These days, your online reputation is crucial not only to the success, but also the survival of your business. Businesses once relied on word-of-mouth referrals to build a trusted reputation within their communities, and while that’s still an important aspect of reputation management, you can’t ignore the influence that online reviews have over consumers.
Consider these statistics featured in BrightLocal’s 2017 “Local Consumer Review Survey”, which explores how consumers seek out and react to online reviews:
● 97% of consumers searched for local businesses online in 2017, with 12% reporting that they did so on a daily basis.
● 93% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
● 35% of consumers always read online reviews for local businesses.
● 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Let’s say a potential customer searches online for local businesses in your industry. Your Google listing shows up alongside your competitors, with a clearly visible 0-5 star rating and reviews from customers. If you have a 3-star rating and one review, but your competitor has a 5-star rating and 25 reviews, why would the prospect even click on your website or contact you?
Ideas For Building a Positive Online Reputation
The importance of online reviews is undeniable, but how do you get enough customers to leave reviews so that your online reputation is significant and positive? Here are some ideas for encouraging online reviews that you can start using today:
● Mention it to customers. When a customer leaves your store/office, have your staff say something like “We’d love to hear feedback on your experience, so leave us a Google review if you have time.” You can even incentivise your staff for encouraging reviews.
● Add a link to your email signatures. Your email list is probably full of happy customers. At the end of your emails, add a link to your Google business profile and let them know that you would appreciate their feedback. This is especially effective if you can email a customer right after they make a purchase, because
● Post on social media about it. Create a Facebook post asking your followers to leave a review, using either Facebook’s built-in review tool or another review site like Google or Yelp. According to BrightLocal’s report, Facebook is one of the top two most trusted review sites, so don’t think you have to steer all of your customers to Google reviews.
● Get your customer service department on board. The people who are most likely to go out of their way to leave you review are the ones who you went out of your way for. Make sure that when a customer service representative solves someone’s problem, they end the conversation with, “I’m glad we could resolve this issue. We’d love to hear any kind of feedback you have on your experience, so please feel free to leave us a review on Google or Yelp.”
How To Maintain Your Positive Online Reputation
The reputation you’ve worked so hard to build online could be destroyed with just a handful of negative reviews if you don’t take care of the issues properly. Here are two steps that every business should take to monitor and maintain their online reputation:
1. Check on reviews daily. Timeliness is important when it comes to responding to reviews.
2. Respond to negative comments immediately. When a negative review is left, never hesitate before attempting to resolve the issue. Contact the customer as soon as you see the review and take the conversation offline. If you can resolve the issue and the customer is satisfied, you can kindly ask them to replace the negative review.
3. Sign up for Google Alerts. This service gives you a daily update on any activity surrounding a specified keyword. Enter your company name into Google Alerts and get notified anytime you get mentioned on the internet.
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