Running a business has never been for the faint of heart. Aside from developing the best product, you also have to deal with feedback, positive and negative. In highly-competitive industries, your brand is only as good as its reputation.
A good reputation will allow your business to attract new customers through word of mouth. It also helps you retain your existing customers. However, your competitors will try to chip away at your brand, whether it’s by creating better products or building a better reputation. They may even use underhanded tactics to erode your reputation and establish themselves as the better alternative.
Reputation management is the practice of recovering your reputation and strengthening it further. It is also an integral part of digital marketing, especially since consumers are more likely to discover new brands or reach out to their preferred brands online.
Why is online reputation management critical?
Consumers nowadays use the Internet to discover new brands, which is a plus factor for businesses with a healthy online presence. As of 2020, close to 3/4 of consumers used the Internet to find local businesses:
That means people are searching for information online, which is why you need to ensure your image is stellar. That’s also why knowing how to write better and package your content in the most engaging way is essential.
However, the Internet can be a double-edged sword. Negative news or feedback about your brand can spread faster than positive news. If your brand happens to be on the receiving end of such content, it may negatively impact your:
- Search ranking
You also need to go on the offensive to win back the ground you’ve lost as you respond to negative criticism. This is where online reputation management becomes critical. It allows you to discover opportunities to recover your reputation and make it stronger than before. It also helps you save your brand identity and win back customers you’ve lost.
How does online reputation management affect your business?
ORM showcases your brand’s positive reviews and publicity to earn consumers’ trust and make them rely on your products and services. ORM will also use this positive reputation and merits to save your brand from backlash or negative feedback. Here are ways ORM affects your business:
With positive and strong reputations come consumer trust. With the confidence of a broad range of consumers comes a steady influx of sales. ORM ensures that your reputation remains positive for your consumers and even for search engines like Google that introduce you to other users.
It also follows that poor management of negative reputations will hit you directly with a decline in your sales as you lose your consumers’ trust. That is why ORM directly affects your sales, for better or for worse.
Showcasing a positive reputation and troubleshooting a negative one entails a strict tracking of all the comments, complaints, queries, and even mentions about your brand.
Responding to negative reviews is another crucial aspect of ORM as it rescues your reputation. Ignoring or removing negative reviews will not help. Customers find it sketchy if all they see are positive reviews. Negative news may bring a negative reputation, but responding to these comments also forge brand trust. In fact, many consumers prefer businesses that respond responsibly to negative reviews.
Stamford Plaza Brisbane has a practice of responding to negative reviews:
- It starts a typical response by thanking the user for posting a review.
- They then showcase the positive experiences of the commenter, which indicates that not all their experience is terrible.
- In this example, they reassured the commenter that this experience would not happen again.
Managing content about your brand requires a sense of urgency. Online reputation affects consumer trust, thereby also affecting sales. That is why efficiently monitoring your content online and sorting them between positive or negative content about your brand with sentiment analysis are crucial. Managing or responding to reviews and comments will keep your brand trust and sales in check.
With the right strategy, which we will discuss in the following points, you can also use ORM to improve sales with brand visibility, online referrals, and SEO.
2. Brand Visibility
Online reputation management showcases the positive things your brand has to offer, thereby improving your brand visibility. It does this by encouraging reviews of loyal clients, responding to positive reviews, and more.
Do you have a brand or an industry with the same brand name as yours? Another way that ORM can help with your brand visibility is that it can set your brand apart from all your other namesakes. You would not want to be associated with another brand, especially if they have a negative reputation, right? ORM allows users to see your brand by its own merits
For example, Facebook changed its name to Meta. They aim to dominate a developing shared online 3D space called metaverse.
A company as big as Facebook changing its name to Meta will easily overshadow other companies with similar names, such as MetaCompany—even if the said company legally owns the rights to the trademark. Without much clout, MetaCompany turned to online reputation management to send a strong message to Facebook and the rest of the business community in the form of a press release:
As a means to save its brand visibility and reputation, MetaCompany released a clear press statement of its clear register against Facebook allegedly stealing its trademark. It also demanded that Facebook desist from using the Meta trademark while the legal proceedings are ongoing.
Aside from being transparent with their clients and stakeholders, MetaCompany also made a clear effort to disassociate itself from what it claims are Facebook’s unfair business tactics.
MetaCompany now stands out in a sea of companies with the same name, including a bank, a manufacturer of gaming PCs, and a builder of power plants in Thailand. While searching for “meta company” now brings up the company formerly known as Facebook at the top result, with MetaCompany now the second result.
3. Online Referrals
ORM also cooks up strategies, which will make customers refer you to their family or friends.
Online referrals are not something you should ignore. They have higher conversion and retention rates than other marketing channels. More than this, these referred customers are four times more likely to refer you to their family and friends as well!
Choose loyal customers when asking for referrals. Engage with them in a more personalized manner. Some businesses send vouchers or freebies to customers who recommend their brand to others.
Airbnb is an example of a startup company that used efficient online reputation management for boosting online referrals. It relied on its loyal customers and offered freebies, not just for the referrer but also to the referred! This program increased the application booking by 25% and eventually 300%.
Referral programs usually go hand-in-hand with reviews. ORM encourages satisfied customers also to refer the brand to their friends. Their referral program, which provides rewards to consumers, also encourages users to share the app with their friends. Of course, they would not have shared the app if they did not enjoy Airbnb’s services.
Using online reputation management to gain online referrals will not cost you much, but it can create promising results!
4. Search Engine Optimization
By improving your online reputation, ORM also ensures that your business tops the search engine results for all the right reasons. We already know what ranking first on the SERPs would mean to our businesses. ORM improves your presence on search engines. It encourages positive reviews and replies to all positive and negative comments.
It helps you establish a positive online presence by keeping your business listings up and running on sites or apps such as Google My Business, LinkedIn, Indeed, and more. ORM will save your reputation by showcasing your merits if you rank search engines because of negative publicity.
ORM also optimizes your position on the search engines in other ways, such as:
- Creating content
By putting up your business's online presence, you are initiating an engagement and eventually a healthy relationship with your consumers. No business is ever perfect, and as we said, you cannot please everyone.
Efficient online reputation management will save this relationship with your consumers from the negative publicity about you. It gives you all the agency to showcase your business and address criticisms about your business.
Online reputation management is committed to reaching out to your customers. Especially today, when we do most of our activities in the digital space, online reputation management and a strong brand reputation are necessary for your business.