Whether we like it or not, we’re all defined by our online reputations. With the increasing digitization of the marketplace, your online reputation is a keystone feature of your business. It’s vital to understand not only the importance of merely maintaining what you already have versus improving your online reputation.
When looking at your online reputation, there are two types of campaigns you may employ: maintaining vs. improving. Depending on your business, one will be better than the other. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about both so you know what to ask for from agencies like BRANDefenders.
Ultimately, regardless of which strategy you choose to employ, it’s important to educate yourself on the tactics necessary to bring your business up to the next level. While many of these tactics and strategies can be undertaken by the average person, hiring a professional online reputation management service like that provided by BRANDefenders can take your business to the next level.
Maintaining vs. Improving
Improving your online reputation is most important for businesses that are actively growing their online presence. If you’re an existing brick-and-mortar business moving into the online space, a start-up, or an existing digital business hoping to rehabilitate or expand your online presence, improving your online reputation is going to be at the top of your list of priorities.
However, businesses that already have a well-established and positive online reputation will not want to expend as much time and energy on improving their online reputation. Instead, they will want to protect what they already have. Though this strategy utilizes fewer resources, it is no less important.
How to Maintain Your Existing Reputation
For many businesses, the goal isn’t always about expanding their online reputation and more about providing a consistent and agreeable experience for prospective and returning customers. Maintaining your online reputation doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require vigilance and a consistent approach. Continue reading to learn about several key steps that you can take to maintain a positive standing online.
A lack of transparency will sink an otherwise successful business. In this day and age, if a business is withholding information from the public, it’s only a matter of time before the news gets out. Rather than try to avoid negative press (and expose yourself to the Streisand Effect), get out ahead of potential problems before they can explode onto the public stage.
This doesn’t just mean monitoring your local news websites for stories about your businesses. Staying on top of online reviews is more important than ever. 84% of consumers trust online reviews. With so much on the line, don’t go without having your say and addressing the issues people are bringing up.
The takeaway is fairly simple. Consumers love to see a responsive and engaged business. Whether the reviews are complimentary, negative, or simply curious, it’s vital that you talk to your customers. Thanking positive reviews is just as important as politely refuting or acknowledging negative reviews.
Furthermore, by answering questions online, you’re showing that your business is active and responsive. Potential customers who have the same question will also be more likely to shop at your business.
Finally, responding to online reviews criticizing your business gives you an opportunity to mount a defense. If the customer’s criticism is justified, then a graceful acknowledgment followed up by a planned resolution will keep your reputation intact. If the criticism is not justified, then giving a calm and thorough explanation will help you gain potential customers.
Ask For Customer Reviews
Small gestures can have a big impact on your business’s bottom line. Something as simple as asking for a review at the end of each interaction can help your business quickly accumulate a high number of quality reviews.
If you’re in the business-to-business sphere, asking for a review during follow-up client satisfaction interactions may be more appropriate. Regardless of which type of business you’re in, regularly engaging with your client base and proactively asking for reviews is a must.
Nothing will sink a business faster than an inconsistent approach to business processes and customer interactions. Ensuring that every review is responded to, every complaint is addressed, and all of this is done in a time-sensitive fashion is critical for business success. If customers don’t know what to expect from your business, they’ll be less likely to patronize or otherwise engage with your business.
This means that every customer interaction needs follow-through. Whether it be a Twitter interaction or an e-mail, ensure that you follow through on your promises. Customers pay attention to how businesses handle themselves.
How to Improve Your Online Reputation
If you currently have a negative or lackluster online reputation, fret not. It’s never too late to engineer a turnaround. With a deliberate and concerted effort on your part, it’s entirely possible to enhance your position in the digital marketplace.
Hire an Online Reputation Management Firm
While there are plenty of things that you can do on your own, at a certain point it makes sense to pass the torch on to a qualified online reputation management (ORM) firm. BRANDefenders is one company you can rely on for excellent results. BRANDefenders has the experience and the expertise necessary to take your online business to the next level.
A reliable online reputation management firm will save your business money in the long run. This is because a competent ORM firm like BRANDefenders is experienced in all aspects of cultivating a positive digital image. By engaging directly with the experts, you can rest easy knowing that your brand is in good hands.
Check Out Your Online Reviews
Before you can improve your reputation, it’s important to understand what your online reputation actually is. While it may seem intimidating at first, going through popular review websites like Yelp and Google Business Reviews can help you pinpoint your business’s weaknesses. By identifying common complaints, you can then work towards rectifying those problems. This is also a good opportunity to see what you’ve been doing well so that you can double down on those areas and deliver maximum value to your customers.
Employ a Public Relations Strategy
PR isn’t just for big businesses. A positive write-up in the local paper can give your business a legitimizing boost that traditional paid advertising simply can’t match. According to a 2014 Neilsen study, the content generated by expert sources is 88% more effective at promoting familiarity than traditional advertising content.
Even if your business isn’t big enough to warrant engaging a traditional PR firm, reaching out to a local media outlet can bolster your online reputation in a big way. Social proof in a marketing context refers to the preference consumers display for businesses that are perceived as legitimate and successful. Receiving positive media coverage is one powerful way to bolster your business’s social proof. This is because media outlets are perceived as unbiased engines of legitimacy.
If you don’t want to take matters into your own hands with a dedicated PR strategy, you can always outsource the work to a credible online reputation management firm like BRANDefenders. The BRANDefenders agency is used to working with the media. Their preexisting network of established partners and long experience means they’ll get you the results you need without any hassle.
Engage With Influencers
Online influencers have become increasingly important in the space of brand management. Consumers increasingly rely on social media channels to inform themselves about new products and services. Influencers with sizable audiences can provide a direct boost to a business’s reputation.
Of course, it’s vital that you properly vet the influencer before reaching out. It’s not enough that they have a wide reach. It’s equally important that their audience syncs up with your target audience.
Hiring an influencer who specializes in casual streetwear, for example, won’t be a good fit for a luxury clothing brand. This is another area where you may want to outsource. Online reputation management firms like BRANDefenders will ensure that you engage with the right influencers to get the best results.
At the end of the day, your online reputation management strategy should be driven by the needs of your business. Mature businesses with an already positive digital presence will want to focus primarily on maintaining what they already have. Meanwhile, an upstart business or one that’s suffered from a spate of bad reviews will want to grow its standing in the digital marketplace.
At the end of the day, being open, transparent, and responsive are musts for businesses in every stage of development. For those looking to take their business’s reputation to the next level, hiring an online reputation management service like BRANDefenders is a must.
Wherever you are in your business’s life cycle, ensure you’re keeping your ear to the ground. Businesses live and die by their customer base. Direct consumer feedback will help guide your business to greater heights of success.