what is online reputation management?

Online review and reputation management is essential for your business success.  
Read the key information you need to know.

Online reputation management is an ongoing process which serves to create, cultivate and maintain your brand name and its good standing online.

Like traditional reputation management, it’s all about perception.

For online reputation management, that means building a digital public image, one online review at a time, so that anyone searching for your brand finds 5-star reviews and positive customer experiences that paint your business in the best possible light.

Traditional reputation management is burying the bad news by creating good new stories.

Online reputation management differs in that you’re not courting the press or burying headlines, you’re deploying strategies to generate, improve and respond to the online reviews customers leave about your small business.

Online reputation management typically involves:

  • Using online reputation management software to easily solicit reviews from customers and distribute them to popular online review sites
  • Being proactive about asking customers to leave online reviews about your business (68% of consumers will leave a local business review when asked to do so)
  • Responding to positive reviews to thank the customer for their great feedback
  • Responding to negative reviews to address any concerns
  • Promoting positive reviews through multiple owned or paid channels (such as sharing on social media, posting on websites, creating banners, including in e-newsletters, paid ads, etc.)

The history of online reputation management

Building trust and credibility has always been critical to running a successful business but until recently, they weren’t things that would form a core part of digital marketing activity.

Brand image was the sole responsibility of PR experts.
The traditional marketing or public relations team would be tasked with building a positive brand image.

Today, online reputation management is as vital as content marketing, social media and email marketing, SEO and paid search. As consumers have migrated to online shopping in place of traditional in-store experiences, the need for positive customer sentiment online has grown.

We have seen a major shift in the way that consumers find and use online reviews.

Online reviews are now a key part of the purchase decision process.

Why are online reviews important for small business?

In days gone by, a disgruntled customer would have a somewhat limited audience when it came to sharing news of their negative experience—they might tell their immediate group of family and friends, but widespread broadcasting of that verbal review would be extremely unlikely.

Not so in the age of the internet.

More than 8 in 10 consumers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—which means that as consumers, we’re all conditioned to seek out online reviews before doing business with a new company.

1. They’re everywhere

This trust has led to new review sites popping up all the time, fuelling the availability of online reviews and giving consumers even more outlets for their opinions and experiences. As reviews have grown in importance, you’ll now see star ratings appearing alongside organic search results, in Google Local results (the local pack) and even alongside AdWords paid search ads.

Online reviews are also prominent in social media and with Facebook now the second most popular reviews and recommendations platform in the world, you don’t even have to be proactive about soliciting reviews for consumers to share their opinions of your company.

As a small business, you can’t hide from reviews—they will be displayed about your business online and with so much consumer faith placed in the experiences of both friends and strangers, the fact is that online reviews can make or break a small business’ bottom line.

2. They’re a ranking factor

Research has indicated that online reviews were an important ranking factor and there was a clear correlation between volume of reviews, responses and number of negative reviews with local search results.

3. Reviews can improve click-throughs

Consumers trust online reviews—87% of consumers look for 3-5 star reviews before they will use a local business. If you aren’t regularly achieving an average 3-5 star rating or aren’t actively soliciting reviews, chances are that those potential customers will look elsewhere.

If your business is listed in the Google Local 3-Pack, your positive reviews can actually help with the click-through rate too.

4. Reviews act as social proof

Social media is a crucial part of the consumer purchase process.

With so many business pages indexing highly in Google for the business name, it’s easy for a shopper to turn to a business’ Facebook page to find out more information. Just as they do on review platforms and search engines, Facebook reviews and recommendations act as social proof of the quality of your business.

Social commerce is also on the increase, meaning reviews on social platforms can impact on purchase decisions in other ways, too.

ViSenze research has also found Facebook to be the primary influencer on purchases made by social media users—meaning great reviews here can also have a positive impact on your small business’ bottom line.

5. You can use reviews on your website to increase conversions

Your business’ reputation is your #1 asset. More than ever, potential customers go online to look at reviews so they can make decisions about which businesses to support, which services to use.

With 8 out of 10 customers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, displaying carefully chosen 5-star reviews on your website emits a strong trust signal and validates their decision to do business with you.

Additionally, a growing number of consumers read more than 11 reviews  before they feel they can trust a business—so the easier the access to reviews you can provide on your owned media channels, the higher the chance of conversions.

How to monitor online reviews

The LocalSEOGuide local ranking factor study concluded that the number of reviews responded to (and not responded to), had an impact on local pack positions, but that’s not the only reason that you need to have a monitoring and response process in place.

Left unanswered, negative reviews can be hugely detrimental to your online reputation.

It’s also important to put 5-star reviews on your own website to act as a conversion optimisation tool, so monitoring online reviews is worthwhile on both fronts.

Without using reputation management software, general review sites such as Facebook, Google and others need to be monitored manually.

Many industries have their own dedicated review platforms; eg TripAdvisor for the hospitality and tourism industry, and TrueLocal for contractors, along with many other sites.

You may receive an automatic notification when a new review has been left, but this is very much dependent on each individual platform. It’s very easy to miss key reviews which may be damaging to your online business.

It’s often much easier, quicker and more effective to use an online reputation management tool to monitor performance and find out about new reviews, especially if your business is present on multiple review sites or you’re managing multiple locations.

Who writes online reviews?

From the first-time reviewer to the serial complainer, the psychology driving consumers to leave online reviews is fascinating.
TrustPilot found that there are five categories of people who will leave an online review;

  • Consumers who want to share their frustration following a negative experience
  • Consumers who want to congratulate a business following a great experience
  • Consumers who want to feel empowered by expressing themselves
  • Consumers who want to be recognised for their knowledge or taste
  • Consumers who want to feel part of a community and give something back

While some people will never leave an online review, others will review everything they buy or every business they encounter. Likewise, some consumers will only leave a review when the experience is either particularly good or particularly bad.

When you’re tasked with online reputation management, you’ll quickly learn that you need to identify the type of reviewer you’re dealing with before you leave that all-important response.

You can judge the psychology at play behind the review by the content of the review itself, but you should also check that person’s review history.
How frequently do they leave reviews? If they have left bad reviews and the business has responded, what was the outcome? Were they receptive to any attempts to make amends or not? Do your research before you dive in with your reply.

Fake reviews

As online reviews have grown in importance, so too has the increase of fake reviews.

With their power to make or break a business and its online reputation, it should come as no surprise that some dodgy businesses pay for fake reviews to be posted about rival firms.

Some consumers may also take it upon themselves to leave fake reviews, either to damage or promote a business unfairly.

Many businesses are also guilty of giving in to temptation and purchasing fake 5-star reviews to artificially enhance their own online reputation.

The good news is that consumers are becoming more aware of this practice. The bad news is that it’s not always easy to spot a fake review from the genuine.

Identifying and reporting fake online reviews is an important part of reputation management.

Why Use Business Reputation Management services?

We recognise the need for businesses to have great review profiles in order to compete.

Online reviews and feedback are becoming much more prominent in search and other areas, so building a trustworthy reputation and keeping that customer love is more important now than ever.

That’s why we have online reputation management tools that allow you to generate, monitor, and showcase online reviews in a smooth, seamless, and successful way.

Our Reputation Management Software is competitively priced, full-featured and easy to use. 
Learn how to improve your online reviews today.

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