Is Your Online Reputation Costing You Business?

When Joan Jett sang ‘I don’t give a damn bout my bad reputation’, the lyrics sounded fun and rebellious.

But if you take that attitude when it comes to the online reputation of your business, it could be the kiss of death for your business.

Not caring about your online reputation is a costly mistake that all too many businesses make.

For many business owners, their understanding of managing their online reputation consists of having a carefully-thought-out website and social media pages.

And when they get the occaisional negative online review, they either ignore them, or deal with them in an ineffective way.

The good news is that your online reputation is something you have more control over than you realise – including when you are unfortunate enough to get some negative online reviews.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Elements Of Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation is the total of everything shown or said about your company online. That means that all of these play a role in creating your reputation:

  • The quality and design of your website
  • The content of your blog – how relevant the published information is, and how frequently and consistently you update the content.
  • Your social media pages and posts
  • Your testimonials and professional credentials
  • Your online business listings
  • Your online reviews

The last item in the above list is the one that invariably causes the most damage to a business’s reputation – especially when the review is posted on a highly-trafficked site.

You can have the best website in the world But, if your online reviews are terrible and you’re not managing them properly, your business reputation will be significantly lower than you want it to be.

Tips On How To Get A Handle On Your Online Reputation

Not sure what your online reputation says about you?

The first step is doing a reputation audit. That means Googling your company and reading what people are saying about you – and what they think. If you’re passionate about your business, the positive reviews are going to make you feel great. However, scathing – and often unreasonable – reviews can be tough to read. Remember – while not all reviews are objective, there’s often useful information that you can use to discuss with your staff on how to avoid situations in the future that lead to these negative reviews.

Starting with Google, and scroll at least the first three pages of results. Visit any sites that mention your business and read what they say about you. Make notes of any factual inaccuracies or negative comments – you“II need these when you and your staff workshiop what corrective actions to take to avoid future bad reviews.

Also – track your social media mentions. If you don’t know what people are saying about you on Twitter or Instagram. you’ll be be allowing incorrect or negative information about your company to spread. Not responding and engaging on the platform where the review is posted will give the impression that you simply don’t care about the opinions of people wha have engaged with your business.

Make a list of all review sites where consumers have reviewed your company At the same time, audit your business name, address, and phone number ( referred to as NAP ) in the various listings. Google My Business ranks businesses higher when the NAP data is accurate across the various listing directories – as it’s ranking algorithm considers this a trustworthiness factor.

Claim Your Listings On Review Sites

Visit every review site where your company is listed, and do what you need to do to claim the listings. This process may be involved, so it’s important to start as soon as possible.

Once you have claimed your listings, you should:

  • Update all relevant information about your business
  • Create compelling descriptions
  • Upload photographs (including images of the inside and outside of your business)

Set up a system for responding to all reviews, positive and negative.

Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world, but they can cause real problems if you don’t respond to them promptly and professionally. Remember, every negative review is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about your customers.

Get More Reviews

Reviews play a huge role in your reputation because more than 80% of all consumers read reviews before purchasing a product. Old reviews don’t carry as much weight as new ones. That means it’s your job to encourage your customers to leave reviews.

Here are a few creative ways to get more reviews:

  • Create an email sequence to ask your customers to write reviews, including links to one or more review sites.
  • Explain how easy it is to leave a review.
  • Provide a basic review template for your customers to use
  • Give products to charities or do pro bono work. Not only will you generate some good karma, but it’s likely the people who are at the receiving end of your generosity will say positive things about your business.
  • Incentivize your employees to ask for reviews.
  • Give customers a small freebie when you ask them for a review. It’s unethical to offer remuneration for reviews but giving a gift that the recipient can keep regardless of whether they review your business is fine.
  • Send a handwritten, personalized note asking for a review.
  • If a customer praises you or expresses gratitude, thank them and ask if they’ve left a review. If they haven’t, tell them how grateful you’d be if they would share their experiences in a review
  • Respond to all reviews. Customers who look up a business on Yelp may be more likely to leave a review after the fact if they see that the business owner regularly responds to reviews

Many of the same rules apply to testimonials. The best time to ask for a testimonial is when you know the customer is likely to be highly satisfied. For example, a real estate agent might ask for a testimonial right after a successful closing, or a wedding photographer might ask after delivering the pictures to a happy couple.

Make Reputation Management A Priority

The key to keeping your reputation strong is to make managing it a priority for yourself and your employees. That means doing the following:

  • Creating high-quality, relevant content for your website and social media pages
  • Keeping up with technological advances – adding chatbots to your website, using automation to improve customer service, and providing self-service options are all examples. Another key example: accepting mobile payments at your business.
  • Regularly engaging and interacting with your fans, followers, and customers
  • Monitoring your social media mentions and responding when it’s appropriate to do so
  • Having a system in place to regularly request reviews and testimonials
  • Responding to all reviews, good and bad. in a professional manner
  • Asking your online followers for their opinions and listening to their concerns and suggestions
  • Regularly showing appreciation to your most loyal customers and incentivizing them to become brand ambassadors
  • Make sure your staff are trained and sensitized on the important of continually striving to delight your customers.

While it’s true that you can’t control every aspect of your online reputation, you can control a lot of it. By taking an active interest, engaging with your followers online, and making their satisfaction a priority, you can give your reputation a boost.

Ultimately, your online reputation plays a big role in your success. In just a few minutes a day. you can implement procedures that will ensure your online reputation remains strong – and helps you to attract new business and retain your most loyal customers.