UK retailers miss brand opportunity by not responding to online reviews

retailers and reviews - Image by Gerd Altmann of Pixabay

Only 44% of UK retailers respond to online reviews, 38% do not have local branch web-pages, and less than half (42%) employ UTM performance marketing tracking.

That’s according to the results of a cross-category online brand reputation study of more than 500 UK retail businesses. 

The study, conducted by digital performance marketing agency DAC Group, audited businesses across seven categories – automotive, fashion, finance, health & fitness, food & beverage, land & property and supermarkets. 

The study was designed to understand what reputation management strategies are in place across each segment.

“Two months ago, we established that nine in 10 UK businesses are challenged by managing brand reputation”, said Mike Fantis, VP Managing Partner of DAC Group. 

“By looking at best practice, we were then able to establish what this actually means in practical terms – and the reality is worse than expected.”

Reviews

Of the seven categories audited, automotive is the best at responding to reviews with 84% of businesses doing so; on the other hand, not one supermarket brand does this and only 37% of financial services.

“Marketers understand the value of reviews in influencing and attracting new customers”, Fantis said. 

“This is particularly the case for high ticket value items, so reputation is key for segments such as Automotive and Land and Property, both of which engage well with reviews. 

“However, it is surprising this isn’t also the case in Finance, in which it’s generally the smaller local players that take the time to respond to reviews – notably, only one High Street bank does so.

“Google recently announced that responding to reviews is one way to improve the brands’ local ranking and visibility. 

“Even if brands don’t care about what individual customers think, maybe they should think twice when it comes to the volume of website sessions and store footfall. The big picture is, of course, missed revenue.”

Local brand pages

Some 67% of Food & Beverage chains do not have individual sites for local outlets, instead opting for i-Frame pop-ups from their main national or international site. 

While this is an easier option, it means those brands are not maximising their local relevance for local searches (i.e. ‘restaurants near me’). This impacts those businesses’ ability to reach customers at a local level.

UTM tracking

Less than half of UK chains audited use URL tracking parameters, which means they lack visibility on website performance, and in particular, click and collect trends. Again, Automotive is the category employing UTM most effectively with 75% usage. 

By comparison, three quarters (77%) of Food & Beverage and 72% of Land & Property businesses don’t use UTM. 

Those categories lose out on the data insights identifying exactly where searches are conducted and what marketing channels are most successful in driving engagement.

“Other than in Automotive, we’re seeing missed opportunities across the board and this confirms what our previous study suggested – most UK chains are doing a poor job on online reputation management”, Fantis said.

“While other factors like brand recognition might trump reputation for certain segments, such as supermarkets and banks, it is all-important for smaller brands who need to use reputation as a differentiator to build trust and demonstrate expertise at a local level.”