In our web-based economy, a good online reputation is part of the foundation for any successful company. However, like so many things worth having, it is hard-earned and easily lost. What’s more, the world of online ratings and reviews are essentially out of your control. But you can make efforts to reduce the likelihood of negative press.
Whether you’re just getting started as a business or you need to improve your company’s online reputation after a crisis, this article is a roadmap for how you can encourage enough great reviews to vastly outweigh the bad.
When you’re starting up a new business or going through a rebrand, it’s crucial to understand your audience. Write up profiles on your typical buyer personas and design a brand identity that comes naturally to you and that speaks to your target audience.
As an easy example, if your ideal customers are over the age of 60, it’s unlikely that an informal, slang tone of voice will go down well. Instead, you should speak to your public on their level while reflecting their interests.
With a recognizable identity, you can start speaking directly to the people you want to address. The opposite effect is that you try to appeal to everybody and ultimately satisfy nobody. Brand consistency helps to improve your company’s online reputation by building trust and meeting expectations.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential piece in the online reputation management puzzle. It makes sure you’re front and center when a potential customer is searching the web for a solution to their problem. If you’re just getting your business started, make sure to include good SEO practices from the very start as you create your website.
Don’t just go for top-ranking keywords. If you don’t provide a satisfactory answer to web users’ questions, you’ll attract frustration and negative reviews. Instead, put yourself in the position of your ideal customers. What are their pain points? What would they hope to find on your website? With these considerations in place, you can start gearing your SEO efforts towards relevant, useful content that we’ll look at in the next section.
Another clever technique to improve your business’ online reputation is to use positive content to outperform the negative. If the first search result is an article unfairly trashing your business, you can produce a wave of content that targets similar keywords and shows your authority and integrity in your field.
At its essence, the best way to improve your company’s online reputation is to solve a problem your customer’s face. No amount of tactics and strategizing can cover up a poor product or service, so getting your name out there as an authority in your field is a great place to start.
Careful, you don’t want to make your product redundant by offering everything online for free. For example, as a guitar teacher, you can take to social media and share short lessons on riffs from popular songs. This is enough to whet your followers’ appetite and show your prowess as a teacher, without turning them into the next Jimi Hendrix. This drip-feeding of tips and tricks of the trade is all part of the trust-building customer journey.
With fans already on your side from the free content, you just have to make sure your paid product lives up to the hype and you could find yourself with a fanbase that rivals Justin Bieber… almost.
Loyalty programs are a sure-fire method to improve your company’s online reputation. They simultaneously target current customers, who are eligible for offers and extras, as well as tempting potential leads into the club.
Happy members of your loyalty club are one of your biggest marketing assets. They are walking adverts who need no encouragement to sing your praises. All of this combines to create proof of your quality. The more people you have in the club, the more evidence you display.
Flying the flag of a cause you support is a great way of generating loyalty in the 21st century. Wanting to make a positive change in the world, and disillusioned by companies with dubious intentions, millennials and Gen Z consumers want to feel morally connected to their favorite brands. This value-based connection with your customers is something that can seriously improve your company’s online reputation.
Authenticity is a key player here. Hypocrisy is kryptonite to companies who align themselves to a movement, so be sure you fully understand the cause and its proponents. For example, you can’t claim to support gender equality yet have men occupying all your management positions. In our hyper-aware world, your customers will see straight through the veil and you can expect the negative reviews to stack up.
Despite all your best efforts, your business is still vulnerable to a crisis. Whether it’s a misunderstood tweet, empty stock rooms, or a global pandemic, once prevention is out of the window, it’s all about how you react.
Companies that make a feeble attempt to hide their responsibility or shift the blame to extenuating circumstances quickly find themselves losing the trust of their most loyal customers. That’s why you should always have a crisis management plan in place. Small errors can be solved with a bit of humor, while bigger issues like data breaches need a more heartfelt apology and a commitment to fix things.
Nipping crises in the bud rather than letting them escalate is an initially painful, but absolutely necessary tactic to improve your company’s online reputation.
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As a customer, you’ll be more than aware of the importance of positive reviews. Especially in ecommerce, but also across every kind of business, users go straight to the reviews to bypass the marketing jargon and hear what real customers have to say.
An easy and effective way to improve your company’s online reputation, encouraging customers to leave positive can all be organized through automated emails in your CRM. Schedule an email with a form to ping out after every deal, and the results will start populating your database without you lifting a finger.
Once you’ve got your reviews, create a widget on your website that shows off your comments and you can ensure a good online reputation that will be resilient against occasional negative reviews.
Interacting with your customers is a great way to improve your company’s online reputation as it shows the human side to your organization. This works especially well for small businesses trying to get off the ground.
A restaurant review praising the atmosphere could be met with a “thanks, it was our pleasure!” This may still come as a nice surprise to the customer in question, who will feel valued. The ripple effect extends to other potential customers checking out your reviews who get an idea of your good attitude and appreciation.
However, not all of your reviews will be positive. Negative reviews can fall into the “venting” category, and often a kind request for more information can turn the review around. Even in cases where the customer remains adamant, a polite apology makes the best of a bad situation.
From your CRM, you can also get meaningful feedback from all of your customers. Surveys and analysis are a proactive method to improve your business' online reputation, as opposed to reactive crisis management.
With every deal, you can send a follow-up feedback form that helps you understand what your customers liked or didn’t like about the process. Questions you can cover in your reputation management feedback forms include:
Did the product live up to expectations?
Was the shipping experience satisfactory?
Do you have any suggestions for the future?
Would you recommend the item to a friend?
Customizable form fields allow you to get further detail with a “why?” in addition to yes/no questions. From your feedback, you can fine-tune your customer experience and watch the positive reviews roll in.
We live in a cynical world where the next advert is right round the corner. When these adverts are too on-the-nose, customers don’t take them seriously. One way of breaking the spell is to get content generated by your users. Customers across industries are more likely to share bad experiences than good ones, and user-generated content is a reputation management technique to redress the balance.
At its most basic, you can request that your customers like, subscribe, and leave a comment. However, more creative ways are to launch social media challenges. For example, if your business is a productivity app, run a competition where your followers submit a one-minute video of their day and how they use the app. The prize depends on your budget, but it could range from a year’s free subscription to a trip for two.
When you launch a product, even after extensive testing, you can’t always spot every potential issue. On the other side of the coin, your customers might see some things as annoying, but not worth talking to your customer service team directly about. That’s why it’s important to monitor and analyze your online community regularly to gauge what people are saying about you.
You can search for mentions of your brand name and cross reference those mentions with keywords. This way, you listen into conversations about your business and take action quickly. Similarly, if your customers launch their complaints into the Twittersphere where tensions could escalate, you can request that they send you a direct message where you can take control of the situation.
By integrating your social media channels into a social CRM, you can keep control of this all from one place. Furthermore, every interaction gets immediately logged, so you can start building relationships with individuals.
If you find yourself at a loose end when it comes to online reputation management, there’s always the “buy your way out of the problem” option. If your initial reaction is to balk at forking out a considerable chunk of change for an agency, consider how important your online reputation is and weigh the two against each other.
Brand management agencies are experts — they know how to improve your company’s online reputation. Furthermore, with their experience, they can help you avoid problems further down the road. So, if you don’t have the internal expertise, hiring in help can be a great long-term business strategy.
As a final note, strategy is one thing, but if you don’t have the technology to help you implement it, you’ll be left in limbo. The first step to take to improve your company’s online reputation is to get equipped with an all-in-one business tool like Bitrix24.
Rather than paying for a series of one-trick ponies, you can run email marketing, create forms, automate processes, track your socials, and much more on one platform.
Sound too good to be true? Sign up to Bitrix24 for free and turn your online reputation into an asset.