Fifteen years ago, having a website with good rankings on search engines was enough for a local business. In fact, it was quite forward-thinking. But now SMBs face far more complex decisions to make: They must choose between a breathtaking number of additional digital marketing channels to choose from: Facebook, TripAdvisor Twitter, Instagram, Google My Business, YELP, TikTok.
These are just a handful of the many social media, review platforms, and local directories out there. Reviews and information about a business can be posted on many of these sites without the business concerned even having a profile; this means that a small business can have an army of online fans and critics that they are completely unaware of who is influencing the reputation of their business and its sales.
This article will show you that failing to manage your business’s reputation isn’t just sacrificing valuable customer feedback; Local directories, online reviews, social media, and online comments all combine to create your business’s online reputation, and this reputation has a huge impact on customers' purchasing habits as well as your online visibility. In light of these facts, it's no surprise that online reputation management has become a key area of digital marketing for all businesses.
Here are 6 reasons why reputation management is essential for SMBs along with matching tips on how you can leverage reputation management to attract more customers from search engines, reviews sites, and social media.
The internet is the first place that many consumers go to inform themselves when making purchasing decisions: the majority of consumers read at least 4 reviews before buying anything and 10 before using a local business. Many of the platforms listed above play a role in this; here are the four most consulted platforms for reviews:
In light of so many consumers checking reviews, it is only natural for a business to want to know what potential customers are reading about them online — especially those customers who are getting their first impression of your business from reading your review profile. Making a good first impression has always been important in business but now that review websites are viewed by millions of people, every day, positive and negative reviews have never had a greater influence on your sales figures.
It’s also important to remember that when each of us checks out the reviews we tend to focus on the best-reviewed businesses at the expense of the average and negatively reviewed. This means that businesses who fail to manage reputation through reviews can miss out on crucial visibility on review platforms that will lead to more customers. This is another key reason why managing your reviews with reputation management is a good idea.
Managing reviews to boost your online reputation and visibility is no longer something that only large corporations can afford to do. rankingCoach FREE is the first free ranking, brand & competitor monitoring solution for small businesses, showing small businesses how they are perceived by potential customers online.
rankingCoach tracks reviews of your business across key online review platforms and alerts you the moment a customer leaves a review, showing you exactly what they are saying about your business in the app’s intuitive real-time feed. With this knowledge, you can respond quickly and appropriately to boost positive reviews and reduce the impact of negative reviews,
The free limited edition version of rankingCoach gives small businesses the power to monitor, protect, and grow their business online
These days most consumers go online to inform their purchasing decisions. Digital Marketing experts refer to this as the modern consumer journey: customers find options on Google and other search engines then they narrow down their choices by researching a business. Customers doing this are certainly keeping an eye on ratings: 56% of consumers think that the star rating of a business is important and 49% value the number of reviews. The overall impression a customer gets from a business's review profile has a direct impact on sales. This goes both ways: positive reviews are great for business with 68% of consumers being more likely to use local businesses with positive reviews, whereas with bad unfavorable reviews: 40% of consumers will not use a business with negative reviews and 94% of customers have gone elsewhere because of bad reviews.
Getting more positive reviews and reducing your negative reviews will generate more sales for your business by strengthening your business’s online reputation and making it stand out against the competition.
Being seen in the right way at these two stages can make the difference between a site being a customer’s final choice, or just another option they passed on the way to finding what they want. If you’ve never scanned the internet for reviews of your business, now is a perfect time. rankingCoach FREE will scan all key review platforms for reviews of your business so you can see what has already been saying about your business and be informed the moment someone posts a new review of your business.
It's important to remember that reputation management is not just for businesses that exist solely online. Most people check the online profiles of physical businesses too.
A Google study found that 78% of Christmas shoppers looked up a shop online before they visited it. Consumers' interest in the online profile of physical businesses extends far beyond the retail sector; from finding a wedding venue to making an appointment with a good chiropractor, people are increasingly turning to the internet to help them make their most important decisions: 70% of people looking for legal advice, use the internet to help them decide which law firm to choose.
Online reviews perform a similar role as a personal recommendation from a friend, a recent study found that customers need to read ten reviews before they can trust a local business. This trend is also widespread geographically: from the largest metropolis to the tiniest village. Everywhere, people are checking, writing, and reading reviews. 86% of all consumers read reviews for local businesses at least occasionally.
Google My Business is a crucial local directory and review platform for brick-and-mortar businesses. Setting up and managing your Google My Business profile with the help of rankingCoach FREE is a great way to protect your local and online reputation as well as keeping customers updated on all of your latest events and opening hours
Reputation management software has made it possible for small businesses to manage their own reputation and respond quickly to customer reviews. This is advantageous for building a brand online; there is no more certain way to ensure customers engage with a brand's message than by answering customers' reviews: 89% of consumers read review responses. Over half of customers expect a response to their reviews, yet, 63% of customers have never received one.
Those failing to respond to their customers are missing out on a valuable opportunity to strengthen their brand online. Responding to reviews is a great way for a business to distinguish itself from the competition and to demonstrate a commitment to customer service. Responding quickly to reviews is also a proven way to deal with bad reviews: 45% of consumers say that they are more likely to visit a business that has negative reviews if these reviews have received a response.
Studies show that customers perceive bad reviews less negatively if the business owner has responded to them within a few days of them being posted. If you also want help responding to your reviews, rankingCoach 360 allows you to respond to reviews cross-platform from within the app.
Google has confirmed that a well-managed review profile is good for a business' SEO and Google Maps rankings:
Google clearly values companies that take the time to manage their reputation:
Considering Google's appreciation for reputation management, it is likely that the importance of online reviews and local directories, as a ranking factor, will only increase in the future. Visibility on Google Maps is especially beneficial for local businesses who can use it to make themselves easy to find through smartphone navigation. 82% of shoppers with smartphones have used the search term "near me" to find a local business.
Reputation Management is a great way of tracking and protecting your review profile. If you want to get more positive reviews you should combine Reputation Management with Brand Monitoring. Brand monitoring is about tracking mentions of your business across the internet. For instance on social media and online forums.
When you discover customers sharing positive comments about your business online, you should reach out to these happy customers to ask them to post reviews. Many of these happy customers will be happy to help and will be very likely to say something positive about your business. Brand monitoring and Reputation Management are both included in the rankingCoach FREE
The importance of being found on Google Maps is only set to become more important. The generation who know how to plan and follow a route using a map (or even find themselves on a map) are becoming increasingly outnumbered by the next generation, who have very different ways of getting around; as far as they are concerned, if your business isn't on Google or Google Maps, it doesn't exist. 54% of 18-29-year-olds and 55% of 30-49-year-olds have used online maps for navigation in the last four weeks.
The importance of online reviews is also set to increase in importance with future generations. According to the Search Engine Journal, 50% of 18-34-year-olds always read online reviews compared to just 6% of people aged 55+. The next generation also has a lot more opinions to share with 80% of 18-34 who have written an online review. This all means more reviews and to deal with and more people using maps and local directories find businesses in town and online.
Until recently, it was too time-consuming for an SMB to track all of their online reviews; Online reputation management applications like rankingCoach FREE have made it possible for SMBs to professionally manage their reviews in their free time:
At the heart of rankingCoach FREE is a real-time newsfeed containing all key events on Social Media and review platforms impacting your brand. So you can finally uncover those bad reviews that have been putting customers off, and learn from the digital marketing activities of your competitors. The app’s social-media-like stream puts you at the center of your own digital marketing universe. It’s a game-changing solution designed to unleash your business’s online potential.