The Impact of Brand Touch Points on Online Reputation
Brand touch points are like digital fingerprints; they tell a story. What are brand touch points and how do they affect business? Whether you realize it or not, your brand's customer touchpoints are working to help, or hurt, your organization's reputation with consumers. If a potential customer sees brand-related content and it piques their interest, what will they do next? They may perform a branded search (using your company name), in which case it's up to Google what your customer sees. How dost Google love thee?
In a best-case scenario, the first result will be your company's website, followed by glowing reviews, high-profile articles, helpful video and more. But what if results don't paint such a rosy picture? In a worst-case scenario, a customer may be turned off by negative reviews, according to this post a businesses with mostly 1– or 2-star reviews will fail to convert about 90 percent of prospective customers. Each of these, whether helpful to your brand or not, is a brand touchpoint. Companies should control or influence brand touchpoints to the best of their ability using a comprehensive reputation marketing campaign.
What are Brand Touch Points?
Brand touch points are any of the instances in which customers "interact" with your brand. This could mean visiting the company website, reading an article about the brand, participating in a Twitter conversation, interacting on a forum, watching a video, or anything else that adds to our detracts from brand sentiment.
Brand touch points can be divided into pre-sale, sale, and post-sale touch points. In the grand scheme of a company's integrated marketing strategy, there are hundreds of touch points that exist both on and offline. For our purposes, we'll be discussing only those that happen online - whether that's a computer, mobile phone, tablet, or future device.
Customer Touch Point Examples
Here are a few examples of places where customers might interact with your brand at any moment in their buying journey.
According to some studies over 90% of search results include a Wikipedia listing. If a company meets Wikipedia's notability guidelines it may be eligible for a Wikipedia page. If the page is accepted by editors it will most likely rise to the first page of search results. In our research, well developed and accepted Wikipedia page will often rank just below (and sometimes above) a company's own website.
From those ads that pop up before an article or YouTube video to those notorious "From Around the Web" blocks of native advertising, this category is as broad as it is varied. These ads will often shift depending on a user's search history, so a customer is likely to interact with digital advertising before, during, and after they've made a purchase. Here's something fun to try: search on Amazon for a particular product, and then surf the web. Chances are, you'll see an advertisement for that same product on your Facebook page, search results, and within other web pages.
Search results are the most important brand touch point
Search results are generally divided into two categories: PPC and organic. PPC stands for "pay per click," and these are typically the search results that appear at the very top of the first page when you conduct an internet search. About 15% of clicks (it's debatable) go to paid advertising. The other 85% mainly go to the first page of search results. Those clicks are heavily weighted toward the top of organic results. Organic search results are those that appear "naturally," meaning those that people happen to find the most useful at answering a particular search query.
Search results are rich with navigation to brand touchpoints. The entire first page of search results can be considered a brand "touch point" because in one visual gulp the entirety of a brands' reputation can be understood and in most cases confirmed.
Arguably, search results are the most important brand touch point.
Digital newsletters, email updates, and any kind of direct email correspondence falls into this category.
Reviews, Forums, and Social Networks
This touch point includes anything written by other people (true or false) about your brand on forums or review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, and Angie’s List. These can be difficult to moderate or change, since they're in the hands of other people rather than generated by your own marketing team. They're also one of the most popular resources customers use when making a buying decision, essentially the digital version of word-of-mouth advertising.
The company website usually comes up in search results at or near the top. This touch point includes your blog, and any copy writing and media content (video, images, music, and writing) that appears on your site. This also includes your store or e-commerce platform.
Not All Brand Touch Points Pack the Same Punch
Intuition may tell you to get your message in front of as many people as possible no matter the means, but you may be far more successful if you only focus on the touch points that really work. A study published in the Journal of Business Strategy suggests that leading brands focus on perfecting content at the customer touch points that provide the greatest ROI, rather than simply trying to reach customers everywhere. Building an maintaining touch points
For example, some companies benefit from Crunchbase being a brand touch point. Others from Etsy. Different industries have different information hubs relating to them. It doesn't make sense to create a touch point that is out of character. It also doesn't make sense to squander precious resources maintaining brand content that isn't contributing to positive sentiment.
Don't squander resources maintaining content that isn't contributing to positive sentiment
The key to implementing this strategy is finding a way to measure the ROI of your efforts at each touch point. Volume and bounce rate, if you can get it, is a great way to ascertain the effectiveness of a touch point. It's easy to do in some instances: for example, Facebook provides a number of valuable analytics tools for business pages and ad campaigns.
Once you've identified the customer touch points with the best ROI, pour your efforts into improving them. Hire a copywriter to develop focused messaging, or a filmmaker to create custom videos. If your business has a less than stellar track record on review sites or the media, consider working with a reputation management company like Reputation X to help you clean up your image in search results.