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Your small business reputation management online is crucial to the success of your business. In modern times, consumers will use the power of the internet to decide who and where to buy from. The online reviews from Google and other sources weigh heavily on a person’s purchasing decision. Let’s discuss small business reputation management, how to help your online reputation, and why it’s important to your winning marketing strategy.
Why Reputation Management Matters to Your Business
Out of all the sources of information, it’s no surprise to find that 93 percent of people trust their friends and family when it comes to making purchases. Despite these digital times, building a good reputation via word of mouth still matters. But when you’re business reaches farther than your local city or state, where do your potential customers look for guidance?
Your online reviews.
A local consumer study shows that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Your online reputation carries almost as much weight as the recommendation of a personal friend to a customer. This is why you need to include business reputation management strategies to maintain a positive look online. This will help convince potential consumers to purchase from you instead of a competitor.
Components of a Business’ Online Reputation
A major source of your online reputation comes from reviews about your business that are posted on the internet. Yelp, Google My Business, Etsy, and Amazon all have online reviews of products and services. Your online reputation also includes opinions, recommendations, and experiences with your business found on:
- Blog posts
- Online Forums
- Social Media
- News Articles
- and so much more
The list above represents many sources of information that post information about your business. It can get overwhelming. And trying to stay on top of it all may become too big of a task for a small business, which is why many large companies have their online reputation management services handled by a third party or hire dedicated employees to handle it.
Top 3 Small Business Reputation Management Tips for Beginners
In order to start monitoring your business online, there are a few steps that you must take.
Claim Your Business Listings on Review Sites
All applicable review sites that your business is featured on should have your presence. Set up an admin profile and monitor the reviews coming in about your small business. This is especially true if the site sends a lot of traffic your way.
If you aren’t already featured on these sites, then why not get on them? Take the same steps to get your business name out there while also managing your image at the same time.
Applications like Facebook Business allow you to claim a vanity URL to feature your business name. Take advantage of these features and write descriptions that are accurate and compelling. Be sure to use the best keywords for your niche so your website and good review sites will show up on search engines.
Create Google Alerts for New Business Mentions
Luckily you can take advantage of technology to help manage your online reputation. Google Alerts is a tool that allows you to input certain keywords so you receive an alert anytime there is something new online that pops up.
You can do this for your business name, your CEO’s name, or simply industry-related keywords.
Give yourself a more active way to manage your small business reputation and take advantage of this free tool.
Decide Who Will Manage Your Online Reputation
For a cohesive business reputation management strategy, you’ll need someone in charge of your online presence. This person must be able to respond to these reviews promptly and professionally or it may reflect poorly on your business. For example, a recent study found that 42 percent of consumers who complain on a social media platform expect to receive a response within an hour.
Because of this, your reputation manager must check review sites, social media channels, and receive Google Alerts on a daily basis. Part of your business reputation management should include review responses. An example of this is verbiage includes “We appreciate you taking the time to review our business” or “Thank you for the feedback.” type messages.
You might consider hiring online reputation management services to handle this for your business. Some advantages of working with a professional business reputation management company include:
- Search Engine Optimization – Ensure your online content is optimized for search engines with the right keywords, metadata, and headlines. Optimizing your website for a better click-through rate improves the chances of your business being seen by people searching for businesses in your industry.
- Content Creation – Build great content such as blog posts, press releases, wiki sites, articles, and business profiles about your business. This way, you are able to control the message about your business.
- Review Management – As part of online reputation management services, they monitor your online reviews. This option provides you with the opportunity to respond quickly to negative reviews and promote the positive ones.
- Social Media Management – They may even offer to manage all of your social media accounts on your behalf.
- Third-Party Website Monitoring – Other websites that people might be discussing your business can also be monitored.
How to Handle Positive (and Negative) Feedback Online
When handled properly, your business reputation management strategies can help your business succeed. Establishing a good online reputation can increase your sales and add to your business’ credibility as more customers leave their feedback. Below are some tips on how to improve your business’ online reputation.
Ask Customers for More Reviews
Sometimes your business only has a handful of reviews, and not all of them look good, which makes your star or percentage score go down significantly. But all it would take is a few more positive reviews to bump you back up. Leverage your email marketing to send a message shortly after a customer receives their product/service to ask them for a review. Your review links should be easy to spot on your social media and website pages as well.
Take All Feedback Constructively
It’s more likely that someone will leave a positive review or comment if you provide a great product or service. People enjoy talking about a product or service that worked for them. And customers are more likely to recommend you to a friend or family in this case.
But if you are hearing over and over again that a certain part of your business is getting flak, then look into why that is and try to make it better. By letting customers know that you have updated your business to accommodate their wants and needs, you can gain a lot of trust and get them to come back and try again.
Highlight Your Positive Reviews
Leverage the best reviews in your marketing materials by turning them into testimonials. This can be a powerful way to appeal to your audience through online marketing. Testimonials can be shared in emails, social media, or featured on your website in a variety of ways. Just be sure to reach out to the customer to ask for their permission first.
Respond to Negative Comments
Negative comments or reviews are going to occur. Even if you sell the best product or service around, it’s not going to satisfy everyone. There’s going to be a dissatisfied customer at some point. This is where your small business reputation management skills are put to the test.
Contact the reviewer or reply back to their comment. State that you are sorry that the product or service did not meet their expectations. Tell them that you care about your customers’ satisfaction and ask if there is something that you can do to make up for the experience. A refund or discount are two examples of business-specific methods to leverage. Then ask them to edit their review or leave an update after you’ve completed your part to try and make it better.
Find Sources to Help Spread Your Name
You want to create a buzz about your business online, not just on review sites. Find influencers and bloggers that are a good fit for your business to help expand your online presence. If you want to use their platform to help market your business, it’s important to establish a relationship with them first. Give them information about your product or images to help them create the content and ensure its correct.