicity. We've seen how it has affected the B2C space, but can this affect B2B marketers as well? The answer of course is yes, but to what degree is the question.
B2B marketing involves a much more complex selling process where prior to making a final purchase decision, the potential consumer has to conduct an extensive amount of research at each stage of the process. Quite often the potential prospect will need to conduct so much research and collect so much information that they become almost integrated with the B2B organization itself. How you establish and build that relationship with your potential consumer is critical to their decision process. Due the fact that this process in itself can take weeks, months or even years to complete, B2B marketers need to have a system in place for monitoring their brand image that the potential consumer may have of their company and/or solution.
So where does blogging fit in with all of this? Well not unlike the B2C environment, consumers of B2B products and solutions are active in the blogosphere. They read industry related blogs, they participate in forums and are well advised in the options that they have to choose from. The major difference between B2C and B2B in this case is that in B2C the final purchase decision is made by one, whereas with B2B it is often made by a committee or group. However, one thing that both type of consumers have in common is perception. According to a recent Forrester study, the following factors influence perception of a brand. (% represents number of respondents in the study)
- Your own experiences - 72%
- Friends / family - 56%
- A review (ie. consumer reviews) - 47%
- Seeing other people use that brand - 41%
For those in need of a B2B solution, their initial experience or knowledge of a potential vendor may be limited. However, the fact that the consumer has a dilemma and that the potential vendor has a solution that may satisfy their needs can and will be affected by the consumer's perception of the vendor's brand.
So what can search engine marketers and B2B marketers do to be successful in brand monitoring through online avenues? Here are four items to remember with online brand monitoring.
- Data Collection - gathering data and resources from online sources
- Info Processing - de-spamming and sifting through the data. Filtering spam sites and blogs is critical for an accurate assessment of your brand.
- Data Analysis - extracting meaning of what people are saying about your brand
- Insight Delivery - communicating findings so that your organization understands what is being said about your brand in the online arena and taking this knowledge to be proactive with any negativity and improving positive brand experiences.
Brand monitoring through online avenues is an important aspect for you to consider as part of your reputation management strategy. Through online avenues such as blogs, news alerts, tools such as Google Archive Search, Yahoo Alerts and Technorati you can monitor what the world is saying about your brand in the online space.
Labels: brand monitoring, reputation management