Branding

Managing your online business reputation

By Mark Ainsworth

The reputation of your business and brand is one of the main draws for new customers, and can also be essential in the maintenance of your existing customer base. According to research from the Spiegel Research Centre, almost 95% of shoppers will read online reviews before they make a purchase. If they see bad reviews for you, or better reviews for another company, they may go elsewhere.

In order to manage your online reputation you need to monitor how your brand is being viewed by the general public and control the information that is seen. When your business name is typed into Google’s search bar, the first page of results ideally needs to include predominantly pages which you have some element of control over.

How to monitor your brand

Monitoring all of the reviews and feedback that come in about your business is a full-time job in itself. In an ideal world, customers would come to you with any problems and let you deal with them before they leave feedback. Unfortunately, though, many customers will just leave a negative review without contacting you directly. It is your job to find this feedback and respond in such a way that boosts your reputation; turning a bad review into good publicity for your excellent customer service. A 2013 survey by Bazaarvoice found that 7 out of 10 consumers changed their opinion of a business simply based on their response to a review.

There are lots of tools online available to help you to monitor your feedback, so that you don’t have to devote excessive time to this practice. Popular tools include Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Tweetdeck, Social Mention and Hootsuite. There are free trials available for some of these, so that you can find the one that works best for you before you pay for the service.

Don’t neglect social media

Social media is a huge boost for any business’s marketing. Click throughs from social media ads drive three times more non-customers than existing customers to business websites, and almost 60% of social media users admit to getting inspiration for purchases from social media platforms. However, another important reason to have various social media accounts is that they help to keep your Google rankings high.

Ranking highest on Google results are business profiles on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Youtube
  • Quora

Having an account with each of these platforms, and keeping them regularly updated, not only helps you to attract customers across a range of demographics, but it also helps you to control what is listed in search engine results.

Research has found that it is rare for internet users to click through to page two of search results, and also that click through rates decline steeply the further down the page the result is. In fact, the difference between the 1st and 5th position in the search results is thought to be around 25%. This is not just because scrolling down takes up time that the average internet user doesn’t want to spend, but also because people inherently trust Google to rank the most reliable pages at the top.

Get a blog

One of the most familiar truths of search engine optimisation is that regular, fresh content helps to keep you at the top of Google rankings. The easiest way to do this with your own website is to have a blog which is updated at least once a week.

Make sure that blogs cover issues that might be interesting to your customers, which could be news about the industry, lifestyle pieces, or information about upcoming events and special offers. A blog can keep traffic to your website high, and also gives you a forum to tackle negative feedback head on.

Make it worthwhile for customers to leave reviews

Businesses that have lots of reviews find it easier to attract customers. A 2017 study by Psychological Science found that, given the choice between two similar products, most consumers will go for the one with the best review. Customer feedback builds credibility, and can increase conversions by up to 270%

The best way to keep track of reviews and make sure that you have lots of fresh assessments of your service is to offer customers an incentive to do so. Maybe you can give a small discount or a free gift for customers leaving reviews. If you don’t want to do this, in some cases a simple reminder to leave a review is enough. You could do this in an email receipt, on your website or social media profile, or even on a physical sign in your store.

Be part of the conversation

Once you’ve got a system worked out so that you can see negative reviews, it is important to come up with a strategy for how to deal with these, that reflects the values of your company. You must always respond to negative reviews at the very least.

Studies have shown that 82% of shoppers actually seek out negative reviews as a measure of the company, and Bazaarvoice found that 41% of customers say that if a brand responds to reviews they are more likely to believe that the business cares about their customers.

Any response is better than no response, but the best way to leave a great impression is to make a genuine apology and be able to admit that you were in the wrong, as well as offering a suggestion for how to remedy the situation. Even if you can do nothing else, a promise to make changes to the business processes that led to this point, and transparency that allows customers to see that these changes are in effect, will go a long way.

One of the things that you must avoid when dealing with the general public is getting drawn into online arguments. Your business voice must always remain cool and professional, remembering that you are not dealing with this as yourself but as a brand. If you feel that you are getting worked up, try to move the conversation into a more private forum and respond when you feel calmer. Bear in mind that private messages can be screenshot, so try never to respond in anger, whatever the situation.

Always give excellent customer service

Beat bad reviews before they happen by always giving excellent customer service. Write a manifesto for customer service that all customer service agents (including yourself) must follow every time. Jumping off points for your manifesto might include:

  • Always be honest
  • Always be respectful
  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
  • Keep it simple
  • Be warm
  • Be thankful

A code of practice like this that underscores all of your customer interactions should help keep negative feedback to a minimum.

How we can help

Here at MaxWeb we understand the demands placed on businesses in creating, maintaining, and cultivating their online web presence. There is no denying there is a lot of work involved and making mistakes can be a very costly and painful exercise. Why not speak to one of our specialists today to see how we can help. You can reach us on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk to find out more.

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