What Digital Marketers Should Do To Better Manage Their Online Brand

I think we can all agree that managing an online presence is challenging. In the internet era, your business must be found online in order to be successful. But it seems like just when you have the hang of things, more communication channels are appearing and in this omnipresent space, it can be hard to control what folks are saying about your brand.

Digital brand management
Retrieved from https://computovision.com/

While you can optimize your website, create valuable content, and engage on social media, there are a variety of sites with user-generated content that you can’t control. Often, those end up ranking on SERP’s the same as your owned media for all consumers and stakeholders to see. PR articles, social media, forums, review websites, and blogs are all places where freedom of speech reigns thanks to Section 230. Communication channels like these can even end up creating a bigger digital footprint than your owned media. That’s great news for your brand’s PR and SEO if what they’re saying is positive. But what happens if they catch wind of dreaded “Fake News” about your brand? Or maybe you had a minor slip up that was blown out of proportion? If the 20-teens and “cancel culture” have taught us anything, it’s that the internet is the spark for word-of-mouth wildfire. Have no fear though, there are several ways to be proactive and bolster you online reputation management (ORM) strategy.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is all about taking proactive and reactive measures to what people are saying online about your brand by listening and responding in a timely and transparent manner. There are a variety of approaches to manage and maintain your brand’s presence online and plenty of software programs to help sort through endless content. Here, I’ll list a breakdown of the proactive and reactive ways to manage your business online.

Stand behind your product or service.

This seems straight forward enough, but the most surefire way to be proactive and protect your brand image from harm online is actually being a quality, ethical, product or service that customers and stakeholders trust. From manufacturing materials to the treatment of employees and anything in between, have a clear set of standards and share them through your owned media. Transparency here is key both to hold your business accountable and strengthen your relationship with your consumers.

Identify where your customers hang out online.

If you haven’t already created a few buyer personas for your business’s marketing strategy yet, I cannot stress enough how important they are. Not only do they help you know what to communicate to your consumers through social, email, and blogs, buyer personas also help you find out where to find them online and engage with them effectively. Joining online forums dedicated to your industry is a great way to monitor and converse with consumers.

Use tracking software.

Speaking of monitoring, depending on the size of your business and how much of an online presence it has, implementing software tools for SERP keyword tracking and social listening are incredibly helpful for filtering relevant content and conversations happening about your brand. Google Alerts, Moz.com, Radian6, Reputation Defender, and Hootsuite are a great place to start.

Create stellar support.

Customer service is at the heart of every business and now more than ever, businesses can leverage customer support to build a strong online reputation. But take it a step further, customer support isn’t just at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. By creating relevant tools and resources for consumers in every stage of the buyer’s journey, you come across as helpful, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. Plus, loyal customers can become your brand advocates and attract new customers for you.

Play the offensive, not the defensive.

When bad reviews come out about your brand, come up with a concrete PR strategy for resolving depending on the scale and channel in which the information is being shared. If the statements are true, don’t get defensive. Listen, then share the actions that will be taken to mitigate the issue. If false, use your owned media and leverage other online channels to spread the truth to counteract misinformation.

Don’t give bad press your SEO.

How you word your response is just as important as the timeliness and respectfulness of the response. If you respond by mentioning your brand name or product/service associated with it, you’re creating more opportunities for search engines to crawl on the negative sites, identify keywords relevant to your brand, and show up when people search for you. Most importantly, your response should involve action to resolve the issue offline to minimize searchability. I’ve highlighted that transparency is key and I stand by that, but so is minimizing unnecessary damages in a time where fact-checking isn’t our strength.

Digital marketing and online channels are an exciting arena for businesses as we enter the new decade, yet there are many pitfalls if you aren’t careful. I hope this list can guide you and encourage you to create a proactive online reputation management strategy for your brand.

Johnson, Zac. “9 Ways Online Reputation Management Can Boost Your Brand.” G2, 6 Feb. 2019, learn.g2.com/online-reputation-management.

Larson, Jeff, and Stuart Draper. Digital Marketing Essentials. Mimic Pro Bundle.

Misra, Animesh. “No Room for Error: How to Manage Brand Reputation.” The Economic Times, Economic Times, 13 Mar. 2019, economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/marketing-branding/branding/no-room-for-error-how-to-manage-brand-reputation/articleshow/68387407.cms?from=mdr.

Inbound Marketing Certification by HubSpot: My Experience and Should You Take It

Throughout the MBA Marketing course of Digital Marketing 584 at Oregon State University, I was tasked with the assignment of completing a digital marketing certification of my choosing. If you’ve ever taken the time to browse all of the avenues to get certified in this industry, you know that there are many to choose from and it’s difficult to know which one works best for your career goals. After careful consideration and research, I landed on the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification.

What made Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Certification stand out to me?

What drew me to a marketing career in the first place: storytelling and relationship building. To me, a successful marketing campaign is really a great story told by the brand to build long-term connections with its consumers. The Inbound Marketing Certification by HubSpot is all about creating the right content for the right person at the right time in their buyer journey. When you can hit that content sweet spot, your business is perceived as helpful, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and thus the relationship can be formed!

HubSpot Inbound Marketing
Retrieved from HubSpot Academy

Here’s a brief breakdown of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification:

The Inbound Marketing Certification is a ten-section course that covers marketing techniques that move consumers down your marketing funnel and range from creating content, using social promotion, converting and nurturing leads, to marketing to your long-term customers. The estimated time of completion for this program is technically four hours through 34 videos and nine quizzes. However, with studying and general time balancing of everyday life, I’d budget at least a week to fully absorb the content. For this part-time student/full-time employee, it took me a little over a week to fit it all in and be ready for the exam.

Some of the basics include I learned include…

The Inbound Methodology. This was drilled into my head throughout the course as a simplified version of the buyer journey or marketing funnel we’re all familiar with. Attract by building trust, engage by discovering more about your consumer, and delight by empowering people to grow with your business as a co-resource.

Inbound Methodology
Retrieved from HubSpot Academy

Creating content and conversation strategy that hits each stage of the methodology. Topics included best practices for optimizing blogs, better conversation strategies on social media, and how to create effective pillar pages and subtopic clusters with a clear call to actions on your website.

Pillar Pages Topic Clusters
Retrieved from HubSpot Academy

Conversion and lead nurturing. Not every sale happens immediately. Optimizing your conversion strategy and creating an effective lead nurturing system allows consumers to easily move down the marketing funnel and coexist with the sales team. Timely feedback between marketing, sales, and customer service teams is essential for these to be successful.

Marketing Funnel Sales Leads Contacts
Retrieved from HubSpot Academy

For the full list of course topics, click here.

Should You Take HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certifiaction

Overall, I found this certification to be incredibly helpful. Some of the content is familiar if you’ve worked in or studied materials related to digital marketing which makes this program easily digestible, and some of it will provide supplementary value you didn’t know you needed. What really stood out to me about HubSpot’s learning center is the organization of the courses. Sure, I already knew topics like best practices for website optimization, but the way they take all of that information and deliver it through videos, slides, downloadable study guides, and additional blog resources creates a clear path for how inbound marketing all fits together in the bigger picture. My one frustration was that by the end of the course, some of the topics became a bit repetitive, although I can see why because each component is integral and overlays with another topic in the marketing strategy.

On a scale of 1-5, I’d give this course a 5. If you’re starting out in your career and considering taking a digital marketing certification to strengthen your resume, I highly recommend HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification. It is a great starting point for up and coming marketers looking to increase their skillset in a variety of topics. From here, you could easily jump into a social media, email marketing, CRM, SEO, or a sales management certification and be a step ahead. If you’re a more seasoned digital marketer, I still recommend it. It would be an easy way to stay up-to-date with inbound best practices and won’t take you very long to complete. It’s a win-win!