Updated: Jun 11, 2020
In today’s digital world, people in the market for everything from professional services to restaurants to health care often begin their search online. That makes it more important than ever to know, and manage, what your customers and clients are saying about you online.
Initial online investigation applies to just about any product or service.
Whether someone is in the market for a new car, considering a new brand of moisturizer, or planning where to take their best friend to dinner for their birthday, there’s a good chance they’ll begin their search online. 97% of people say they research businesses online. Think brick and mortar stores are the exception? Think again. According to Forbes, a study by Bazaarvoice showed that 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make-in store, and 45% read reviews before making a purchase.
More and more people are turning to Google reviews to help make their decision before choosing to buy a product or hire a service provider. According to Inc.com, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And they make decisions quickly: 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.
“In just a few clicks, potential customers can find out everything they need to know about you,” says Kristin Thompson, president of Thompson Marketing Partners, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based marketing agency. “Consumers consider Facebook and Google reviews to be reliable sources, which makes it more important than ever to pay attention to and manage your online reputation.”
But the fact is that many organizations overlook the importance of online reputation management as a marketing strategy.
Stay on top of your social footprint.
Be sure to perform regular searches of your company name on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google to stay abreast of what people are saying about you. You can’t manage the dialogue if you’re not on top of the conversation.
There are several ways to accomplish this. You can simply do manual searches periodically. You can setup Google Alerts to have mentions of your company name delivered to your inbox. Or, you can utilize a paid software tool to monitor your online reputation. These paid tools can make life easy, delivering all mentions (from multiple platforms) directly to your inbox, and oftentimes allowing you the ability to respond to those reviews directly with a single click.
Respond quickly to good reviews and even faster to negative ones.
When someone reaches out to a company, they typically have an immediate need. It’s important to monitor and respond to comments as soon as possible. Even if the review seems unfair and overly negative, you must respond with empathy and compassion. If you don’t have an immediate solution to a problem, it’s important to let that person know you’re working on finding it. Once it’s solved, ask them if they would be kind enough to remove the negative comment.
Ask for reviews.
Provide links for leaving a Google, Yelp or Trip Advisor review in your email correspondence and on your website. Reviews are powerful ways to define your unique selling proposition by trusted third-party reviewers and can also help with your site’s search engine optimization. If someone is searching for “social media marketing near me,” it’s easier for Google to find the right company to recommend in the search engine results if you have lots of reviews for them to search for. How many reviews should you shoot for? The answer is going to be different for each business. It’s most helpful to have more reviews than your competitors.
Turn you customers into your brand ambassadors.
Make it rewarding to engage with your company online, which will help cultivate a strong following. Share content that’s enjoyable to consume, host competitions, offer rewards for various actions. Don’t forget to encourage your audience to share your content. Keeping your customers engaged helps build brand loyalty and spurs referrals.
Transparency builds trust.
While it’s important to have a social media strategy and a tight control over the content of your company’s messaging, don’t be so rigid and stiff that you come across as cold. Social media, in particular, gives companies a chance to show their human side. Always be upfront and real with people—even if they have bad things to say about you. Admit a mistake and state what you’re implementing to make sure it doesn’t happen again, or push back on something that’s patently not true in a professional and delicate way. Your genuineness will come through.
Top marketing agencies like Thompson Marketing Partners can help guide you in managing your online reputation and increase your positive online presence. They offer a full range of digital marketing services and are experts in developing and executing strategic digital marketing solutions that help clients reach their marketing goals. To learn more, visit http://www.thompsonmarketingpartners.com.