Business is built on customer relationships, and brand perception sets the tone.
Today’s consumers share their opinions and experiences widely, and their peers trust them when it comes time to buy or pass.
Companies, of course, want to cultivate a positive brand perception among their target consumers, but it’s a tricky goal. As Brandwatch points out, companies don’t control brand perception—consumers do. They’re the ones perceiving and sharing those perceptions.
So how can companies monitor and understand consumer brand perception when they’re looking at it from inside the box?
The basics of brand perception
Research shows that 45 percent of brand perception can be attributed to what a company says and how it says it, but it’s not just messaging that steers the ship. Customers’ combined interactions with your business or product contribute to their overall brand perception, too.
Customers make judgment calls about your brand when they read an online review, make a purchase, talk to employees, read a news story, or hear about a friend’s experience.
All these interactions, combined with the messaging you control, make up a customer’s brand perception.
Why is brand perception important?
Your customers matter, and so do their opinions. Positive brand perception means consumers are more likely to choose your business over a competitor. Negative brand perception means they’re more likely to choose a competitor—and tell other potential customers why they didn’t choose you.
In other words, brand perception affects your bottom line—a lot.
Companies often assume they know how their customers feel about them. After all, they talk to them and help them solve problems daily. Based on these interactions alone, companies tend to inflate brand perception, believing it to be more positive than it really is.
That’s why it’s important to introduce additional measurement tools that reduce bias. By measuring reliably, companies get an honest look at the factors driving and killing brand loyalty.
Monitoring brand perception
If you want to know what people think of you, start by listening up. Online communities are ever-expanding and the web is dense, but there are several tactics you can use to measure brand perception efficiently.
1. Sign up for Google Alerts.
No one has time to monitor the web for mentions. Google Alerts does the searching for you. If you’re not using it already, start.
You just tell Google what keywords you’d like to monitor—such as your company’s name, a specific product/service you offer, or competitive terms. Anytime those keywords appear online, Google will send you an email alert.
It takes only seconds to sign up.
2. Read online reviews.
Over 84 percent of consumers say that they somewhat or completely trust peer recommendations, according to Nielsen. Review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, G2Crowd and Salesforce AppExchange are rife with feedback, and you can bet potential customers are reading it as they evaluate your business.
Google Alerts should notify you of these reviews and mentions, but it’s good to track reviews diligently—and encourage happy customers to share their opinions publicly.
3. Respond to social media posts.
Social media is steadily rising to the top of all customer engagement channels, and it will probably stay there. Thirty-three percent of consumers prefer to reach out to a business via social media, and it’s common for current and prospective customers to scan social media interactions to get a sense for the brand’s customer care standards.
Customers are vocal over social media, too. Research shows there are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the U.S. every day. Make sure you read and respond to all comments, especially the bad ones, in a timely manner.
4. Survey customers.
Customer surveys are among the best tools you can use to measure brand perception. There are multiple survey types that capture feedback at pivotal moments of the customer journey. Here are just a few:
- A customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey measures customer health and sentiment by asking customers targeted questions. It’s usually sent after a specific customer experience—a purchase, customer support interaction or store visit.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty with a simple question: How likely are you to recommend us? The NPS survey is typically sent at specific stages of the customer lifecycle, and it’s a fantastic way to identify brand advocates or brand detractors.
- A product survey measures product satisfaction and stickiness. It gives marketing and development teams unique insights on their offerings, which can inform competitive positioning efforts.
Brand perception doesn’t have to be a mystery. Companies can monitor brand perception and effect enormous change by combining customer surveys with other tools and processes.
An effective customer feedback program provides a stream of valuable insights from the people who have the greatest impact on your success: customers. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how audiences engage with and react to your brand, so you can continually improve.
A version of this post first appeared on the Getfeedback blog.