Updated: Jun 24
Reputation matters, especially when it comes to your small and mid-sized business. With 98% of the American workforce made up of small businesses, the demand for local visibility and credibility is as fierce as the competition; often, credibility only comes down to one thing: online reputation. While visibility ensures the eyes that matter most are on your business, credibility establishes the trust required to attract a new customer. Modern accessibility, technology, and social media fluency have made it easier than ever for customers to determine if your business is the right fit for them in only a few clicks. This begs the question: how can we ensure your business is the best fit in such a short amount of time? The answer is online reputation management.
Simply put, your business reputation is fundamental to its survival and vital to future growth. In 2021, online business reputation management isn’t just a bonus, it’s essential.
What is an Online Reputation?
Similar to the reputation you and your business have in your community, your online reputation is the overall perception others may have of your brand, business, product, or services when they find your company online. This can look like search results, review sites, press and media, images, videos, social media mentions, and more.
In the age of voice search and online visibility, it’s easier than ever for potential customers to peruse what’s being said about your business and make buying decisions based on what they find. It’s true: what people say about your business matters, and a well-managed online reputation puts your business in the best possible position to win potential customers.
Do I Really Need Positive Reviews?
Short answer: yes. Long answer? The numbers don’t lie: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and nearly 3 out of 4 customers trust a company more if it has positive reviews. With over 26,000 reviews posted on Yelp almost every minute, it’s imperative that your business gains excellent quality, glowing reviews.
Positive online reviews act as social proof: we’re more likely to trust a brand or business if our community - even of total strangers - vouches that it is a good decision on our part.
Positive online reviews ensure greater visibility with search engines: your potential customers are most likely already looking for you online. However, before they can find you on their favorite search engine, you’ll need to play nice with a few algorithms. While search engines have their algorithms that organize business listings and content, they can all agree that they are looking for fresh, quality content - and customer reviews fit that bill perfectly.
Positive online reviews enhance your perceived authority and trust: 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review. Interestingly, similar research found that reliability, expertise, and professionalism were amongst the most important reputation traits for a local business.
Positive online reviews can encourage greater organic reach and further positive conversation. Expanding your brand’s reach can be as simple as asking for a review. Encouraging your satisfied consumers to review your company is the most simple and effective way to expand your brand’s reach while taking advantage of the ‘snowball effect.' The increase in positive reviews on your business encourages even more reviews from previous customers and generates more visibility.
Positive online reviews help customers make decisions. Given that nearly two-thirds of shoppers consider online reviews a crucial part of their decision-making progress, you’ll want to ensure that the places they turn to, likeGoogle My Business, Yelp, and other business directory sites,) are ready for them. By turning your attention to creating a steady stream of positive reviews, you can rest assured that your business is more likely to show up for consumers at the right time in their buying journey.
How Can I Build Positive Reviews?
Ask for them! Does that sound too simple? Believe it or not, asking is half the battle. Consider asking your loyal customers for feedback and reviews in easy-to-read, easy-to-access formats. A quick option is to send them a one-click link that allows your customers to review your business or share a success story in just a few seconds. Some tools even allow you to automatically send out ‘rate and review’ emails, text messages, and marketing correspondence after you’ve completed your transaction.
Respond to Reviews: An impressive 71% of consumers reported they were more likely to trust a brand that took the time to respond to all of their earned reviews on platforms like Yelp. This often-overlooked effort can often make a world of difference, so consider setting time aside every couple of days to respond to reviews as they come in.
Acknowledge (and learn from) negative reviews: Bad reviews may be inevitable, but swiftly acknowledging and learning from the experiences of unhappy customers is the key to damage control and long-term online reputation. If a customer has left a complaint or less-than-stellar review, consider promptly responding appropriately. Ensure that your response is detailed and transparent: you’ll want to appease this customer while showcasing your problem-solving skills to other readers of your answer. It’s ideal for resolving the issue online, but don’t hesitate to invite the negative reviewer to the opportunity to continue the conversation offline for resolution. Both options provide the same goal of communicating that the concern has been seen and addressed.
What Does Online Reputation Management Look Like?
Getting started with your business’s online reputation management strategy can be overwhelming, so before diving in, you’d be wise to prioritize! Consider the platforms where customer reviews would be most impactful (think: GMB and Yelp). How have you managed your current reviews? Is anyone still waiting for a response? Finally, how do you plan to gain, react to, and learn from reviews in the future?
You’ll want to make sure that you clearly understand what is being said about you on any site, how easy it is for customers to find your reviews, and how you plan to connect with customers' reviews moving forward. Here are a few items to consider in your Reputation Management plan:
Set a clear response time goal for reviews (within 24 hours is preferred)
Establish a precise and professional tone of voice for your business
Ensure your Yelp and GMB page are active and healthy
Decide how to decipher between urgent and non-urgent responses
Encourage positive reviews online (don’t be afraid to ask!)
Get comfortable with managing negative online reviews
How Can BrandRep Help?
BrandRep has been helping small businesses with their marketing needs for almost 10 years. We have created a review generation and management tool called BrandStar: the most affordable review management platform, specifically designed for small and mid-sized businesses.
BrandStar enables business owners like you to generate, manage, and respond to reviews with ease, all in one online Client Portal - at a fraction of the cost of other systems. This powerhouse platform closes the gap between small business owners and customers, going far beyond traditional review gen and management. As a result, BrandStar allows businesses to elevate the way they connect with consumers, drive reviews, and manage online relationships. Combined with BrandRep’s proprietary business Client Portal - which is the only tool that delivers live Google My Business insights - BrandStar is in a league of its own.
We’re thrilled that BrandRep is now the only agency with real-time Google My Business insights feed directly into our client portal. This new Client Portal will empower you with insights and KPI tracking across various GMB metrics like Phone Calls, Website Visits, Direction Requests, and more. Together with BrandStar, we can now offer businesses more visibility and insight into their online presence and marketing performance. Elevate your online reputation and step into a world of elite online reputation management with BrandRep.
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