Reputation management has changed significantly over the past few years. Once upon a time, dissatisfied customers had the ability to impact a business insofar as they could tell friends, family, and neighbors about bad service, subpar products, or other transgressions. But these days, people have a global platform for voicing dissatisfaction with brands, in the form of the internet, online reviews, and social media.
As such, reputation management has become more important than ever, and today we’re going to talk about what it is, why it’s important, and how you can incorporate it into your small business marketing campaigns.
The Basics of Reputation Management
When prospective customers Google your business, what’s the first thing they come across? Is it just one review on Google My Business? Is it a raving testimonial on Yelp? A neutral review on Amazon? Or perhaps a glaring complaint with the Better Business Bureau? This is the crux of your online reputation, and it’s all about how trustworthy your business is according to the information that’s available on the internet.
Reputation management, therefore, is about monitoring what people say about you online, actively encouraging positive reviews and comments about your business, and taking steps to address criticisms that could lead to a bad reputation.
Ignoring Reputation Management Could Kill Your Business
The information available about your company online comes from places like reviews, testimonials, media coverage, blogs, articles, social media posts, comments, and more. And if the information that comes up about your business is mostly negative, then it will be very difficult for you to gain the trust of prospects.
For one thing, most consumers these days perform a great deal of online research about products, services, and brands before they commit to a purchase, and if your bad reputation precedes you, then potential customers likely won’t feel comfortable doing business with you. A main contributor to bad reputations is online reviews, which are becoming increasingly important: over 90 percent of people read online reviews, and nearly 70 percent will form an opinion after reading between one and six reviews.
Managing Your Online Reputation
There are a few components to reputation management, and two of the most important are monitoring and active management. Monitoring is about keeping an eye on what people are saying about your business.
The easiest way to track this is with Google Alerts and social media tracking, but you can also do it manually by regularly checking review sites, social media, blogs related to your business, and so forth. The second component, management, is more detailed and time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Here are a few ideas that will help you cultivate a positive online reputation:
- Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews and testimonials
- Create and stay active on social media channels that your customers use
- Have disingenuous reviews and comments removed
- Work hard to create a loyal customer base
- Create loads of entertaining and engaging content
- Use local SEO best practices and making sure your name, address, phone number, and other information is accurate in online directories and review sites
- Have an engaging and easy-to-navigate website that’s full of data about your brand, your products or services, and information related to your business
- Respond quickly, sincerely, and honestly to negative feedback, bad reviews, and criticism
Reputation management will only continue to become more important for small businesses as the world continues to get smaller and more connected through the internet and modern technology. Managing your reputation is crucial if you want to maintain a loyal customer base and attract and convert prospects. The biggest component of reputation management is staying focused on delivering exceptional customer service.