Online Reputation Management: How Online Reviews Influence a Consumer’s Decision
In the past few years, online reviews have played an important role in how consumers decide where to shop, what to buy, and who to trust. These reviews and ratings serve as the third-party confirmation that will influence the purchasing decision of many consumers who do not want to take any risks when it comes to the quality of goods and services they are getting.
This has left an impact on companies around the world as they fight to protect their online reputation and that of their business. If a company is not careful, its brand can easily be tarnished by a few false claims made against it on review sites. To keep companies from being damaged by negative feedback on the Internet, online reputation management strategies must be implemented.
In this article, we will talk about online reputation management and how it works to protect a company's name online through social media and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
The Power of Online Reviews
These days, it seems like everyone is reading online reviews before making a purchase. And it makes sense! After all, why would you buy something yet unseen when you can easily find out what other people think about it?
Yes, the sad truth is that online reviews can either make or break a company. They not only give potential customers an idea of how well products work, but they also influence the buying decisions of others.
In fact, one study found that 98% of shoppers read product reviews before purchasing anything on the internet! Needless to say, this is more than enough reason for companies to worry about their online reputation.
And now, more than ever, there are a number of ways for businesses to help manage their reputation and monitor their reviews in order to keep them positive. One way companies do this is by hiring customer service professionals who are dedicated to responding quickly and appropriately whenever they receive complaints or inquiries from consumers via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
But what’s with this trust issue that online consumers need to know what others have to say about a certain product first before trying it?
The Internet’s Trust Issue
A recent study shows that only 42% of people trust the internet, and that number has been on the decline since 2012. Why is this?
Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that we're constantly bombarded with information, and it's hard to know what to believe. The second is that we're seeing more and more instances of fake news and hoaxes. And the third is that we're becoming more aware of data breaches, cybercrime, and other serious incidents that can affect a company in ways we can’t imagine, such as issues with Mac terminal permission denied resulting in becoming less efficient and unproductive.
We see big companies like Target getting hacked, bank accounts getting compromised, or personal info being sold on the dark web. These things might not affect us directly right now, but they show us how vulnerable we can be when sharing so much online.
It’s not surprising why, as consumers search for products and services online before making a purchase decision, many turn to reviews for guidance as well as ratings from other shoppers.
According to statistics, about seventy-seven percent of people say that customer reviews influence their decision when shopping online; eighty-five percent say they read customer reviews in order to make an informed purchase decision; and ninety-eight percent have found customer reviews helpful at some point in their purchase journey.
The Impact of Online Reviews on Businesses
Businesses need to be proactive in monitoring what is being said about them online. This is because online reviews can have a significant impact on a consumer's decision-making process.
Say you are looking for a new restaurant or you are considering buying an item from an online retailer, what you read in the reviews might influence your final decision. Right?
The point is not to scare businesses but rather to illustrate that they should stay up-to-date with their online reputation and monitor what people are saying about them before the damage becomes irreparable.
As a business owner, what should you do when you get an unfavorable review?
If you get a negative review, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. It can be tempting to respond immediately, but it's important to keep a level head. Once you've calmed down, reach out to the customer privately and try to resolve the issue. If that doesn't work, consider responding publicly. But be sure to keep it professional! Finally, keep monitoring your online reputation and proactively managing it. We will share more ways to handle these reviews below, though.
Harnessing the Power of Online Reviews
As a business owner, it's important to understand how online reviews can impact your bottom line. If your business has negative reviews, that could be costing you sales.
One study found that for every one-star increase in review rating, revenue increased by 5%. So, what should you do if your business has negative reviews?
There are two possible solutions:
- Reach out to unhappy customers and ask them for a new review.
- Improve the quality of service you provide and wait for the happy customers to post their own reviews.
All this comes to proper online reputation management. So, how do you effectively and professionally manage your online reputation?
Some Helpful Online Reputation Management Strategies You Can Use to Protect Your Brand
Simply put, online reputation management (ORM) is the process of controlling what shows up when someone Googles your business. This means that to be successful in business, you need more than just good products and services – you also need a solid reputation as well.
When your reputation is damaged by slanderous comments or unfair allegations, however, it can become difficult to continue to do business. If you want to find effective online reputation management strategies that will help protect your brand, here are some online reputation management strategies that can give you the peace of mind you deserve.
1. Build Trust
When it comes to online reputation management, one of the most important things you can do is build trust with your audience. But how do you do that?
Here are some strategies you can use to build and maintain trust:
- Get Personal: Share stories from personal life or thoughts on current events. Show people who you really are and share things they will find interesting.
- Answer Questions: Be honest when answering questions about your brand and create an environment where others feel comfortable asking questions.
- Use Humor: A little humor goes a long way in building trust! Share amusing photos or videos of yourself at work. We all have our bad days, but showing a lighter side helps break down barriers.
- Respond Quickly: When people have questions or complaints, respond quickly so they know you're listening and take their comments seriously.
- Be Kind: One thing we should all strive for is kindness in everything we do.
2. Monitor for Negative Reviews
One of the most important online reputation management strategies is monitoring for negative reviews. You can do this by setting up Google Alerts for your brand name and key terms related to your business. This will help you stay on top of any negative press so you can address it quickly.
It's also a good idea to set up alerts with websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and more. Additionally, you should keep an eye out for bad press through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Sometimes, people also post negative reviews or bad experiences they had with your company in public forums such as these. So, even if there isn't a review that mentions your company specifically, if it's in public view then it could have an impact on your brand overall.
3. Don’t Fret Over What You Cannot Control
No matter how great your product or service is, there will always be people who are unhappy with it. And in the age of the internet, those people can make their voices heard loud and clear. But don’t fret – there are things you can do to protect your brand’s reputation online.
Start by taking a deep breath and accepting that there's nothing you can do about what's out there on the web. Now, find out where they're talking about you. Figure out what they're saying (or better yet, what they're not saying). Look for gaps in feedback that may indicate a need for some additional explanation or elaboration on an issue related to your company's products or services.
If one customer had a negative experience with one of your employees, but others were satisfied, for example, maybe this person just needs some better customer service training instead of being fired from his job. If a customer claims he was told something different from what was written on the website, maybe he misread something because he didn't scroll down far enough before giving up.
4. Have a Crisis Management Plan
It's important to have a crisis management plan in place before you need it. That way, you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. Here's how to create an effective crisis management plan:
- Closely monitor and control who has access to your online accounts.
- Set reputation management alerts so you can proactively respond to negative feedback.
- Listen to your customer's complaints and respond accordingly.
- Establish a digitized communication plan.
- Draft generic communication statements so online reputation managers can quickly respond when needed.
- Spread positive news to further the chances of people reading good stories about your company.
5. Respond Quickly and Professionally
Most importantly, you need to respond professionally and as fast as you can. You really have to be aware of what’s being said about your business online. Again, you can do this by setting up Google Alerts for your brand name and key executives. This will notify you anytime your brand is mentioned online so you can take action quickly if necessary.
When you receive negative feedback, sure, an apology is appropriate. And this is important even if you know you have done nothing wrong. It's just that, sometimes, those negative feedback is triggered by mistakes or uncontrollable events.
And, of course, you can't control how people talk about your brand. But you can always control how to respond. A little sympathy and understanding go a long way to ease the emotions somehow. If the reviewer complained about poor service, you could always apologize that they had an awful experience. Your message can be as simple as, "We're sorry that you have to go through that."
6. Be Active on Social Media
Also, make sure your website and social media profiles are up-to-date and professional. This will help create a positive first impression for anyone who comes across your brand online.
Monitoring competitor activity online is another way you can protect your reputation by making sure nothing damaging goes viral before it impacts your business negatively.
7. Create and Publish Positive Content
It also helps to be proactive in creating positive content about your brand. This could include blog posts, social media posts, or even press releases. By getting out in front of negative content, you can help shape the conversation about your brand. If it's too late and someone has already posted something damaging about your company, reach out with an apology. Apologizing is always better than ignoring the situation.
The rise of online reviews has made the business world a much more competitive place, and consumers are constantly reading online reviews to help them decide which products and services to purchase, which hotels and restaurants to stay at, and which doctors to visit.
Online reputation management has become an important aspect of marketing for any company or individual that relies on consumer traffic to make their living, and knowing how online reviews affect consumer decisions can help you leverage your review scores in your favor.
Featured image by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash