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Prior to the rise of the internet, Reputation Management and PR were topics of great concern only for large scale businesses and celebrity personas. Small businesses, on the other hand, gave little to no thought to their brand perception, which appeared as a one-way street with customers having little feedback. Today, however, we are living in an era of active audiences, where customers express their opinions about brands on online platforms all the time.
Nearly 71% of the consumers begin their buying journey via a Google search, checking product and vendor reviews before placing their order. If your business has bad reviews (or no reviews), customers will likely choose another brand with a more positive online reputation. Therefore, managing your business’s online reputation is crucial in today’s digital environment.
Businesses have started investing in managing their online reputation to reach their true potential. Below, we will discuss everything you need to know about Online Reputation Management (ORM) for businesses. Learn more about what ORM is, why it matters in the digital marketing space, and how you can protect or even enhance the online reputation of your business.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is a multi-faceted concept that enhances a business’s, brand’s, or individual’s online perception. It includes reputation monitoring, responding to any content or consumer comments that could harm the brand, and implementing strategies to prevent and resolve problems that could harm your reputation.
Your online reputation is an indicator of potential growth and success, as well as a reflection of your entire brand and business health. In a nutshell, ORM is about media tracking and controlling your brand’s online reputation, ensuring that your business is properly represented online, and potential customers have a positive image of who you are and what you do.
Multiple channels fall under the umbrella of Online Reputation Management (ORM). It may seem overwhelming at first to embrace all these channels, so to make it easier, let’s think of it in terms of the PESO model. In digital marketing, the term ‘media’ refers to different channels a business employs to attract potential customers to its website, including paid media, earned media, shared media, and owned media. Collectively, it is known as the PESO model. We’ll now look at this concept in terms of ORM:
Paid media is online content that requires money to feature your brand (website, services, etc.). It includes platforms such as social media ads, Google Ads, sponsored posts, and influencer promotions. This aspect of ORM is quite simple as you have complete control over your own placements. However, double-check whether any of your competitors are running ads ‘against’ your brand. Most paid media platforms have tight standards against such practices, and a single complaint can resolve the implication of negative sentiments.
Earned media refers to the free publicity that your company obtains from third-party channels. These include:
Google Business Profile also falls under this category as customers leave reviews for your brand outside your control. Earned media should be a priority for all businesses because it helps to foster a positive outlook and build trust among online visitors. That’s why you should also optimise your Google Business Profile.
In today’s world of technology, apart from your website, your social media accounts serve as online versions of your business card. Unresolved complaints, negative comments, and a low star rating can damage your company’s reputation and turn off potential customers. Pay attention to your channels and post walls the same way you’d treat the walls in your brick-and-mortar building. Keep track of what brand references appear in other accounts and respond to any mentions that damage your company.
Owned media primarily refers to your website and blog, which are things that you have complete control over. So, if you work to improve the ranking of pages that are critical to your brand’s reputation and perception, you’ll be on the right track.
While dealing with online spaces you control makes your online reputation management job easier, don’t forget that you must devise an all-encompassing ORM strategy. ‘We’re not a truth engine,’ Google’s Danny Sullivan said in a recent interview. ‘We can provide you with information, but we can’t tell you the truth of a thing.’
In other words, he’s implying that Google will show the highest-ranking page for your branded search. In this case, popularity is the defining factor rather than the fundamental truth. Pay attention to where your brand is discussed and try to manage your reputation across them all.
Now we’ve covered ORM, we’ll dive a little deeper into this topic and try to understand why reputation management is important and what sort of impact it has on online businesses. Here’s how an efficient ORM strategy can benefit your business:
Lack of online reputation management can completely jeopardise your customer base. 81% of buyers conduct online research before engaging with a brand. So, how you appear online can be a make-or-break factor in their final decision. Your online presence and reputation are quality checks for most consumers reading online reviews to determine whether your business is worth their time and money.
ORM is the online version of word-of-mouth marketing. Consider Glassdoor reviews, which provide a less filtered picture of what it’s like to work for a company than what the company posts about itself.
85% of customers regard online reviews as personal recommendations and consider them as trustworthy as a friend’s advice. Glowing reviews are encouraging, but what if there’s a hiccup and someone leaves a well-founded negative comment? It can be a real setback in the age of social media, where news—especially bad news—spreads like wildfire.
The internet, for the most part, keeps everything in check. What people say about your company online is likely to stay online, but you do have a chance to change negative perceptions of your business.
You can transform an unhappy customer into a loyal fan by using a proper response. According to a Lee Resource survey, 70% of customers who complained and received a satisfactory reaction from the company return and do business with them again in the future.
What people say about your brand can really help you learn more about your target market. By listening in on these conversations, you can gain valuable insights that you can use to improve your products and services.
Monitoring is a key aspect of online reputation management. You can begin gathering information on consumer satisfaction and gain feedback about your product or service. So before sending out polls, surveys, or hosting focus groups for consumer feedback, you can simply listen to what your customers say about your business.
Formulate an effective ORM strategy to create and maintain a positive online reputation for your business. Remember, an ORM strategy varies from business to business depending on the industry, size, and resources. Here are some quick tips that outline key milestones for establishing an efficient ORM strategy.
One of the most valuable assets a brand can acquire is trust. Businesses can gain the trust of their customers by providing helpful products or services, being conveniently available at the time of need, and listening to what they have to say. Work on building products/services which provide great value to your clients. Also, work on your brand development to earn the trust of people.
Transparency and direct communication are two things that customers value the most. They want to know that they can trust you, that they can talk to you, that you are receptive to their feedback, and that they can be a part of your journey.
Your ORM strategy should account for how your audience prefers to communicate and what they expect from you. You must customise the content or news you publish to meet their wants and needs while also focusing on improving your market position.
You can boost your online reputation by:
Your online reputation plays a vital role in how you attract and connect with new customers. It’s also a way to strengthen your existing consumer relationships. Consider all the online information sources that a potential buyer will encounter when looking for your brand or product. They will see more than just your website on review sites, news sites, and blogs. They’ll have fast access to feedback from current customers and industry or market influencers. These requirements should all be met by an efficient online reputation management strategy.
You should pay close attention to positive or negative online reviews, regardless of the platform. They are crucial in swaying a potential buyer’s decision, and you must effectively address them to maintain a positive reputation online. Don’t let negative feedback hang around. Be proactive in dealing with complaints and assure customers that you’re doing everything you can to resolve the issue and provide them with a great experience. This will assist in alleviating their frustration while also demonstrating to future clients that you are proactive and responsive.
Positive feedback is worth its weight in gold. So, wherever you can, encourage people to give you feedback and use it on your website, in your email marketing material, and in social media posts. Nothing can persuade a potential customer to purchase more than the positive feedback of previous customers.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while interacting with customers online:
1. Respond promptly – you should immediately address issues and clarify misconceptions, preventing situations from spiralling out of control.
2. Move the dialogue away from the public eye – use direct chat and email to keep consumer information private while also limiting any social media escalation.
3. Play nice – if you’re furious, aggressive, or careless, people will notice; remember, for every ‘hater’, there will be a slew of others waiting to see how you handle the matter. Always respond to criticism sensibly.
4. Be proactive – if you demonstrate a genuine devotion to your industry, others may be eager to assist you in a crisis.
Realistically speaking, you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone, no matter how good you are. There will always be one or two unhappy customers along the way. Instead of becoming upset about a negative review, accept it. It’s important as a business to maintain your composure and follow through.
Contact the review’s writer or respond to the negative comment. Tell the author you’re sorry the service didn’t meet their expectations. Make it clear that you care about their satisfaction and see what you can do to make amends for the bad experience. Offer a refund, a future discount, or any other business-specific way to recover their trust.
The first thing a potential customer does when they hear about your brand is Google it. There may be no recovering if they see negative reviews and hateful comments. To ensure your potential customers view a positive image of your brand, pay close attention to what comes up in Google results when searching your name. Regularly perform brand audits to view how new customers view your business online and what kind of challenges they face.
Mistakes are part of learning and improving. If you ever make a mistake, just be honest and admit it. Stonewalling criticism seldom pays off and staying silent can cause the situation to snowball.
Often, harsh criticism offers an excellent learning opportunity to dive deep into your target audience’s needs. If online responses to your brand are legitimate, it is time to own up to your mistake and use it as an opportunity to improve.
Back in 2005, Sony learned a valuable reputation management lesson. The company placed copy protection (XCD) on its CDs, which made computers vulnerable to malware. However, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they stonewalled criticism and nearly lost millions in class-action lawsuits. So, it’s safe to say if you’ve made a mistake, learn from it, take action to fix the issue, and improve your strategy for the future.
Not everyone is an expert at creating a positive online reputation for your business. It’s OK to make mistakes, and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. If you feel your current ORM efforts are not sufficient to build, protect or restore your online brand image, consult a professional. You can contact an online marketing agency or reputation management company, like Pure SEO, to help you create an efficient ORM strategy.
Listening to what your consumers have to say and finding methods to engage with them are the first steps in managing your online reputation. ORM is an important aspect of any business, marketing, and growth plan for any company (even those that aren’t yet online). People are talking about you, and they will continue to do so. Your objective is to create a solid online reputation management strategy that allows you to browse through all the online conversations, provide fixes, and encourage positive sentiment.
As you can see, ORM is a vast domain, and managing your online reputation takes the right strategy, dedication, and proper skillset. If you lack any of these, you can always seek help from experts. That’s where we come in. Here at Pure SEO, we stand proud as one of the best Digital Marketing Agencies in New Zealand, having expertise in online reputation management.
Pure SEO can help you create an efficient ORM strategy for your business to protect and boost your online reputation. Most importantly, if you have any negative reviews, we can help you push them away from the top search results to get them out of sight of your potential customers. Get in touch today to arrange a free ORM check or schedule a meeting.
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