Google your company. What happens? Are you the top listing? Do you run sponsored ads? Do you have Google Seller Ratings? Do you have a strong social media presence on multiple channels? And most importantly, what do people think of your company?
There is no definitive step-by-step way to guide every company from no reputation, to a sterling one, (and all points in between) but we do know the success of your brand’s future depends on trust. And a leading way to earn the trust of prospects, and convert them into customers is through first-hand accounts from previous customers – online reviews. Utilizing feedback is a key cog in your reputation management wheel.
There are misunderstandings around online reputation management. Thoughts range from, “It’s just social media marketing, right?” to “Well, we have a PR agency, so they tell us how we’re doing and promote us.” While social media marketing is crucial and a PR agency may be helpful to your company, online reviews are essential to any business being able to manage its reputation.
Well, for starters, a company just starting out needs online reviews to start to build an online presence through real feedback from customers. It needs to establish itself as another name in whatever field it may be in, in order to be able to compete. By using a site like Trustpilot, the company is able to see, collect, reply and review all feedback it gets in one place, making one huge step of its reputation management plan easily put into place.
On the other hand, you have large companies whom are seeking to keep track of what ‘they’ are saying. Regular interactions and replies on social media are of course important here as well, and PR agencies serve their primary focus here, but again, online reviews are paramount. If you think you can skip this step and be successful, think again. Large companies face larger crowds of fans and ‘haters’, thus leading to a much larger playing field of reputation management. By having one unified transparent platform to collect online reviews they are able to show they welcome feedback from all their customers, are willing to show the world their great interactions, as well as the bad ones, and they can be trusted by publicly showing they are not hiding criticism, and are willing to address it openly. A company like Reputation Rhino can help a brand create and highlight positive content including profile optimization, content development, online review collection, and press releases.
When a prospective customer searches for your brand in Google or elsewhere, your page ranking depends on search engine optimization (SEO) and a slew of other components (for more on what Googlebot does algorithmically, see everything you need to know about seller ratings and stars in search in our blog here). But search engines aren’t the only place that people searching your company can see the effect of reviews. Reinforcing your credibility by placing online reviews prominently on your homepage, about us page, and checkout page allow for the person searching to ensure the decision they are making to invest their time and money in your products/services can be a trusted one. As Derek Gehl puts it, “A good testimonial has the power to convince even your ‘tough sell’ visitors that your product or service really made a difference in your customer’s life.”
As the power of the customer voice becomes stronger through accessibility to the internet, review platforms, and particularly social media, brands are no longer who they say they are, they are defined by the words of their customers. Positive reviews make a product or service extremely attractive and bring more business to you, all while spreading the digital word of mouth of your brand.
With instantaneous access to millions with the tap of the tweet button, Twitter has become an incredibly effective way for you to share positive feedback you receive from your customers, as well as to keep track of what potential issues may arise. If a customer is unsatisfied with your product or service, don’t ignore it!
By responding to negative feedback and publicly showing you are not just a website, but humans working together to provide goods or services, those who experienced an issue will welcome that you are addressing their problem, and those who see you responding and taking the time to address concerns will be able to place more trust in your brand, knowing they will be treated with great customer service should something go wrong. As Tim Devaney from Forbes says, “Handled correctly, a negative comment is a great opportunity to draw attention to your business’s many positive qualities.”
Every business, from the first days of a startup to a large enterprise has varying levels of the above focal points, but what is most important to hone in on are the following steps which will guide your company from some fans on Facebook to a household name.
See what the world has to say about you through social media, blogs and reviews. Don’t hide any reviews. Collect your feedback. Respond to the feedback. Utilize the feedback. Grow as a brand by earning trust and managing your reputation.