You probably spend a majority of your day online, but how much do you actually notice about your online behavior?
For example, do you notice that when you do a search for anything, whether for something big such as which laptop to buy or something as simple as where to order takeout, you naturally look for other customer reviews before making a decision?
That’s because reviews are an important component of your online experience as a consumer, which consequently means that reviews are even more important for agencies and marketers. Here are three reasons why your online reputation matters:
1) You’ll get more customers.
Customer referrals are a real thing. Reading reviews are now part and parcel of the buying process. In fact, here are some quick stats on referral marketing:
- 65% of new business comes from referrals.
- People are four times more likely to buy when recommended by a friend.
- 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness.
Need an example? Say you’re marketing a restaurant, and one customer gives that restaurant a bad review. Well, that one customer will then tell a friend, who will then tell a family member, who will then tell a wife, and so and so forth. Every customer has a wide-reaching network, and failing to understand the power of each customer’s opinion could prove to be detrimental to your business.
2) It helps your local SEO.
Your reviews have a tremendous impact on your rankings. Moz’s analysis of 2014 local search ranking factors show that online business reviews are one of the top 20 ranking factors. Here’s the breakdown of how important reviews are to your ranking:
- Overall ranking factor: 9.8% important
- Localized organic results: 7.2% important
- Pack/Carousel results: 12.3% important
Considering that there are thousands of factors that go into your rankings that you either don’t know about or can’t control, the quantity and quality of your reviews are factors you can manage easily enough.
3) It improves your branding.
Most people don’t necessarily buy the product. They buy the brand. Think about it. When you’re at a grocery store and you see a brand product versus the generic product on the shelves, which are you more likely to buy? Most would say the brand product because that’s a product they already know and most likely trust.
When customers have only positive things to say, it instills confidence and trust in your brand. On the flip side, if all you get are negative reviews, well you may as well slap a scarlet letter on your chest as that reputation will stick to your brand for a very long time.
How to manage your online reputation
People will be talking about your business regardless of whether or not you are online to see it. Here’s how you can take control over your reputation.
Log out of your personal accounts, and do a quick search of your brand to see what appears in Google search auto-fill and in the first three pages of the search results. Do this for every search engine. Then, put yourself in the mindset of a potential customer when you’re examining the results. Are the results relevant to what they might be interested in? Do the results raise any red flags about your brand?
If you see results that associate your brand with a negative or spammy keyword, do some digging and see how that word became associated with your brand. Is it a blog you posted? Is it customer reviews left around the web? Is it a spammy site linking to you? Once you’ve figured it out, take action to disassociate your site with that word.
Pro tip: Set up web and social alerts for your brand so every time your brand is mentioned online you get a message in your inbox. The most common type is Google Alerts, but Mention and Moz Alerts are also great tools you can try out. I’ve also been trying out several social alert tools such as Warble Alerts and SocialMention. This is an easier way to monitor what people are saying about you online without having to manually check every time.
Monitor your social media accounts and review sites
If you don’t already have profiles on all social media and review sites, create an account for your agency now. This will not only give you real customer feedback, which will help inform your future advertising campaigns, but it will also allow you to respond to any negative comments your customers may have about your product or service. However, these sites tend to draw a lot of customer comments, so be proactive, keep a close eye on what people say, and be ready to respond if they have a question or a negative comment.
Pro tip: When responding to negative comments, follow the age-old rule: The customer is always right. Don’t argue when defending your point, as that can escalate into an ugly online argument. Instead, honestly apologize to the person and rectify the situation. When you show you’re willing to make amends, you not only appear more professional, but you also stand a better chance in gaining back the person's trust.
Publish and promote positive content
Blogs, videos, and social media posts are all digital content you have full ownership of, so make sure you own them. What I mean by this is that you have full control over this content and should thus be using them to help shape public opinion of your brand. For example, if you have a complaint that you receive regularly from multiple people, create content that solves the problem or explains what’s wrong. This way, you can prevent future complaints from happening.
Pro tip: Don’t know where to look for complaints? Try looking on forums. Forums are breeding grounds for customer discussions and complaints, and by looking here, you’ll easily find your customers’ paint points and can then craft content around that.
Although you cannot control what people say, you do have control over what you can do about it. Interact with your customers regularly and respond honestly and humbly to negative feedback to manage your online reputation