In today’s digital and web-driven world, businesses need to be more aware of their online reputation than ever before. But just why is it so important, and how can you proactively manage it?
It’s now a fact of life that when consumers are looking to purchase a product or service, they are first going to research it online. This will include looking at reviews, responsiveness to feedback and the social media accounts of the companies they are considering purchasing from. It goes further than just sales, too!
Here are just a few reasons why businesses must pay attention to their online reputation.
» Marketing & Sales
There is arguably no stronger sales tool online than genuine positive customer reviews, much like in days gone by businesses relied heavily on word of mouth. The likes of TrustPilot and TripAdvisor have revolutionised how we shop online, while Google is influenced in local search results by businesses with quality customer review scores. These can be businesses you wouldn’t traditionally think of as being online, such as local plumbers and electricians. However, with the addition of the Google local pack, this means there is a good chance that a well optimised website that has a good local SEO strategy can appear there.
Prospective customers will look for reviews of your company and those of your competitors if you are a local or national business, so give them a platform on which to do it, and moreover, actively encourage them to leave reviews particularly if you have had a positive experience with them.
Aside from just sales, online reputation is also vital when it comes to recruiting. If you want to attract the best staff in your industry, then you need to make sure that websites such as Glassdoor and Reed, both of which allow employees to review businesses for whom they have worked, give a positive representation of your business. For this reason set up alerts and make sure you track and respond to employee reviews.
» Customer service
The customer service skills and performance of your business will be out for all to see online, so it’s important to get it right. On online directories andwebsites, make sure you’re proactive and swiftly respond to all customer comments – even if there are negative ones, show a friendly and professional tone in wanting to put right any complaints that may come in. It’s important to use this feedback to improve your services where possible.
» Social media
Aside from using it as a customer service platform, your social media accounts will be among the first pages that your prospective customers look at or maybe the first marketing channel where they discover your business. Be sure to always have a clear and professional tone across all of your channels and respond quickly to feedback after all social media is a two-way communication channel.
Managing your online reputation
Keeping on top of your online reputation is not easy, and even in the smallest of companies, it can swiftly become an expensive task – even a full-time job.
Aside from the proactive approach of encouraging reviews, speaking to customers on social media and ensuring reviews from former staff members are positive, there are also some other challenges that you will need to be aware of and on top of, such as fake reviews that may be left by competitors or other people with a grievance. Also don’t get caught in the trap of buying thousands of fake Twitter followers, these days most people can spot them a mile off and its really just a lazy approach to social media that really offers no real value to your business and could, in fact, damage your reputation.
Professional agencies now exist to help businesses take control of their online reputation through SEO and optimising content to appear higher but also for outreach to content publishers for editing incorrect material and finally to monitor mentions of your brand and reviews. If you have the means of doing so, then passing over responsibilities to these professionals like Red Alien will pay dividends. They will call upon the skills and experience of staff across a range of digital fields, to ensure your reputation is as positive and constructive as possible on the web. They’re also going to have in-house resources to look out for mentions on social channels and feedback through other digital channels.
If you want to take control internally then there are tools like Google Alerts, Review Trackers, and Rankur amongst many others that can do everything from alert you to when a particular topic is published online to when your brand is mentioned on social media or a review left online.
However, if you choose to manage your reputation make sure you know exactly when and where you are being talked about so that you do not miss the opportunity to offer positive and constructive communication if required to do so.