Does your business have a bad online reputation or no online reputation at all? In this post we provide 5 easy steps to turn that all around.
In business, nothing is as important as your reputation.
A good one can help you attract new customers or weather a tough economy; a bad one can sink you, even if your services and products are great. But a good reputation isn't something that just happens or comes to you by chance.
Being proactive can help you shape the way people think and talk about your business, and it starts online.
1. Create A New Website... Or Update Your Existing Site
If you don't already have a website, make one ASAP. Having an Internet presence is an important part of a good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
The more traffic your site receives online, the higher your website will rank in local search engines. That means that when customers search for a business like yours, your website will be high in the list of search results.
Having a site is also important for when customers search for you by name. If they can't find you, they'll likely move on to another business that offers similar services.
If you have a website already, think about updating it to give it a fresh look.
Keeping your site both attractive and functional is important for users, and having fresh content can help you rank highly in search engine results.
Once you have a functional site, share the link on your personal social media profile. Again, this makes it easy for potential customers to find you. You'll also want to link to the site in your business's online review sites.
2. Optimize Your Profiles on Review Sites
84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, according to the a recent survey, so it's crucial that you optimize your presence on review sites.
Look at the major online review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook) as well as any niche review sites for your industry (Avvo, Angie's List, Healthgrades, etc), but don't feel obligated to create a listing on every review site. The three majors and any important niche review sites should be your focus.
Claiming your business page (or creating one if it's not already there) is the first step.
By proving that you're affiliated with the business and authorized to post on its behalf, you'll gain access to your business's page on these review sites.
From there you can edit the page and, in some cases, respond to customers who post reviews. And if someone posts something that's offensive or untrue, you'll have the standing to try to get the post removed.
3. Get Customers Talking
This is one of the most important parts of online reputation management. Harness the power of your customer base by getting the people who use your business to be its cheerleaders.
The survey referenced earlier found that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if they're asked to, so getting this powerful boost is as simple as training your staff to ask satisfied customers to visit your review sites.
Note that you only want to suggest that happy customers write reviews. If a customer is upset with your services, try to address their concerns directly.
It's important to get good reviews across a range of sites, so you can either offer a few suggestions ("Thanks for coming in! We'd love for you to review us on Yelp or Google.") or rotate the review sites you suggest each week.
For Yelp, in particular, it's helpful to ask customers whether they're on Yelp first. If they say yes, ask them to write a review there. If they say no, suggest another review site. Yelp uses a filter to decide which reviews to make visible, and active members are more likely to have their reviews get through the filter than new or inactive members.
This should become a part of your permanent routine. Your goal is to generate a steady stream of feedback so that any potential customer who is cruising review sites can always find recent positive reviews.
4. Manage the Conversation
Visit review sites each day to check for any new activity. Some sites allow you to respond directly to reviewers. You can leave a quick note of thanks under positive feedback to reinforce the idea that you're committed to customer satisfaction.
Realistically, you'll probably receive some lukewarm or outright negative reviews occasionally. Decide now whether you'll respond to negative feedback or not, and commit to your choice. Addressing each negative review may help you convert unhappy customers into happy ones - but this task can be time-consuming, and it's crucial you strike the right tone so you don't come off as flippant or cold.
If you're in a medical or healthcare profession, you may want to avoid responding to any online reviews, to avoid any risk of breaching patient privacy laws and violating HIPAA or PIPEDA.
Another reason it's important to monitor your reviews? To look for any negative ones that are inaccurate or include offensive language or personal information. Depending on the review site, you may be able to get a review removed.
5. Systemize the Approach
Creating a site (or keeping your existing site updated), optimizing your review site profiles, training your staff and responding to customer feedback takes a lot of work upfront.
But once you've done this initial work, you can make the process of maintaining a positive online reputation easier using an automated system like ReputationStacker.
Simply enter your customers' email addresses or phone numbers into the system, and ReputationStacker contacts them with a single survey question. Satisfied customers are directed to the review site of your choosing where they can post a glowing review, while unhappy customers are directed back to you so you can make them into happy customers.
A Review of Reviews
Your online presence is important to your business success, no matter what kind of business you have.
Getting happy customers to spread the word about you is the most effective way to cultivate a positive reputation.
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to do the heavy lifting for you.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.