In my life, I have discovered that nearly all small businesses lack a proactive strategy when it comes to their internet reputation. Even though there is a frequent notion that an extended digital marketing plan is imperative for success, many businesses are still restricting their online presence solely by having just a single website. This leaves these companies vulnerable to negative online reviews ranking towards the top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
This is particularly critical for already established businesses (especially local businesses), who may be commonly sought after online by their name. In this circumstance, having negative information ranking for branded keywords can immediately influence your bottom line negatively. Businesses risk losing 22% of business revenue when potential customers locate a negative article on the first page of their search results.
Online reputation management and brand restoration have been ever-changing and developing niches in digital marketing for the past few years. InternetReputation has assisted hundreds of individuals and businesses restore their reputation online. One thing that stuck out is how evident it is that businesses that do not invest in developing their online presence and internet reputation proactively. Those who skip on this reputational investment are more likely to pay much more in terms of advertising, revenue loss, brand crisis management and promote positive content that has the potential to score them more customers!
For businesses that are closely connected to their owners/founders (i.e. Amazon & Jeff Bezos), the names of their executive management team could be an additional area where their online reputation should be managed proactively, and on a routine basis. Most business owners believe in keeping a low profile by avoiding social media. This is to protect their personal privacy outside of their business.
The cons to this ideology that they have built no safety net around themselves. So if someone decides to steal their identity or ruin their reputation in a negative review it would be extremely easy. By being proactive and having a crisis plan will make the difference between quickly suppressing the content and moving on and losing lots of revenue due to your inability to combat negativity. You must protect the brand name of your company at all costs. (Learn how to respond to negative reviews professionally here)
Additionally, maybe the only thing more critical than not partaking in any social media is handling your social media inadequately. Make sure you take time to visit Youtube or Google “how-to” guides when it comes to enabling privacy settings and protecting yourself on whichever social platform you desire to sign up with.
With all this in mind, reflect upon these strategies to assist you in proactively managing your internet reputation in 2020.
How to Expand Upon Your Internet Reputation
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are frequently deemed the “big 3” in terms of social media giants. However, businesses have dozens of other social sites to choose from depending on their niche and target markets in distinct verticals.
The main thing to understand here is to determine what social platforms your audience primarily uses. Know where your market hangs out and head there to start building brand awareness as well as an excellent rapport with your potential customers.
B2B businesses may greatly benefit from having a powerful Linkedin presence in 2020. This is where companies can build professional connections, relationships and hopefully partnerships with other companies and/or entrepreneurs. Essentially you want to connect with anyone who you feel can provide a benefit for your company and vice versa.
B2C industries, however, may deliberate on showing off their goods and products on social platforms such as Pinterest. It is important to test all these platforms because what you personally prefer could be way off from what the rest of your market likes. Remember if though it is your business, you need paying customers. For this reason alone, suck up the pride and jump ship on those platforms showing little to no conversions or engagement.
Businesses who are hoping to reach a younger generation will need to keep their eyes peeled for new trends online. These can be found on social platforms such as Snapchat, especially since more modern applications aren’t inundated with business accounts, yet.
Increasing your influence on social media will not only enable you to communicate directly with your potential customers. It will also reinforce the control you have regarding what ranks in the top search results associated with your business. By consistently uploading new engaging content to social media you are slowly but surely building a safety net yourself and your business should something unfortunate go wrong.
One of the most powerful approaches when it comes to building your business’ internet reputation is to let your happy customers leave feedback in the form of online reviews. According to the 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey, a massive 86% of people read online reviews for businesses before making any purchases online.
After learning this begin asking your customers to contribute honest online reviews on websites such as Google My Business, Facebook and/or Yelp. This will help your business generate a positive reputation in order to build consumer trust.
In addition to receiving customer reviews, your online reputation depends on how you respond to negative reviews and feedback to your company. Since you will be asking all your customers for reviews, there is bound to be some hate. For this reason, you must be able to generate enough positive reviews in case one negative one should find its way online. Studies show that it takes roughly 7-8 positive reviews to cancel out the effect of a single negative review (unless this negative review is the newest).
Rather than neglecting any negative reviews, or growing argumentative or angry towards your customer you need to apologize for their past experience, take responsibility and the last attempt to come to a solution. If possible, take this conversation offline, nothing turns off more potential customers than watching a business argue with a part customer on a public forum or social platform.
If you can contact the reviewer in a calm and polite manner, apologize for your wrong-doing by providing a poor experience and ask what you can do to improve their perception of your company. Now it is important to take this with a grain of salt, your business success rate here will be very-low however if you can publicly post a rebuttal stating you are attempting to make amends that may resonate well with anyone who views this review in the future.
Let’s face it, some customers are impossible to please. Pick your battles, never place blame on anyone but yourself and work to fix the situation. Overtime your positive rebuttal may generate more customers as they begin to notice that you truly care about what the public perceives you. Knowing you will do anything to gain the approval and acceptance of your company gives customers a sense of trust. It also creates unmatched levels of loyalty if done correctly.
Use Customer Feedback to Increase Notoriety
When replying to negative customer feedback, it is necessary to reflect upon your words before you publish it online. There may be some soundness to the judgments being said. This can be especially true if you experience negative reviews persistently concerning a specific part of your company (customer support, sales, operations, etc).
Rather than just ignoring online reviews, make certain that you address all matters professionally, while still contemplating whether or not this feedback can be used to improve your reputation.
Businesses must constantly treat their customers with admiration and express to them that you genuinely appreciate their feedback. In the future, potential customers may see this interaction and decide on your company because they know you care. Your business will make sure their shopping experience was to the best of your ability.
The way you handle criticism online, good or bad, could very much be the things that are driving customers away from you and straight into the arms of your competition. Make it one of your duties to check-in and listen to every customer complaint. Whether you concur or not make sure you respond with respect rather than defensiveness. Always remain professional, again, because you never know who is going to see this in the future.
It doesn’t matter which party is right in an argument, it is a bad look for your business as a whole. When engaging in online disputes you will forever be portrayed as unprofessional. If you allow yourself to react to criticism emotionally, you could end up saying or doing something that tarnishes your reputation. As Mark. McCormack says in “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School” says, act instead of react.
The most dependable way to evade an online argument is to strive to move the conversation offline. You are not dismissing their concerns, it is just always better to discuss sensitive subjects such as this offline either via a phone call or email. Remaining professional will more than likely win over more customers than you having to be right in every argument. Let your customers be right every time, it’s just not worth it. Never burn bridges, you’ll never know who else is over there waiting to cross.
If you find your business is somewhat of a branding crisis, take a few hours and get with your team to conduct an effective plan that favors both you as well as your customers.