Reputation management may sound like a big task. But if you’re already providing great service, then building a 5-star reputation is easier than you might think. And the benefits extend far beyond SEO…
Let me share some quick data with you:
- 97% of customers look online for local businesses
- 82% of customers read online reviews before making a decision
- 57% of customers will only use businesses with 4 or more stars
- Going from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating gets a business 25% more clicks
The Power of a Good Online Reputation
It has long been understood that one of the most effective marketing methods is word-of-mouth. Getting a personal recommendation from a friend of family member almost guarantees revenue.
For B2B service-based businesses this is doubly true. Business owners and leaders are busy. They don’t have the time (or , really, the patience) to go through the hassle of vetting every new product they come across, or every new salesman sending them a LinkedIn pitch.
When they discover a need, many business leaders take a shortcut: They rely on the recommendation of someone they trust, effectively outsourcing that vetting work to them.
What does this have to do with your online reputation?
Sentiment studies show that: 85% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.
That’s huge! That means that if you have an online review that talks about how reliable you are, how great your customer service is, and how your services have made their lives 100 time easier, that makes a huge difference.
People will read, and trust, that testimonial. And, as a result, they’ll trust you.
4 Elements of a Good Online Reputation
The first step to getting more customers and ranking better in Google via your online reputation is: understanding where your business is now.
When evaluating your current reputation status, there are 4 things that you need to look at…
1. The Average Review Rating
You need to know where your business currently is. Look at your GMB and see how many stars your business averages. Is it between 4.5 and 5 stars? If not, you have some work to do.
The more stars you have, the more trustworthy your business is perceived as being.
Negative reviews can drastically undercut your reputation efforts. In fact, 4 out of 5 would-be customers will reverse a purchase decision based on a negative review.
2. The Number of Reviews
Just as important as your average review rating is the number of reviews. Having 5-stars is great, but if it’s based on only 1 or 2 reviews, it’s not going to serve you nearly as much as if you had 50.
Getting new reviews, consistently, is vital to building up your review count. It has the added benefit of allowing you to keep your finger on the pulse of what (and how) your customers think of your business.
It provides valuable insights into what you’re doing really well, and where you can improve.
3. The Recency of Reviews
Soliciting reviews constantly also ensures that you’ll always have recent reviews.
Consider the following statistics:
- 84% of people believe that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant anymore
- 48% of customers only pay attention to reviews written in the last 2 weeks
This reinforces the idea that reputation management is not a one-off task. It needs to be done on a continuous basis.
4. Your Response to Reviews
This one is very often over-looked. You see, getting reviews isn’t all there is to it. You also need to respond to reviews – especially reviews that contain complaints or questions.A staggering 94% of customers will avoid a business that fails to respond to negative reviews.
Why? Because it’s a signal to them of the customer experience overall. Failing to respond to a negative review signals to potential customers that:
- You provide poor or ineffective service
- That you are not interested in caring for your customers
- That you do not try to fix your mistakes
- You don’t care enough about your own business to defend it
All of these signals will turn away potential customers. That’s why it’s vital that you monitor and respond to your online reviews.
3-Step System for Building an Amazing Online Reputation
Building your online reputation may seem like a daunting task. You have to make sure that your reviews are good, that there’s a lot of them, that they’re recent, and you have to make sure that you respond to them in a timely manner.
But who has time for that?
Let me show you the simple 3-step process that we use with our clients to help them get good reviews, on a consistent basis. It also allows them to monitor and respond to reviews without taking hours out of their week.
Step 1: Asking for Feedback
As soon as a new customer signs up with you, ask for feedback. You can do this in your welcome package, on-boarding email, or whatever the case may be.
Ask them to give you feedback about the on boarding process, their sales rep, their account manager, and so on.If you get positive feedback…
Then ask them to leave you a review.
If you get negative feedback…
Immediately seek to correct whatever circumstance caused that negative feedback and try to make the situation right.
Then put the customer on a list to “follow up later”. Some time after their issues have been resolved, ask them for feedback again. If the feedback you receive is positive, then ask for the review.
If it’s negative, then rinse and repeat. However, if you find that you are getting a lot of negative feedback, repeatedly, you may need to revisit some of your processes.
Step 2: Soliciting Reviews
When you receive positive feedback from your customers, then you need to guide them through the review process.
You do this by:
- Sending them a link directly to your GMB profile or Facebook page so that leaving a review is as easy as possible.
- Suggest review verbiage by borrowing from what they wrote in their feedback
By doing this you’re accomplishing two things:
First, you’re making the review process as easy as possible. People don’t like to do hard things and they don’t have time to invest in helping you (it’s sad, but true). By making it easy you overcome both of those hurdles. There’s very little effort, and it’s not going to take a lot of time.
Second, you’re ensuring that the review is honest and genuine. Although Google SEO can’t tell the difference, your prospects can. Having a dozen copy-and-pasted reviews will make you look dishonest and sleazy.
By having your customers use their own words, you prove that your reviews are real, and the benefits that they promise are genuine.
Step 3: Monitor and Respond to Reviews
The final step is to monitor your reviews, and respond as appropriate. This allows you to:
Recover bad experiences. By responding to any negative reviews that are posted, you show that you do care. You care about your customers and you care about your business’s reputation. It also gives you the opportunity to, perhaps, win over those customers.
Answer questions. If one person is asking a question, you can be sure that many people have the same question (even if they don’t ask). By answering questions, you help people understand your business better. You show that you genuinely care about your customers, and that you have your finger on the pulse of what they need – both in-person and online.
Amplify and re-post good reviews on Social Media or your website. This helps broaden your business’s scope and get in front of (and impress) new clients.
If these three steps sound like a lot of work, I have two pieces of good news for you:
- Once you get the process down, and you (or your designee) do it a few times, it gets easier.
- If you’re interested in automating that process, that’s something that we do here at Epowet Digital Services. So drop us a line, and we’ll help you out.
And that’s all there really is to creating a great online reputation. And as you achieve that, you’ll see your business grow. You’ll get more visibility on Google and customers will be much more likely to choose you over your competition.
And it’s not hard to get stared.
Just start by asking customers for feedback. How did they like the service they received? If it’s negative, then try to resolve their issues. If it’s positive, walk them through the review process. Send them a link directly to your Google My Business, so that they can leave a review.
Then just make sure to monitor and respond to your reviews.
You know, we’re really getting close to the end of this season. We have a few episodes coming up. Next week we’re going to dig a bit deeper into the Customer Service side of Reputation Management. This goes a little beyond the scope of SEO. However, if you’re serious about building a good reputation, as a business, then it’s information you’re going to want to have.