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Online Reputation Management: What is it and Why Might Your Business Need It?

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth.

Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums, and other channels.

Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.

online reputation management

Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management, and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online.

While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.

Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services), or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.

online reputation management

Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage its reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores its reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect its online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience.

Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine percent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.

online reputation management

What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves.

This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.

Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customers use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase.

Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

If you would like to find out how we can help you manage your online reputation, email us at agency@shoppeblack.us

 

Tony O. Lawson


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Aligning Your Business for Marketing Success, Post-Covid

To say that a Global Pandemic has shifted the paradigms of normalcy would be a massive understatement. From our lives to our livelihoods, we’ll be feeling the impact of this global crisis for years to come. As businesses look to bounce back, it’s important to look at the best ways to set yourself up for marketing success and what steps can be taken on the road to recovery. 

Focus on Savings 

Pre-covid, every dollar was valuable. Today, every cent can be a make or break. Businesses need to focus on where they can cut COGS and operating expenses while maintaining the quality and integrity of their products. Take a look at where you’re spending money. Are there discounts that exist for your CRM platform?

Can making a shift to a more cloud-based solution save you time and money? Are you able to save on those costly transaction fees, which have become a necessary evil in the online sales world? Use the savings to re-invest in your digital advertising or launch a new highly-targeted campaign. 

Take Advantage of Resources 

From thought leadership to survival guides, the amount of content being generated around businesses managing covid is endless. Do the research and pull from as many sources as possible. What are the best practices, case studies, and key learnings about marketing in the post-covid world? Where can you find help at the state, local, and federal levels? These resources exist and can be game-changers for your business’ re-emergence in the market. 

Find a Mentor

In the age of “Pay it Forward,” more and more industry leaders are willing to give their time and insights to new businesses. Reach out to those who are succeeding in the areas you want to grow in. Find the marketing experts. Book meetings, come to the table with questions, and take notes! One tip or nugget of wisdom can help spark a campaign that shows your customers that you are back and maybe even gain you some influencer traction along the way. 

Access More Funding 

It all comes full circle with the mighty dollar. The cost of advertising continues to go up, and the competition for eyeballs and clicks increases every day. Money-making campaigns can be left tabled because of a lack of funds to execute them properly. Revamp your Pitch Deck so that your Use of Funds section shows where your marketing dollars would go and how those dollars spent translate into revenue. From there, find investors specific to your industry and sell them on the opportunity. 

Remember, you are not alone in this fight, and everyone is looking for new ways to win. It’s a sprint, not a marathon. Put your marketing focus into re-establishing your brand, refilling your pipeline, and re-engaging your customers.

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5 Ways Black Businesses Can Improve Customer Experience

Let’s face it, Black businesses have a horrible reputation when it comes to offering a great customer experience or customer service.

Whether this stigma is justified or not, the fact remains that businesses should always strive to offer the best customer experience possible.

Keep these stats in mind:

78% of consumers did not make an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. Source: American Express Survey

It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

In 2016 one study found that 75% of companies said their top objective was to improve customer experience.

So, what can Black owned businesses do to improve their customer experience and keep their customer coming back? Glad you asked!

1) Help customers to help themselves

The majority of consumers will always check a website for information before calling or e-mailing a business, so make it easy for them to find answers to their questions quickly and easily by deploying an online FAQ, or Live

2) Listen to customer feedback and react

In order to improve your product and service offering, you need to have the best possible understanding of what your customer’s needs are.

Providing customers with several ways to provide feedback (social media, email, on-site suggestion box etc) will enable you to monitor and implement changes and address issues when they arise.

3) Don’t take it personal

The ability to swallow one’s pride and accept blame or negative feedback is crucial. Whether your team works directly with customers or looking for feedback on social media, they’ve got to keep the customer’s happiness in mind.

4) Listen to your team/staff feedback

If you have a team or staff that are on the front lines dealing with frustrated and agitated customers, be aware that they are knowledgable about the customer’s wants, needs and pain points.

They should be given the opportunity to provide this customer insight regularly, via a method that is most comfortable for them.

5) Embrace the complaints

When a customer takes the time to share suggestions or vent frustrations, you can be sure that they are one of several customers that share the same frustration — or soon will, unless an improvement occurs.

Better for you to hear it and make the change before these customers move on to your competitor.

Tony O. Lawson


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