Today, some businesses need to manage both online and offline reputations. The e-commerce industry is the biggest example of this. They not only crave a stellar online reputation but also have to care for the reputation of their physical stores.
In the future, most businesses will transform to cope with the digital world. While transforming, they will struggle to balance their offline and online identities.
Online reputation can be described as a virtual reputation created in the virtual world using content marketing strategies. On the other hand, your physical stores reflect the offline reality of your business. Both physical and digital marketing have different requirements, each with unique challenges, opportunities, and benefits.
In this article, I have tried to clearly distinguish between online reputation v/s offline reputation. By going through the finer details between them, you can understand the difference between online marketing vs offline marketing.
The Power of Online Reputation: Its Impact and Influence
Online reputation has a powerful impact on consumers than ever. Consumers rely on online reviews and ratings even before shopping from nearby stores. As per Search Engine Land, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
So, if your online reputation is not up to the mark, you may lose some business daily. Positive reviews and ratings generate trust among customers. It gives them confidence, which translates to an increased conversion rate.
For instance, they might show their site’s positive user reviews and testimonials. Their advertisements may contain direct conversations with the users regarding their personal experience with the brand’s services/products.
Review sites like Yelp, GMB (Google My Business), or industry-specific sites like Tripoto, TripAdvisor, Gadget Guru, etc. greatly impact consumers. So, brands track the reviews and ratings on these sites and employ different strategies to keep their online image clean.
Understanding the Discrepancy: Why Online and Offline Identities Differ?
Evaluate your online and offline identity before understanding the subtle differences between online reputation vs offline reputation. Your online identity is determined by what you post, speak, and promote on social media. However, your offline identity relies on your behavior with friends, social circles, and family members.
For obvious reasons, you like maintaining a clean and polished image on social media. Certain situations or circumstances may affect your actions and behavior in the real world. Likewise, there could be a disparity between online and offline brand identities.
Your offline identity can depend on how your customer support executives talk and behave over email, calls, and other channels. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, the behavior of your staff and how they greet customers matters.
Brand voice, posts, and tonality shape your online presence and identity. Your personal online identity is not time-bound. It is so because you can take time before replying to any online conversation.
Yet, things get a bit different when it comes to the online identity of your business. Here, every second matters, especially when there is false news or negative review trends in social media. So, you must monitor your brand mentions and take quick action before the negative sentiments of your customers escalate.
If anything goes wrong in the offline world, you cannot take it back. For instance, if your customer support executive behaves rudely with a customer, it will circulate on social media.
You cannot take it back or reverse it. Anyways, the customer might have recorded the voice or video clip. Yet, you can always take responsibility for their behavior and apologize to the affected customers.
The online and offline reputation management strategies can help you improve your overall brand image:
1. Selective Sharing and Persona Crafting
Your brand’s online persona is determined by how you present your products/services, brand values, and ethics to your customers.
Selective sharing means sharing only what is relevant to your target audience. You may segment your audiences based on their interest, hobbies, location, and age group. Then, you can create different personas based on this data.
Also, you can choose to show only selective data or content based on these segments. It makes more sense than traditional marketing, where you use the same approach for every customer.
2. Amplification of Positive Traits and Achievements
To succeed in the digital world, you must amplify everything that works in the favor of your brand. For example, if your social media page has crossed 10,000 followers, celebrate it on all your social channels.
You must boost your online image by highlighting positive customer reviews. Also, identify the positive traits of your brand.
Suppose that your brand is perceived as a reliable brand in the market. You can shape your content strategies around this trait. It will establish your supremacy and help you emerge as a trustworthy brand.
3. Navigating the Perils of Misrepresentation
In both physical and digital marketing, miscommunication should be avoided. It can lead to misunderstandings and tarnish your online reputation. Misrepresentation of your product/service features can also spoil your brand image.
Suppose you sell motorbikes and claim that your bikes offer a mileage of 45 Kmph (Kilometers per hour). However, in reality, your bike may offer a mileage of only 40 Kmph.
As a responsible brand, go through all the hustles that a false claim can potentially create for your brand. With effective communication, you can minimize the impact of damage.
Also, be transparent and truthful while discussing your brand, products, services, and features.
This difference in online branding and reality can damage your reputation in the market.
So, to emerge as a trustful and genuine brand, you must sync your online persona with offline reality.
The Importance of Alignment: Building Trust and Authenticity
Aligning your online reputation v/s offline reputation is also necessary. If there are differences in your physical and digital marketing strategies, it might confuse the end users.
Be consistent with your brand values and messaging to build trust and authenticity among the audience. If your online and offline channels are not aligned properly, it creates a gap in your communication and marketing strategies. With misaligned marketing, each channel will generate a different experience, and the customers may not like it.
To counter this, many brands are opting for the O2O marketing strategy. O2O marketing refers to the process of balancing offline and online marketing strategies. It helps to sync your online persona with offline reality.
Suppose a customer likes your product online but refrains from buying it due to doubts regarding its quality. You can enable them to collect it by visiting the nearest physical store.
Such strategies generate trust and credibility among the customers. They also help you merge the offline and online CX (Customer Experience).
Strategies for Aligning Your Digital and Physical Persona
You have seen the impact of the O2O marketing strategy in the above section. Here are the strategies that I would recommend for aligning your digital and physical persona:
1. Authenticity and Consistency
To sync your online persona with offline reality, focus on creating satisfying and consistent experiences. Both online channels and physical stores must offer similar kinds of experiences for them.
To achieve this, try to capture the interests and mindset of your customers. Using this data, you create multiple customer segments.
You can create a persona for each segment representing their issues, preferences, and expectations. By using personalization, you can bring more engagement and authenticity to your interactions.
You must map the customer journeys after creating customer segments and unique personas. This will provide insights into their emotions, actions, and steps as they traverse different touchpoints.
Analyze their journey to determine the gaps and pain points they experience while using different offline and online channels. You can then take the necessary actions to bridge the gaps and align the offline and online personas.
To customize customer experiences, ensure that all your touchpoints reflect your brand voice, values, and identity. You can improve the touchpoints by incorporating customer feedback and creating more engaging and effective consumer experiences.
A seamless integration of offline and online channels is also necessary to offer consistent experiences. All the mediums of interaction, like calls, SMS, email, social media apps, mobile apps, websites, etc., should be integrated to offer a unified customer experience.
Integrating technology and tools allows you to create a single view of customers across the channels. It will also enable you to map customer journeys. Finally, you can train your online and offline teams to deliver consistent services across the channels.
2. Mindful Content Creation and Sharing
Focus on creating mindful and engaging content to integrate your online and offline reputation management strategies. Create a content calendar to plan and execute your content strategies.
Ways Of Using Social Media For Online Reputation Management. Define your content topics, ideas, formats, and distribution channels in the calendar. It will help you maintain quality and consistency across the channels.
Be mindful of your audience’s interests, needs, and expectations while creating the content. You must focus on delivering value to the audience instead of just selling your product or services. It will generate engagement and build credibility and trust for your brand.
Certain types of content only suit certain channels. You cannot email a video to the customers and expect them to download and watch it for your brand’s sake. So, be mindful while sharing the content on different channels.
3. Transparency About Achievements and Failures
You offer an Omnichannel customer experience by integrating all your offline and online channels. To successfully implement an omnichannel customer experience, be transparent while communicating with your customers.
If you cannot offer 24/7 support services, at least mention the hours during which your support will be available. Also, mention the ways of contacting them on each customer support platform.
Do not use automated responses every time. It can be annoying, especially when they seek immediate resolution for their queries and complaints. Also, take accountability for your actions.
Suppose that you sell broadband plans and internet services. If your customers are bound to experience speed issues due to a technical error, inform them beforehand. Send an email or SMS apologizing to them for the inconvenience. This kind of approach will generate trust and loyalty among the customers.
Treat your customers as shareholders of your business. If your business has achieved something extraordinary, you must convey it to them. Make them a part of your success journey, and they will stick with you through thick and thin!
4. Responsible Online Conduct
Train your online executives and support technicians to be respectful while interacting with customers. They must take all inquiries seriously, and their tone must reverberate politeness and warmth. If there is an issue with your products/services, ask them to act responsibly and offer appropriate resolution.
The online conduct of your staff matters because it determines how you treat customers while they are not interacting in person. To align your online and offline reputation management strategies, maintain similar services across your physical and online platforms.
Recognizing the Impact: From Personal to Professional
Aligning offline and online personas is relevant to both personal and professional lives. If your online activities align with your offline reality, your friends and peers will respect you more. They will consider you a genuine person and treat you well.
Likewise, when you sync your online persona with offline reality in your business, it improves your brand perception. Alternatively you can use these prooven techniques to improve your online reputation management.
Suppose that you are an experienced doctor who is respected in your city. Your offline reality will establish your medical services in your area. Those who are living in nearby areas may not know about your expertise.
However, if your website shows the reviews and testimonials of your patients, they will get an idea about it. It will increase your demand in the nearby areas you may have to open a branch there as well. This is the impact it can create in your professional life!
Cultivating a Positive Online Reputation with Offline Actions
You can share your offline stories with your online customers to align your online and offline reputation management strategies. The offline stories reflect your brand’s values, achievements, culture, and mission. The benevolent activities you undertake to benefit nature, society, or mankind can be integrated into these stories.
Using only recycled plastic/paper to package your products shows your dedication to the environment. Using it as a story in social media posts and campaigns improves your online image.
The employee engagement activities that are organized in your company also show that you care for your staff. It can bring a feel-good factor and help your audiences connect with your business.
Likewise, you can take different initiatives and activities to establish that you care for society and its well-being. Popular social topics include child labor abolition, gender equality and rights, global warming, labor rights, etc.
Did you check these benefits of good online reputation?
The Future Landscape: Evolving Integration of Online and Offline Realities
Embracing technology is the best route to survive in the evolving landscape. The debate about which among the online reputation v/s offline reputation matters may not be relevant in the future.
The future generations will already be accustomed to online shopping. So they will not face any difficulty while adopting the hybrid shopping model.
Some businesses, like automotive, furniture, construction, etc., may still depend on offline interactions in the future. Yet, online communication’s impact will continue to grow in these areas.
The use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), and NLP (Natural Language Processing) will mimic the human touch in customer services and other verticals.
Brands will prefer AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) to provide realistic experiences to customers through digital touchpoints.
Some sectors, like e-commerce, food, hospitality, etc., will continue to thrive on their online reputation. However, integrating online and offline reputation management strategies will also help them expand their business.
These were some of my thoughts on how to integrate your online and offline reputation management strategies. The bottom line is offering integrated and seamless customer experiences across the touchpoints. Embracing newer technologies like AI, social listening, AR, etc., is a must to blend your online persona with offline reality. To get a single view of customers across all the touchpoints, you will need platforms like Konnect Insights.
Konnect Insights is an omnichannel customer experience management suite. It provides valuable customer insights and helps you provide a seamless and consistent CX across the channels. Its social listening, social publishing, and data analytical tools offer better control over customer data and digital marketing strategies. Visit the website today and explore all the options to sync your online persona with offline reality!