6 Tips to Help Build and Manage Your Company’s Online Reputation
It goes beyond addressing negative reviews, writes BrightLocal's Sherry Bonelli.
Your company’s reputation is one of your biggest and most important marketing assets. Don’t believe me? Consider this: In a recent study performed by BrightLocal, 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Additionally, it was found that consumers form opinions about your business quickly — 68% of them form an opinion about a business after reading just 1-6 reviews.
Having a reputation marketing/management strategy is crucial in today’s always-on society. As the use of social media increases and people express their opinions openly online, reputation management becomes important for every business. Social media. Review websites (like Yelp.) Online business directories. Comment sections on blog posts. All of these digital media provide ways for customers – happy AND grumpy ones – to leave a review about your business. And if you’re not ready with a strategy to manage your reputation, you’ll get run over by your competitors who are managing and proactively growing their reputation.
So where do you start and how do you build a positive reputation for your business?
#1 Recognize that Reviews Are All Around Us
First, you must recognize that reviews are all around people when they search online for a business, product or service. Google and the other search engines regularly show reviews within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs):
And Google has even taken things one step further by showing Google reviews and third-party reviews in a business’ Knowledge Panel:
Reviews are showing up about your business, whether you like it or not. You can’t bury your head in the sand anymore. You have to take a stand!
#2 Perform a Reputation Marketing Audit and Then Monitor…Monitor…Monitor
First, it’s important to get an idea of what’s being said about your business. Go ahead and Google your business name, brand name, website URL, products, etc. and see what’s being said about you online. Once you get a feel for the overall online sentiment for your company, it’s time to start proactively monitoring your reviews and what’s being said about your brand online.
Most social media tools allow you to “monitor” your company name, brand terms, website URL, etc. Tools like Mention, BuzzSumo and Google Alerts are great ways to be automatically alerted whenever there’s something being said about your business online.
There are also a variety of full-service reputation marketing software programs on the market that will help you manage your reputation as well.
Monitoring is an important part of your new reputation strategy – you must monitor what customers are saying about you – the good, the bad and the ugly. Set up these alerts so you receive them either in real-time or at least once a day. That way you can respond quickly should something negative pop up.
#3 Get Those Positive Reviews and Address Negative Ones
As potential customers search for what your business offers, they’ll likely see reviews about your business – and those of your competitors, too. Like it…or not. Your goal? Make sure you have positive reviews that are timely and relevant towards the top of the review list. As people read reviews, most will look at and read the reviews that are at the top of the list first. (People want to see current reviews – not ones that are two years’ old.)
If the recent reviews about your company are negative ones, that can significantly impact a potential consumer’s trust, because they may not even take the time to read past the first few negative reviews – even if you have 5-star reviews just below.
If you do get a negative review, defuse it by first responding publicly to the unhappy customer (that shows others who may come upon the bad review that you genuinely care about the opinions of your customers) and offering to speak with them offline to resolve the issue. (NOTE: If you successfully address the unhappy customer’s complaint, thank them and kindly ask if they would consider amending their online review by giving you a higher starred review. Hopefully they’ll log back on and edit their review to a more favorable rating.) Then continue with your mission to get more positive reviews so that bad reviews get pushed down the list.
#4 Claim Your Business’ Local Listings on Online Business Directories and Review Sites
It’s important that you claim and update local listings, like Google My Business, Yelp, Merchant Circle and others to ensure that your business’ information is correct. Most of these directories (and, of course, the review sites) have a place where consumers can leave a review about your business. Once you claim and optimize your business listing, you’ll want to add these sites to your ‘must-watch’ list and keep an eye out for what people are saying.
#5 Ask Customers for Reviews
Your happy customers can often be your best advocates! It’s a good idea to ask them for reviews and testimonials. Make sure that you give them an easy way to go to your Google business page or one of your preferred review sites to leave you a review. You can do this by printing out little notecards that say, “Let us know how we’re doing. Leave feedback at www.yelp.com/biz/businessname-city or facebook.com/company name.” Be sure to vary which review sites you’re sending people to. If a site starts getting too many reviews about your business, their anti-spam algorithm might kick in and suppress or outright delete those reviews. (Yelp is notorious for this tactic.)
So ask your customers slowly and gradually start building up reviews on these sites.
#6 Promote Your Great Reviews on Social Media
Everyone likes a compliment. When you get positive reviews about your business, take a screen shot of the review using Camtasia, SnagIt or another screen capturing tool. Then make a short post about how happy you are to receive such great feedback and upload the post with image of the review to your social media channels. Be sure to show where the review was posted to by including the logo of the review site (this helps with social proof.)
Not only is this a great way to toot your own horn, but it’s also a way to show potential customers your ‘wins.’
Monitoring and proactively getting positive reviews about your business is only going to increase in importance. Get started with marketing and managing your business’ reputation today.
**Sherry Bonelli is the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She leads BrightLocal’s Research & Content programs and champions the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications. In her “spare” time she is a volunteer mentor for the SCORE East Central Iowa Chapter where she coaches small businesses on how to use digital marketing effectively. Sherry frequently gives workshops and speeches on digital marketing topics to local business owners. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.