A positive brand image can undoubtedly influence a consumer's decision to buy a product -- and, for virtually every business, a positive brand image starts online.

Nowadays, your reputation is largely dependent on social media and online review sites. For instance, consumers need to read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a local business.

Since brand image makes such an impression on someone's decision to purchase, it's critical you regularly monitor your reputation online.

Additionally, an unfavorable online reputation can have an extremely negative impact on your company's bottom line -- in fact, businesses risk losing up to 22% of their customers when users find just one negative article about the company.

However, monitoring and influencing your reputation can feel like a daunting task, particularly when so much of it -- including online reviews -- is out of your control. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and strategies you can implement to ensure you're protecting your brand in 2019.

Here, let's explore reputation management software you can use to monitor your brand's reputation online, as well as strategies you can implement to manage your corporate reputation.

Download Now: 20 Review Response Templates

Reputation Management Software

To start managing your reputation online, it's helpful to use reputation management software. Particularly if you work for a small-to-medium sized business with limited PR resources, software can help you keep track of what people are saying online about your brand.

By using one of these software systems, you're able to mitigate negative reviews by responding to customers online, and even use their feedback as an opportunity to make your brand or product better.

1. Yext Reviews

Since inconsistent information can negatively affect your local SEO, it's critical you ensure your business's information is listed consistently across each site. Fortunately, Yext lets you fix any inconsistent business information in one place.

Additionally, the software enables you to manage your social media accounts and respond to authentic customer reviews, ensuring you have a good grasp on your brand's true online reputation. Yext is ideal for small-to-medium sized businesses as well as major enterprise companies -- some of its impressive customers include Marriott Hotels and T-Mobile.

Price: Starts at $199/year

Image courtesy of Yext.

2. ReviewTrackers

ReviewTrackers collects online reviews from over 100 third-party review sites, including Google, TripAdvisor, and Facebook -- best of all, you get a notification whenever a customer leaves a review, ensuring you're up-to-speed on customer feedback. The cloud-based reputation and review management software also allows you to track trending issues and topics to show you the bigger picture regarding customer issues, and provides competitor tracking and performance analytics.

The tool, used by customers such as Sears and Triple A, is available for enterprise companies as well as small-to-medium sized businesses.

Price: Custom depending on your size and business needs (request a demo here).

Image courtesy of ReviewTrackers.

3. Podium

More than likely, the idea of managing your reputation on different sites ranging from Facebook to Google to Yelp is a stressful and overwhelming one -- fortunately, software like Podium allows you to see all customer interactions and online reviews in a single dashboard. Your employees can use Podium to request reviews, respond to reviews in real-time, and even send text messages with potential customers.

Podium's support team is available via phone, online chat, or email, ensuring you have the help you need to properly implement their tool. The software works best for small-to-medium local businesses who have the time and resources to manually send texts to customers or leads.

Podium is a customer interaction platform that utilizes text messaging to help businesses manage customer relationships and build an online reputation on a variety of websites.

Price: Custom depending on your size and business needs. (Ask for quote here).

Image courtesy of Podium.

4. BirdEye

BirdEye, a SaaS reputation management tool used by more than 50,000 businesses, collects feedback from over 150 online review sources to ensure you have the full-picture regarding your brand's online reputation. You can monitor, promote, and respond to reviews within one dashboard -- additionally, you can use BirdEye to request reviews from customers on both desktop and mobile devices, or on BirdEye's own messenger tool.

Along with review monitoring, BirdEye provides features to manage your social accounts, gain insight into your competitors' customers, and create surveys and tickets to further improve your customer's overall experience with your brand.

Price: Custom depending on your size and business needs. (Ask for quote here).

Image courtesy of BirdEye.

5. Cision

Cision Communications Cloud lets you track your brand mentions across millions of online stories, as well as any social media mentions. Best of all, Cision helps you reach audiences across traditional, digital, and social platforms, ensuring your brand is consistently successful across all marketing channels.

While Cision provides tools to ensure you're able to monitor and protect your online brand, its features are particularly impressive for strategic, proactive PR outreach. For instance, Cision helps you find media outlets and specific contacts within the industry to reach out with pitches, or figure out which industry influencers can best help spread your message and positively impact your brand's image.

Cision also provides automated analysis to help you translate your campaigns into valuable global insights. The tool is used by companies such as Comcast and Bayer.

Price: Custom depending on your size and business needs. (Ask for quote here).

Image courtesy of Cision

Corporate Reputation Management

To understand how a business might implement a reputation management strategy, I spoke with Ellie Flanagan, Senior Corporate Communications Manager at HubSpot.

She told me -- "The first step in shoring up your brand's presence online is making sure that all of your owned channels reflect your current imagery, messaging, and values. Check for out-dated logos, company descriptions, or mission statements. It's also helpful to do regular audits of other places where your logo or brand might be in use -- such as on partner or customer websites."

To conduct regular audits, you might use one of the software tools listed above. Additionally, you can use a reputation management software to check for inconsistencies, such as Yext. Alternatively, there are tools such as Express Update or My Business Listing Manager that help you monitor for out-dated information (check out A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2019 to learn more).

Flanagan also suggested, "Make sure you have clear language on your own website that outlines your company's trademarks and sets guidelines for how others can use your brand assets. That will be a helpful reference in the event that you need to reach out to someone who's using your brand incorrectly or without permission."

I also spoke with Alice Sol, a Public Relations Specialist at HubSpot. She told me -- "Protecting your brand has never been more important, and that goes hand-in-hand with customer trust. We live in a world where information travels rapidly and we can get a response in seconds at the touch of a button. Technology has enabled us, as consumers, to get in-touch with brands quickly -- at the same time, it's given brands the ability to form deeper connections and resolve issues faster."

Ultimately, it's critical you respond to negative feedback to ensure high customer satisfaction. Responding to negative reviews will help you maintain trust and loyalty among your customers. Additionally, it could actually help you grow your business -- 45 percent of consumers say that they're more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.

When responding to a negative review, it's important you provide actionable, helpful solutions whenever possible. Avoid getting defensive or making excuses -- at best, tell your customer you're sorry they were disappointed in the service you provided.

Sol also advises businesses to do their best to meet customer needs and ensure a seamless experience, start-to-finish. She says, "The stakes [on delivering a good experience] are getting higher. 80% of consumers say they have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor experience. If a customer has a bad experience, technology allows information about that experience to travel quickly. At the same time, if a customer has a very positive experience, that creates a strong brand reputation and forms trust."

"Your customers are your biggest asset and it's critical to take those needs very seriously by responding in a timely manner and communicating effectively."

To sum it up, when protecting your online reputation, you'll want to focus on the following tactics:

  • Make sure all your owned channels reflect your current imagery, messaging, and values
  • Ensure all online information regarding your business is up-to-date and consistent
  • Use clear language on your own website to outline your company's trademarks and set guidelines
  • Cultivate a positive user experience, start-to-finish
  • Listen to customer feedback and respond to negative feedback with helpful, actionable solutions when possible

If you want further information regarding how to cultivate a comprehensive, cohesive customer experience, take a look at How to Define a Customer Experience (CX) Strategy, which provides you with the six areas of a successful digital customer strategy.

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Originally published Jan 4, 2021 7:04:00 AM, updated March 18 2021