Why Reputation Management is Critical to Your Success Online
Business owners don’t need to be told that their reputation is critical to their success. Having a positive reputation among your customers has always had a direct impact on the bottom line.
What business owners might not be aware of is how reputation management has evolved over the years, and how consumer behaviors have changed as the result of modern reputation management tools.
In this post, we’re going to discuss how online reviews have changed the reputation management landscape for local business owners, how consumers are reacting to these changes, and finally how you as a business owner can use the tools at your disposal to generate more positive reviews and increase your reputation online.
The New ‘Word of Mouth’
If you operate a business that serves local customers, you’re already aware that you want your customers telling others about you. Getting your satisfied customers to refer you to their friends and family members generates a ton of business that you might not have earned otherwise.
But today one satisfied customers’ opinion goes far beyond their immediate social circle. Modern consumers have the ability to go online and tell thousands of people about how awesome it was to do business with you.
But who cares what some random person on the internet says?
According to one survey published by Inc. Magazine, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as if they came from a close friend. That’s out of the 91% of people who read them!
Here are some other interesting stats from various consumer surveys:
15% of users say they don’t trust businesses without any reviews.
83% of users say they don’t trust advertising and rely on reviews.
70% of users say they need to read the last 4 reviews before they’ll make a purchase.
Online reputation management has become a critical part of every local business’s digital marketing strategy. Next, we’re going to discuss actions you can take to increase your reputation online.
First, Make Sure Your Customers Can Review You
First, you’ll need to make sure your customers are able to leave reviews for your business on the review platforms that they use.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about how your business directory listings are essential to your success online. Reputation management is just another reason to make sure your business is listed on the web’s most trusted directory platforms.
Some of these directories allow users to leave reviews for your business. Some well-known examples of platforms that include reviews are the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Angie’s List, though there are many others.
You should also make sure that you’ve created a Google My Business account and that all the information in that account is current and up to date. According to a survey by ReviewTrackers, nearly 64% of consumers look for reviews on Google before other platforms.
With your business listed on all the most popular review platforms, the next step is to encourage your customers to actually leave reviews.
How to Increase Your Reviews Online
Before we discuss ways you can generate more online reviews, I should mention Google’s review policy states that business owners should not give customers incentives to leave reviews, especially positive ones.
Just recently a business offered me a discount if I left a 5-star Google review and sent them a link to it. It left a really bad taste in my mouth and let me know that all their positive reviews were likely left by customers who hadn’t even done business with them yet. Not to mention, doing stuff like this is just downright unethical.
What you can do is let customers know how easy it is to leave a Google or Yelp review, and simply ask them to share their experience. I’ve seen this done in a number of ways, but the most popular are follow-up emails and hand-outs that ask customers to go write about their experience.
Don’t Forget to Respond to Your Reviews
There is extensive data showing that businesses that respond to their reviews help encourage more positive reviews and lessen the impact of negative reviews. It’s an easy way to engage with your satisfied customers and show potential customers that you’re willing to listen to negative feedback.
Just be sure to keep your responses short and to the point. Tell the reviewer you are sorry to hear about their bad experience and encourage them to reach out to you directly to discuss how you might be able to make it up to them.
There are tons of examples of business owners arguing with their customers in reviews. It’s almost never a good look for your business.
For positive reviews, and simple ‘thank you for your business, we hope to see you again soon’ should suffice.
Finally, Just be Awesome
The last and most obvious way to increase the number of positive reviews your business has online is to just give your customers an experience worth sharing. If you focus on customer service and give your customers great value for their money, they’ll want to go online and tell others about it.
More importantly, you’ll avoid negative reviews this way. Customers who have a negative experience are two to three times more likely to leave a review about it. It might not seem fair, but people are more strongly motivated by negative emotions when it comes to sharing their experiences.
You can’t satisfy everyone, but if you make it a priority to try and offer an awesome experience, you’ll likely reap the benefits online.
Go Out and Start Earning Those Reviews
We’ve talked about how digital reviews have changed the way customers make purchase decisions, and we’ve discussed various ways that you can start earning more positive reviews online. All you need to do now is to go earn them! Make sure your business is listed in the right places, reach out to your customers and ask for their feedback, and always focus on giving them the best experience possible.