There are many fundamental truths about business and entrepreneurship.
First, customer service is the lifeblood of any organisation. Second, success doesn’t happen overnight. And third, reputation is a big deal for any business.
Bluntly, reputation is your most valuable intangible asset because it becomes next to impossible to claw back a damaged reputation.
So, here’s the harsh truth: reputational damage can be catastrophic and even spell the end of your business. This is especially true for startups and small businesses where a bad reputation can immediately trigger a sharp consumer reaction, drive customers away and slash revenues.
You might be thinking, “I’m a small business owner striving to deliver the best products. Does it really matter what the Internet has to say about my brand?”.
Yes. Truth is, it doesn’t matter how great your product is – if people think you’re untrustworthy, they won’t be interested in it.
With that being said, let’s learn more about the key benefits of having a good online reputation for your business, the major factors influencing your reputation score, and the best practices for keeping your online reputation pristine.
Table of contents:
- What are the benefits of Online Reputation Management?
- 6 key factors that determine your company’s online reputation
1. What Are the Benefits of Online Reputation Management?
It takes a lot of time and effort to build a business from scratch and create a loyal fanbase.
Your product might be one of a kind, and you might exceed customer expectations, but there is a vital factor you need to look after to mitigate the worst threats and propel your business to success.
As you might have guessed, that factor is your Online Reputation Management.
According to an article published on CNN Money, happy customers share their experience with three people, while unhappy customers share it with nine.
Online Reputation Management is responsible for creating a positive public impression, counteracting bad PR and publicity about your business and saving your brand from customer wrath.
In layman’s terms, Online Reputation Management is the process of monitoring your business’s online reputation and solving problems before the balloon goes up.
Furthermore, Online Reputation Management is not just about protecting your business name, but it also extends to employees and partners.
Here are the main benefits you can reap from online reputation management:
- Boost sales: The digital footprints of your customer reviews can heavily influence purchase decisions. According to a Bright Local study, 81% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses before making a purchase.
- Builds credibility: Your business reputation enables you to establish credibility and inspire trust, which is key in attracting employees, investors, and loyal customers.
- Enhance your brand’s image: Reputation is based on a company’s actions and how they influence public opinion, while brand image determines how customers perceive your brand. Both are tightly linked and influence each other. This means that a positive reputation will significantly enhance your brand’s image.
- Improves visibility: Online Reputation Management helps you reach a broader audience at a much faster pace. Search engines such as Google are committed to displaying the best and most relevant results for each search. As a result, a good online reputation will improve your local SEO results and increase your business visibility.
- It generates meaningful business insights: Good online reputation management enables you to get valuable insights on how to increase brand awareness. Every review you get acts as feedback, helping you improve your product and customer experience.
With that in mind, let’s explore the key factors determining your online reputation so you can work to manage them appropriately, build an effective online reputation management strategy, and keep your reputation pristine.
2. 6 Key Factors that Determine Your Company’s Online Reputation
Your official website is one of the strongest bricks in improving your online reputation management and creating an active online presence of your brand.
A responsive, engaging, and interactive website helps you build trust and make a good impression in the corporate market and increases your chances to rank higher in search results.
Expert tip: Your website architecture and structure are important to make your business stand out, but these factors alone are not enough to help you build trust and improve your SEO.
So, make sure you consistently deliver a plethora of high-quality, fresh, unique, informative, and engaging content on your website. Without it, Google won’t be able to index your pages and help you rank.
- Online reviews
According to a Qualtrics study, 93% of consumers say that online reviews determine their purchase decisions and 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase decision after reading online reviews.
Put simply, if your business isn’t prioritising positive reviews, you risk losing out on over 90% of your customers.
That’s why you need to encourage customers to write positive reviews. Make sure you also build an effective strategy to nip less-than-stellar online reviews in the bud rather than lashing out and taking the review personally.
Expert tip: Read this post and learn how to protect your reputation by turning negative customer reviews (which, sadly, are inevitable) into marketing wins.
- Customer experience (CX)
With the global market oversaturated with brands creating similar products, we’ve all had customer experiences that range from outstanding to frustrating.
Customer experience (CX) focuses on the customers’ relationship with a business and their holistic perception of their experience.
If you consistently deliver customers a positive experience, they’ll want to stick around with you. This will help you nurture and grow a positive reputation, further opening new doors of opportunities.
Expert tip: Leveraging the power of customer emotion can help you nurture deeper customer relationships.
If you want your business to reach new heights, gain a competitive edge, and build a stellar reputation, make sure you deliver a hyper-personalised customer experience that creates an emotional connection with customers and makes the buyer’s journey frictionless.
- Responses to online reviews
Do you typically respond to online reviews? Let’s get this straight: you must respond to all customer reviews, whether they are positive or negative.
I know that responding to all online reviews is a tedious task that requires several cups of joe to get past.
However, a personalised response can be the difference between an angry customer that spreads negative word of mouth about your business and a happy customer who stays loyal to your brand.
Expert tip: Respond in a timely manner to all reviews, whether they are positive, negative, neutral, or fake. Although negative and fake reviews can sting, never lash out and become defensive.
Show that you’re authentic and genuine. Avoid sounding robotic and inauthentic to customers by copying and pasting the same review response template over and over again.
Choose an appropriate template instead and tweak it every time you respond to a review.
- NAP consistency
NAP Consistency means your business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number are consistently and accurately listed across all websites, business listings, and social media profiles.
NAP consistency not only helps you appear more legitimate and trustworthy, but also helps your local SEO by assuring the search engines your business information is authentic and up to date.
If your business details are labelled in different ways in websites and local directories, search engines will detect these discrepancies and find your information unreliable.
Expert tip: If you’re running a home-based business, improving your SEO and reputation with consistent NAP isn’t an easy feat. First, you want to keep your home address private for security reasons.
Second, you may need to change your office location as you scale up, causing a dramatic drop in your Google rankings due to NAP inconsistency.
If you want to build an unbeatable professional image and maintain NAP consistency as you grow, a flexible virtual office can help you achieve all that and more.
Modern virtual offices provide you with a permanent, unique business address and landline number, meaning you will never need to change your company’s address or use your own personal details to list your business on local directories.
- Social media
We’ve all heard stories about how viral content on social media (think: Burger King) can seriously put a dent in a business’s credibility and reputation.
An unfortunate social media misstep can quickly gain momentum and put you directly in the spotlight.
However, having a social media presence is imperative to increase visibility and build reputation by getting your audience to know you on a more human level.
Expert tip: Engagement is the holy grail of social media, so make sure you engage your audience and post regularly so that your brand can stay top-of-mind to consumers.
Protect your reputation by using a social media monitoring tool that allows you to identify everything relevant to your brand on social media and gain a deeper understanding of the positive and negative comments about your business.
Conclusion: Your business reputation doesn’t come out of thin air. It is based on customer relations and how you communicate and engage with them.
If you want to build a business reputation that packs a punch and make customers stick around, get started by analysing these six factors influencing your reputation score.
Use our expert tips to improve your online reputation with a well-rounded reputation management strategy and put your business in a positive spotlight.
We at B2B HQ know that a stellar reputation is crucial for startups and small businesses to thrive in today’s competitive digital landscape. That’s why it would be a pleasure for us to provide you with cost-effective virtual office space and services that enable you to build a winning reputation acting as a sign of reliability and honesty. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.