No business is immune to the impact of a crisis, but some industries weather storms better than others. Businesses that sell products may be more vulnerable to emergencies because there are many moving parts that could be impacted, including supply chains, production processes and delivery logistics. On the other hand, Software as a Service (SaaS) companies may be less susceptible to customer turnover during a crisis because software is more ingrained in customer workflows.
While SaaS businesses may be able to retain more customers following a crisis than commodity-based businesses, growing revenue through new sales could be more difficult for several reasons.
How a Crisis Impacts SaaS Sales
Whether a crisis is caused by internal factors or outside events like a scandal or data breach, your company’s reputation is at risk. Potential customers will spend plenty of time researching you and your competitors before making a long-term software commitment, and most of this will happen online.
Your company’s emergency may seem minuscule in comparison to other corporate public relations nightmares, but any negative online content could contaminate your search results. When negative articles begin ranking for your brand’s name in Google, your sales will be affected in several ways:
- Bad press about your company or its leadership may cause customers to lose trust in your brand.
- Damaging articles published on trusted websites could push your site down in the search results, reducing your click through rate, and lowering conversions and revenue.
- Bad reviews about your product may cause customers to buy from competitors, even if those reviews are fake.
According to one study, four out of five customers won’t buy from a company with negative online reviews or articles. This is terrifying news for SaaS SDRs who may spend countless hours cultivating leads only to lose contracts because of negative search results.
How to Restore Your Reputation After a Crisis
Don’t assume negative articles about your business will eventually go away on their own; you must take action as soon as damaging content begins ranking well in search engines. The longer negative articles remain on page one, the more likely they are to attract links and clicks, causing them to become entrenched in your branded search landscape. Follow these three critical steps to restore your reputation following a crisis:
Phase 1 - Brand Protection
The best offense is a good defense. Expanding your digital footprint by publishing positive content will help you build immunity against negative news and maintain control of your company’s narrative. Even if you don’t have a problem with unflattering search results, a lack of content about your brand can leave you vulnerable to future incidents.
- Claim your social profiles and establish a presence by posting positive content about your business. Social networks often rank well in Google for branded searches, so investing in them can be a great reputation insurance policy.
- Publicize your expertise with an aggressive content strategy. Write about relevant industry topics on your blog and other websites, and leverage your digital network by asking customers if you can guest post or be featured on their blogs.
- Seek out reviews from happy customers on niche publications and review websites.
- Promote positive stories about your executives, software and company. Bring in your sales team when developing content so you can focus on topics that may improve conversions. These “seed” stories will be critical to boosting your sales if you experience a crisis. (More on this in phase 3)
Phase 2 - Crisis Management
Your ability to recover from a crisis is directly related to how prepared you are to handle one. Drafting a crisis communication strategy before a problem exists will prevent mistakes that can worsen the situation, and keeping your sales team in the loop will avert misstatements from being made.
- Select a capable spokesperson and build a crisis management team. It should include the CEO, public relations manager, social media managers, legal council, department executives and members of the sales team.
- Audit your company for potential vulnerabilities. The team will need to identify any areas of concern. For SaaS businesses, these will likely include system failures, customer data loss, and security breaches, but there may also be industry-specific scenarios you can include.
- Create a clear crisis management plan that’s catered to your business and assign team members to either crisis resolution or communications. Draft a holding statement for the media and determine how you’ll inform internal and external stakeholders during the crisis.
Phase 3 - Reputation Repair
Once the crisis has been resolved, it’s time to begin rebuilding your online reputation and boosting sales. If you haven’t proactively protected your brand, you’ll need to revisit phase one. Each step must be executed to effectively repair your reputation.
The most critical component of rebuilding your online reputation is finding and promoting the best content about your brand. Rather than pushing down negative results, you’re actually pulling up positive results until damaging content no longer appears on page one or two.
- Identify your top social media profiles and seed articles. Any content ranking below negative articles on page one of your brand’s search results should be considered an SEO target page. If your sales team helped outline topics that move the needle on conversions, you’ll be off to a great start.
- With the help of SDRs, continue writing great content about your business to shift the search density from negative to positive. During this process, you’ll need to link to your target pages from high quality websites to give them more ranking power. If you don’t have an in-house SEO expert, finding one now is a smart investment.
While it may have only taken 30 seconds to read those two bullets, SEO reputation management is incredibly labor-intensive and shouldn’t be underestimated. A typical campaign involves pulling multiple pages up in the search results, and contracts easily surpass a year.
Grooming your search landscape following a crisis takes time and expertise, but with the help of your sales team you can improve your reputation and conversions simultaneously.
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About the Author
Jonas been developing and deploying marketing campaigns for nearly two decades. His experience ranges from content planning for major consumer websites to helping businesses grow their online presence and protect their reputation. Follow along on Twitter.Follow on Twitter More Content by Jonas Sickler