When you stop and think about what customers think of your business, do you know what they are saying? The answer to this very question is why online reputation management is so important for businesses of any size.
What is said about your business online can have a huge impact on the amount of new business you are able to attract.
It’s no mystery that people go online, first, to seek out information. This includes learning about the companies they are seeking to hire.
Regardless of industry, online reviews and how they are managed can go a long way in the perception of a business.
And when it comes to perception, a company’s reputation is everything. According to a local consumer survey conducted by BrightLocal, a local citation building service:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
- And 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews
Knowing this, online reputation management is something every business owner should give plenty of attention to.
Online Reputation Management and Online Reviews
Have you ever “Googled” a product or service and seen a list of companies show up with star ratings next to them? Or have you visited a business Facebook page and seen the recommendations for the business?
These are examples of online reviews. Sometimes the reviews are good, but in some cases, they’re not so good. The average rating of each of these reviews combined is what makes up the star rating for those companies.
If a company has a lot of 5 star reviews, this makes it seem as though people have had some very positive experiences with this business. And more often than not, it’s probably because they have.
The same is also true if you see a business with a 3 star review or less. This means that multiple have people left reviews and ratings that are not so great. As a result, the average star rating of that business is lower.
Online Reviews Can Make or Break a Deal
So why is this important? Well, because this is all public online. People see this. And if they are researching your company, they are going to see a star rating for your business if people have left reviews.
The likelihood that they will hire your company is better if they see other people have had positive experiences with your business. If not, then they may pass you up and work with one of your competitors instead if they have a better star rating and more positive reviews than your own.
But reviews don’t stop there (meaning Google and Facebook). While more people probably see these reviews than on other platforms, there are plenty of other places that people could potentially read reviews about your business online. This could include platforms like Yelp, Nextdoor, Yellow Pages, Google My Business and so on.
So while it’s important to know what people are saying about your business on more obvious places, you want to keep tabs on the general consensus about your business online overall. If not, your business could lose customers simply because of what potential customers read about it.
This is why online reputation management is a key component to improving your perception online. When correctly addressed, the rewards for your business could be great. But if not, then the opposite is true.
Improved Online Reputation Helps with SEO
When potential customers see that a business has good reviews, they are intrigued to learn more. In doing so, they are more likely to visit a company’s website to learn more about them. And when more people visit your website, this can translate to improved rank on search engines over time.
Additionally, when local businesses have a great quantity of quality reviews, this also helps with local SEO. This means that your business could show up higher on Google’s map search. When this happens, your business is more easily visible and discoverable when people perform online searches related to your company’s product or service.
So not only do positive online reviews improve your business’s online reputation and perception, but they also help your business stand out versus your competition.
And when your company website begins to attract new traffic, it will also begin to experience more customer volume. And what business owner doesn’t want that?
Online Reputation Management Creates a Relationship with Your Customers
Aside from getting customer reviews to rave about your business, online reputation management also gives you an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers.
Well, how so?
When some leaves a review for your business on Google or Facebook, this is chance to say something to that person. If they leave you a review saying how great their experience was working with your business, you can respond directly to their review. Thanking them with a personal and customized response is a great way to further improve their experience and helping them remember working with you down the road.
Likewise, if someone leaves a negative review, this is also a chance to respond. You can acknowledge their experience in a tasteful manner, asking them if there is anything that can be done to improve their experience or bring them back to your business to get a second chance.
If you are a restaurant or retail business, you might use this opportunity to offer them a complimentary appetizer or discount in your store.
Whether the reviews you receive are positive or negative, acknowledging your customers is a sure way to let them know that your business genuinely cares about their experience.
In addition, other people reading your company’s reviews will see your response and have a more positive perception of your business.
Using Social Media to Engage with Customers
Social media is also another great way to engage with your customers. If your company has a Facebook page (which it should), often your followers will comment on posts. When they do this, you can respond as your business.
If fans of your page say something on your Facebook page, let them know your business is listening by responding to their comments.
When you do this, you create a stronger relationship with your fans and an overall improved experience with the people who engage with your business online.
Acquiring new customers is essential for any business looking to grow, but there is little that outweighs creating a positive experience for your loyal fan base and existing customers.
Above all, make every interaction with people engaging with your business online a positive one.
When people leave bad reviews, sometimes businesses use this as a way to respond to customers negatively and say they are not at fault for a poor experience or criticism.
You’ll want to avoid this approach at all costs, because remember, other people will see this. And a poor response will most definitely lead to a poor perception.
So keep it positive!
Online Reputation Management Gives Your Brand a Voice
The last key point, but certainly not the least is that online reputation management gives your brand a voice.
What do we mean by this?
Going back to our earlier point about building relationships with your customers, when your business actively engages with its audience, people get to know your business. They learn how your business interacts with it’s customers and they learn what to expect.
If your business is pleasant to communicate with, people will grasp this. They will want to engage with your business.
Are your company’s responses to customers informative, sympathetic, or even slightly funny?
However you want your brand to be perceived, how you respond will play a large role in what your customers expect as well as how they feel toward your brand.
So how do you want people to feel about your business?
By taking the time to invest in your online reputation management, you can set your business leaps and bounds above your competition.
Need Help with Your Company’s Online Reputation Management?
As you’ve seen, online reputation management is a key component to how your business is perceived overall online. In summation we’ve talked about why it’s important including:
- People use online reviews to make purchase decisions
- Online reputation management gives your brand a voice
- Positive reviews help with SEO
- Managing your online reputation helps build positive relationships with your customers
If you are interested in improving the online reputation of your business, we would like to help. For more information about our digital solutions, please contact us.