How consumers perceive your brand — and what your own customers publicly say about you — can have a big impact on your business reputation.
No matter the size or type of your business, you need to be able to manage online reviews, social media comments, customer feedback, and other types of user-generated content that might affect your reputation.
Reviews can be particularly influential:
- 90 percent of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
- 4 in 5 will reverse a purchase after reading negative reviews or feedback posted online.
Regardless of whether you’re running a small- or medium-sized business or managing an enterprise-level organization with hundreds or thousands of locations, it’s clear that reviews, social media comments, and similar online activities have a direct impact on your business reputation and performance.
This is where reputation marketing comes in.
What is Reputation Marketing?
Reputation marketing is the process of managing and influencing consumer perception of a brand or business. The goal: to highlight the positive qualities of the brand and promote these in a way that converts shoppers into customers.
Reputation marketing typically utilizes technological tools and involves a combination of strategies and best practices, including online review management, social media marketing, reputation management, local listings management, employer branding, and search engine optimization.
According to Steve Olenski, contributor for Forbes, reputation marketing can help businesses achieve competitive differentiation.
Olenski wrote, “Reputation, consisting of mentions, comments, recommendations and reviews across a buzzing, shape-shifting universe of online publishers and apps isn’t a problem center but a value center for brands and businesses.
“We need to think about our reputations as a constant, competitive advantage, a driver of growth and prosperity, and a strategic asset. We need to think about reputation marketing.”
Reputation Marketing: Keys to Success
Monitor and manage your reputation
You have to make sure you’re paying attention to what customers are saying about your business, wherever they are saying it.
For example, it’s important that your business knows when a new review is posted, so you can respond in a timely manner.
“Online review sites like Google, Yelp, Amazon, Tripadvisor, Angie’s List, etc. have become beacons for consumers seeking to discover and evaluate companies, products and services,” wrote Olenski.
“For better or worse, consumers trust what other consumers like themselves have to say more than they trust you, your ad writers or even the experts.”
According to the Online Reviews Survey, 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week. But businesses are failing to meet this expectation. 63 percent of customers say that a business has never responded to their review.
Keep in mind, too, that protecting your reputation isn’t a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process that requires you to regularly monitor (and address) what’s being said online. Your reputation marketing strategy should be crafted in a way that simplifies this process, while also quickly alerting you of any critical reviews or feedback that may require urgent attention.
Have a plan for repairing damage
Negative reviews and social media comments can quickly damage your reputation marketing strategy. That’s why you must have a plan in place for mitigating specific issues and responding to critics in ways that protect your reputation.
Take preventative instead of reactive measures. Resolve critical customer issues. Build relationships and foster goodwill with the media. Respond to online reviews. When releasing important external communications, consult with your PR and legal teams.
Look to activate brand promoters
Sometimes, your happiest customers aren’t the most vocal ones. They remain quiet about their experience with your business, while critics are quick to tell everybody else about their experience.
Encourage feedback from your brand promoters and empower them to share their experiences online. This generates powerful social proof essential to inspiring shopper confidence and brand trustworthiness.
Read this comprehensive guide on how to ask customers for reviews.
Prevent negative feedback
I know: no business can really suppress or censor negative feedback, especially in today’s age of online reviews. But you can definitely prevent negative reviews from happening.
How? Have a system in place for proactively reaching out to unhappy customers. Engage with them before they decide to leave a bad online review. You can run email campaigns asking for feedback and distribute customer satisfaction surveys.
Once you identify negative trends that are impacting the customer experience, work on resolving any issues and making the necessary improvements. If multiple customers say the food is too cold across reviews and surveys, for example, make an operational change to make sure the food is hot enough when it’s served.
Optimize your presence online
Even without reputation marketing, you may find that your business is probably already listed on online review sites, social media platforms, and local business directories.
To boost your reputation, you have to be able to manage your business information on these digital properties. Keep your listings correct, complete, and up-to-date. Provide information that searchers will find useful.
By doing so, you can also increase your visibility, improve your SEO performance, and drive new customers to your door. (After all, a positive reputation isn’t very useful if potential customers can’t find you online.)
Greater search engine visibility can be achieved through smart use of positive reviews and proactive management of your business listings and information.
Always keep in mind that reputation marketing isn’t just about signing up for a shiny new software tool or retaining the services of a third-party firm for a certain period of time.
It’s a long-term endeavor that requires an organizational or team-wide commitment to performing daily actions over time. Remember: how you manage and respond to your customers online will have a greater impact on your reputation than what’s being said in the first place. Make your reputation marketing strategy a true reflection of this.
Reputation marketing software makes you more efficient
Tracking and managing online activities that affect your business reputation is frankly a lot of work.
Investing in reputation marketing software gives you the ability to centralize online reviews, social media comments, and customer feedback, so that you can efficiently stay on top of what your customers are saying online — and how they perceive your business.
Reputation marketing software improves perceptions
Customers want to be heard individually and addressed personally; their reviews and comments and recommendations on social media indicate a genuine desire to engage with businesses.
Responding to them through the use of reputation marketing software helps improve perceptions and foster trust.
- Responding to customers increases lifetime value and reduces churn. When customers do hear back, perceptions immediately improve, with additional research suggesting that 80 percent of consumers believe that a business cares more about them when its management responds.
Businesses that effectively use reputation marketing software to respond to customers are typically the ones that can more easily build goodwill, inspire customer loyalty, and extend customer lifetime value.
Reputation marketing software builds consumer trust
In today’s multichannel world, consumers actively seek information from all types of sources to guide their purchase decisions. Businesses that are highly visible in search results and on social media enjoy a natural advantage. But just because a business ranks number one on Google or has 1,000 more Facebook likes and Twitter followers than a competitor does not necessarily mean it has gained the trust of consumers.
One of the key factors in an organization’s ability to develop meaningful, trust-based relationships with customers is online reviews and similar forms of user-generated content. This is where reputation marketing software can help you.
- 72 percent of consumers trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.
- According to Forrester Research, 46 percent of Internet users in the US trust user-generated content and consumer-written reviews. Only 15 percent trust promotional posts by companies and brands on social media. Consumers also trust online reviews over natural search engine results.
- Results from an About.com study indicate that 50 percent of consumers think that reviews (positive and negative) are the best peer-to-peer contribution to trust. Reviews inspire twice as much trust as general social networking likes.
In short, better reviews and stronger online reputation — not more likes — work strategically to help improve your influence, trustworthiness, and flexibility. With reputation marketing software, you can use reviews, social media comments, and customer feedback in ways that drive search engine performance, social media strategy, and consumer engagement levels.
Reputation marketing software inspires confidence and boosts SEO
A number of reputation marketing software products let business users add review content to their website, which serve as powerful testimonials for visitors and potential customers. For example: see ReviewTrackers’ Amplify in action in the below screenshot.
Adding review content encourages user interaction and boosts shopper confidence.
- Product page visitors who read and interact with reviews convert at a 58 percent higher rate than those who don’t. They also reflect an increase of 62 percent in revenue per visit.
A website that integrates review content and customer feedback also enables unique SEO benefits. According to AdWeek, 800 words of substantive review text can make up as much as 70 percent of fresh content for a website page, which search engines will reward with higher search results.
Search Engine Journal, meanwhile, asserts that reviews can influence up to 10 percent of a company’s search ranking. Other benefits include improved on-site content density, increased triggers for search engine crawlers, and improved ranking for long-tail searches.
Reputation marketing software generates actionable insights
Similar to how the savviest reputation managers are extracting insights from social media comments, reputation marketing software can also harness reviews and feedback in order to gain insights on the customer experience.
By tapping into your precious review and feedback data, reputation marketing software can support the object of your analytics program and help your team make smart business decisions that will earn the trust of potential and existing customers.
With instant insights, your organization can make actionable changes.