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 the fad today, and it is surely becoming more and more organic every day. Google and other search engines are trying their 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.
What Is Reputation Management Exactly?
2015 was a major year for Google and other search engines to add a lot more interactivity and authenticity to their search results. This included adding social signals, maps, review snippets and sitelinks to the algorithms. The logic was simple; if a business has a business page, if it is getting online reviews, if customers are interacting with it via social media, then it surely is an authentic business.
The review snippet, in particular, 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. And, it must be noted here that online reputation management is an important part of the lead nourishment phase of lead generation. This means that customers will read reviews, visit your social media pages and check forums or blogs to see what experiences others have had with your business. It is actually a part of online marketing today. You can lose potential customers if your online reputation is not managed well.
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 BrightLocal, 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
Grab Attention with Online Reviews
Online reviews make your business stand out or out of the picture. According to BrightLocal, 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!
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
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 over time by the reaction or response of your customers towards your business.
ShiftWeb Solution’s Seamless Process for Online Reputation Management
At ShiftWeb Solutions, we have sure-fire strategies of positively boosting your online reputation. We educate and influence your leads through reviews, social media interactivity and other techniques so that your business may not suffer the wrath of a disgruntled competitor trying to bring you down.
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 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:
In simpler words, positive online reviews help as part of your lead nourishment phase. That’s the place it holds in your sales funnel. And, we all know how important the nourishment phase is.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation?
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 can 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. Sometimes your competitor will post negative comments about your business just to damage your reputation. We have a fix for this. You can simply make it easier for your customers to post reviews of your service or your product on your social media pages or website. This way, you will be inviting a gush of authentic reviews from your genuine customers. Happy customers will reply with positive feedback, which will boost your online reputation.
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 be handled 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! Online reputation management is what most businesses will be focusing on in 2016, and so should you!