Reputation Management for Small Businesses: What’s the Buzz All About?
Since the advent of Google, marketing has taken a new turn altogether. Conventional marketing mediums, which consumed a fortune, are now no longer reliable. Online marketing is so popular and important today and we know why. In addition, this type of marketing has surely becoming more and more organic every day. Google and other search engines are trying their level best to ensure customers get the most authentic results possible for their queries. In doing so, one major step-up has been reputation management. Yes, those ‘five stars’ you see against search results are part of Google review snippet.
But, What Is Reputation Management Exactly?
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you would know that 2015 was a major year for Google and other search engines to add a lot more interactivity to their search results. This included adding social signals, maps, reviews and sitelinks to the algorithms. The reason all this happened was to ensure the top most results are not just ‘optimized websites’ but actually authentic businesses. You see, any tom, dick and harry knows today how to play around with keywords and bring a website on top. So, there should be a way of letting customers know which businesses are authentic and are doing well compared to the ones that barely exist. This is where the need for such snippets come in.
Particularly the review snippet is important because it allows customers to leave feedback against or for your business for other web searchers to know. It’s a handy tool if you know how to use it well but a tool of destruction if you care less about it.
So, Why Is It So Important Mainly for Small Businesses?
Small businesses, unlike mid-sized or large scale firms, mainly rely on online marketing mediums for lead generation. Since online marketing is a lot cheaper and can yield much better results, small businesses tend to depend on it. Let’s just say, for small businesses, online marketing is a make or break medium. Whether organic or paid, if online marketing works for your business, your stars rise within days. If it doesn’t, well then, it won’t take long for the moon to plummet.
The Anatomy of Reputation Management for Small Businesses:
Since small businesses strive and thrive via online marketing mediums, their online presence is of the highest importance for the survival of their business. Unfortunately, today, online presence does not only mean their website but also their social media pages, comments and answers being posted on forums for or against them, reviews and the snippet we spoke of earlier. Henceforth, in a nutshell, online reputation of small businesses has become an integral part of their online survival today.
If you don’t take our word for it, check out the following statistics released by some highly reputed organizations:
- A recent study by Zendesk revealed that 90% of online consumers consider positive reviews a major buying decision and 88% among them consider negative reviews a no show.
- According to a survey by Bright Local, 88% people think of online reviews as personal recommendations.
- Another survey by Bright Local revealed that 92% of customers read online reviews prior to opting for a business’ services or products
Online Reviews Grab Attention and Make Your Business Stand Out or Out of the Picture…
According to Bright Local, 88% of consumers rely on online reviews to gauge a business’ quality. These reviews are garnered from various sources such as Facebook, Yelp, Google and other major directories. These reviews help your website rank better in search engines as well on social media platforms.
To Choose or Not Too Choose – That is Not the Question Anymore! Reviews are the Answer!
Seems like the eternal Shakespearean question – ‘to be or not to be’ – has finally been answered, at least in this case. A few years back, online buying was perplexing, as customers were unable to differentiate scams from authentic businesses. This is exactly where the need of bringing in tools to make businesses appear authentic came in. And, for sure, reviews help a lot in this regard. Today, your potential customers will not take a stroke of luck and opt for the top listed business, but they will go through the reviews to see if the business is actually as good as it appears. In simpler words, reviews have now become a major factor in influencing the buying decisions of your potential customers. Therefore, you ought to maintain your reputation at par if you really want to grow your business exponentially.
Online Reputation Management is MANDATORY for Any Online Business…
This is as simple as it gets. If you want your business to succeed online, you have to ensure you have rock solid online reputation; one that can lure customers towards your business. This is where the big question comes in – how exactly can you manage it as ‘reputation’ is a natural asset built overtime by the reaction or response of your customers towards your business. And, this is exactly where things get exciting – not it’s not! Much like any other digital marketing process, we at Shift Web Solutions, have made reputation management a process rather than a mere response, which means like any other process, we can twist and turn it the way we want to.
How Exactly Can We Help Your Small Business Get a Rock Solid Online Reputation?
First things first, we don’t manipulate your rankings via any black hat means. Our system allows us to streamline an otherwise messed up process that appears as a natural response to the lay man.
Yes, while online reputation appears a ‘natural response of consumers’ to the lay man, it is actually a result derived by a cluster of algorithms of multiple search engines and directories.
So, in order to ensure that the result is favorable, it is imperative to dig deeper and start nourishing, AND I REPEAT ‘NOURISHING’, the roots.
Lead Nourishment is an Important Aspect of Lead Generation:
As an online business, you need to understand the importance of lead nourishment, which many businesses fail to. Lead nourishment (not to be confused with lead generation) is the process of ensuring that all your potential customers are being fed positive information about your business, so that they can easily convert or can spread positive words about your business. Here’s a simple diagram explaining the importance of lead nourishment:
A Simple Process for Online Reputation Management:
We know how complicated online reputation management can really be. It is practically impossible for a business to run after every comment made on every forum against it or email every website that writes against the business. So, in order to minimize the load, we have created an efficient yet highly effective reputation management process for our clients. Here’s how we do it and achieve great results for our clients:
Step # 1: Reputation Audit:
First and the foremost, we perform an online audit through multiple tools to see what the current reviews of the business are like. Our tools are automated and they gather data through multiple sources such as forums, blogs, social media channels and others. This way, we have a consolidated report of your online reputation. In addition, this audit process helps us in identifying areas of improvements for your online reputation.
Step # 2: Being Interactive:
Remember, you cannot remove negative comments about your business from most forums or websites. So, what do you do? You interact! If the comments are posted on forums or social media networks, you can reply to them and ask the author to either remove the comment or discuss his or her problem with you. Most likely, the customer is upset about a product or service from your company. Try to make it up to the customer by offering them a discount or something similar. If we believe that the review is completely bias and follows a destructive agenda, we simply notify the website owner to remove the comment or post. In 90% of the cases, this approach works.
Step # 3: Establishing Your Online Customer Response Team:
Online customer care is important. You need to respond to your angry customers who might leave a negative feedback for you or you simply have to answer queries of your customers online. This helps in customers being happy and eventually giving you positive ratings.
Step # 4: Organically Beating Negative Reviews:
Unfortunately, many forums out there run on negativity; as they say, bias media sells most. But, we have a fix for this. In order to make sure your online reputation is not being damaged by a bias review posted by your competitor (just an example), we post positive reviews posing as third parties (customers) to similar websites. The aim is to make sure the positive reviews are more relevant to the queries and gain more popularity in search engine results. Since we know how the digital realm works, we are able to bring your positive reviews up and running quite easily.
A Long Term Process that Shouldn’t Be Ignored!
By the sound of it, online reputation management might sound like a secondary task but believe it or not, it is a crucial aspect of your business’ success online. The process needs to handle delicately and regularly to ensure your business ratings are never being hurt. Today, search engines have made it a point to give priority to businesses that are being favored by consumers and not just the ones that are simply keyword optimized or are paying for advertisements. If you had ever wondered where online marketing will go in the near future, then here it is! For 2016, online reputation management stands as your big challenge.