Staying On Top of Online Reputation Management

Written by Jonathan Baker

You manage your business with care and responsibility, yes? You stay on top of everything, from inventory to updates on your website and social media presence. While staying busy with these tasks, make it a point to also keep tabs on the reputation of your business…

Success—or slump?

Is your brand or business successful and continuing to grow? Or have you experienced a slump in sales and noticed that your audience is shrinking? If you are not doing so already, make it a priority to check your online reputation management. Negative reviews from disgruntled customers will cause a ripple effect that adversely impacts the standing of your business—not to mention sales.

Stats worth sitting up and taking notice of…

Earlier this year, Luisa Zhou, a mentor for new entrepreneurs, compiled a list of eye-opening figures that emphasize the importance of a business’ online reputation. In the “Internet era,” consumers are much savvier and cautious when it comes to deciding on whether to spend their money and time with a particular business. The following percentages—in descending order—refer to consumers, of which:

  • 97 percent check online reviews of nearby businesses.
  • 95 percent read online reviews before making a purchase.
  • 94 percent have avoided a particular business upon reading a host of negative reviews.
  • 89 percent check reviews before making an online transaction.
  • 74 percent are more likely to trust a business that has mostly positive reviews.
  • 53 percent respect a response to a negative review within one week of posting.

In case any of the more negative percentages above apply to your situation, step back and breathe, because there are actions to take to improve your business’ online reputation as well as minimize the possibility of future negative reviews. It’s all about being proactive and vigilant.

Going all in for online reputation management

As explained by Lis Anderson, writing for Forbes, online reputation management (ORM) monitors every mention of a business that appears on the Internet and ensures that it is presented in the best possible light. Strategic steps to take in ORM include:

1. Conducting a reputation audit

A “reputation audit” searches and analyzes all mentions—good and bad—of your business in the online space. The purpose of this audit is to ultimately provide a score card as to what users think. This in turn will present an accurate analysis of how to proceed in managing—and if need be, fixing—the reputation of your business.

2. Addressing negative feedback quickly and professionally

Search through all reviews that have been posted online about your business—from Google to social media sites, and everywhere else. If negative reviews appear, offer complaining customers the option for you to make things right. This will prove to both existing and future customers that you are accountable and responsible.

3. Addressing positive feedback (just as quickly and professionally)

Going in a 180-degree about face from the above step, also respond to positive customer reviews to show that you are attentive and appreciative of their business. This will further cement your business’ reputation and spread good word of mouth. (Luisa Zhou also noted that positive reviews have the potential to increase customer spending by up to 31 percent.)

4. Ask for feedback

Invite and encourage customers to post about their experience regarding the products or services they purchased from you. This is a win-win for you and the customers. If they were displeased with any part of the transaction, you will know right away and be able to take action. On the other hand, if they were happy, you’ll have another positive review that bolsters the reputation of your business.

5. Ensure honesty and security

Are the terms and conditions on your business’ web page easily accessible via a very visible call-to-action? If not, prioritize this step now. Make clear to visitors that you provide convenient options for everything from returning a product to a seamless money-back guarantee. This step proves transparency and integrity on your part.

6. Let influencers get into the act

Influencers are new best friends to brands and businesses, as they promote products and services which they personally believe in. This then spreads awareness to their followers (read: new customers). Word of mouth from an influencer also pushes negative reviews down in Google search results and allows more positive ones to be added and have more visibility near the top of the results page.

Nothing is perfect. Even if every customer you know says or writes positive comments about your business, there either has or will be an unhappy consumer who may post a negative review. Don’t ignore it. Don’t hide. As stated, the key is to be proactive in handling and answering all online reviews.

The EGC Group can help you get an honest and accurate appraisal of where your business stands in online public opinion, as well as strengthen its reputation even further. Get in touch with us to find out how. (Oh, and reread “step 6.” Be sure to learn more about EGC’s Influencer Marketing Services.)