Prior to the days of the internet and big search engines like Google, consumers learned of local businesses by way of direct mail, advertisements in the local yellow pages, word of mouth and reviews in newspapers. These days, however, the internet has opened multiple new channels for consumers to not only learn about companies, but to interact and influence a business's reputation with online reviews.
With the popularity and easiness of a consumer to write an online review comes a host of pros and cons that businesses need to know. While good reviews can allow a company to interact with consumers, attract new clients, and utilize feedback to effect positive changes, today's public relations channel has created a competitive environment fraught with its own challenges.
Negative reviews, for instance, while not only capable of dampening the team's morale, can clearly affect your brand's reputation and hurt your bottom line for years to come. And there are occasions where some negative reviews weren’t made by your actual customers, but faked for the benefit of your competitors or even disgruntled ex-employees. Fortunately, with the right strategy & knowledge of each review site's policies, you can manage your business reputation to ensure that the only reviews being shown are an honest representations of your establishment.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Online reviews have taken center stage with search engines and their users when inquiring about businesses or products. So their importance cannot be underestimated. Websites dedicated to business reviews, such as Yelp, Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau are very popular and appear as the top results in most searches. One reason for this is a recent shift for the search giants to emphasize local results. So engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing will give the review sites top ranking for local searches, such as restaurants, dental practices, appliance repair companies, etc.
Dedicated review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List aren’t the only places where you will find reviews of your business. Search king Google, for instance, allows reviews for any business online. Companies that have reviews (appearing as a star rating) will appear at the top of the results such as business's listed in Google Maps. Social media giants Facebook & Foursquare includes a reviews feature with every business profile and there are review sites that are industry-specific, like GrubHub or Cars.com. So there are many venues for reputation management that can affect how customers perceive your business.
Here are a few review sites to pay attention to if your are in any of these industries, but keep in mind that all online businesses need to incorporate Facebook, Google & Yelp into their reputation management strategy:
- Restaurants = GrubHub, Zomato, Eat24 and more listed here
- Auto = Edmunds, Car & Driver, Motor Trend and more here
- Legal = Attorneys Lawyer, Avvo, LawZam and more review sites here
- Medical = WebMD, RateMDs, Healthgrades and more doctor review sites here
- Home Improvement = Angieslist, Home Advisor, Networx and more listed here broken down more specifically
- eCommerce = Amazon, eBay, and your own website should have product reviews
Managing Your Business's Reputation
How does a successful business manage its reputation online? The core of any business reputation management strategy is communication! Talk to your customers when they review you!
- If you receive a positive review, leave a kind word of appreciation. A customer who feels appreciated is a repeat customer. Plus it pushes the bad reviews further down the page or even onto the next page.
- If you receive a negative review, ask the reviewer if they would like to speak with someone (customer service member or even a manager) to directly address their concerns and make everything right. At the very least, it is important to acknowledge their grievance to minimize the damage and try to learn something from their feedback to improve your brand moving forward. Afterall, you want to stay in business a long time, correct?
- Try to catch the negative experience before it gets unleashed online. After a consumer buys a product, consider setting up an automate workflow consisting of an email survey being sent to the buyer shortly after their purchase. Wouldn't you rather they share their experience with your team first, to give you the chance to settle the situation, before they jump on Yelp and tear you a new one for thousands of potential customers to see. Think about it, have you ever purchased anything from Amazon, they do this and for good reason.
- Be aware, not all reviews are from your customers. Just as some companies pay firms to create fake positive reviews for their establishment, others may attack your business with fake negative reviews. Fake reviews of any kind are ill advised and should be reported/flagged when discovered. Review sites like Yelp will punish companies that are caught using these unethical tactics.
Focus on Your Brand's Strengths
As the need for online reputation management becomes ever greater, it’s important that you as a business owner focus on making your establishment WORTHY of five-star ratings. Your efforts are best expended pleasing your customers so they will happily recommend your products and services to their friends and the online venues they frequent. Make them WANT to give you five stars. Avoid the temptation to spend increasing amounts of time reacting to every review. Leave that to us! We know how to handle reviews in a professional manner and which to leave alone.
Tag Marketing can help your business manage this dynamic challenge. We offer businesses like yours the strategies and tools that help your company reach it's goals and if you haven't incorporated business reputation management into your online marketing strategy yet, you need to start before it's too late.
We can also maintain your social media presence, optimize your visibility in local search engines, and manage your online reviews across multiple platforms. Our expertise will lead you to better customer relations, increased business, and greater overall success.
We have several local offices in Illinois such as Chicago, Schiller Park, Brookfield, Roselle, Bartlett and others. Call today at 773-680-6952 for a free, no hassle consultation.