According to a study conducted by Convergys Corporation, companies lose an average of 30 customers per each negative review.
When searching for your business online, have you ever come across a negative customer review or piece of commentary? If so, you should consider online reputation management.
Even if your business operates locally, customers and other individuals may talk about it on the internet. With online reputation management, you can foster more positive reviews while molding the public’s perception of your business in the process.
What is Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is a subset of public relations that involves monitoring and cultivating your business’s positive reputation on the internet.
Consumers often use the internet to research businesses before buying their products or services. Online reputation management aims to project your business positively.
When someone searches for your business online, consumers may discover lots of positive reviews, testimonials, press releases, and other types of digital content attesting to your business’s credibility.
Why Online Reputation Management Is Important
Investing in online reputation management will likely pay off by increasing your business’s sales revenue. Your business may have mostly positive reviews published online, but it only takes a few bad apples to spoil your business’s reputation.
If consumers encounter negative reviews when researching your business online, they may abandon their purchase while choosing a competitor’s product or service instead.
Online reputation management allows you to nurture customers so that they are more likely to leave positive reviews. Hopefully, any negative reviews will be buried below a sea of positive reviews where consumers overlook them.
Online reputation management will also increase your business’s visibility on the internet. When consumers search for keywords related to your business, they’ll see websites and pages containing information about your business.
Neglecting to manage your business’s online reputation, on the other hand, means your competitors’ websites will show to consumers.
How Online Reputation Management Works
Online reputation management encompasses many different tasks, all of which can improve the public’s perception of your business. Monitoring and responding to customer reviews, for instance, can change the way customers and prospects perceive your business.
While you shouldn’t ask customers to delete or change their negative reviews, you should try to change their perception of your business.
If you encounter a negative review, take a few steps back to investigate it. Customers generally leave negative reviews because they had a negative experience.
Maybe the customer was treated poorly by a sales representative, or perhaps the customer was wrongfully double-billed.
By investigating the customer’s experience, you can respond to his or her negative review with a solution, such as apologizing on behalf of the unfriendly sales representative or providing a credit for the double-billing.
After reading your response, the customer may update his or her review.
Most online review platforms, including Google and Yelp, prohibit businesses from deleting reviews. An exception, however, is when a review violates the platform’s terms and conditions.
If you believe a negative review violates the platform’s and conditions, you can flag it for removal. The platform’s editorial team will then check the review, and if it fails to comply, they will delete it.
Different review platforms have other guidelines that users must follow when leaving reviews. Regardless, none of them allow competitors to create reviews.
If a competitor leaves a negative review under the guise of a fake name, you should flag it for removal.
Fake reviews from competitors are destructive. Other users will perceive them as legitimate, which may influence their decision to engage with your business.
Whether it’s a fake review from a competitor, spam, or any other negative review that violates the platform’s terms and conditions, flagging it for removal will help preserve your business’s online reputation.
Of course, there’s more to online reputation management than simply responding to reviews. You want people to see positive messages about your business when they search for it online.
If a high-ranking website or page talks about your business negatively, you might be able to bury it by publishing a new content piece.
This online reputation management tactic involves creating and optimizing content around similar keywords to push out the critical piece of content.
A single article typically won’t suffice. Instead, you’ll need to create multiple articles to bury the critical piece of content.
Once optimized, search engines may rank your articles higher than the critical piece of content, essentially burying it deep in the search results.
Social media is another element of online reputation management. According to Facebook, over 60 million businesses have created a Facebook Page to promote their brand on the network.
To manage your business’s online reputation, you must create a Facebook Page and other social media profiles under your business’s brand name while using these properties to interact with consumers.
DIY vs. Professional Online Reputation Management
You can either manage your business’s online reputation yourself, or you can hire a firm to manage it. Do-it-yourself is cheaper, but partnering with a professional online reputation management firm is well worth the cost.
Online reputation management firms have the tools, resources, and experience needed to improve your business’s reputation on the internet.
Furthermore, online reputation management firms know how to interact with consumers to improve their perception of your business.
Countless businesses have closed their doors because of a public relations blunder. In just a single tweet or message to a consumer, you could inadvertently destroy your business’s reputation.
Unless you’re willing to take that unnecessary risk, you should place your business’s online reputation in the hands of a professional firm.
A positive reputation is your business’s most important asset.
Your business may top-of-the-line products at the lowest prices, but consumers won’t choose it if it suffers from a negative reputation.
With online reputation management, you can foster a positive public image for your business that attracts more consumers.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.