Protect your online reputation: Why it matters for businessesBy Solange Messier
A business’s online reputation can significantly impact its bottom line, so protecting it should be a top priority. A poor reputation can dampen the positive effects of other digital marketing efforts, even great PPC campaigns or SEO strategies. This means that even if other digital marketing tactics are employed, tools and techniques that protect online reputations should also be used.
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If a customer has a negative impression of a business’s online reputation, even the most compelling ad copy or well-placed CTA may not be enough to move the needle and get them to convert. Knowing how to protect an online reputation can help your clients establish a high level of trust and authority among their target audiences, giving prospective customers the confidence to purchase their products and services.
So, what does online reputation mean, and why does it play such an important role in any successful marketing strategy? How can agencies protect the online reputations of their clients? These are the questions we’re covering today, so let’s dive in.
What is an online reputation?
For businesses, online reputation refers to the overall impression created by the information that audiences can glean from social media, review sites, blog posts, articles, and any other place they may encounter information about the business or its products or services.
A positive online reputation can lead to increased credibility and trust in the business, which ultimately impacts what businesses care about most: the bottom line. Even if you have an excellent product, the reality is that today’s consumer regularly turns to the internet to find out more about a business or their product before making a purchase. In fact, online reputation management stats indicate that 78% of consumers trust recommendations from peers, while only 14% trust advertising claims. This means that your clients’ online reputations are sure to make an impact on prospective customers’ buying decisions. As such, protecting a brand online is just as important as any other marketing activity you might engage in.
The importance of protecting a client’s online reputation
An excellent online reputation doesn’t just happen: It’s the result of taking proactive action to build a stellar reputation as well as responding effectively to the inevitable instances when your online reputation might be under fire. There are plenty of benefits to be gained by monitoring and actively protecting a brand online.
Increasing the credibility of your brand
A positive online reputation can boost trust and credibility among prospective customers, which can help a business attract new customers.
Thanks to myriad new technologies, starting a business is in many ways easier than ever before. However, this also means the competition is stiffer than ever. A strong online reputation can help businesses stand out against their competitors by being more memorable, trusted, or desirable.
Improved customer experiences
To protect your online reputation, you have to be customer-focused. This means that the same activities that can protect online reputations, such as responding to negative reviews and complaints, also do double duty to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Better reputation in general
Just about every business today has some online aspect, but a strong online reputation will extend to the offline world, too. Businesses that protect their online reputations are also protecting the general reputation of their business.
Many of the activities that protect online reputation also boost SEO and encourage online sharing. By protecting a brand online, you’ll also increase the likelihood of a website appearing at the top of search engine results pages and boost the chances of fans sharing user-generated content about the brand.
What are the best ways to protect your online reputation?
As you probably realize by now, protecting your online reputation isn’t a single activity for businesses. Rather, it’s a strategy that has several moving parts, all of which serve to convey the best possible reputational signals to customers and prospects. Let’s take a look at the best ways to protect your online reputation.
Reviews can have a significant impact on your online reputation. Today’s customers rely heavily on reviews and testimonials to inform their buying decisions. Just as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends have always been recognized as a valuable form of marketing, so too are reviews in the digital age.
Protecting your online reputation through review management involves two activities: generating frequent reviews and responding to reviews.
Generating reviews can help protect your online reputation because customers will trust many recent reviews more than they will trust several old reviews. To maintain a steady stream of positive reviews, businesses should actively try to generate them by incentivizing customers to provide them. This way, even if some reviews are negative, there should be plenty of positive reviews to offset them.
Responding to reviews is just as important: It demonstrates to those reading reviews that the business is engaged and cares what customers think, whether the review is positive or negative. Plus, it provides businesses with an opportunity to address concerns in a publicly visible forum.
Monitoring what is being said about a business online can help them gauge customer sentiment. In other words, it can be a useful indicator of the state of their online reputation, and provide insights and opportunities to protect it.
This can be done by creating a Google Alert for the brand and regularly checking its mentions on Instagram and other social media platforms. If there are negative mentions, brands can turn them into an opportunity to improve their reputations by addressing the concerns.
Engage with the audience
Engagement shows that a brand cares about what its audience thinks. Whether responding to a review, interacting on Instagram, commenting on a blog post, or posting a video response to a TikTok, engaging publicly demonstrates respect for the customer.
Maintain a professional online presence
While each business has its own brand personality and brand voice, keeping things professional online can go a long way in protecting an online reputation.
Even a brand with a quirky, playful voice should demonstrate professionalism by sticking to its brand style guide in all its communications, being respectful in interactions, and keeping its website and social media accounts up to date. A cohesive and well-maintained online presence is one of the elements of a positive online reputation.
How do you prevent reputation damage?
Luckily, there are things a business can do to proactively prevent reputation damage from occurring in the first place. Sure, not every bad review or blunder can be avoided, but having a plan in place to prevent reputation damage can minimize these instances and ensure a business builds up a glowing reputation over time.
Regardless of which industry you’re in, transparency is highly valued by today’s consumers, with 66% claiming that transparency is one of the most attractive qualities a brand can have. Building transparent practices in your business is a good way to build goodwill, prevent reputational damage, and protect your online reputation. This can include techniques like creating behind-the-scenes content or being forthcoming with your audience if you’re encountering supply chain issues or other disruptions.
Responding to negative reviews and mentions publicly is another excellent way to demonstrate transparency. It isn’t just the reviewer who will see the response, but also anybody else reading through the review section. They will see that the brand can handle criticism and is resolution-oriented.
Prioritize the customer experience
By providing excellent customer service and focusing on creating a positive customer experience at every point in their journey, businesses can minimize the instances of reputational damage. If customers have a positive experience, they are far less likely to say negative things about a business. Even if they experience an issue, having a system in place to quickly resolve it will leave them with a positive impression.
Avoid black-hat SEO practices
Shady SEO tactics should be avoided at all costs. Not only do these backfire by hurting SEO rankings rather than boosting them, but your prospective customers are also likely to identify inauthentic SEO strategies, such as fake reviews.
Create in-house policies
Having in-house documentation and policies about reputation management, like how team members should communicate and how common complaints should be remediated, can ensure that customers have a consistent, positive experience regardless of who they are dealing with. Everyone on your team should have access to this documentation. Providing training can further ensure that your team works cohesively to prevent reputational damage.
Providing reputation management to your clients
If your agency offers digital marketing solutions of any kind, including online reputation protection services is a no-brainer. These services can meaningfully impact your clients’ bottom lines and will work synergistically with your other marketing solutions to maximize results.
Not only will your clients see the benefits of having reputation management solutions in place, but you’ll also increase the lifetime value of each client by offering them an additional service.
You can help clients to both proactively protect their online reputation and reactively address issues that come up.
Solutions for proactive reputation management that you offer include:
- Review management—help clients regularly solicit reviews so that their reviews are recent, and provide tools that make it easy to respond to reviews across different websites from a single dashboard.
- Local reputation management—boost clients’ local reputations through listing building, which also creates more opportunities to collect reviews.
- Social media management—help your clients stay engaged and responsive with their audiences by monitoring their social channels.
- Search engine optimization—assist clients in building a positive online reputation through an effective SEO strategy that includes guest posting, link building on reputable sites, technical SEO, and on-page SEO.
If your clients need assistance reacting to a situation that may damage their online reputation, your agency can:
- Respond to negative reviews and comments in a productive, transparent, and respectful way
- Create content addressing customer concerns or common issues
- Conduct an SEO audit to identify and resolve negative SEO practices
By using white-label solutions, your agency can expand its online reputation protection services without the need to hire in-house staff. Instead, just add it to your list of services, and let a highly competent team of third-party experts handle the delivery. That way, the next time a customer comes to you asking, “how do I protect my reputation online?” you can offer them a solution.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best software for businesses to protect their online reputation?
Vendasta’s Reputation Management software is a robust tool that businesses can use to monitor, manage, and improve their online reputations. Plus, thanks to AI machine learning, valuable insights can be gleaned that can assist a business in improving its reputation management strategy over time.
Who should you work with to protect your business’s online reputation?
Reputation management is a time-consuming but vital task, and businesses should team up with marketing agencies to monitor, manage, and protect their reputations online.