Only 44% of UK businesses respond to online reviews, according to a cross-category brand reputation survey of more than 500 organisations.
Moreover, 38% do not have local branch pages, and less than half (42%) use UTM marketing performance tracking.
The study, carried out by digital performance marketing agency DAC Group, reviewed business across seven categories – automotive, fashion, finance, health and fitness, food and drink, land and property and supermarkets. The study was designed to understand what reputation management strategies exist in each segment.
Mike Fantis, vice president of executive partner at DAC Group, said: “Two months ago we found that nine out of 10 companies in the UK were challenged by brand reputation management.
“By looking at best practice, we were then able to establish what that actually means in practical terms – and the reality is worse than expected.”
Of the seven audited categories, the automotive industry is the most responsive to reviews with 84% of businesses doing so; on the other hand, not a single supermarket brand does this and only 37% of financial services.
Fantis said, “Marketers understand the value of reviews in influencing and attracting new customers. This is particularly the case for high-ticket items, so reputation is key for segments such as automotive and land and property, both of which correlate well with reviews. However, this is surprisingly not the case in Finance, where mostly smaller local players take the time to respond to reviews – notably, only one High Street bank does.
“Google recently announced that responding to reviews is one way to improve local ranking and visibility for brands. Even if brands don’t care what individual customers think, they might want to think twice when it comes to website session volume and store traffic. The big picture, of course, is lost revenue.”
67% of food and beverage chains do not have individual pages for local outlets, opting instead for i-Frame pop-ups from their main national or international sites. While this is an easier option, it means that those brands are not maximizing their local relevance for local searches (ie ‘restaurants near me’). This affects the ability of those businesses to reach customers locally.
Less than half of UK chains audited use URL tracking parameters, meaning they lack visibility into website performance, particularly click and collection trends. Again, the automotive industry is the category that uses UTM most effectively with 75% usage. By comparison, three-quarters (77%) of food and beverage businesses and 72% of land and property businesses do not use UTM. Those categories lose out on insight into data that identifies exactly where searches are being conducted and which marketing channels are most successful in driving engagement.
Fantis added: “Apart from the automotive industry, we are seeing missed opportunities around the world and this confirms what our previous study suggested – most UK chains are doing a poor job of managing their online reputation.
“While other factors such as brand recognition can trump reputation for certain segments, such as supermarkets and banks, it is very important for smaller brands that need to use reputation as a differentiator to build trust and demonstrate local expertise.”
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