Did you know that roughly 80 percent of online shoppers admit to using online reviews to influence their buying habits? And other online reputation statistics all point the same direction: that the better your online reviews are, the more likely your product or service will be ordered. But if you don’t have the budget to simply pay for reputation management services, what can you do as a business owner to help manage your reputation as efficiently as possible?
We’ve collected some of the top industry tips for you.
Track Your Online Reputation Regularly
It takes almost no time at all to set up a Google alert for your business name, and you can download the Social Mention plugin to see when your business is mentioned on social media. And if you want to consolidate all of your tracking, you can use tools like Trackur to simply collate mentions of your business from different sources and websites.
Tracking your online reputation is important because it allows you to see upward or downward shifts in your reputation, and allows you to address any issues or bad reviews as they crop up. Tracking your reputation and being aware of what it happens to be is the first step to managing it. But you must take the time to make it a regular habit and to integrate it into your SEO and marketing routine.
Focus on Social Media
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media channel, you’ve got a good chance of finding your target market on social media. Facebook alone has roughly 1.5 billion active users a month. Using social media in your content marketing plan not only helps your business reach more of your target audience; but social media can easily be used to solicit genuine reviews from a broader, proven customer base.
A proven tactic for using social media presence to generate reviews is to promote rewards to customers who leave reviews. Facebook in particular lets you easily share rewards coupons or codes only to people who are fans, or you can offer a great giveaway to everyone who leaves a review in a specific month. Calling out for reviews should absolutely be an element of your monthly social media posting schedule!
Respond to Bad Reviews
Bad reviews will happen eventually, to any business! And whether legitimate or not, business owners are encouraged to respond to bad reviews. This is usually seen as a signal to review readers that business owners care about their reputation.
But just because we advocate that businesses respond to bad reviews doesn’t mean there aren’t rules! Try to agree with the customer as much as possible– even if they’re wrong– and avoid using any negative language. It can be as simple as ‘I’m sorry you had a bad experience, what could we do to make it better for you?’ When in doubt, always simply apologize for their negative experiences.
Invest in Customer Service
Statistically, many customers go to complain on websites when they can’t easily complain to the business itself! So make sure that there are easy ways for your customers to write or leave reviews in your physical locations, and that there’s an easy review or complaint form on your website. If you can keep bad reviews between yourself and the customer, rather than having them be posted publicly and broadcasted online, you can save yourself a great deal of grief.
Also, give your product away for free to customers who are dissatisfied. If you can do something to impress a once-dissatisfied customer, they’re much more likely to spread the story of how you changed their opinion. There’s no better opportunity for nearly free marketing.
The Bottom Line
Managing your online reputation can yield higher sales, more new customers, and a wide variety of tangible benefits. But it’s work, and especially for small businesses who might not have the resources to pay a pro. The best thing to do is begin integrating online reputation management with tasks you already do, like content marketing and SEO.