Is your business reputation in a rut? Consider these 18 expert strategies for online reputation management.
The Importance Of Online Reputation Management
No matter if you run a business that provides a product or a service, the success of it revolves around your customers. Without customers, you have no business and no revenue. As such, keeping and gaining your customers has to be one of your top priorities.
The reputation of your company is a vital component of getting and keeping customers. If you have a negative reputation, your current customers are likely to move onto what they consider greener pastures and potential clients will likely never approach your business.
In this digital age, your online reputation plays a very large role in your success. It is imperative that you spend time both in building and managing it. The following are tips and strategies to manage your online reputation effectively.
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18 Expert Strategies for Online Reputation Management
1. Provide Great Service
It does not matter how much money you spend on marketing, branding, and advertising – if you do not provide great service, your money is wasted. The customers you do reach will not be happy with your company. Instead of continuing business with you, they will move onto another company that does provide great customer service. This will also prevent you from gaining new clients.
HostingTribunal shares the following statistics:
When you make great customer service a regular part of your business, though, it is much easier to keep your customers happy and to avoid most issues and complaints. While there will always be some customers who you simply cannot satisfy, most will be more than happy simply to have a company that prioritizes them.
There are many ways you can provide excellent service, but here are a few tips to get you started:
2. Get In Front Of Any Issues
As soon as you see a hint of a potential issue, get in front of it. Do not wait until it blows up if you see it coming. For instance, if a product your company creates and sells turns out to be defective but no customers have complained yet, you might think it best to ignore it unless someone eventually complains.
If your customers find out that you knew and did nothing, though, they will no longer trust you. It is better to get in front of the issue before it becomes an irreparable problem and offer a solution. In doing so, you will build customer loyalty and prevent many online attacks on your company’s reputation.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation…but only one bad one to lose it!” – Benjamin Franklin
3. Resolve Problems As Soon As Possible
Sometimes, you do not see these problems until customers point them out. You may not be able to be preemptive in these cases, but you can respond quickly with a resolution.
Reach out to the customer experiencing the issue, apologize, and offer some sort of solution. Refunds or a free product or service tend to work well with unhappy customers.
4. Underpromise and Over Deliver
Another very effective way to build and maintain a solid online reputation is to underpromise and over-deliver. Instead of spending a lot of time telling the customer what you are going to do, show them. Let them know you are handling the situation but do not oversell how you are handling it. Instead, let them be pleasantly surprised when you actually resolve the situation.
5. Get Reviews
No matter how much things change, word of mouth will always be one of the most effective forms of advertisement. Online reviews – the modern-day avenue for word of mouth- are crucial to running a business. In fact, HostingTribunal shares the following statistics:
- 15% of consumers do not trust a business without reviews
- 72% of consumers will not make a move until they read those reviews
With that in mind, here are a couple of effective methods for helping you gather reviews:
6. Ask For Reviews
If you want something, you have to ask for it. Your customers do not automatically think that you want them to leave a review. You must make it clear exactly what you want from them.
In most cases, people will more quickly post a negative review without being asked than a positive one. This is because when they have a negative experience, a person needs a space to vent and desires a resolution to the problem.
It does not always cross a happy customer’s mind to leave a review, though, as positive emotions affect people differently than negative ones. This does not mean you cannot get positive reviews. You simply need to ask for them. One of the best expert strategies for online reputation management is learning how to turn a negative review into a positive one!
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7. Send Out Surveys
Hopefully, you have been collecting email addresses from your customers. If so, your email list is a great place to get reviews. Send out surveys to those on your list. While you want positive reviews, you should also ask for any negative feedback. This gives you the opportunity to improve, which is a goal you should always have for your business.
If you are looking for information on eating better for your health, you are going to seek out information from someone who seems to know what they are talking about. The same is true for consumers- they want to do business with people who know what they are talking about.
8. Put Your Business In A Positive Light
When a photographer prepares for a photo session, they spend time setting the scene. During the photoshoot, he or she poses the subject in the best position and light possible in order to accomplish the best possible images.
Businesses need to put some focus into setting their scene, as well, so that they give the best image of the company. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few steps you can take:
9. Position Yourself As An Authority
If you are looking for information on eating better for your health, you are going to seek out information from someone who seems to know what they are talking about. The same is true for consumers- they want to do business with people who know what they are talking about. It is important that you position yourself as an authority in your field.
10. Run A Blog
A blog is an excellent way to build your reputation as an authority. Provide valuable content in the form of blog posts. You might also consider giving away how-to guides and other free items that show your customers you are knowledgeable in your industry.
Linking to credible sources is great, but when readers see that you are actually connected to the expert, they find it even easier to trust you. Start building relationships with experts in your industry as soon as possible.
You should also link to credible sources in your blog posts. This lets your audience know that you actually researched your topic and that your information is in line with expert information.
11. Build Relationships With Experts
Linking to expert sources is a great start, but you can take it a step farther by cultivating relationships with experts. Going along with the previous eating healthy example, consider which of the following you would rather read:
- A blog post that links to a nutritionist’s websites
- An article where a nutritionist is answering questions
Links are great, but when readers see that you are actually connected to the expert, they find it even easier to trust you. Start building relationships with experts in your industry as soon as possible.
LinkedIn is like Facebook for professionals. Businesses should not overlook the opportunities it can bring as one of the best strategies for online reputation management. It provides a space to post jobs, recruit employees, and market your product or service.
It is also a great place to network with other professionals as discussed above. This opportunity opens the door for you to build relationships with experts to give your business a level of credibility.
13. Be Active On Social Media
As the majority of your consumers are on social media, you should be, too. While being active on all social media platforms would be ideal, the truth is that it may not be possible- at least not in the beginning. As you build your ORM team and get a handle on some of the social sites, you can begin to focus on others, as well.
Start by discovering where your current and potential customers hang out. This will depend largely on your audience as different age groups and personalities are more prevalent on some platforms than others.
With some research, you can find your audience. If you do not yet have accounts on those sites, create them immediately. If you do have them, be sure that you are active on them.
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14. Respond To All Comments
For effective online reputation management, you must respond to all comments, whether positive or negative. Ignoring negative comments can give your audience the idea that you do not care about complaints or struggles that your customers are facing. You have the power to shape the view of your business by treating all comments as important and responding accordingly.
It is much easier to manage something when you know what you need to do and how you need to do it. When it comes to expert strategies for online reputation management, this means creating a process for handling comments and issues and have a clear point where they get escalated to the next point.
15. Make ORM A Priority
A very important step in managing and protecting your online reputation is to make it a top priority, and there are a few effective ways to do this.
Create An Effective Strategy
It is much easier to manage something when you know what you need to do and how you need to do it. When it comes to online reputation management, this means creating a process for handling comments and issues and have a clear point where they get escalated to the next point.
In other words, at what point should your employee send the issue to his or her supervisor? What steps should he or she take prior to that point? Having a clear strategy means that everyone is clear about their role and their duties concerning online reputation.
Dedicate A Team To ORM
Keeping up with every mention of your company, responding to every comment, and keeping a vigilant eye on everything that is going on involving your online reputation requires a lot of time. Instead of spreading your team out any further by adding on more work, have a team that is dedicated to your online reputation management.
Train Your Entire Team
While you should have a team dedicated to ORM, your entire team should understand how important it is, what role they each play in it, and how they should handle any issues that may come their way. No one from the lowest rung of the ladder to the very top should be unaware of the process your company has for managing your online reputation.
Warren Buffett said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing“. Minimize your risk of losing business by making sure your employees know what to do.
Use A Platform Or Service
Even with a team dedicated to ORM, it can be nearly impossible to monitor every mention of your business manually. To combat this, you can use an online reputation management software that can monitor the web for you. Without it, you might overlook a comment that has the potential to destroy your business.
16. Always Look For Ways To Improve
Waiting for your customers to tell you something is wrong is not a good way to handle business. Instead, you should always be looking for ways to improve even when it looks like things are going well. Never get complacent. As soon as you do, a competitor can sneak in and take over faster than you realize.
Warren Buffett said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing”. Minimize your risk of losing business by making sure your employees know what to do.
17. Revise Business As Needed
As you look over customer complaints and negative reviews, pay special attention to consistent feedback. If multiple customers complain about the same issue, it may be time to revise your business plan or link up with new suppliers or partners.
For instance, if you have a virtual assistant who responds to emails for you but your customers are complaining that it takes a long time to get a response, you need to investigate. Why is it taking your VA so long?
Are there more emails coming in than you realized and you need to hire an additional VA? Does your VA know how to handle each email or does it take her longer than it should because she needs more training?
Another example is if customers are complaining that your shipping takes too long. Can you switch to a faster company? Is your supplier taking longer than initially agreed? In short, take a look at consistent complaints and determine what needs to change.
You should optimize for local searches. Even if the majority of your customers are from other parts of the country or world, there are still potential customers down the road. You want to be sure that you show up in their local searches- preferably in the top two to five local search results.
18. Do Not Overlook SEO Expert Strategies for Online Reputation Management
If you know what SEO is, you may wonder how exactly it can affect your online reputation. In short, your audience has to be able to find you to reach the content you want them to. Without optimizing your website and content, you are at the mercy of what other people state about your business online.
Instead, you should aim to take control. By using SEO tips, you can make sure that the positive scene you have set for your business shows up in the first few pages of Google search results.
You should also aim to optimize for local searches. Even if the majority of your customers are from other parts of the country or world, there are still potential customers down the road from you. You want to be sure that you show up in their local searches- preferably in the top two to five local search results.
Online reputation management is a necessary component to running a successful digital or brick and mortar business. Place it high on your list of priorities so that you can maintain and grow your business. Otherwise, you can quickly and easily fall behind your competitors and eventually disappear altogether.
One of the top expert strategies for online reputation management? Speaking to an ORM professional about a comprehensive reputation management solution! Fill out the form below to get your free consultation today.