There is so much data out there about you and your brand that it can feel like an enormous amount to keep on top of. It’s not just data, it’s Big Data; oceans of qualitative content and subjective feedback from your customers or clients.
When it comes to this data, you need your team working out there responding to that feedback, generating content, and speaking to customers, but you also need strategies to bring all that information together in one place. There will be key themes emerging all the time that you need to be wise of if you are going to keep your brand reputation successfully clear and consistent.
At the start of a business venture, it’s possible to do this by hand. But if you are doing a good job and growing bigger, then there will come a point where managing your brand’s reputation needs to go through a piece of software as well as the brains of your in-house team. There is an increasing number of options out there, so make sure you have the information you need about each piece of software before choosing what could be a good fit for you and your team. There are plenty of options out there for SMEs as it becomes more important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to track their brand performance.
So, who’s out there?
An integrated, cross-channel online presence has become non-negotiable for business of all sizes, and the options on the market have proliferated quickly. Brand management tools are affordable, so have a look and see what improvements you could make for your money.
You are in the right place! We help our clients to manage customer experience so that brand quality is carefully guarded at all points of the customer journey. We know that support is as important to a small business starting out as a large one with a fast-paced team culture. We have made sure that our resource area is as well-stocked as possible, so even if you are not working with us yet, you can browse our tools and improve your industry knowledge and keep your brand management skills sharp.
Brand24 is a well-known reputation management tool with a good affordability range depending on the breadth of service you require. Starting with a free trial, prices vary from less than $50 per month to $299. Every level of service includes multiple users, with a big leap from the mid-price range for 10 users, to the top bracket supporting a limitless team.
One of their interesting new features is newsletter and podcast monitoring, which is available at each price point. It reflects the increasing level of depth prospective consumers are willing to dive into when they consider a purchase, and the different channels age groups are likely to use in their research.
Brand24 also publishes a lot of blog content with helpful insights and tips including how to manage your brand, how to make the most of social media, and not holding back on the step-by-step granular content that someone new to that world might need. It’s a canny thing to do, knowing what we do about the impact of acting as a “thought-leader’ in your industry.
These are the big guys, with household names like Twitter, Unilever, Sky, and the BBC amongst their client base. Brandwatch provides an exceptionally thorough service and its product benefits from having been a cornerstone of the brand reputation market since 2005. It is pricey, as you would expect from such big-name clients – with a minimum financial commitment of $800. They are very keen to talk in person if you are interested, which you would expect from a company that clearly knows its marketing!
Again, their blog is thorough, with the option of live webinars to sign up to where you can hear from key speakers within the sector. This is one of the rarer offers in the context of other brand management companies and makes their suite of tools stand out from the crowd.
Mention has another responsive range of price points for enterprises of all sizes. You can see how things go with a free service if you are just starting out then you have the option to pick up greater capacity as you expand. If you are already established with a larger team then you are encouraged to set up discussions for a more tailored service.
One thing that Mention puts out there is that not all sources of information are useful to you. In this day and age of constant data, this is a refreshing thing to hear and reminds us of Feefo’s verified customer-only policy. Sometimes in order to hear what you need, you have to tune out unhelpful noise, so Mention allows you to block what is not useful to your business so that your analysis is based on what matters. They also have some really useful “cheat-sheets”, guides and e-books seeded in relevant areas of their website.
Reputology is a national brand with a large capacity that has a lot of clients with regional outlets. They know how to deliver brand management at a national level and a local one. They clearly love their data and academic research which is a big feature of their approach and product descriptions.
As a brand themselves, they are generous with the tips and information they give through their website. Many companies will hold back on those tips until after you have parted with your details (unless you go through their blogs), so there is a lot to be gained from having a browse through this one.
Again, Birdeye is a big player with some impressive clients, like Nissan – but they also service small businesses with emerging regional presences.
Their text feature makes them stand out and the research they reference states that a massive 89% of customers prefer to text a company than to communicate with them by email or by phone. It’s unsurprising given the way that we all live now. Birdeye facilitates that option through standard phone messaging, Facebook and Google, so regardless of channel, there is the option for prospects to get in touch in the way that’s easiest for them.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, their branding is very clean, clear. Like a neutrally decorated room, it’s easy to see how your brand would look in that context, and they do emphasise that this is an important part of their service.
You are going to hear more and more about real-time feedback over the coming weeks and months. Deep-personalisation is the next stage of marketing strategies all over the world, with real-time response a feature of huge ROI returns according to one source. Podium is clearly going for this in a big way. Like Birdeye, messaging is an increasingly weighty part of their offer, and fits with the rapid response strategy that they present.
A standout feature of Podium is a payment and invoice platform integrated within their toolkit. They also have a card-reader hardware offer that feels well integrated with the rest of their approach. It’s good to see a company of this size fully engaging with the needs of in-person business. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how important this is, but the stats behind it demand attention. Half of customers prefer to pay in person and people tend to part with 50% more money in person as opposed to online for the same product times.
Reputation claims to be the first in many areas – and with a web domain like “reputation.com” we can believe it! They specialise in some specific areas like property management and senior (elderly) living services, which is a good indicator that they value potentially under-served areas of the marketplace. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense, but there are not many competitors making a feature out of these fundamental need-based areas of the economy on their website. It does make them stand out.
They have recently added Instagram to their messaging product, which is a great feature. It’s fully integrated and feeds into the central inbox, making it as easy to access as anything else. As consumers begin to expect more and more from omnichannel marketing, it’s going to become essential to be able to deal with such key social content with the same level of organisation you’d expect anywhere else.
Unfortunately, you need to get in touch with them to get a price, as this does not seem to be immediately evident on their website.
Yext has some extremely recognisable UK brand names – from Tesco, Network Rail, and Pizza Express to Charlotte Tilbury and Lush. They are extremely focused on local business and the process of listing, having built their product around the 150 apps, services, maps, and directories that people use to find business on a regional scale.
They provide all the standard SEO support you would expect and look at how well you are informing customers about essential details like altered opening times or delivery availability. Their tech enables changes to be made consistently and quickly across all the platforms you feature on. They are also offering a temporary cheaper service to support SME return to business now that the UK restrictions have been lifted over the summer period.
Hootsuite is all about the social. In fact, it is the most widely used social media management tool and, like Reputation, it has full support for Instagram. The advance scheduling feature is a function of all their pricing plans, from the start-out one right up to the multiple £100s per month version for big names. They are real experts in this and that’s why Hootsuite is the management tool of choice for many organisations that understand the importance of timing and social media.
They make sure that the ROI is the key factor behind their social media rationale – as, even in this day and age, the monetary value of social media can be misunderstood. Only 37% of digital marketers were “very confident” in their ROI metrics according to the research behind this helpful blog on the Hootsuite website.
This platform has a really interesting client base, and the variety is a testament to the ubiquity of social media. Vice, Penn University, The City of Las Vegas, Shopify, and the American Lung Association are all proud users of Sprout Social.
As you would expect from such confident social media marketers, their blog is a pop-culture site to behold. It’s not filled with arbitrary bandwagon-jumping though; one of their most recent pieces on Love Island contains really solid advice on understanding your audience and not making generalisations about what the “general public” think just because one programme is being spoken a lot about. It’s got an instantly obvious infographic on the fundamental differences of opinion between the “general public” and groups that enjoy Love Island.
Sprout also offers webinars for interested parties and some of their blog formats take the example of interviews with people who have unique and current insight into some of the big value changes taking place on social media. Their interview with NAACP Vice President of Digital Marketing and Communications Vanessa Mbonu is a really great example.
Many brand reputation management options out there offer very similar services, so the key factor that is going to be relevant to you is what scale your business is operating on and what capacity you will get for your spend. You know your product better than anyone and will have a feel for whether the extra bells and whistles each platform offers are right for what you do and the team you have. If you are fast-growing with a new team, go for the option that has the emphasis on support. If you see competition that has exploded due to great social media campaigning, go for that specialist option to make sure you aren’t overshadowed.