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Managing your online reputation… it's a lot like dating.

Reputation Management Photo on Mobile

Blind dating can be terrifying, and with good reason. So many worries flash through your head, making it feel like a huge risk to trust your time to a complete stranger. This is a lot like what your customer experiences before deciding to buy your product or service. All of this uncertainty often leads to a fear of commitment, and the sale is lost.

To ease the anxiety of unanswered questions, customers often look at ratings and reviews of your business online before they are ready to make a purchase.This is called an online reputation, and it’s becoming more and more prominent in our digital age. Much like someone asks a trusted friend for dating advice, consumers look at what other people say about you online to help them make a decision. In fact, a study in 2017 showed that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Here are four more statistics that prove the value of a positive online reputation:

  1. 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
  2. Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more (2017)
  3. 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business (2017)
  4. Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business - up from 6 last year (2017)

What this means for your business:

You must manage your online reputation consistently. There’s really no way around it. Every day customers search online in their moments of need (often called micro-moments), and the search results give them the power to make decisions instantly. So, to even be considered by a potential customer, you have to show up in their search results. Once you show up, your online reputation must compel the consumer to take action.

To ensure that you appear in the results section when searches are relevant to your business, you can update and maintain your local listings (also called an online directory) on platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google. Do this by asking yourself these questions:

Is the location and contact information correct across all platforms (Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, etc.)?

Can a visitor easily see what products or services I offer from that listing?

Are there enough current photos to accurately portray my business?

Is my listing verified so that only I can edit it?
Lastly, do I have any unanswered reviews – positive or negative?

Think about reviews like they’re texts from your significant other. You care about them, so you show that by responding. And if you ignore them, how does that work out? Pretty poorly for all parties. So, responding to your customers online shows them that you care and you’re thankful for their business. Your response can even be as simple as, “Thanks for the kind review, Bill! We’re so glad you had a great experience at our store.” This builds a relationship between you and the customer, making them more likely to become brand loyal and/or a brand advocate for you.

Mending the relationship:

Negative reviews are like those passive aggressive texts you wish you could ignore, but you can’t. Even if you look away, the problem will still be there between you and your significant other. If you don’t respond to negative reviews, your business is likely to be perceived as apathetic and inattentive. The result: when a customer is in a moment of need and looking for your product or service online, they will choose another business over yours. The most important thing to remember is to respond and resolve the issues promptly. Sometimes, you will be able to address the issue right in the comments. Other times you may need to take the conversation offline and ask the customer to call or email you to address their concerns. You’ll get better at this as you regularly check your listings and respond to comments.

Depending on the size and bandwidth of your team, you might not be able to monitor and maintain your local listings regularly. Consider investing in a service that does the heavy lifting for you. At VGM Forbin, we’ve crafted a reputation management model that we use and offer clients, too! We do the work to make sure your business is found on popular directories, and help you respond to tricky situations with unhappy customers online.

Learn more about Reputation Management here.

Taking the next step:

Once you have the basics covered, grow your online reputation by directly asking customers to leave a review of your business on Google, Yelp or Facebook. This may feel like a longshot, but a recent bright local survey found that 74% of consumers will leave a local business review if asked to give feedback. When you ask for feedback, the customers do the rest of the work for you! As customers rate your business, you appear higher in the search results. As positive reviews are left in the comments, your brand becomes more trustworthy.

It can be time consuming to craft and send messages to all of your customers asking for feedback. So, at VGM Forbin we use Reputation Plus+ to make things easier. All you have to do is import your contacts into the Reputation Plus+ platform, and your contacts will be sent a message via text or email asking for them to rate their experience. If they rate the experience as four stars or above, they are asked to leave a review on Google or Facebook. If they rate the experience as three stars or below, the customer is directed to a feedback form where they have the opportunity to expand on their concerns without going to a review site. This helps decrease the amount of negative reviews posted on your directories.

The best part is that you can start improving your online reputation today. Foster your relationship with customers using the advice mentioned above, and watch your reputation grow!

If you want to learn more about managing or growing your online reputation, reach out to our account executives for more information.

Blind dating can be terrifying, and with good reason. So many worries flash through your head, making it feel like a huge risk to trust your time to a complete stranger. This is a lot like what your customer experiences before deciding to buy your product or...