Completely owning your company’s online reputation can be difficult. With more user-generated content (UGC) sites focused on consumers’ experiences with brands popping up every day, your business can suffer if you don’t manage its online reputation. For example, Peloton recently lost to the tune of about $1.5 billion in value due to a botched up ad on a single holiday.
Customers are hopping onto sites like Yelp, Google Reviews and ScamAlert to research businesses before engaging with them. Whether or not you have an online presence, people are already talking about your brand online and small businesses are affected by this too.
Importance Of Online Reputation Management
Your online reputation can make or break your business. For small businesses, a positive reputation can give them an edge over their more established counterparts, especially when customers know they will get excellent services and personalized attention.
A small business can completely shut down due to bad press online. If an insurance agency serving a limited geographical area finds that clients are accusing it of fraud, existing clients would want to move their policies elsewhere while no new clients will be willing to do business with the agency.
What consumers say about your business is more critical than ever before. This is regardless of whether whatever is being said is true. With more people searching for online reviews before doing business with a company, you need to be active in making sure your online reputation is accurate.
Benefits of Positive Online Reputation
Online reputation management is important, especially for SMBs that serve well-defined geographic regions. Today, customers trust online reviews more than ever, and many customers will not visit a business that has poor reviews.
Here are some benefits of having a positive online review:
• Improve your brand: Today’s customers will not blindly believe you offer high-quality services. Every business says that. Potential consumers are looking for experiences that past customers had with your business. They will ask about your company on social media sites like Facebook and consumer review sites like Yelp.
When customers are happy with your business, they will not hesitate to recommend you to their connections on social media networks. You’ve probably seen ecstatic customers leaving glowing reviews on a company’s Facebook or Yelp page. Such reviews improve the business’s brand and draw more prospects to it.
• Rank high on Google: While looking for any news or info, 65% of consumers trust search engine results the most, according to a finding in a report by The Edelman Trust Barometer.
That means positive online reviews can get your business more qualified traffic and leads through Google search results pages. Reviews are especially important for local businesses that depend on walk-in customers. Examples include salons, restaurants, dental clinics, urgent care centers and more.
Google lists websites on its Maps Pack based on reviews, as well as other information such as consistent name, address and phone numbers. When your website is listed on the Pack and has many positive reviews, more customers are likely to choose you.
If you have zero or poor reviews, you can still get listed on the Google Map Pack. However, do you think that prospects would rather buy from a business that has multiple 5-star reviews or one with no reviews?
• Be recognized as an authority: Reviews help boost your brand and make your business recognized as an authority in your space. When customers constantly review your business positively online, this creates a ripple effect in your industry, thus leading to it being recognized as an authority.
Remember, customers love familiarity. No one wants to be the first person to try a product or service. When prospects find many positive reviews about your company, they are more likely to consider it a trustworthy and reputable business. This positive reputation can impact your lead generation campaigns and boost your sales.
• Get more sales: Ultimately, prospects research companies because they want to engage with them in some way. For example, they might be looking for partnerships to buy a product or service or some other form of collaboration. Positive reviews help warm up cold prospects and pique their interest in your brand.
In my experience, many people turn to their family members and friends when looking for reviews about a product or company. Now, prospects are also scouring social media sites and consumer review websites for recommendations.
Companies with a positive reputation end up getting a large chunk of customers as opposed to those with poor or no reviews. Whether your business is online, it is critical to implement an online reputation management strategy to ensure you are not losing any sales to your competition.
Implementing An Online Reputation Management Strategy
Now that you know the importance of online reputation management, how do you actually go about implementing a strategy?
1. Identify the top sites.
To start off, see what sites your consumers value most. Identify the social media networks, forums and other websites where your customers and prospects visit the most. From there, establish a presence in these networks and start engaging the audience.
2. Engage your audience.
Be active in the online communities where your brand is being discussed. Create content that resonates with your prospects as well as customers in these communities. When complaints or questions are raised about your brand, be tactful in handling them.
3. Use tools for automation.
Managing your business’s online reputation across dozens of online communities can be difficult for small businesses. However, you can use various tools like Google Alert, Mention, etc., to make your work easier. Some brand management tools can send alerts when your brand or service is mentioned, which allows you to quickly see what is being said about your brand.
With more people using the internet to search for products and services, the need for a strong and well-managed online reputation has become a requirement for every business.