For better or worse, the internet has made it virtually impossible for the average business to avoid public scrutiny. Your online reputation is potentially impacted, in fact, every time you sell a product, perform a service, distribute content, or interact with a prospect or client.
Today’s customer frequently turns to the internet for shopping advice. And according to a recent study from Trustpilot, not only do 89% of global consumers check online reviews as part of their buying journey, 49% consider positive reviews to be one of their top purchase influences.
It’s clear that reputation management plays a critical role in the ongoing success of your organization. Have you established a solid cyber standing? If not, consider this your introductory guide to managing the online reputation of your business.
Embrace your transparency
Since you can’t hide from what people are saying about your business online, you’ll be far better off if you embrace your transparency.
Look at virtual feedback and conversation as an opportunity to show off your company’s human side by:
- Posting both positive and negative user comments on your website blog or company Facebook page
- Opening up multiple one-on-one communication channels (via online chat and Twitter, for example)
- Responding promptly and appropriately to compliments and criticism alike
Monitoring your online footprint, by conducting regular searches on your product or business, will provide valuable insight into public sentiment that you can use to both build and preserve your reputation.
Be proactive about customer reviews
According to brand image experts, the better (and more) customer reviews your business has, the likelier you are to develop the kind of reputation that fosters trust, loyalty, and ongoing sales.
Approach happy clients about expressing their views on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or your website by:
- Contacting them directly after a successful sales or support interaction, and asking them to comment or leave a review for your business
- Creating an email or mobile marketing campaign to solicit reviews in exchange for future purchase discounts or contest give-aways
- Making use of pop-up satisfaction surveys or questionnaires on your website
Remember: the best way to collect more positive reviews for your business is to ask satisfied customers for them.
Put out reputational fires as quickly as possible
It goes without saying that managing your online reputation will be simpler if you behave respectably and extend that same respect to your clients. While you can expect a certain amount of criticism from your competitors, if your target audience is voicing concerns about the way you do business, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
Keeping an eye on the first couple of pages of Google’s search results isn’t just an effective way to gauge the success of your content marketing strategy – it can also reveal reputational fires that may need extinguishing.
- Are third-party review sites finding fault with the quality of your products?
- Are people offended by your promotional content, business practices, or standard of customer service?
- Are there complaints that your service is a scam or a “rip-off”?
While blatantly false accusations may warrant a legal or cyber investigation, you can – and should – take immediate steps to publicly address any legitimate complaints, or clear up any misunderstandings. You can work to move negative news and chatter down the search rank ladder by consistently replacing it with positive, high-ranking stories and content.
The online reputation of your business is too valuable to leave to chance. If you lack the necessary time and knowledge to properly construct, protect, or restore it, consider hiring a brand management freelancer to lend you a hand.