What is the first thing people do when searching for a particular product? The answer to this question is quite obvious and probably won’t surprise you – look for reviews. And statistics prove it. According to BrightLocal, in 2021, 77% of consumers reported that they always search the web for reviews before making a purchase.
Regardless of what product or service they may need, people constantly look for other customers’ experiences with the sellers before finally clicking on the “Purchase” button.
Even before the digital era became such an irreplaceable part of our existence, reputation has always significantly weighted the scales regarding purchases. There might not have been social media, but word-of-mouth marketing has always been here to tell us which products are worthy of our attention.
All that adds to the notion that maintaining a positive brand image should be a priority for every business that wants to grow on the market and attract new customers while retaining its existing ones.
If your small or big business has been struggling lately with reduced ROI because you’ve recently got a bad review or two, you may be in serious need of good reputation management services.
To help you make your comeback to the land of positive brand image, we’ve thoroughly discussed the elements of reputation management and how to use them to your advantage.
Keep on reading to see where you might have gone wrong and how to fix your mistakes.
What is reputation management, and why do you need it?
Reputation management is a term that we’ve mentioned a few times already, but we still haven’t explained what we mean by it. It’s time to change that.
The term itself is remarkably self-explanatory – the purpose of reputation management is to preserve the positive image of a personal brand and big or small business brands. The process requires a series of actions that tend to manage the information the public can find for a particular company.
With the presence of digital marketing and the increased importance of maintaining positive digital popularity, most of these actions take place online.
Of course, sometimes, marketing experts may also need to do their magic tricks to influence the brand’s reputation in the offline world. However, that is not of interest to us today.
Considering 49% of the people trust consumer reviews online as much as personal recommendations from people they know, the digital world is in more serious need of our attention.
Again, how people perceive your business can positively contribute to your growth or negatively impact it. Let’s see how.
The detrimental effects of a negative reputation
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but the lack of a positive reputation will most likely seriously damage your business, no matter how big or small it is.
Regardless of how good your social media marketing strategy is or how visually appealing your posts are, the moment people sense something is off with the reputation of a particular business, they hit the “unfollow” or “unsubscribe” button.
And while you think this might be the least of your concerns if you are suffering from a bad reputation, this is only the beginning.
Even if some customers haven’t seen the bad reviews yet, with so many websites showing social media statistics and insights for brands around the corner, it will be tricky to cover your tracks and make up for the loss of followers.
If you don’t take control of the situation and do some crisis PR, things can escalate further. The worst-case scenario is to experience a significant drop in sales, making it very likely for your ROI index to hit the bottom.
The benefits of a positive brand image
On the bright side, a good reputation can bring plenty of benefits to a business. Because of their positive image, it is easier for the brands to build trust and a deeper connection with their customers. That is how a brand turns into a renowned and reliable business with increased ROI.
Usually, apart from offering quality products or services that people can enjoy, those brands do their best to ensure a positive experience for their customers. Thanks to that very same experience, people are more likely to become loyal, which is something businesses always should strive for.
While that’s a subject to an entirely different topic, loyalty is a crucial factor that ensures your customers will stay with you and continue their “relationship” with your product even if you get negative reviews that start affecting your reputation along the way.
Everything mentioned thus far is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t even get us started on how a good reputation can significantly increase your sales and revenue.
How does reputation management work in digital marketing?
Businesses revolve around digital marketing. So it is only natural to wonder how to make your reputation management strategies work in the digital marketing world.
One of the main perks of digital marketing is the variety of channels you can use to reach your target audience and your customers. Today it is easier than ever to access your clients’ thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and not using those to your advantage would be a total waste.
Hence it is essential to be fully aware of the categories different channels fall into. Let’s take a look.
Every channel that you have control over is part of your owned media. Owned media is an umbrella term for your websites, personal blogs, social media channels, and other third-party sites.
Bringing your A-level game for your SEO strategy is crucial to ensure your customers get a good perception of your services.
Featuring a business on external websites often requires a good investment of money and marketing efforts. Those websites or networks are also known as paid media.
There’s a whole field in digital marketing that strives to take businesses out there for all to see. Thanks to PPC advertising, brands get external traffic and manage to attract new customers.
Every time someone shares, reposts, mentions, or reviews your content, services, and products on their owned media, you get external web entities you didn’t pay for.
That is probably the most valuable media of all as it helps businesses organically grow their revenues.
3 mistakes to avoid and what to do instead
Reputation management is an art of its own. It requires the possession of plenty of skills that marketers can later implement in the processes. Practice makes perfect, but it always leads to making a mistake or two on the way. To help you learn how to execute a successful reputation strategy, we’ve listed the actions (or lack of them whatsoever) that may rather spoil it than elevate it.
Turning a blind eye to customers’ reviews
Whether good or bad, not responding to the reviews your customers leave on your owned media is a mistake #1 a business can make. After all, the replies of 89% of the participants in BrightLocal’s study showed that they are more likely to buy from brands that respond to all online reviews.
Leave the other benefits aside. Responding to your reviews shows that you take accountability for your (lack of) actions, products, or management skills.
Every business should strive for positive reviews. However, bad reviews are not the end of the world, as long as they are not an everyday occurrence. What’s more important is whether you are using the right strategies for handling negative customer reviews.
The most valuable lesson you can learn is to address all of your negative reviews, even if you think they are unfair. Find your way to get into your customers’ shoes and see where you might have done them wrong.
Showing your love and appreciation for the positive reviews you get is equally essential to dealing properly with your negative feedback.
Depending on the popularity of your business, you may be getting new reviews weekly or even daily. Hence it might be a good idea to pick a day or two in the week to conduct your reputation management audit where you find and respond to all new reviews.
Once you know the general attitudes toward your business, it is time to take matters into your own hands and do your best to keep or change the public opinion.
Overlooking the importance of social media
If you think you are too cool for social media platforms, we hate to burst your bubble, but you are not. In fact, no one is. Social media presence is an integral factor for any successful business in our digital era.
The lack of social media makes you look shady in the eyes of your potential customers. They have no place to find more relevant information about your products and services, but what’s more important, they have no way of contacting you whenever questions arise.
If you already haven’t, the first thing you should do is dive deep into the world of social media channels. Pick all relevant platforms for your business and use them to skyrocket your personal brands.
The next step is to analyze and create an exceptional brand strategy to help you grow faster. Start creating meaningful content that brings value. Dedicate yourself to showing your audience the perks of your products or services.
Earlier in our article, we spoke about the significance of loyalty. You can speed up the loyalty process by managing your social media right. Be there for your customers, reshare their stories, show them your gratitude, and you are bound to increase your positive reputation.
Deciding on a tone of voice (ToV) is crucial when developing a brand. That is how you will address your audience anytime you post updates about your products or reply to comments and negative reviews.
Once you’ve picked a relevant tone of voice for your audience, all you need to do is be consistent. Use it even when handling negative reviews – we guarantee your customers will appreciate it.
You probably know you can use SEO to leverage the reputation of your business. Doing keyword research to produce valuable content is a norm most companies, big or small, follow.
But did you know that you can also use it to remove negative results from the first page of Google?
Usually, marketing experts use SEO to optimize and rank different pages of the same website. However, when reputation management for negative reviews is on the line, the tactic is different.
If you are dealing with some negative feedback visible on the first page of Google, the best way to remove it is to rank nine other websites ahead of it.
As you can probably guess, that is time-consuming, and results won’t follow immediately.
You will need to perform keyword research and look for the terms that produce negative results. Once you find them, focus on those words and do your SEO magic.
- Backlinks can help you rank other pages and websites on Google. Whether you do internal or external link building, do not overdo it.
- Create and set business profiles on third-party websites to help your rankings. Yelp, Trustpilot, or Google My Business are popular options you can try.
- Engage in digital PR, events, sponsorships, and influencer marketing to get positive brand mentions.
Differences between branding and reputation management
Are personal brand and reputation one and the same? Definitely not, although some often confuse the two. Those two are not mutually exclusive, but they require different techniques, tactics, and strategies.
Creating a brand is all about showing yourself to the world in the most authentic way. It is the story of who you are, what you want to achieve, and anything else you think might interest your audience.
Reputation is everything your customers think of your brand. They shape your past and depict your future. Reputation is earned and highly depends on your products/services and how you treat your customers.
But does a strong brand equal a positive reputation? While this is often the case, a powerful brand doesn’t need to have the best reputation. The reason is that your brand shows your relevance, while your reputation – your credibility.
Reputation management software
When demand is high enough, you may consider using reputation management software to help you do your work.
MyReviewEngine is a helpful tool that assists you in gathering reviews from your customers to improve the reputation of your business. It also helps you manage your reputation like a pro by aggregating your ratings and analyzing the activity for 90 days.
BirdEye allows you to follow up with reviews from over 150 online sources. One of the main perks of this SaaS software is the opportunity to have it manage your social media accounts and conduct relevant surveys for your audience.
To ensure inclusivity on all marketing channels, Cision lets business owners reach audiences across traditional and social platforms. Furthermore, the software helps with proactive PR outreach, giving you access to a list of influencers compatible with different niches and industries.
Reputation management is not a one-time thing. It is a constant battle to stay relevant, to stay on top. The biggest takeaway of this article is not to leave your reviews hanging.
While it is essential to address them, what is even more crucial is to learn your lessons. Your reviews can give you valuable insight into how customers feel about your products and services. Think of your negative feedback as a way to upgrade and become better at what you do.
Be present and take control of your reputation. Make it work for you. Not against you.