Online reputation management is the use of multiple strategies to influence, improve the online perception of your business.
Generally speaking, that means monitoring what’s being said about your brand and taking steps to encourage your promoters to champion your brand online. In this guide, we’ll go over how to get your reputation management strategy up and running.
Table of Contents
Why is Reputation Management Important?
Coming up with an effective strategy for your brand can be the result of various factors, but it’s usually because one or more of the following issues occurred:
- An overall low star rating, or a wave of negative reviews. An overwhelming number of negative reviews are enough to convince customers to avoid a business, which can result in lower revenue. A low overall rating also means that you are easily passed on in favor of the competition.
- A low number of online conversions. Taking a hit on one of the key metrics for any online brand means that you miss out on new customers and additional exposure.
- The overall customer tone in reviews features a negative sentiment. Consistently seeing negative adjectives such as “bad,” “terrible,” or “disgusting” in customer reviews can paint your brand in a poor light to stakeholders and prospects alike.
Having these experiences doesn’t mean that you’ll be closing up shop soon, but it does point to a need for serious change within your online reputation. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can bring about a positive change in your reputation.
Reputation Management Strategies
There isn’t one definitive reputation management strategy for all businesses.
Instead, you’ll have to take advantage of multiple methods to have full control of your business’s online reputation. Because so many consumers use reviews as a way to evaluate business, many of these strategies will center around customer reviews.
Why reviews? Because almost all consumers say they’ve avoided a business because of a negative review.
Respond and Engage
Customers aren’t writing their reviews into the void; they want their opinions to be heard so make sure you respond to and engage with online reviews. Doing so tells customers that you care about your online reputation, and that you’ll use the feedback to improve the service and experience.
Responding, especially to negative reviews, makes 45% of consumers more likely to visit a business. This is a significant number of customers – for franchises and small businesses alike – especially when you consider that 63% say that a business never responds to their review and an overwhelming 94% will avoid a business because of a negative review.
A Timely Response Is Key
However, make sure that you respond in a timely manner. Research shows that 53% of customers expect a response within a week, but a response within 24 hours can yield even better results. According to Yelp data, responding to one- or two-star reviews increases the likelihood of a customer returning to the business and upgrading their review by 33%.
Before you respond, make sure that you have a well-constructed response plan in place. Review responses need to sound both genuine and professional at the same time.
Get More Reviews
Maintaining your online reputation also means that you need to get a constant stream of customer reviews. A majority of consumers – 69% – view reviews older than three months as irrelevant.
With current reviews, you show potential customers that people are frequently visiting your location and that you are engaging with them on a regular basis. But just like reputation management, there are multiple ways to get reviews from customers.
If you’re doing it in person, you can ask for reviews through your point of sale system, physical handouts, or just by verbally asking for a review. Most of these methods provide near-immediate feedback on your business’s performance, but more importantly these in-person approaches drive the idea that you really care about each person’s feedback.
If you prefer to give them a bit of breathing room before asking for a review, you can send an email or SMS message that asks for a review, or you can embed a review request page on your website if it attracts plenty of traffic. The benefits of these post-purchase methods is that it lets customers leave feedback when it’s convenient for them, which relieves the pressure when it comes to leaving a review right at checkout.
Before you go ahead and employ multiple review generation tactics, be aware that these methods can all be simplified with automation. There are multiple solutions available that make it easy for you to write a review request template and automatically send it to customers or create an appealing message for your in-store kiosk that convinces visitors to leave substantial feedback.
Flag and Dispute Inaccurate Reviews
Effective reputation management also requires that you look out for any inaccurate or false reviews that can negatively affect your business’s online reputation. To combat this issue, you can flag and dispute the review, or resolve its contents with the customer and ask for an updated review.
Most business review sites including the Big Four – Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Tripadvisor – have some form of reporting feature that allows you to flag reviews if you find that they are in violation of the site’s guidelines.
This is the preferred method as opposed to directly deleting the review (which is available on Facebook) because it doesn’t put you and the business in a bad light. However, the process of investigating and the final verdict on the review’s validity on your listing might take some time. If you’re looking for a quick solution we suggest…
Resolving the review’s contents for yourself. If there’s something you don’t like about the customer’s feedback, address it in a calm and professional manner. Make sure that you get their contact information during this time and try to take the conversation offline to prevent a potential public escalation in the argument.
If you manage to resolve the customer’s issue, you should ask them to submit a new review or update their current review to accurately depict what happened after you resolved their grievances.
If you need some guidance for writing the right review response, you can check out this handy review response guide, which also includes helpful examples.
Monitor Reviews and Social Media
Flagging and responding to reviews is just one way that you can actively monitor your digital footprint. Sustaining and improving a business’s online reputation means that you have to juggle multiple tasks in the air.
Step 1. Claim Your Business Listings
An easy place to start is by claiming your business listings on multiple sites. Not only does this increase your foothold on the business’s online presence but it also makes it easier for you to see what people are saying about your brand.
Multiple listings also means that it’s even more convenient for customers to leave reviews on sites where they already have an account or are comfortable using on a regular basis.
Step 2. Social Listening
Another form of engagement with consumers outside of reviews is through social media. Millions of people use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on a daily basis, and they are all worthwhile places where you can engage with current customers while also capturing new ones.
Using tools like Talkwalker, Google Alerts, Hootsuite, and others, you can set up alerts that let you see when and where people are talking about your brand.
Step 3. Review Monitoring
We’ve already discussed the short lifespan of reviews and how important it is for your reputation to respond to them in a timely manner. But to really do that, you’ll need to have an effect review monitoring strategy to make sure you see new reviews as they come in.
This can be challenging for big brands. Google My Business, for instance, limits alerts after a business has 100 locations. The bigger your organization is, the harder it is to track dozens of review sites for hundreds of locations. That’s the challenge of reputation management when it comes to reviews.
A successful review monitoring plan will have:
- Dedicated team member(s).
- Alerts for all major review sites.
- Defined roles for who responds to reviews and what approval they need if any.
- Brand-approved response templates.
Claiming listings, responding to reviews, and tracking new feedback across multiple review sites is no easy task, especially when you’re also curating content for social media and your website. Fortunately, there are online reputation management software solutions like ReviewTrackers, making your efforts easier with frequent reports, review alerts, and multi-platform support.
Sentiment Data and Reputation Management
A major factor in online reputation management is data.
However, because what’s being said about you online is in the form of text, it can be hard for brands to turn all that content into meaningful data. By employing sentiment analysis to your reviews and other online text you can take out the guesswork out of your reputation management.
Sentiment analysis uses natural language processing to give a quantifiable positive or negative score to what is being said about you. This is done by giving positive scores to positive words (“great,” “delicious”, “friendly”, etc.) and negative scores to negative words (“bad,” “rude,” “disgusting,” etc.). There’s a lot more to it than that — but that’s a helpful place to start.
A large brand may have 100,000 reviews of their businesses posted every year — and that’s plenty of text and data on your reputation.
Sentiment analysis can help you better understand the tone of each review — and spot trends in your operations that are negatively impacting your reputation.
One example of this involves the restaurant chain Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes, and Fries. The company initially thought its waitstaff was performing well when it came to welcoming guests when they entered the restaurant. However, sentiment analysis discovered that the word “waitress” was used in plenty of negative reviews. This alerted the company to the fact that its waitstaff was actually performing below expectations, with waitstaff taking longer than usual to greet customers after they sat down.
Hwy 55 was able to retrain staff and set up a process to make sure customers were being greeted in a timely manner.
Without sentiment analysis, Hwy 55 wouldn’t have been able to spot trends that were scattered in text-based data (reviews). However, with the right tool, the company was able to act quickly and improve their customer service and their reputation.
Measuring Reputation Management (and its ROI)
With multiple strategies in place, you’ll need a way to accurately measure your reputation metrics. Learning how to properly measure your online reputation from the start allows you to immediately gain valuable insights into actionable items and areas of improvement in the business.
The most obvious online reputation metric is your star rating. That is actually how your consumers search for, filter, and decide between brands.
That stat has significant impact on the restaurant industry because our research showed that 33% of customers wouldn’t eat at a restaurant with a three-star overall rating on review sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Google.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, find ways to improve the service and get better business and increase your overall star rating. If your business isn’t a four-star establishment then you’re missing out on a significant portion of consumers.
We previously mentioned the importance of engagement on social media, but you can also use it to measure your online reputation’s success.
By tracking the amount of mentions you have you can not only see how many people are talking about the brand, but the context of the conversation as well.
Mentions also help you recognize the best platform for your audience. Most businesses now have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and one of those channels might be more effective than others. By looking at mentions, you can see where you can boost your social media marketing and engagement efforts to attract more customers and increase your online reputation.
Twitter’s Analytics tab is a great example of this metric. In addition to overall mentions, you can see user reach and engagement with your tweets over a specific course of time. Over time, this helps you figure out which tweets and tone work with your core audience.
For a more analytical look at your reputation, you can create Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. The data gathered from these surveys will then give you a score that shows the likelihood that customers will recommend your business to their friends or family.
Depending on their answer to your questions, NPS responders are labeled as Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from Promoters reveals your NPS score, which is based on a -100- to 100-point scale.
Reputation management is not something that is done overnight. It’s a task that takes time, and more importantly, money. There are plenty of online solutions available, but you’ll need to look at specific factors in order to determine the most affordable reputation management for your business needs.
A high amount of churn is dangerous for any business because it means that you have to make additional efforts to acquire new customers rather than retain those who already purchase your service or product. Depending on your industry, the cost of acquiring a new customer can be expensive.
For instance, the customer acquisition cost for retail stores is $10, but for a banking establishment that cost is significantly higher at $303.
Decreased SEO & Brand Reputation
Poor reputation management can lead to negative effects on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and overall reputation. Without the right SEO tools at your disposal you won’t know how to effectively reach the right customers for your business.
Not ranking for the right keywords for your business means that you lose out on a significant number of searches. An example from Search Engine Land showed a monthly average of 100 – 1,000 searches for “best fitness tracker for men” while “best fitbit for men” brought in between 1,000 – 10,000 average searches every month.
The Cost of a Reputation Management Platform
Depending on factors like the number of business locations and the features offered on the platform, an online reputation management service can range between a few hundred or a few thousand dollars per location.
To measure your ROI, balance the cost of these platforms against the losses suffered from a poorly managed online reputation — churn and lost opportunity from lower SEO and review site rankings.
SEO and Reputation Management
The effect on SEO on your business is powerful. In terms of local search, 21% of consumers look at a business’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) as a deciding factor for their purchases. In other words, a business on the top of page one of a Google SERP will see more traffic than an entry at the top of page two.
To beat the competition you’ll need – you guessed it – a well-planned search engine reputation management strategy. This starts with getting highly-rated customer reviews, which promote both the customer’s experience and more importantly, your brand.
This results in more branded keyword searches (searchers look for your product or service by name), which bring in double the conversion rates as opposed to searching with non-branded keywords.
With favorable reviews coming in, make sure that you create a grateful and professional response to create loyal customers. You can even insert the branded keywords you want people to use in your responses, which can help search engines link that word to your business.
An excellent customer experience and service yields favorable reviews, which illicit a well-crafted response. A high number of these reviews also means that your brand’s star rating and your SERP position will go up. With enough time and more rave reviews you’ll soon find yourself at the top of local search pages for your industry.
Reputation Management Tips and Examples by Industry
There are different audiences for each industry, which means that some online reputation management strategies might be more effective in one sector than others. It usually takes time to find which methods work best for your industry, but we took the guesswork out of that with our own research.
Restaurant Reputation Management
The key to online reputation management for restaurants is visibility.
This starts by claiming listings on popular restaurant review sites like Yelp, OpenTable, Google, and Facebook. Not only does this give you a solid foothold in terms of online presence, but it even gives you an advantage on the competition. Research revealed that only 46% of its partners claimed their listings on Yelp, which attracted over 100 million unique visitors in Q3 2018.
That’s plenty of eyes that could be looking at your restaurant. To keep them hooked on your restaurant, make sure that you continue to accrue reviews and respond because over 55% of consumers view online reviews as influential when it comes to choosing a new restaurant. The right review along with your response can mean the difference between a massive party of patrons or an empty service on Friday night.
You can even boost your online reputation outside of review sites, specifically on social media. Use it to show off review, deals, special events, and behind-the-scenes content. But don’t forget to also engage with customers.
Constant engagement, even if it’s about the simplest question can be a deciding factor for a customer. If they mention you on social media as part of a positive review make sure you direct them to your listings so that their feedback influences the purchase decisions of future customers.
Healthcare Reputation Management
Survey data revealed that 80.3% of providers know of the importance of a strong online reputation, but many miss the first steps for effective reputation management for doctors.
A basic outline for healthcare reputation management involves improving the overall patient experience and driving an increase in patient engagement.
Doing so creates loyal patients, and a 10% increase of loyal patrons means that a hospital can see an increased revenue of $22 million.
Review responses are also especially important for providers, but they will need to adhere to HIPAA guidelines when responding to avoid legal and financial penalties. Fortunately, we have a guide that should help you create a caring and professional response that fits well within HIPAA rules.
Financial Services Reputation Management
Reputation risk management for any financial institution can be the difference between a successful business and one that doesn’t serve its customers well.
In fact, the idea of damage to the overall brand and reputation to any financial business is a top concern according to a 2017 global risk management survey. Fortunately, there are a few ways to safeguard a financial institution’s reputation.
You can and should leverage online customer feedback as a way to improve not only operations, but the customer experience as well.
People trust your business with their finances and you need to provide a service and experience that is worthy of their patronage. Anything less means that you’ll lose customers faster than you can acquire them, and it costs over $300 to get new customers through the door.
This also means that you need to engage with customers in person, on reviews, and through social media. People need to see the business as more than just a place where they put their money so that it’s the first thing on their mind when they have financial issues or questions.
None of these initiatives are possible without a foundation of trust. That can be through a strong and secure system to prevent data breaches, philanthropic events, or eco-friendly processes.
These all show that each customer is not just a number but rather an integral part of your financial institution’s success, and that you’re keeping their interests and concerns in mind even while they do business with you.
Dentists Reputation Management
The first steps to getting a healthy dental reputation management is to distribute patient surveys, which can show any crucial issues in your dental operation. With those changes made, you can then start asking patients to write reviews about the practice on multiple review sites (where you claimed your listing) or even on your own website.
Make sure that you respond to these reviews as well, but be mindful of HIPAA guidelines when creating a response. If you’re unsure about how to respond, you can check out our list of sample responses. You can also try and take the conversation offline by providing an email address or phone number where patients can leave more valuable and detailed feedback.
Automotive Reputation Management
Reputation management for car dealers is vital to their success because an overwhelming 95% of those buying a car will use digital channels as their main source of information. With a notable online presence, you can have a strong auto dealer reputation management strategy that can convert online prospects into actual customers.
If your dealership website already has significant user traffic you can use it to your advantage, specifically in the form of video content. Google research shows that 40% of shoppers who watch video content about cars or trucks end up visiting a dealership afterwards. Just make sure that the video you produce is appealing and compelling enough to convince customers to make that purchase as soon as possible.
Reviews are also important to dealerships because they heavily influence 65% of consumers, which makes it the third-most influential industry for reviews. Encourage customers during and after the sale to leave a review on one of your many claimed online listings, and continue to stay engaged with them by responding with their review.
Hotel Reputation Management
The percentage of consumers who would leave a review after a positive experience at a hotel is now over 40%. That makes hotels the second-most likely business where customers will leave a positive review after their stay. This recent jump in the likelihood of leaving a positive review is because hotels are taking charge of their online reputation.
One of the most important hotel reputation management tools is Tripadvisor, specifically the photos displayed on your listing. Research data shows that hotels with at least one photo on their Tripadvisor page will get 225% more booking inquiries than a listing no photos at all. That number goes up to 238% for listings with more than 100 photos.
Once a guest books their stay, make sure that your staff and managers are engaging with them in a friendly and professional manner during their visit. An unforgettable experience and excellent staff service are key drivers for customer reviews.
When those reviews pour in, make sure that you do spend enough time writing a high-quality response because it helps you out in the long run. A Tripadvisor study revealed that a hotel responding to at least one review saw a 17% boost in customer engagement, and that engagement level only goes higher if hotel management responds to more reviews.
More importantly, review responses also contribute to your overall rating. The same study found that hotels with a 5 to 40% response rate had an average rating of 4.0 out of 5, and those with a 65% response rate or higher had an average 4.15 out of 5 rating. On the other hand, hotels that didn’t respond at all had a lower average rating of 3.8 out of 5.
Employer / Employee Reputation Management
Job seekers are using sites like Glassdoor to gauge a company’s reputation. Specifically, Glassdoor shows that 84% percent of job seekers place high importance on the company’s employer reputation. That’s on top of the 83% of people who are likely to check out employee reviews and ratings when looking for a new job.
But you shouldn’t just rely on employee reviews alone to get candidates. Effective employer reputation management requires you to be actively pushing the employer brand. This means listening to feedback from current employees on how to improve conditions in the office to being active on the company’s social media channels.
You shouldn’t just answer questions but also extend your network and find the perfect candidates for open positions. Doing so not only increases the likelihood of applications to 94%, but it also leads to a 28% increase in retention and a 50% decrease in the cost per hire.
Social Media Reputation Management
Social media reputation management is easier said than done. Manually monitoring multiple channels and platforms, answering questions, and responding to feedback and comments can put a strain on the person or people handling those accounts.
These tasks can take hours out of your busy day, but there are a handful of social reputation management tools available that can reduce the amount of required to effectively monitor and manage your social media presence.
Hootsuite’s social media management platform allows you to schedule, monitor, and analyze your social media content across multiple channels.
This platform allows you to properly gauge your brand’s social media footprint while also finding the right tone for your customer base. However, it also features integrations with other services that can make reputation management easier on Hootsuite.
For instance, you can add online reviews by getting the ReviewTrackers integration. This allows you to see online reviews in real-time alongside your social media posts and responses. With this combination, you can effectively manage a business’s entire online reputation from a single platform.
Another comprehensive social media management platform is Talkwalker. One of its major features is the ability to cover mentions of your brand across a plethora of languages and websites. Its dashboard allows you to get real-time updates on your business’s social media presence, and you can integrate with Hootsuite to handle social media responses.
Talkwalker also features a “virtual listening” program that will help you find your brand in any user-generated images. You can also use Talkwalker to capitalize on new and upcoming trends so that your brand finds ways to stand out and connect to more customers.
Google Reputation Management
One of the most important parts of your digital footprint is your Google My Business listing. Consumers use Google on a daily basis to discover new brands, products, and services. This makes it critical to develop a Google reputation management strategy.
Claim Your Google My Business Listings
You can create or claim your business listings on Google with Google My Business, a dashboard that streamlines the management of business information across multiple Google sites, services, and products.
Make sure that general information such as the business’s name, address, operating hours, and phone number are correct. Search result information will send 70% of consumers to a physical store, and having the right information on all of your listings helps people make an informed purchase decision.
Here are other ways to supercharge your Google listing:
- Use the Google verify my business feature
- Share updates, special offers, and promotions
- Upload high-quality Google business photos
- Fix duplicate Google listings
Manage Google Reviews Effectively
Google is the world’s No. 1 review site, with 64% of consumers saying they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other site.
A sound Google reputation management strategy requires business leaders to stay on top of their reviews. This means:
- Learning how to respond to negative reviews as well as positive customer feedback
- Using free or paid tools like Google review link and the Ask Tool by ReviewTrackers to consistently generate reviews on your listings and boost search performance
- Apply natural language processing methodologies to extract business insights from customer feedback posted on Google
Key Takeaway: Climb the Rankings with Google Reputation Management
A proactive approach to Google reputation management not only attracts more consumers; it also puts Google on notice. Correct and updated information, highly-rated online reviews, and engagement from management should be your foundational components. By having these in place, Google should reward your brand with greater presence in search rankings, which means more views, clicks, and conversions from your online audience.
Facebook Reputation Management
One of the world’s most popular social media sites also double as another place where you can claim a business listing. With a Facebook business Page, you can easily market to customers with attractive photos, compelling posts, and even live video.
These Pages allow customers to leave Facebook reviews or Recommendations. Take time to respond to both positive and negative feedback to show your engaging nature to potential customers.
Because of the casual nature of Facebook you can be a bit more informal on the site, but it’s still important to have a professional tone when talking to customers.
Like Google, Facebook is a popular starting point for consumers looking for new businesses. Every week, 2 out of every 3 users visit the Page of a local business. How you present your business through posts and comments will dictate if these people will visit your location or go somewhere else for their needs.
Yelp Reputation Management
A Yelp listing can mean more visitors and revenue for any business.
A survey revealed that 92% of its respondents make a purchase whenever they sometimes, frequently, or almost always visit Yelp.
Similar to how you update your data on Google, you should also make your Yelp business information – name, address, and phone number (NAP) information – correct and updated to make it easier for customers to find you. Make sure that you spend some time uploading attractive, high-quality images that easily showcase your business’s offerings.
However, the most important part of your Yelp listing is still the reviews. Ensuring that you get a steady flow of feedback and taking the time to respond to reviews can help raise your Yelp reputation. It’s worth noting that it’s against Yelp guidelines to ask customers to leave a review. Instead, you should focus on providing an excellent customer experience that compels patrons to leave rave reviews on the site.
Tripadvisor Reputation Management
Data from Tripadvisor showed that 97% of respondents see the importance of Tripadvisor reputation management.
It’s important to market your business’s features to customers on Tripadvisor by adding things like attractions, type of cuisine, cost, amenities, etc. But make sure that you correctly set and meet those customer expectations. Too often, customers are let down by the actual business experience.
You can mitigate this by setting reasonable expectations levels or even going above and beyond in terms of service. Both options are viable and can convince customers to leave rave reviews.
Speaking of reviews, make sure that you take time to make appropriate responses to customer feedback. Positive reviews should get a “Thank You” message while negative reviews will take more time and finesses to uncover and fix lingering issues. However, it’s important to address both review types to show that you actively look at your online brand.
Reputation Management and Customer Service
The way you help out customers also contributes to how your brand is perceived. The relationship between reputation and customer service is a tight one.
Even though most people perceive customer service as a phone call or email, data shows that 35% of consumers prefer to use social media for customer service, and you can be sure that customers who receive poor customer service will air their grievances on social media.
Because of how closely social media is linked with customer service, your reputation management plan has to involve your operations and customer support teams.
When customers express frustration about an experience with your brand, it’s important that you:
- Understand what really happened.
- Work quickly to resolve the complaint.
- Respond quickly to the customer.
To do so, you’ll need to get include your customer support teams in any social media response. Customer support might have details about this customer’s experience that will be extremely helpful and impact how your craft your response.
Customer support may also be able to reach out directly to the customer and resolve their complaints faster than a social media team can.
Because of how interwoven customer support and social media has become, make sure your reputation management team collaborates with your customer support team.
Conclusion: Reputation Management Is a Massive Undertaking
Running a successful reputation management strategy is a challenge because it includes so many different people and customer touchpoints. It requires:
- Collaboration between marketing and customer service teams.
- An organized plan for monitoring social media and review channels.
- Timely responses to customer issues.
- Monitoring employer brand channels like Glassdoor.
- Leveraging the right technology to empower your teams with better data and reporting.
But given the increasing importance of brand reputation and increasing visibility of online reviews, reputation management has to be a priority for brands going forward.
If your team hasn’t done so already, take some time to outline your reputation management strategy, set its goals, and get started!