5 minute read
How to Improve Your Online Reputation
These days, consumers are turning to the internet more than any other source to learn about brands and make purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a study by GE Capital, 81% of consumers say they turn to the web to do research before making a purchase. What if the information that’s floating around in cyberspace doesn’t necessarily paint your business in the best light? While you can’t completely control what’s said about you on the web, you can take measures to counteract and protect your online reputation. If you’ve had a few mishaps in the past and your online persona could use a bit of a makeover, here are a few tips to get you back on track.
Keep track of what’s being said.
You can’t correct a problem if you don’t know it exists. You need to stay on top of what’s being said about your business online – good or bad. Set up a Google alert that will send you a notification any time your brand is mentioned online. That way you can step in and take the appropriate measures right away.
Google alerts work with the same advanced search operators as a regular Google search. Add filters to exclude false positives. For example I would add negative keywords like "-Jake" and "-baseball" to eliminate results for the minor league baseball player Jake Skole from alerts for my name (Jordan Skole).
Respond in a timely manner.
When it comes to online comments or complaints, timing is everything. If someone writes something about your business, product, service or employees and you fail to respond, it can give the impression that you don’t care. If you come across a compliment, say thank you and make it as personalized as possible. If it’s a complaint or negative comment, apologize, offer a solution and if necessary, offer to take the conversation offline before it gets out of hand.
The manner in which you respond – especially to a complaint or negative review – can make or break how your business is perceived moving forward. 62% of consumers say they would stop doing business with a brand following a negative interaction while 29% say they’d increase their spending following a positive experience. Always focus on customer satisfaction and keep all responses as positive as possible.
Be active online.
If the only online activity associated with your brand is negative comments, what do you think will be at the top of the Google search the next time someone looks up your company? One of the best ways to combat a not-so-stellar reputation online is to establish a solid, active presence on the web. This will provide much more robust results when someone conducts a search for your brand. Be active on social media, blog frequently and join as many relevant groups and forums as you can manage.
Keep communications personal yet professional.
There is a fine line that businesses must skate when engaging with customers and prospects online. The ultimate goal is to develop relationships with your audience while also remaining professional. If you read negative reviews or comments, keep responses positive and respectful. Don’t take it personal. Just remember, once you put something on the web it’s there forever, so choose your words wisely.
Recruit passionate brand ambassadors.
You obviously can’t be everywhere at all times, so why not tap into your happy customer base to help spread the good word about your brand? Not only does this provide more credibility for your business, but it’s also a much more powerful way to reach more prospects. While 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know, 68% still place more trust in the opinions of other consumers that they don’t know over ads and other professional marketing efforts.
Use negative feedback to your advantage.
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” - Ben Franklin
Nobody wants to see negative things written about the brand they’ve worked so hard to build, but since you can’t keep everyone happy all the time, it’s bound to happen. Take these negative comments as an opportunity to further improve and grow your business. Your online reputation will ultimately make or break your business. By staying on top of what’s being said about your brand, knowing how to respond and leveraging other ways to boost your image online, you’ll be able to overcome any negative info that may be out there and still come out on top.