Reputation management no longer concerns only big businesses and celebrities. In this era, when an active audience is highly vocal about their opinions on digital platforms, both small and large brands need to care about their brand perception.
In fact, research shows that negative reviews are the number one factor for customers forming a poor opinion of a brand. For instance, a business with a 1-1.5 star rating on Google earns 33% less revenue than the average enterprise. Also, a ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey found that 94% of customers avoid a business with negative reviews.
Unfortunately, several brands have learned this the hard way!
Remember the Facebook Nestle mess? The brand’s reputation was ruined when Greenpeace, an environmental protection group, publicly accused them of harmful environmental practices.
So, how can brands respond to or manage such tricky situations? The answer lies in implementing a robust online reputation management strategy. So, without much ado, let’s take a look at what online reputation is all about and how you can leverage it to boost business profits.
What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?
Online reputation management is a combination of strategies implemented to help businesses create a positive perception of themselves in the minds of their target audience. Specifically, social media, online community engagement, the search results of a business are a few facets of ORM.
Simply put, ORM involves managing the online content customers find about your business. It helps to demonstrate a business as trustworthy and reputable, thereby positively influencing buyer behavior.
ORM includes managing content available on search engines, as well as on your website and blog, social media, and customer reviews.
Why Should Businesses Care about Their Online Reputation?
In the digital era, the line between a business’s online and ground reputation has blurred. With 81% of shoppers looking for products or services on digital platforms, businesses cannot afford to ignore what people say or think about their brand. In every industry, people are weaving conversations around brands, either on social media, forums, or product review platforms.
Furthermore, a business’s online reputation shows how customers perceive the business when they come across or search for a brand. Hence, every business should invest their resources in creating and implementing online reputation management strategies that can positively influence their online perception.
Here’s why online reputation management is critical for your business.
1. It Directly Impacts Buying Decisions
Brand reputation is a key factor for purchasing decisions because customers are ready to buy from brands they trust. In fact, according to the results of a survey, customers are willing to pay a premium for products made by companies they trust.
Therefore, working on your reputation is equivalent to proactively influencing the information people find about your brand.
For instance, a review from an industry influencer or a positive customer review on Yelp could act as a tipping point for conversion. When customers read positive things about your business, they’ll be influenced to purchase from you.
2. It Strengthens Customer Trust
A total of 79% of customers say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a family member or friend. So, having customers say positive things about your business persuades others to trust your brand.
A strong online reputation persuades customers to trust the intentions of your business. When your audience thinks highly of you, they will not think twice before purchasing your offerings, following your advice, or recommending your business to their social circle.
3. It Helps in Managing Negative Content
Negative content, in the form of negative reviews, as well as content from hate sites and negative press can ruin your brand reputation. Conscious shoppers often seek these review websites and social platforms to make informed buying decisions.
Take a look at the following statistics:
- 93% of online shoppers read online reviews before buying a product or service.
- 81% of retail shoppers start their buying journey with online research.
- 89% of customers will not take any action before they’ve read reviews.
Hence, regardless of whether your customer reviews are positive or negative, gathering them and responding to them is critical for your business.
What’s more, negative reviews increase conversion by up to 85%. Customers often opt for brands that have a mix of positive and negative reviews. However, having more than four negative reviews reduces the conversion rate by 70%. So, it’s wise to respond to negative reviews and solve customer concerns.
Customers feel positive about a business when it responds to negative reviews. A Local Consumer Review Survey by Brightlocal shows that 96% of consumers read a business’s response to reviews.
Therefore, implementing online reputation management strategies gives businesses a chance to alter a negative opinion about their brand. As a result, you can turn your unhappy customers into loyal fans.
4. It Helps You Understand What Customers Want
Monitoring what people say about your brand is a critical part of managing your online reputation. You can use polls and surveys and engage in social listening to collect useful insights on customer satisfaction and assess your brand performance. Such insights can provide you a peek into customer expectations and can be used to drive critical business decisions.
Reputation Management: The Complete Guide
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective tactics to improve your business’s online reputation.
1. Begin with an Online Reputation Audit
Before jumping into building a robust ORM strategy, it’s important to conduct a thorough reputation audit. The aim is to get an idea of what people think or say about your business.
Consider these tips to get an overall idea of your business reputation:
- Search for your brand in incognito mode and observe the results that appear on the first page.
- Go through your ratings and reviews on social sites and third-party listings. Specifically, you should try to understand the general sentiment behind the reviews and the customer expectations.
- Check your Google My Business page ratings, comments, reviews, and user-generated content.
This simple audit will help you understand the following key information:
- The popularity of your brand.
- The top pages that come up when you do a brand name search.
- The overall customer perception of your brand.
- How customers find your brand. Do they find you through Google, third-party websites, or other sources?
If you find doing a manual audit exhausting, you can use tools such as The Brand Grader or Semrush’s Brand Monitoring to gauge your reputation.
These tools can offer interesting insights, such as determining the most influential thought leaders mentioning your brand. Moreover, it can help you find the web and social sites where your brand was mentioned, and monitor your brand sentiment. Plus, they can also show how your competitors are performing online.
Finally, a tool called Go Fish Digital allows you to quickly find the negative reviews related to your brand. This will help you find negative brand content and take effective measures to resolve it, transforming it into positive experiences.
2. Build Your Brand Across Platforms
Building a strong online reputation begins with taking control of your brand across all digital platforms. After all, you don’t want your customers to keep looking for your brand or end up on the following page:
Follow these tips to secure your brand across all platforms:
3. Make Sure You Own the Domain Name
This may sound like a no-brainer, yet it’s critical to mention that your business should own the domain corresponding to your brand.
Moreover, top-level domains such as .net, .org, and .info perform well in the SERPs. So, it is important to make sure you own these popular TLDs. Next, check if your brand name handle is available on popular social channels.
4. Create Accounts across All Social Channels
Social media can drive considerable traffic to a website. Hence, the stronger your presence on these channels, the more you can nurture the leads through the purchasing process.
Create a handle across all the popular channels where your target audience is present. Also, it is important to link the social channels on your website, thus offering potential customers multiple options for customers to get in touch with you.
Here’s a handy guide that will help you determine the social channels most relevant to your business.
- Create and Update Your GMB Listing
Google My Business allows businesses to create a listing on Google, thus ensuring that customers will find the relevant information when looking for your brand. An updated GMB can help you reach your target audience, earn customer trust, establish authority in your domain, and increase traffic and sales.
What’s more, a great business profile on GMB gets you on Google’s 3-Pack, a method Google uses to display the top three results for local SERPs. GMB listings also feature reviews, ratings, and comments, giving searchers a clear idea about your business’ reputation.
5. Focus on the Digital Channels Involved in ORM
Online reputation management is an elaborate process that requires businesses to work in different ways to get the best results. To begin with, start by focusing on the four digital marketing channels involved in ORM, namely paid media, earned media, social media, and owned properties. This is commonly referred to as the “PESO model.”
Let’s take a look at how each of these channels can be used to improve online reputation.
- Paid Media
Paid media, such as PPC advertising with Google AdWords, sponsored posts on authority blogs, or Facebook ads can help drive traffic to your website.
Furthermore, it can greatly improve your online presence and help you build strong relationships with customers and influencers.
- Earned Media
Earned media involves having your business featured on external websites without you having to pay for it. This channel can help you stand out from the competition and improve your reputation in the marketplace.
Remember the #ShareaCoke campaign? It helped Coke generate a massive amount of earned media.
- Social Media
Your social profile is an extension of your brand. Hence, it’s important to stay active on the top social channels by participating in conversations and engaging in social listening. Don’t forget to publish fresh content regularly to engage your followers.
For instance, United Colors of Benetton never fails to share exciting content and always responds to customer comments on its Instagram posts.
- Owned Properties
Your business website, special product website, and blog are properties you have full control over. Therefore, it is important to make sure you stay active on these platforms and share a consistent message to help customers better understand your brand.
6. Leverage Reviews
As mentioned earlier, leveraging online reviews is a huge part of your business’s online reputation. They help customers in the decision-making process. Hence, every business looking at improving its online reputation should focus on the following:
- Encouraging Customers to Leave Reviews
- One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply asking for customers’ feedback.
- Make it easy for customers to leave a review. Avoid sharing complex questionnaires and survey forms. These can dissuade customers from leaving reviews.
- Create a dedicated review page on your website for users to leave a rating. Connect this page to your GMB listing.
- Drop a reminder, along with a thank-you note for the customer for using your product or services.
- Offer incentives, such as a discount coupon for reviewing your business.
- Respond to reviews. This will let customers know that you are listening to their feedback.
- Responding to and Neutralizing Negative Reviews
- Listen intently to the customer’s concern. This will help you uncover the underlying issue and empathize with their experience.
- Acknowledge the problem and accept responsibility for the negative experience.
- Avoid blaming someone else for the issue. Instead, offer ways to solve the problem.
- After fixing the issue, take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Here are a few review platforms where you can proactively ask for and manage your reviews:
- Google My Business – This is one of the most trusted sources of reviews. GMB is critical for local businesses, as Google uses this data to rank them.
- Amazon – Amazon is the largest e-commerce marketplace that encourages its shoppers to leave reviews about their purchases.
- Facebook – Being the largest social channel with 2.79 billion users globally, Facebook boasts of being the go-to destination for customers to leave comments and reviews.
- Yelp – Yelp is a top-rated review platform that adheres to strict review policies. Hence, a positive review on Yelp can considerably improve your brand reputation.
7. Invest in SEO
Your ORM strategy is incomplete without search engine optimization. Though SEO is mostly used to boost your online presence and ranking, it can significantly influence your online reputation. In addition, SEO best practices encourage businesses to create top-notch content, establish and claim business directory pages, and build high-quality backlinks.
When prospective customers look for your business, it is important to be featured at the top of SERPs. Investing in SEO can help you improve your online ranking and reputation.
8. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Online reputation is a multi-faceted concept, meaning that you need to support it in various ways and monitor it across many platforms to keep track of it. As such, it is important to make sure you monitor your business reputation on the platforms shared below.
- Social Media
Thanks to Facebook and Google, social reviews possess the same power as positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Reviews on social channels are powerful enough to attract or drive away potential customers.
Moreover, with 53.6% of the global population going social, neglecting social channels isn’t an option. The modern social customer is reaching out to brands on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google to share their thoughts or leave a rating.
Hence, social media has become a critical tool in your online reputation management arsenal.
- Review Websites
Review websites such as Google My Business page, Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, and Trustpilot among others assign a quantifiable number (rating) to businesses. This rating is a collective perception of your brand.
Positive reviews and ratings on these websites can go a long way in convincing customers who need a gentle nudge towards the purchase decision.
Forums, like social channels, have the power to influence people seeking advice, recommendations, and information.
For instance, Reddit is an online forum featuring aggregated content and conversations. It comprises a small user base that bluntly shares its views and experiences. What’s more, good reviews on Reddit are considered a trusted source of information, boosting your business credibility and reputation.
If you own a blog with a sound reach, it’s wise to track visitor comments and conversations on the posts. It will give you a fair idea of how readers are responding to your content and their perception of your business.
- News Websites
Features from authoritative websites and established journals are the kind of publicity every business dreams about. However, such news features are a double-edged sword. Regardless of whether they are positive or negative, it’s critical to track such features as they hugely impact what customers think about you.
The online reputation of your business is critical to earning the trust of your customers and generating profits. Regardless of how well you manage your brand and target audience, negative reviews and comments are inevitable. But the way you respond to such negative content is what makes the difference. That’s what online reputation management is about!
Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. So, you can use the tactics shared in this post to improve your online standing and take your business to the next level.