Most people have heard the quote, “there’s no second chance to make a first impression.” Business brands, through their marketing efforts, influence other people’s perceptions daily. However, a simple mistake, negative review, or a bad story can ruin a reputation that’s taken years to build.
According to recent research, 78% of online shoppers said that before making a buying decision, they research more about a business to check its reputation. Additionally, 74% of the respondents said they wouldn’t purchase goods and services from a company that has negative reviews against it.
Based on these statistics, for a brand to continue making profits and attract new customers, it needs to know how to manage its reputation.
This article highlights some online reputation management practices that can enable brands to maintain a strong online presence.
What’s Online Reputation Management?
Also known as ORM, Online Reputation Management refers to practices that are aimed at building a positive online perception of a business or brand. It includes addressing customer concerns, monitoring reputation, and implementing strategies that can prevent and solve problems that may damage a brand’s reputation.
Why Businesses Need an Online Reputation Management Strategy
Most customers make buying decisions based on reviews of previous consumers. If one’s website is beautiful and has excellent SEO optimization, but has negative comments such as – the worst customer service-, it will not convert readers to buyers. That’s why business owners need to take time and effort to build their reputation.
Research by psnewswire.com revealed that 90% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on user-generated content. A brand with positive reviews gets more customers, while that with negative reviews gets few customers. A brand owner, therefore, needs an online reputation strategy that addresses customers’ concerns to generate reviews that strengthen the brand’s online presence.
Things That Negatively Impact Online Reputation
Here are some negative things that can impact a business:
Ignoring consumers comments
For brands to establish an excellent online reputation, they need to reply to their consumers’ comments. This shouldn’t be a difficult task. If customers post positive comments, all they need to say is thank you. If they post negative comments, they should try to address their problems. Ignoring consumers’ comments would equal losing potential buyers because they make buying decisions based on those comments.
Zero presence on social media
Though most brands have already established a social media presence, others are yet to register. Apart from searching on Google about a brand and its products, most buyers also like to visit a brand’s social media pages. If the brand is not on any social media platform, most prospects would question its credibility and instead buy products from its competitor.
Rogue Online Staff
A brand’s staff should be their best ambassadors. If they speak about the business positively, prospects will take that as the company’s position. If they talk about it negatively, they negatively impact the business. Brand owners, therefore, need to address any dissatisfaction among staff members to enable them to speak positively about the company.
Negative Press Releases
Negative press releases from popular and respected publications, just like negative customer reviews, can adversely affect the reputation of a business. Though an individual may not stop it from being released, he needs to immediately address it before it spirals out of control, to save the image of the business.
When consumers visit a brand’s site, they expect to find useful information that addresses their problems. But if the site has poor grammar, a lot of jargon, and many acronyms, they’ll not only be irritated and bored but will also leave the site without buying anything. Businesses should ensure that the content that they post is informational and impeccable if they want to sell anything.
How to Manage a Brand’s Online Reputation
To successfully manage a brand’s online reputation, the owners need to have strategies. The strategies may vary depending on the industry, size of the business, and the available resources. The following methods can help to manage any brand’s reputation effectively.
1. Auditing a Brand’s Online Reputation
Companies need to know how people see them online and how that influences their sale of goods and services. They can do this by monitoring their brand in the following ways;
- Searching for their brand’s name in an incognito window
- Looking at the sites appearing on Google’s first page
- Evaluating the ratings, reviews, comments, and user-generated photos that come up on Google My Business
- Reading reviews on their sites and prioritizing the ones that need urgent attention.
The audit should help them get answers to the following questions:
- What websites appear when they search for their brand’s name?
- How popular are they online?
- How many visitors find their business from search engines?
- Are the overall comments positive or negative?
2. Setting up A Reputation Management Strategy
After conducting a reputation audit, the next step for brand owners should be to establish a strategy that can enable them to manage their reputation. Here are some things to consider when setting up a strategy.
When a business begins a reputation management project, they’ll be alerted when a review, comment, or mention comes up. The company needs to have a document that defines what’s urgent, what can wait, who to respond to, and how to respond to those feedbacks.
If customers frequent Reddit and post damaging comments about their brand, they should list that as urgent and address it immediately. While handling such a concern, the owner should also check the profile of the individual who wrote the comment. If he or she is influential, the owner may need to contact him or her immediately to sort out the issues before the message goes viral.
On the other hand, a comment that can wait can be one that’s positive or that doesn’t cause so much damage. Though not so urgent, brand owners should still set aside some time to address them.
Every business has people who hate its products and services for no good reason. So, instead of trying to convince such people to act reasonably, an owner can have a document that highlights things that may warrant a comment or review to be blacklisted. That document should be made visible to the customers to enable them to flag off any inappropriate comments.
Just like the blacklist document, a brand also needs to have response templates having FAQs about their company. In that template, they need to write down most questions asked by customers and how to respond to them politely.
3. Monitoring Brand Mentions
Brand owners need to monitor online conversations about their brands proactively. These conversations can help them know how their audience views them and allow them to react to the comments. Most brands prefer to monitor conversations using tools. By following what others are saying about a product, brand owners can address the problems and give solutions.
4. Dominating SERPS
For a brand’s online reputation management strategy to work well, customers need to find them and read their comments. That’s why brands need to ensure they do their SEO well to make them discoverable. Also, by optimizing their sites and social media pages, they can know the negative keywords working against their brand and fix them.
5. Encouraging Positive Online Reviews
Because more than 86% of people think twice before buying a product from a brand based on its reviews, it’s essential to work on getting positive reviews. 49% of buyers, according to a study by Dimensional Research, expect businesses to have a four-star rating before buying from them. Apart from that, Google also ranks sites based on what other people say about it.
Here are some ways businesses can get customers to leave them a positive review:
Asking their customers for a review
Brands can ask for reviews from their customers through emails, newsletters, or in person. Even if the reviews are negative, brand owners can use them to improve their services.
Creating pop-ups on their websites
Apart from using emails and newsletters to collect reviews, brand owners could also use pop-ups. These pop-ups need to be simple, have relevant links, and a thank you note at the end. They should also not send prospects to sites that require signups or personal details as that may put off some buyers.
Creating review hashtags
Hashtags can be an enjoyable way for a brand to collect customers’ experiences through social media. The hashtags should refer to the products and services offered or thank buyers for promoting a brand by making purchases.
Motivating customers who leave a review
A brand can motivate its customers by giving them points when they leave a review. These points could be used to give them discounts when they buy the brand’s products. That way, many buyers will be encouraged to leave comments. This should be done whether the customer gives positive or negative feedback.
Online reputation management can be a powerful way that brands can use to get their customers’ views about their products and services. A good management strategy is one that allows an owner to track customer conversations and give solutions to problems raised. Though it may not be easy to establish a strategy, having one can be the savior of a brand that’s on the verge of collapse because of negative feedback.