Online reputation management isn’t hard and if you’re a business owner, lack of finances to support a proper approach is a lousy excuse. Customers increasingly rely on web research to decide on every purchase decision – from cars to restaurants. For most, if not all industries, there is one way to boost sales that doesn’t include a massive media buy or hiring a dancing employee to wave a sign outside of your business. Reputation management and review management can provide an immediate lift through positive word-of-month and social sharing. Local listing management can further increase results by ensuring more customers can find you – especially from mobile devices. Business listing errors and omissions can cause a striking amount of damage – particularly for companies with multiple locations. Actualized losses can’t even be quantified because even the best digital analyst can’t determine potential business that didn’t make it through the search and discovery process.
If any of this is scary to you or sounds like it could impact your business or brand, there is good news. Your reputation, reviews and listings can all be fixed in three quick steps.
Invest in a review management or local listing management platform that has the right features and price point for your company. Small and midsize businesses could do a lot worse than our friends over at Reputology, who help brands aggregate, respond and analyze reviews across Yelp, Google+, Facebook places and other social sites. Enterprise organizations, particularly those in retail and QSR spaces should consider a local listing management focused platform like Yext or Momentfeed. By verifying and correcting listings across the Internet, these tech companies help drive-traffic and manage in-store experiences. Potential business losses can’t even be quantified because nobody can quantify customers that don’t make it through the search and discovery process. The ramifications are amplified for businesses with multiple locations.
Implement your monitoring and response process. The aforementioned tools will do the heavy lifting in alerting your team when a review, or in some instances a negative keyword appears on one of your owned channels – but someone needs to respond. The sooner and more adequately your customer service rep or social community manager handles an issue, the more likely you’ll improve a customer’s brand perception. We recommend creating a comprehensive messaging matrix to provide quick and proper responses to frequently asked or anticipated questions. Our social media teams have messaging matrices implemented for not only reputation management clients, but all clients we manage social channels for. This can create a few hours of extra time on the front end, but saves significant time, and more importantly prevents unnecessary emails between agencies and clients.
Test, track and repeat. If your brand is laser-focused on the bottom line, there’s no better way to prove your worth than determining the sales you’ve driven or saved. Even if money is of no concern (wouldn’t that be nice), analysis is important to determine how much time is invested, how many reviews have been managed and how many opinions have been changed. Customers who have negative experiences are more likely to favor a brand that has helped them after a poor experience. Turning brand detractors into advocates is one of the best ways to have a net impact on revenue.
Is it really that simple? Sure it is. While new platforms take a bit of training and routine maintenance is need for messaging docs and campaign reports, those are small speed bumps on the way to preserving your brand’s online standing. Consider this – previous studies have shown Harvard a 1-star increase in overall review ratings increased business by 5-9%. And that was years ago, in an even less connected and mobile-friendly time. Considering the average revenue for a small business is currently 3.6 million per year according to research by Entrepreneur – a minimal investment for review management software is worth it.