Online Reputation Management: Expectations vs. Reality
With more than 85 percent of shoppers starting product searches online, a positive reputation has never been more important.
Too many negative reviews could chase prospects away to your competitors and cost you valuable conversions.
But effective online reputation management can make a difference: a skilled team will cultivate a more positive perception of your business, and boost your appeal in even the most crowded marketplace.
However, some business owners and executives underestimate the importance of online reputation management. They may miss out on its benefits because of certain misconceptions.
Here are four common examples — and why they’re wrong.
Your business is too small for online reputation management
Every business can benefit from online reputation management. As we’ve already established, the majority of consumers begin product searches online. Even if they think a local brick-and-mortar shop may carry the goods they want to buy, they’re still likely to check for a better deal online.
Let’s say a customer in the market for hand-made men’s shoes, just like those you offer, comes across your small company. They like the look of your products, and your website appears credible. But they look up your reviews before they buy, just for their peace of mind.
And because you run such a small business, you only have three reviews online. All of which are poor.
The customer looks elsewhere but finds no other information about the quality of your shoes or your service.
What else can they do to learn more about you? The only impartial details they can find are negative. They may take a chance on your business and hope for the best, but in the end, they could choose a competitor stocking similar shoes at the same price.
With online reputation management, that customer would be able to find more information about your company during their research stage. Positive information highlighting the quality of your products, adding credibility to your growing brand, and increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
You should just ignore negative reviews
Sadly, bad reviews won’t vanish if you ignore them. They’ll stay on TrustPilot, Google, and other review sites (unless you can have them removed for breaching guidelines).
But a key part of online reputation management is monitoring reviews and responding to them. The good and the bad.
Why? Because customers want to know that you care.
According to research by Forrester, more than 70 percent say that the most important thing a business can do to deliver quality service online is to value a customer’s time.
At the very least, responding to a review shows the individual responsible that you have recognized their feedback. But if you respond to their review in a professional way, perhaps by apologizing for their negative experience, they may still give your business another chance.
And, crucially, other prospective and existing customers will see your response too. If they like your tone and accountability, their trust in your company is likely to increase.
You can’t get customers to write reviews
You need positive reviews to build credibility and trust. But how can you get people to write them for you?
It’s easy: just ask.
But it’s only that simple if you provide customers with service of the highest standard. Service so good they have no reason to even look at your competitors’ websites. Service you’d love to receive yourself.
And delivering an outstanding customer experience depends on understanding your customers. Research your target audience, their buying habits, their budgets, their goals. The more you know about them, the better you can meet their needs — and exceed them.
Another essential part of asking consumers to review your business, products, and/or services? Make it simple.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to complete a five-page questionnaire about your buying experience and write about the quality of the service in detail?
Or would you rather type a few lines, give a star rating, and hit ‘submit’?
The faster and easier the review process is, the more likely a customer is to help you. Especially if you’ve earned their loyalty.
You only need social media accounts if your audience is young
Social media is a core aspect of good online reputation management. But don’t buy into the myth that it’s just for Gen Z and Millennials: research by Global Web Index shows that baby boomers use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube in high numbers.
You can reach audiences on social media through paid and organic posts. Each type is important in online reputation management. And people may comment on both, offering praise or criticism. That’s why you should always monitor public feedback.
Do people like an ad? Do people find that new blog post you shared on Facebook to be offensive in some way? Has someone thanked you for taking the time to create a tutorial video?
Be available to interact with social media users quickly: 84 percent of consumers expect a response within 24 hours.
Reviews on social media play a major role in online reputation management too. Customers can rate your business on Facebook (for example), providing others with an at-a-glance insight.
Building a large collection of positive social media reviews will help to secure trust from newcomers, so invite consumers to leave feedback for you. It’ll take seconds.
Prospects may head to your social media after (or before) they visit your website. Expect them to scroll through your posts and your interactions with followers.
A good, active social media account could help to drive traffic to your site and encourage conversions. A bad one could put prospects within moments.
Online reputation management can improve public perception of your business, help people find more information on your products/services, and build your credibility over time.
But managing your own online reputation may be difficult, especially when you’re trying to run a successful enterprise.
So, let Reputation Mart handle it for you.
We use proven methodologies to get more real reviews from your customers and help your company grow fast.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with our experts now!
How can You Use Customer Reviews to Drive Sales?
Believe it or not, 85 percent of consumers tend to put as much trust in online reviews as they do personal recommendations.
Furthermore, 68 percent left a business review when prompted.
This demonstrates not just the importance of online reviews, but people’s willingness to leave them.
Despite this, though, some businesses don’t give online reviews the recognition and credit they deserve. They believe reviews are little more than a potential hazard to their reputation, as no company can please all of the people all of the time.
That’s technically true: negative reviews are inevitable, however rare.
Rather than being a hindrance, though, online reviews can be a major help to your brand, actually driving sales instead of reducing them.
Let’s take a closer look.
Building Your Brand, Building Trust
Gathering customer reviews can help to build your brand’s reputation to great effect.
When prospective buyers start looking into your business’s products and quality of service, having access to a large collection of reviews from previous customers can help them to gain a comprehensive insight they won’t find anywhere else.
They might be able to browse your website and find information on your company history, your own promotional copy, and your various products. However, only reviews can provide them with an unbiased idea of your brand’s performance.
Making that first purchase with a business they haven’t used before can be intimidating for consumers, especially if large amounts of money are involved. Scanning other buyers’ experiences with your brand can give them the confidence they need to spend, more so than your own marketing efforts.
As the stat at the start of this piece shows, buyers put a lot of faith in the feedback other consumers provide. By encouraging customers to leave reviews at dedicated sites and / or your own website, you are giving future buyers the chance to make an informed choice.
If they see a number of other people are pleased with their purchase, they are more likely to buy.
Your Responses Show You Care
Bad reviews vary wildly in tone and coherence.
We’ve all read feedback that makes little sense and appears to have been written by someone with a chip on their shoulder about something else beyond the products or services.
On the other hand, some bad reviews are well-written and cover fair grievances. For example, a customer may supply negative feedback because their item (let’s say a smartphone) was delivered in damaged packaging, or because it didn’t work as advertised.
You can’t stop people from writing bad reviews about your brand, but there’s no need to: they provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate how much you care about your buyers’ satisfaction and your business’s reputation.
Prospective customers browsing previous feedback and seeing negative reviews can feel put off, but a well-written, well-reasoned response from your brand has the power to turn one buyer’s complaint on its head.
If one customer complains that your smartphone (to return to the earlier example) failed to operate as it should have, you can take this chance to address the issue. Was it a manufacturing fault, and can it be returned to be repaired? Are they simply not using the handset the right way?
Offering to help demonstrates your business’s willingness to put things right. Even if your company has a global customer-base and the loss of one buyer means little in the long-term, you need to recognize that this really does matter to the consumer – which means it should matter to you too.
If you can’t solve a problem through a repair or replacement, offer to fix things in another way. Can you provide a discount in the future? Can you offer them a sincere apology and make sure they understand how committed you are to putting things right?
Prospective buyers reading this will likely have more faith in your brand, but don’t just focus on the negative reviews either. Offer a brief ‘thank you’ to the good ones too, and explain how you appreciate their custom.
Add Fresh Content for Better Rankings and Visibility
Publishing new content on your website, blog, and social channels on a regular basis can help to boost your rankings and drive fresh traffic to your site.
Crawlers like to see websites staying current. It shows that your brand is relevant and offering consistent value to searchers. More than this, though, fresh reviews are better for your reputation, and are more likely to encourage prospective customers into making that first purchase.
If prospects can only see reviews of your brand from around two years ago, how can they trust that your quality of service hasn’t declined since then? How can they decide whether you’re still reputable or not?
Keep requesting that customers leave feedback, good and bad. Don’t let them dry up and lose their relevancy.
Share Reviews Across Social Media
Sharing positive reviews about your business across social media can help to attract new prospects and drive traffic to your site.
Show your followers how satisfied previous customers are and highlight the products / services they received. Perhaps turn it into a brief case study, touching on why they wanted the goods in the first place, how you helped, and what solution your service brought.
Did they buy a pair of your running shoes for a fundraising marathon? Did they need to buy your computers for their business, and are now up and running thanks to you?
Focus on covering the customer’s journey in a short, simple social media post to drive prospects to your site. Even if they don’t click, they may well remember your brand in the future when they need the products you provide.
Online reviews can be a big help to your reputation and managing this is critical to your success. Have you found positive results from gathering customer reviews and responding to them?
How Website Speed Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation
The easy access to information via smartphones has empowered Canadian consumers to make decisions faster than ever before, and they want to act upon these decisions straight away.
Any hurdles in accessing information such as slow load time of your website can negatively affect your online reputation.
Rise of Smartphone Use
According to Statista, 62.37% of the population in Canada used a smartphone in 2016. The Statista 2016 data showed:
A Google report showed that 82% of smartphone owners used a search engine as the initial step to gratify at least one of their needs.
According to Google, Canadians, in particular, use a search engine at the exact time they want something. This means that they’re more likely to be loyal to their needs than to any brands or products that they’ve used before.
An example of this demand to satisfy one’s need on-the-spot is the rise the search phrase “open now”. The search giant reported that search interest in the keyword phrase “open now” has increased 3 times since 2015.
Expectation to Get Products & Services Immediately
With the rise in smartphone usage, consumers’ expectation to get the products and services they need as soon as possible has also increased.
Canadian consumers, according to Google, aren't any more willing to wait even for a few days for their orders to arrive. They want to get the products or services as soon as possible. The tech giant reported that searches for the keyword phrase “same day shipping” has grown by 160% since 2015.
The Need to Know Where to Get Products & Services
Google research showed that consumers are using their smartphones as “anywhere” assistants, turning to their phones in search of stores where they can visit to get what they want prior to leaving the house – a phenomenon that renders store browsing close to oblivion.
According to Google, over the past 2 years, mobile searches for keywords “where to shop” and “where to buy” have increased by more than 100%.
Speed Equals Revenue
Whether your website visitor is a plan-ahead type, impromptu type or that last-minute type, each of these visitors all want the same experience: they want to get the information they want right here and right now.
The basic website load time can either make or break your brand reputation.
SOASTA’s report "The State of Online Retail Performance" released in Spring 2017 found the following key insights regarding site load time:
Google, for its part, reported that the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds. Fifty-three percent of mobile site visitors, however, according to Google, abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
More than half of the overall web traffic, Google reported, comes from mobile. Despite this traffic lead, mobile falls behind desktop in terms of conversion rates.
Google researchers analyzed 900,000 mobile ads' landing pages in 126 countries. The researchers found that bulk of these mobile sites are slow and stuffed with too many features.
"Our research has been eye-opening,” said Daniel An, Global Product Lead, Mobile Web at Google. “For 70% of the pages we analyzed, it took nearly seven seconds for the visual content above the fold to display on the screen, and it took more than 10 seconds to fully load all visual content above and below the fold.”
You can check how your website fared in terms of speed at Test My Site – a free service offered by Google that analyzes your website in terms of speed and usability.
According to Google, these two are the top factors that affect site loading: number of site elements and number of images.
Researchers at Google said the high number of site elements results in greater site's weight and complexity. A typical webpage today, the researchers said, weighs 2,486KB and holds nearly 100 assets hosted on dozens of different servers – issues that contribute to slow loading.
The second factor that contributes to the slow loading of a page, the researchers said, is the high number of images. A typical page can contain logos, favicons and product images that can easily add up to two-thirds of a page's total weight – equivalent to hundreds of kilobytes. This results in cumulatively slow page loads throughout a session, the researchers said.
Reducing the number of elements and reducing the number of images in your site can make your site load faster.
Google researchers also found that webpages that have more images and other elements result in fewer conversions.
To speed up your site, a mere compression of images and text can make a big difference. Thirty percent of webpages, according to Google, could save more than 250KB through this simple process.
"It's no secret that shoppers expect a fast mobile experience,” An said. “If there's too much friction, they'll abandon their cart and move on. Today, it's critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors. Consumers want to quickly pay bills on finance sites, get rapid results when they're browsing vacation reviews, and view an article immediately when they click through.”
Your Competitors Are Claiming Your Business Listings!
Here is why you must not ignore your online business listings
In today's competitive environment, your business listings and/or citations truly matter. A few months ago, I've met with a GM of one of the largest car dealership networks in the country. While we discussed the key challenges related to ever-changing online consumer behavior, online reviews and digital marketing opportunities, the citation issue came up is such way that simply floored me.
His marketing department complained that some of the online business listings have been claimed by competitors whereby they don't change the name of the company, but rather change the main phone number, email address and/or a website link.
Since virtually everyone shops online prior to buying or leasing a new car, people that found the listing for a Honda dealership, ended up buying from Hyundai, because someone on their end had decided to take the extra step, and sabotage Honda’s unclaimed listing.
The worst thing was, there was no recourse and marketing folks were now admitting that it was virtually impossible to maintain accurate business listings across so many online sources.
You need to manage your listings
You need to make sure that your listings are truly managed, and it may take a tremendous amount of effort to do it manually.
At the Reputation Mart, we offer a fully automated business listing synchronization and monitoring solution that will not only synchronize your listings across dozens of online directories, but will also claim and lock your listings so that no one could re-claim your intellectual property.
Secure your business listings today >>
How come multi-location businesses fail to manage online brand reputation? Here’s the reason why.
Businesses of all sizes, including enterprises and small & medium businesses simply don’t have the right tools. Most of them choose consumer tools or home grown, half-baked solutions and expect to be successful. When a disaster strikes, they won’t know because no one ever looks at data affecting your online brand reputation. It’s solely collected for the purpose of making process improvement and is done so within the traditional means.
What this means is that your world as you know it, is good enough. People don’t like change. Most people are scared of new technologies; it’s true. Businesses are slow to adopt new technologies primarily because the don’t see the value compared to the “traditional means” or in other words, they afraid of change. New technology, no matter how advanced, won’t be introduced at your company because you, the decision maker, are mostly unaware of all the benefits. Moreover, no one around you will tell you to look at it since most of them are very comfortable, so why change?
Using traditional means and not wanting to think ahead is not wrong. It’s awfully wrong. Not having the right tools that give you a bird's-eye view of your online brand reputation presented by hard numbers, is wronger than wrong. When you have multiple business locations, you can’t be in multiple places at the same time. Of course, you trust your managers and you do believe that they can do nothing erroneous, right? Now, back to reality. The reason you worry, don’t sleep at night and don’t take time off is because you don’t trust your managers, and do try to be in multiple places at the same time. Your blood pressure is off and your doctor is strongly suggesting that you take it easy. But can you? Most likely you still have a few mortgage payments, your kids are still in school and you worried about financing their future. All of that can be helped, fast. All you need is the right tools.
Imagine being able to look at your brand and instantly seeing that your locations are listed in the right directories and review sites that are most important in your industry, and see if the listings are accurate. Imagine being able to see average review scores by location and ponder why King St. location, in comparison to your other business locations, is lacking in customer satisfaction, with an under 3.5 star rating. You’ll be able to answer “why”, simply because numbers tell a story, and graphs show you which manager is underperforming. You’ll never have to guess again or make decisions made based merely on word of mouth When customers or clients leave reviews these days, they tend to get personal. Would it not be nice to know that Agnes at your Bond St. location is costing you your reputation and hence is responsible for your declining revenues?
Here is the good news.
Right tools do exist, and what I have described is not science fiction; it’s reality. And yes, it’s affordable and will cost you a lot less in comparison to Agnes’ mistakes. Stop guessing, get the right tools and succeed. Many of these new technologies are already used by your competitors, why not join the race? It’s not a matter of having better tools, it’s a matter of having the right ones. Having the right tools will just mean that your company, will be coming in first place.
ReputationMart.com - passionate digital marketing team.