Michael, how did the whole idea of online reputation management come into being?
When I started Reputation.com, the idea was to protect individuals’ reputations and privacy online. Once we had attracted a couple of million subscribers, we had built up a large set of data about what consumers like and dislike. It was clear that people wanted to be shut off from certain data and entry points but were open to others. Over time, businesses started becoming aware of a concept called reputation too. They understood that a combination of social media, websites and review sites was an increasingly important medium through which to communicate with consumers.
How long ago did brands become aware of reputation as a tool in the marketing toolkit?
I’d say they’re still becoming aware, but it started about five years ago, along with the concept of the omnichannel marketing cloud. The automotive industry was very aware three years ago, healthcare two years ago, and retail is becoming aware right now. Every year that goes by, there’s increasing awareness, with more industries coming online.
What data is involved in maintaining a positive online presence?
There’s data that the company already has, and there’s data that the company could get, and it’s important to think about the nexus of the two. The first type tends to be data about loyalty: what customers are buying, when they’re buying it, how often and so forth.
This is often achieved through things like loyalty cards or credit cards that are issued by the retailer, but now retailers are also building additional kinds of data that tell them a little bit more about how the stores are experienced. They’re observing people inside the stores, on their e-commerce sites, noticing how they check out or don’t check out, where they get stuck, and where their purchasing falls are. Due to all of these, they’re starting to see a more complete picture of their consumers.