These days, Boston consumers have access to a slew of powerful resources to research products and services before making their purchase decision. Think about your own behavior…how often do you check reviews on Google or Yelp before buying a product, renting a movie or choosing a restaurant?
More and more, consumers are influenced by what their peers are saying about this business or product. And, If a user sees anything negative, you can be sure that he or she will second thoughts about making the purchase.
It stands to reason, then, that your company’s online reputation now is now one of the biggest influences on purchase intent.. In many categories, consumers almost exclusively use online research to make a judgement about a company or product’s level of quality and reliability. If your business has a poor online reputation, you may be losing customers before they even visit your website.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is a marketing practice aimed at taking control of the online conversation. The techniques and strategies of Reputation Management programs ensure that consumers see a balanced point of view when they conduct an online search.
Online reputation management allows you to put your best foot forward by actively seeking feedback from your best customers and methodically responding to customer reviews as they are posted. Think of Online Reputation Management as another kind of anti-virus software for your company. As a small business owner, you no-doubt recognize the risks of hacking, spyware and ransomware. Think of ORM as a similar threat and opportunity.
Why is Online Reputation Management so important?
A company’s online presence creates a consumer’s first impression. The question is whether that impression be positive or negative. That is where online reputation management (ORM) comes in. Companies can lose millions of dollars per year in sales because of negative comments that show up on the first results page of a Google search. If business or individual does not take steps to protect their online reputation, they could find that the most visible online references to their brand reflect poorly on it.
What can Boston small business owners do?
First…understand that a certain amount of negative content is unavoidable. If you are in business for long enough, someone at some point will post a negative review. Unfortunately, many businesses wait for the negative information to show up before taking action – when it may be too late.
But all is not lost. Here are 10 Online Reputation Management tips that can put Boston Small Businesses on the right track.
- Think of Google as your highway billboard, TV commercial and business card. Consumers use Google to research almost every decision. Small businesses should be focused like a laser beam on optimizing their Google presence for the keywords that matter to their customers. Positive reviews can be a critical piece to the Google puzzle
- Deliver great service. Becoming well respected online starts with delivering a great product or service. All of the online reputation management in the world can’t help companies that consistently disappoint their customers.
- Monitor what your customers are saying about you. Monitoring your online reputation is straightforward. Start by setting a Google Alert for your company. Next, claim your business on Google, Yelp, Foursquare and other directories. Then just bookmark these sites and check them on a daily or weekly basis.
- Be transparent – even when it hurts. Online Reputation Management is not about suppressing negative feedback. Those tactics are generally frowned upon and ineffective. Rather, being open about your flaws and responding quickly and openly (see below) is a much better tactic.
- Respond quickly and politely Respond to all comments – whether they are positive or negative. Ignoring their comments can do real damage to your reputation. Not responding to online comments may be just as harmful as not responding to emails or phone calls.
- Understand your detractors. Don’t dismiss negative feedback or blame your customers. Find out what the complaints are and whether they are legitimate. If there really is a problem, then steps should be taken to resolve it. Once the problem is fixed, let them know by reaching out.
- Learn from your mistakes.As a business owner, customer feedback can be an invaluable tool for insights that can drive business transformation. Then it is just a matter of putting the insights into action. (See below)
- Use feedback to drive internal transformation. Your entire team should be open to feedback. As a business owner, you should make it a priority to learn from your customer’s experiences make the appropriate adjustments to your product and/or service.
- Foster positive feedback. Getting great reviews is just a matter of delivering great experiences and encouraging your customers to share their stories with their friends. The trick is then leveraging your good reputation and help more prospects get to know, like, and trust you – and ultimately recommend you to their friends and neighbors, too.
- Ask for help! Companies like Boston SEO for Growth specialize in helping businesses improve their online reputation. If you are looking for help, it can be a good idea to get professional assistance so you can focus on delivering great experiences for your customers.
Contact Boston SEO for Growth today and take the first steps towards implementing a reputation management system for your business.