Reputation Management: Why should you care?
A business's reputation used to be based on what they said about themselves in their advertising and what their customers told via word of mouth. Now, consumers are driving a company's reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through reviews, social media posts, forums, and other channels. If there is an online source, and a customer can write something about a business on it, then it is a place your business must work on managing its reputation.
Online reputation management should be an essential component of your company's greater digital marketing strategy. It works alongside review management, business listings, paid search and advertisements, social media management, and SEO to ensure your business stays relevant and competitive online. Your business should be managing every one of these aspects of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and offline reputation. However, many businesses are not, but they really should. Four in five consumers surveyed said they use search engines to find location information from devices to find store addresses, business operating hours, product availability, and directions to the business.
Your business's online reputation can be affected at any time on just about any channel or source across the web. You can use products, services, or people (hire a digital marketer) to help manage the time you spend on your reputation management. Even if your business continually tracks and checks social media platforms, there may be channels that your business is not aware of, such as a new review site from a listing that your business didn't know existed. Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing. Regardless, there are established guidelines when responding to reviews that your business should use to keep its responses consistent. Maintaining your business's online presence is a valuable service a digital agency can provide your business and is one of the most important activities you can invest in.
Why your business's online reputation matters
An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by real consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage, and it would appear as if no one ever visited your business.
Like it or not, consumers are talking about your business
Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite brands. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be harmful to the brand.
Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality, and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. Sometimes a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation. Only one negative post on a highly ranked site may be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business's name.
Consumers control the conversation on social media and review sites. Businesses can no longer spread the message they want consumers to see. There is a democratic nature to social media, with brands, consumers, and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. Businesses have had to become more personable and friendly and have to manage their social media presence to reflect this.
Reputation drives conversion
What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a massive shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that receives an increase of one star on Yelp can see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine percent.
As mentioned previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profiles on their own is too time-consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers much more manageable, saving your business time and money. Whatever your business does, you mustn't be perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.
What makes a good online reputation?
Being listed online and having a good reputation go hand in hand. It requires your business to manage reviews and reputation management actively. Not being listed on a reference site, customers use just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is vital for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of a business's online footprint include:
- number of business listings
- consistency of business listing information
- overall sentiment in reviews
- frequency of new reviews
- overall volume of reviews
- social activity and engagement
Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. It means that maintaining your business's online reputation is becoming more critical as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience when engaging with a brand.
According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have an excellent online presence, customers will go to them rather than a competitor who does not. Once they visit your business, 79% of customers use their smartphones to look at reviews or compare prices, and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make it clear that online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.