Many of the clients that engage us as their professional marketing agency usually have the same goal – “How can we improve our online reputation?”. Whether you are an automotive dealer, online retailer, or government agency, your online reputation is typically researched by your prospective customers and buyers, before they engage or buy from you.
To help you get there, follow these simple steps to improving your online reputation today.
The first step to reputation management is understanding whether you are listening to your customers. For consumers, online reviews matter:
- 86% of consumers use ratings and reviews before doing business with a company
- 84% of consumers trust other consumers opinions about a company
- 68% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online
Given those consumer statistics, it is clear that online reviews affect the bottom line for most businesses. At the recent Digital Dealer conference, Cobalt worked with VW to better understand the impact of online reviews. Their research showed that 32% more traffic visited dealerships that had 4+ star reviews than stores with 2 star ratings. That is significant!
Furthermore, if Yelp is a major influencer for your business, there is a ~20% decrease in in-store traffic with just a half-star decrease in Yelp reviews. However, with a one-star increase in Yelp, businesses can typically experience a 5-9% increase in sales.
Understanding the impact, how can we listen to our customers more effectively? It is easier than you think:
- Consider using a software tool to monitor reviews – there are even free tool options available!
- Setup and get alerts from the tool – to your email, via apps, or text messages
- Look at ongoing scores instead of spot scores – how your score trends over time is a better indicator of your improvement
- Focus on the right networks
- Google your own reviews/complaints and focus on those websites that rank well. Perhaps eopinions.com is more important than Yelp for your business or industry.
- Pay attention to Google+ reviews for the simple fact that Google generates the most organic search traffic to websites. You must have a Google+ page with at least five reviews for ratings to appear next to your search listings.
Now that we are monitoring our online reputation, we must work on our listening skills. Essentially, people want to be heard – and then leave bad reviews. If you are not addressing their needs via email and phone calls, they will resort to posting their experience online. Therefore, taking care of customers before they go online and post a complaint is the best way to manage online reputation.
However, we all have those moments where we failed to execute as designed, resulting in a bad review being posted. Now what? Respond! Show your customers and the online world that you are listening. The faster you can respond (which is easy because you are monitoring), the faster consumers respond with appreciation. Speed is the key, and you have just demonstrated to others researching your products and services that your are responsive and genuinely care about them.
Here is something you may not know about responding and actively managing online reviews – you can simultaneously increase your SEO value! What is this blasphemy? No, really, Google values interaction, and as more interactions are created, the main website will show up in search results with the most active review sites following. So, you can influence which review sites may show for your company.
Now that you are responding to the reviews, you need to make sure you are responding correctly. Don’t get into details or argue position. Simply acknowledge the issue and suggest contacting you or them directly to resolve. The quicker you move the conversation offline, the more of a chance you have of preventing more negative comments.
A good practice is having some formalized responses on how to handle negative reviews – but, learn to customize them by addressing the individual by name. This will help humanize the interaction and defuse negativity. Lastly, don’t just respond to the negative, be thankful for the positive! When someone posts a compliment on your great product or service, thank them! This goes back to creating interactions to influence SEO value.
Okay, so you are monitoring and responding, now what? Ask for more reviews! Studies show that moderately unhappy people will share their experiences, while moderately happy people remain quiet about their experience. Make it part of your customer service process and train and incent your team to ask for the review in-person or over the phone when finishing the transaction.
Hopefully, sharing these thoughts on improving your online reputation will inspire you to make changes to your online strategy. Reviews are everywhere. Social networks and reputation management have merged and you cannot have one without the other in an overall reputation management strategy. We at Bayshore Solutions are happy to help provide the strategies and solutions to help you implement a successful reputation management campaign, so contact us at 866-352-4791 or email@example.com to find out how we can help you!