Insights / branding

Online Reputation Management 101

Have you considered how your company’s brand reputation is perceived online? In today’s digital world, online reputation can make or break a business.

While reputation management isn’t a new subject, the online component is still foreign to many. Most companies believe that having a website and social media profiles is enough, but 85% of potential customers use other online factors to evaluate your company before conducting business.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of crafting strategies to better influence the public perception of an organization, individual or entity online.

As we all know, reviews play a major factor in consumer-based decisions. If a potential customer finds bad reviews or negative articles related to your company, they won’t do business with you.

According to reputationmanagement.com, “Four negative search results can cost you 70% of your potential business.”

Not only do negative reviews influence consumers, but prospective employees as well. Reputationmanagement.com also claims that “69% of job seekers won’t apply to companies with online reputation issues.”

There are several outlets that can have an impact on your online reputation. Some of the most common places consumers assess your brand’s reputation are:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Ripoff Report
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Trusted industry-specific sites that offer user reviews
  • Job review sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor

Benefits of a Positive Online Reputation

We are more likely to trust a company that is consistently receiving positive feedback from real consumers. These organizations have a greater chance at winning a potential customer’s business.

Having a positive online perception not only helps your brand drive potential new business, but has an impact on other aspects of your organization, such as:

  • Building trust between you and your customers
  • Displaying consistency between internal and external messaging about your brand
  • Helping you establish yourself as an authority in your niche or industry
  • Enhancing digital marketing efforts
  • Increasing profitability

Positive feedback leads to more referrals and less cost to acquire a new or repeat customer. And once your company gains positive feedback, it is important to track and engage users who leave positive reviews. This shows that you care about customer feedback and provides the ability to potentially offer incentives for referrals or for visiting again, depending on the type of business.

What Can You Do to Fix a Negative Online Reputation?

If you see that your brand’s reputation is not as favorable as you’d like, you have options to proactively fix your public perception. While these improvements will take time, in the end they will help you improve how customers view your organization. Some common ways to improve your reputation include:

  • Push negative reviews down by generating or asking for new positive reviews – As we all know, reviews can make or break your reputation, so it is best to ask customers to provide positive feedback where they can. This also will push most negative reviews down and show more recent, positive reviews first.
  • Work to correct customer issues – If a past customer had a legitimate issue and left a review, try to take the conversation offline to resolve the problem. If corrected, you can ask the customer to update their review to something more positive.
  • Learn from mistakes and improve your business – If you see customer reviews with a common issue, it is worth evaluating how the organization is doing something. This opens the door for improving processes or customer service.

When working to manage and improve unfavorable reviews, it is best to implement a process to handle the task. Once established, this process can be used as a part of your ongoing branding strategy.

It is also best to utilize various ORM tools that provide notifications for new reviews on any platform your brand uses. This will allow you to effectively monitor reviews and be proactive in replying to negative feedback where possible.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining a positive reputation online is no easy task. ORM is a long-term and ongoing branding effort that, if done properly, will allow you to carve out and solidify the reputation you want online.

Before making a buying decision, potential consumers will search and place a great deal of value on reviews and opinions of your company. Therefore, it is important to stay on top of all feedback, whether good or bad. After all, one or two bad reviews can undermine your on- and offline marketing and branding efforts.