The internet has changed us as consumers in many ways: especially, how we think and act before we decide to buy.
The biggest change being that we are now able to make informed decisions, based on the available data on the internet.
This represents for retailers, a huge challenge – but at the same time, a great opportunity.
In most cases, things can go both ways when customers research a brand prior to buying something: they find positive reviews and buy – or they find negative comments, get cold feet, and abandon their shopping cart.
Whether they’re a brick and mortar or an online store, retailers have one mission: ensure their brand, products, services, and experiences are great online.
Now, I would love nothing more but to share magical tips to make it happen, but… Each brand is different and there are a million ways you can improve your online reputation.
That being said, the most effective and essential way to understand how to improve your brand is through media monitoring.
Most of marketers aren’t doing media monitoring … yet
Since only 24% of marketers use monitoring tools, it’s very likely that most of you – reading this blog post – have not tried it.
Looking at it from a different angle, this means that 24% of your competitors do. And it gives them a significant advantage over your brand.
Do you really want this to happen to you?
After reading hundreds of blog posts, ebooks, and consulted with our in-house experts at Mention – I’m sharing with you list of 3 signs showing why retail brands need to use monitoring tools.
Regardless of the reasons why you are not on board yet (may it be time, budget, skills or even trust in the technology), this blog post might just change your mind.
Sign #1 – The retail industry is evolving, fast
The retail industry has never been so big. In fact, according to KPMG’s latest industry analysis, retail was a $25 trillion dollars business in 2017 (and is expected to reach $28 trillion in 2020).
To give you an idea, that’s more than the entire planet’s GDP in the year 2002 ($23 trillions).
A significant part of that comes from the internet.
That’s great! But what does it mean for retailers, and how exactly does it justify the use of monitoring tools?
A growing market creates opportunities to learn
A growing market is a healthy market. But healthy also usually means highly competitive.
Now, depending on whether they decide to use media monitoring or not, retailers can either suffer, or benefit from this competition.
Study your competition
On the one hand, more players means risking losing out on market share. On the other hand, this is an opportunity to learn from the competition.
The following applies not only to retailers, but to all marketers.
Your competitors likely face the same challenges you do. But their approach to overcome these challenges may be very different from yours. This is all the more reasons to learn from them (and challenge your own strategy). Try to find out:
- What are they good at? Where are they failing?
- Are they running successful campaigns? On which platforms? How well do they perform compared to you? Would it be interesting for you to run something similar?
- What are their customers saying about them? Is there any specific program or campaign they run that you should maybe look into?
- Are they working with influencers?
- Is the press talking about them? How? What if you’d contact the journalists mentioning them to try and get the same kind of attention?
- Where are they mentioned? By whom? etc.
Evaluating the performance of your competition is an opportunity to better understand your market.
Not only would a monitoring tool provide with all the answers, but it will give you insights and ideas to match and outrun the competition.
What’s more, if retail brands don’t start using a media monitoring tool to listen and engage with their audience, they will lose out on customers.
Sign #2 – Your customers demand your full and undivided attention
Before the internet, and social media, brands were talking, and we – consumers – were listening.
Things have shifted since.
With social media, consumers can share their thoughts about the brands they buy.
In fact, we now know there are billions of conversations about brands every day. What that means is that there could be thousands of relevant conversations about your brand happening right now, and you’d have no clue about it.
It’s not that big of a deal if these conversations are positive. But your reputation could suffer if you ignore complaints.
Once again, media monitoring tools will help you master the new rules of the game, here are 3 ways why:
1. Your customers will buy more if they share your brand values
A recent study reveals that 49% of consumers are willing to pay even more for brands sharing their values.
Truth be told, there will always be someone complaining somewhere about your brand, potentially disrupting your core values.
But are you listening to what they say?
Here’s an example of a retail brand facing a potential crisis: Walmart.
Looking at the trends revolving around Walmart, I discovered that the term “worker” was mentioned about 10K times.
Out a curiosity, I did a little bit of digging…
As expected, the conversations revealed that they were not all positive and thousands are talking about how unfair Walmart pay checks are.
Is it something Walmart teams should look into to protect their brand values? Most definitely.
2. Consumers love engaging brands
I came across a very significant statistic while researching for this blog post: 90% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand following a social media interaction.
This means you need to interact with your customer base on social media.
Easier said than done. I know.
After all, not all social media conversations are relevant.
Notice how these people talk about Walmart, but don’t @mention it? In fact, according to our latest Twitter Analysis Report, 31% of the time, they don’t mention your brand directly.
But this doesn’t mean you should not join these conversations.
A great example of this is Oreo Cookies on Twitter.
What’s interesting here is that Ben has +16K followers. Oreo filtered through the noise to identify this particular tweet and jumped into the conversation with an interesting hook!
Here’s a more in-depth example about Amazon.
Amazon is receives millions of mentions every month. They obviously don’t have the resources to get in touch with every single person writing to and about them (and it’s probably not worth it most of the time).
Instead, they can cut through the noise and focus on specific conversations, based on the influence of the people talking.
Using filters (country, platform, language, level of influence, sentiment, …), Amazon could identify relevant conversations and save hours, if not days, trying to find them manually.
3. Millennials are coming
|Fun fact: did you know it’s not the Generation Y (Millennials), but the Generation X that’s shopping the most online today? It surprised me too, but it’s about to change.|
This means the game is about to become even harder than before for retail brands.
When it comes to millennial consumers, they have high expectations of the ability of brands to communicate to and with them.
They value your values
A study conducted by Euclid revealed 52% of millennials pay attention to a brand’s values before buying or committing to buy something (+4 pts compared to generation X’ers and +17 pts compared to the baby boomers).
You know too well that it takes years of hard work to build a reputation, and only minutes to destroy it.
With thousands of conversations about your brand and partners every day, monitoring the most relevant ones will help you understand how is your brand perceived by your audience, defuse potential crises heading towards you before they hit, and protect yourself from things like fake news.
They are more loyal than any other generation
A study conducted by American Express says millennials are more brand-loyal than any other generation before them. On top of that, Edelman says, “80% of Millennials will keep coming back once they find a company or a product they like. So the bottom line is: listen to what they want.
With a media monitoring tool, retailers can identify and quantify the most common requests their audience sends – this can help prioritize their next campaigns and strategies.
As mentioned in the introduction of this blog post, the internet changed the way we shop. In fact, it even caused the purchase funnel to evolve.
Sign #3 – The purchase funnel is evolving
Don’t get me wrong, the purchase funnel brought up by William Townsend in “Bond Salesmanship” (1924) is still pretty accurate, almost a century later.
In fact, I’m a 100% sure you are very familiar with the three following steps:
Awareness stage: I may have a problem/need.
Consideration stage: I need a solution.
Decision stage: I found a solution.
Accurate, yet incomplete.
It is missing the evaluation stage.
The evaluation stage, or the era of online reviews
Recent studies show consumers leave more online reviews to share their experience with a product or a service.
This is essential since most of these reviews (47% to be exact) are left on retailers’ websites:
What does it mean for retailers?
First, and it may surprise you (it sure surprised me!), but most of the reviews left online are positive.
KPMG’s Global Online Consumer Report tells us that 92% of online reviews tend to be positive. Only 2% are rated negative (and 6% have more of a neutral tone).
This tendency is driven by many trends, including:
- Social media: humans are social animals. We love to compete with our friends and relatives by publicly sharing our experiences (good or bad).
- Bloggers and market influencers: reviewing is a essential part of any influencer. Most of the time, they also encourage their audience to do the same (a very smart and efficient way to generate engagement).
- Retailers who send you an email or a notification a few days after you bought something to solicit ratings from happy customers. This works wonders: my latest experience was with the New York City Pass. I received an email a couple of days after used it and happily reviewed their service.
What’s more is that retailers can leverage all types of reviews.
- Turn a negative review into an opportunity: 2% may sound like something you could afford to ignore, right? In reality, it really doesn’t. One mean, but accurate, tweet can badly hurt a brand. A media monitoring tool will notify you in real-time when this happens. And, by jumping in conversations as they happen, you show your clients you care and prove your ability to help them.
- Leverage positive reviews to increase their performance: listen to what people like in your brand. Work from this. Build on top of what people like.
On the one hand, they should put reviews forward to convince their visitors to buy.
On the second hand they should get in touch with influencers reviewing the products they sell.
Many influencers spend a lot of their time reviewing products online. And in many cases, they direct the viewers to an e-commerce website through sponsored links.
The more influencers reviewing the products you sell and directing to your website, the better. Retail brands should use media monitoring to identify the most relevant influencers to work with.
- Learn from their mistakes: in most cases, customers complain for a reason. Listening to them will help you identify services and processes you need to improve to keep them happy.
- Learn from the market trends.
Let’s go back to Walmart. Listening to their market and customers is something they do really well, ever since the very beginning.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
- Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart.
Last, but not least, the time of native advertising is behind us.
Advertising alone doesn’t work anymore
On an average day, we are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads. With so much messaging directed to us every day, it’s not surprising that advertising doesn’t no work as well as it use to.
In fact, people don’t really trust advertising anymore. Many of them associate it with fake news.
Most of your customers are aware that advertising is biased. They want genuine reviews.
All the more reasons for retail brands (and all other brands for that matter) to shift their focus from advertising to leveraging genuine reviews.
“Ultimately, the quality of your products and services define what people say about you. Instead of spending enormous sums of money to tell people how great you are, how about investing more in what you do and let people speak for you?” – Patricia W. Customer Success Team, Mention.
Don’t get left behind
Everyone has an opinion on social media. And with everything that’s being said online every day, brands can’t afford to consider monitoring tools as just a nice-to-have any more.
Retail brands in particular, need to have a media monitoring plan in place. The last thing they’ll want is to have their brand’s reputation destroyed – with one negative tweet.
Are you working in the retail industry? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Are you already monitoring your brand and market? If so, how do you benefit from it? Tell us all about it in the comments section!