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Search Marketers: Don't Forget Authenticity To Build Brand Advocates

The need for authenticity in marketing from search to social continues to strengthen. So it seems obvious that information marketers upload to their company's Web site to describe products or services should reflect the actual product or service. Some companies still don't get it.

Not only does it discredit the business in the eyes of potential and existing consumers, but eventually the poor ratings and reviews will pull down search engine rankings on Bing, Google and Yahoo. Bernard Luthi, COO, and CMO of Rakuten.com Shopping, offers some advice on building brand advocates.

Take Five Star Vacation Rentals, for example -- a privately owned and operated vacation home rental business that manages Utah, Mexico and California properties in Big Bear, Mammoth Lakes Monarch Beach, and Corona del Mar. Owners Kevin and Maria Cobb market online the upscale vacation rental properties as, well, just that -- five-star rentals. They love good customer service when traveling, so they want to give their customers "the best service for their luxury vacations," according to the company's Web site.

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The words on the Web site don't match the experiences told by some of renters, according to some online reviewers, who want to know why the couple can't return their calls. The properties, for overall experience, get high ratings, but the management style needs work, along with the need for property maintenance and work. Not really a five-star rental -- a couple of thousand for a 4,500-sq.-ft. house for a three-day weekend -- a dirty towel hanging in one bathroom on check-in, scum in the shower, and a barbeque that doesn't work.

Most marketers consider consumers social advocates, especially when it comes to building brand relationships online.

An authored article from Luthi provides insight into building online brand advocates. He offers up six rules to building a lasting relationship on brand loyalty.

1) Rich, detailed content around the business, as well as the sellers and products, gives consumers a reason to connect with the brand emotionally, as well as financially. Use it to build loyalty.

2) Lift the veil and build a clear personality into your business to differentiate yourself from competition and build stronger relationships with your audience.

3) Make sure you can own the customer relationship and never give up your direct access to them, whether by phone, email or social channels.

4) Build content into offerings through details and promises you will keep. Consumers are hungry to know about upcoming trends and tips to make the most of their purchase and the buying process.

5) Keep offerings simple, and work with an expert who can give you credible advice around your content and inventory to make your customer’s purchase as streamlined as possible.

6) Most importantly: deliver on promises. When you say you will do something, whether that is finding a product, delivering on time, or returning a call. Fulfill promises to earn long lasting loyalty.

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