What is Online Reputation Management?
A business’ online reputation isn’t much different than the long standing idea of any person’s reputation – it’s how someone else sees you or your business. But one thing that HAS changed is how to manage that reputation. In the past, businesses would dictate their reputation through marketing. What they said about themselves in advertising or how other customers referred them by word of mouth. Nowadays, consumers decide the reputation. They push out the company’s reputation and image through online feedback. Real-time online reviews, videos, and photos are posted online through review sites, social media, forums, and other channels. Essentially, if there is a space online for customers to say something about a business, then a business owner should be managing that space.
Online Reputation Management for Businesses & Digital Marketing
Managing your online reputation is simply a digital marketing strategy. It combines review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management, and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. In order to maintain your online presence (and hereby maintain your offline reputation in the real world), a business needs to be managing each of these segments of digital marketing. Did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers surveyed use search engines to find info about local businesses. This means they’re seeking business hours, product availability, and directions from multiple devices online.
Online Reputation Management: You have options!
If your business is online, it can be affected anytime. There are multiple options cross the web to manage your business’ online presence. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer). Each of these option have their advantages and disadvantages. Some minimize your cost and the time spent to manage each facet of your online reputation. But nothing can replace a professional service that knows every single site. Did you know that our Business Listing services can help you be found across more than 70 sites online? Many companies constantly check on social media, but are unaware of such review sites from a listing that your business never knew that existed. Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor are popular review sites, but for every site you’ve heard of a million times (Yelp, Google, etc.), there exists at least 5 that you never heard of. Your business needs to be found there too!
Only you can decide whether outsourcing your reputation management is best for your business. Most companies find a blend of in-house management and professional services works best. There are definitely best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. There is no better way to spend your time than maintaining your online presence as a company in 2020. It’s one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business. When you have a marketing company that knows what they’re doing, it’s always worth the investment! Blue Zone is equipped to help.
Why Does Your Business’ Online Reputation Matter
The proof is in the pudding. An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without reviews and ratings, the business appears ‘dead’ online, leading consumers to believe they may have closed shop, or worse yet – they’re open but offering bad quality products or services.
Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business
Whether you choose to manage your business’ online reputation or not – the reputation is out there. People are talking about their favorite spots to shop or their least favorite restaurants. They reviewed the doctors they love and ranting online about a bad experience with their plumber. No matter the business, no one can afford to ignore their online reputation. The consequences can be harmful, to say the least.
Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality. Unfortunately, people complain more than they praise, and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. Even ONE review can affect a business’s online reputation. One negative post, when asked highly on a site, can be the first thing consumers see on the search engine results page. A simple 10 second searching for a business name can bring up a 10-year-old negative review from an angry customer. Don’t let that be the public first impression of your business online. You only get one chance at those.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson is this – Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters. You may not have thought of it this way, but social media really is a two-way conversation. The days of businesses broadcasting their message without response are over. Every action will cause a reaction, and our marketing actions need to be calculated and conversational.
In social media, brands and consumers share the space, and everyone has an equal voice. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Now that consumers can converse with brands as if they were talking to a friend, businesses have been forced to become more personable. Your online social presence should show that side of your business.
Reputation Drives Conversion
How you look online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is imperative to how we do business now. Having trust in online reviews translates directly into dollars. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one-star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine percent. Customers put their money where their trust is.
Keeping up online is a lot. It takes work and time and a genuine dedication to each customer. Many businesses find they are too busy to keep up with their online reviews or social media conversations. This is precisely the wrong attitude. There are several marketing tools to help businesses manage the workload. The Blue Zone dashboard provides reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers easier. This saves time and money. No matter what, a business cannot be perceived as ignoring their customers online. Engagement and responses are of paramount importance.
How can I create a good online reputation?
Being found online and having positive reviews equal a good online reputation. Having a bad review on a website is just as bad as not even being listed on that same site. They are equally as harmful to your online reputation. You must work to build a consistent online presence. A positive reputation and consistent business listings are important for consumers AND search engines! The following are some of the most important things you’ll find that contribute to your online footprint:
- number of business listings
- consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
- overall sentiment in reviews
- frequency or current velocity of new reviews
- the overall volume of reviews
- social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)
In today’s online world, social recommendations and reviews are more authentic than anything. Consumers expect reviews to be the most accurate portrayal of the customer experience that they might have themselves. This means that each online review is just a snapshot of what your potential customers hope to experience. Maintaining positive online reviews is getting more important each day.
Online Reputation Management: Know The Facts!
According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. Consumers will choose a business with a good online presence over their competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customers use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. You can’t deny these numbers. Online reputation management is the one sure way to not only attract the customer but also to close the deal. Click here for more info on Reputation Management.