More consumers are buying online than ever before, and the numbers are only increasing. It’s been predicted that the number of customers making purchases online will reach 270 million by the year 2020.
Because of this, if you are a small or medium business, your online reputation could make a significant difference in your success. A poor reputations management strategy could cause potential customers to get the wrong idea about your business, and seek out your competitor instead.
Protecting your online reputation will allow you to engage with potential customers and attract new leads that could ultimately result in sales growth. The Internet is a big place though, and it can be hard to know where you should start your reputations management.
Below, we’re providing you with 10 tips so you can get started cultivating a positive online reputation today.
1. Establish a Presence on Relevant Websites
The bigger your online presence is, the more opportunity you have to grow your company’s online reputation.
Start with social media pages. If you haven’t already, you should create pages for your company with all the biggest sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. You may also want to consider creating separate pages for signature brands or products that you hope to promote.
From there, make sure that your company is listed in any relevant online directories. The more ways customers have to discover you, the more your online reputation will grow.
2. Manage Your Social Media Pages Constantly
Once you have social media pages set up, one of the biggest tasks of reputations management is monitoring them.
Customers turn to social media when they want to interact with companies in real time and get speedy responses to comments and questions. If they don’t get that, they won’t hesitate to voice their displeasure.
Make sure you are prepared to dedicate staff to managing your company’s social media presence consistently, so that customers feel heard.
3. Create a Company Blog
When it comes to reputations management, a strong content strategy is critical. Good content can boost your search engine ranking, which will make it easier for potential customers to find you in the first place.
Maintaining a company blog on your website is the perfect place for that kind of content. It will give customers a place to go for reliable and valuable information, and can improve trust between you and your consumer base.
4. Respond to Good and Bad Reviews
It’s easy to respond to good reviews, thanking customers for their appreciation of your business. But for reputations management, it’s even more important to respond to bad reviews.
You want customers to feel heard, regardless of what their opinion is. It shows that you respect your customers and want to improve based on their feedback, and that kind of goodwill goes a long way in bringing new consumers to your site.
5. Have Multiple Channels of Communication
If customers have an easy way to contact your company directly, they may never post their negative reviews online in the first place. Make sure that your website design includes a page for contact information that is easy to navigate to.
Being able to respond to customer complaints internally also relies on strong customer service. Establish a company protocol so that employees who do end up speaking with an unhappy customer know how to handle the call.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize
An apology might seem like an admission that your company has done something wrong, but that’s not always true from a customer perspective. For consumers, an apology is often just a simple gesture that acknowledges their situation.
Even if you are not able to offer a customer any kind of refund or provide them with the exact solution they are looking for, a respectful and earnest apology can go a long way.
You may not get their business again, but you could stop them from posting negative things about you online, thus protecting your reputation.
7. Consider Your Overall Website Design
Reputations management is a comprehensive business strategy. While it certainly includes knowing what people are saying about you online, it goes far beyond that.
Having a user-friendly website design will make potential customers feel that their online experience is valued. Every time a customer has a positive interaction with your business, you are improving your overall reputation.
8. Post Testimonials from Satisfied Customers
Potential customers will trust the experience of customers who came before them. Because of this, including testimonials on your website can be a great way to contribute to your overall growth.
If a customer expresses satisfaction or if you trust that they had a good experience, don’t be afraid to ask them to write a review. Many will be happy to do so, and you can increase your word-of-mouth exposure online.
9. Avoid Arguments
When a customer posts a review that you or your staff thinks is unfair, it’s natural to want to fight back and defend your business.
Avoid the temptation. Getting into an online argument with a dissatisfied customer makes your business seem unprofessional, which could be a turnoff for others considering working with you.
If at all possible, invite the unhappy customer to take the conversation offline so you can respond to their concerns without an audience. If they don’t want to engage any further, simply apologize and leave it at that.
10. Consult Reputations Management Experts
Maintaining your reputation online is a big task. If you’re also concerned with the day-to-day of your business, it can be hard to give your reputation management strategy the attention it needs.
Consulting a reputation management expert can save you time and resources, and it all ensures that your business is engaging with online consumers in a professional way. The more efficient your reputation management strategy is, the more growth you can expect to see.
Want to Know More About Reputations Management?
A comprehensive and successful reputation management strategy is one that engages with past, current and potential consumers to ultimately lead to new leads and business growth.
For more information about what you can do to protect and grow your reputation online, please contact us today.