Reputation management is about making sure the world sees your business for what it truly is. Aligning it at the center of your business strategy ensures easy operations everywhere else. You get organic lead generation, increased web referrals, more return on your marketing initiatives, and more freedom to focus on running your business.
Cut Through The Noise
Everyday we’re bombarded by relentless advertising and endless choice. People use online tools because they need a quick and easy way to decide if they should trust you with their business—or if they should go to the other guy instead.
That said, we all know the Internet doesn’t always tell the whole story. That’s where we come in with online reputation management. SEMhype highlights the best you have to offer, regardless of where consumers look online for information.
Reputation Management Fundamentals
- Establish your presence on major online channels
- Regularly monitor the conversation involving your brand
- Customer outreach to generate positive experiences
- Respond quickly and authentically to discussions
- Keep relevant online content up to date
- Compare yourself to the competition
- Synchronize and concentrate your efforts
- Track and measure your results against established goals
Exploring The Fundamentals Further
Your reputation consists of what people believe about your business, which is why organic endorsements make up the cornerstone of a good reputation strategy. Highlighted below are the main factors that affect your reputation coupled with the most effective best practices that put them to work for you.
Your reputation is only as good as what people can find, and increasingly the first step made in any consumer decision is through a search engine. Search companies like Google decide which businesses to show for any given location by looking at an assortment of authoritative metrics: review sites, citations, social media and so forth. The more these sources tell the same story, the better off your business will be, which ultimately leads to a successful campaign.
Claiming & optimizing – Immediately claim your review and social profiles and ensure all your contact information is accurate. You’ll need to find the top-ranking business listings sites in the regions where you have a physical business presence and get yourself listed.
Interconnecting – Once you have an established presence across a number of properties, strengthen them by cross-validation tactics. If your social, review, and listings pages point to one another, that sends a strong signal that the information is accurate and relevant.
Reviewing for consistency – If you want to rank when people look for local businesses, in addition to local seo efforts, sending a consistent message is imperative. At the very least, your business’s main information (name, address, hours, and phone number) need to be exactly the same on all the sites you appear on.
A strong reputation on review sites is one of the most powerful signals you can send to potential customers. But it’s about much more than just getting good reviews. Submitted reviews must look authentic and authoritative, and they should be found regularly across a range of online properties. This cements the impression that your business delivers top-quality results on a consistent basis.
Monitoring & prioritizing – Determine where you’re being reviewed, which websites get the most visibility, and which sites have the broadest impact. Then monitor your reviews and begin tracking the ensuing trends.
Increasing star ratings & spread – Encourage your loyal customers to submit new reviews, and steer them to review sites (like Facebook) that will have the strongest impact. Diversify your efforts across several of the strongest review sites so that your entire reputation management strategy isn’t dependent on one service.
Responding & amplifying – Show consumers you care by promptly responding to negative reviews and resolving the issues at hand. Broadcast especially positive reviews from your website and link back to the original to make sure they’re heard.
Social media is arguably the fastest growing referral source for businesses in all markets. Even so, you want potential customers to be able to do more than just find you on a social platform. Social sites should serve as a testament to why they can trust you. It’s a golden opportunity to show the human element behind your operation, and it’s also an incredibly effective way to funnel customers toward the most important aspects of your business.
Claiming & optimizing – Create an attractive on each of the top social media platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.), but avoid overdoing it. Include only relevant information to your customer base, keeping the message appropriately focused. Do you have multiple locations? Consider making profiles for each.
Developing a realistic publication plan – It’s important to be realistic when developing a strategy for content release, otherwise you’ll quickly tire and leave dormant profiles. Consider scheduling your posts that don’t require new information. Always concentrate on information relevant to your customers. They’re not visiting to be friends, but rather looking for specific information. Addressing common questions and concerns should always be at the center of your publishing efforts and overall strategy.
Responding & interacting – When people make contact on social media, they expect rapid-fire responses. That said, nobody likes to get a generic copy/paste answer, so find ways to answer quickly but authentically. Use custom alerts to simplify and expedite this process.
Viewing your business from your customer’s perspective is key to creating an effective reputation management strategy. Furthermore, engaging customers for their opinion tends to increase feelings of loyalty. Use private survey tools to quantify what people most like/dislike about your business, helping to keep unhappy customers from venting their frustrations in public forums.
Syncing online & offline – If you have a local business, make leaving feedback simple by setting up digital survey kiosks at the point of sale machine. For online businesses, set up exit surveys or follow up with email surveys.
Keep problems offline – As noted, simple survey tools provide customers the outlet to express their frustrations. Whenever confronted with a complaint, reach out as quickly as possible to resolve it. Let unhappy customers know you value their business so they’re less inclined to share their frustrations publicly.
Learn from responses – If you see developing patterns appearing in your feedback, good or bad, you’ve hit on a common element of your customer experience. Adjust your operational model as needed to further highlight positive aspects of your business while fixing any systemic problems.
Reputations can changes quickly, and it’s essential to understand new data as it appears. You don’t want to base your future business plans on yesterday’s news. Effective reputation management relies on a continuous effort to merge new data while tweaking existing strategies.
Tracking trends – Enlist tools that help measure how many reviews you receive per week, their average rating, and the trend direction. Look for common themes in your feedback to draw out operational insights. If applicable, compare multiple business locations.
Setting alerts – Configure notification alerts so you’re aware whenever a negative review is posted. Quickly follow up on complaints to ensure there are no larger problems you need to resolve.
Regular reporting – Set up periodic reputation reports for your team as to not lose sight of overall reputation goals. Weekly or monthly reputation reports sent to key personnel can help keep management efforts on track.
Benchmarking & Scoring
Reputation is always relative: a five-star rating only looks good if everyone else has mostly four stars. To stay ahead of your competition, you need to know where you excel and what areas need improvement. If you have multiple business locations, you need to track each location independently.
Assessing local competitors – Examine how well your competition manages their reputations and learn from what they’re doing wrong. Break down your analysis in to categories and focus on competitor weaknesses to entice their customers to make the switch to you.
Setting benchmarks – If most of your competitors get a 3.0-star average on review sites, aim to achieve a 4. If they have an average of 10 reviews, aim for at least 15. Having a clear target motivates your efforts and serves as a measuring stick to assess your performance.
Studying the industry – Different markets/industries have different standards. Spend time researching what consumers in your market expect in terms of social interaction, review scores, and so on. Don’t settle for setting your standards to anything but the best in class.