Your 7-Step Guide to Better Reputation Management

reputation management

An astounding 97% of consumers read reviews before deciding to purchase. It goes without saying that companies lose sales when they aren’t on top of their online reputation management. The Internet landscape is radically different from what it was a few years ago.

Companies can no longer sit back and ignore bad reviews and still sell products. Consumers are expressing their opinions in powerful ways. And companies must regularly interact with customers to stay relevant.

Whether your organization is big or small, people are talking about you. Do you know what they’re saying? If you don’t like it, do you know how to change it?

Companies that do not consider the thoughts, opinions, and voices of their customers won’t survive. That’s why it’s so important to know how to manage your company’s reputation.

And that’s where reputation management comes in.

This 7-step online reputation management guide for small businesses will show you everything you need to know to ensure your online reputation brings more customers in rather than driving them away.

We’ll also talk a bit about the importance of reputation management and what a reputation management service can do for your business.

Now, let’s jump in.

Table of Contents

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What Is Online Reputation Management?

Once companies started to realize that customer opinions drive sales, they needed a strategy for overcoming negative PR. In comes online reputation management (ORM). This is the process of creating strategies to influence the public perception of an entity. A successful ORM strategy will drive public opinion about a business or individual in a positive direction.

In simple terms, it’s the process of controlling how customers perceive your brand. If it’s negative, online reputation management consists of improving that perception.

No matter the size of your organization, you will benefit from understanding the ORM process.

Why Is Reputation Management Important?

Before we jump into the reputation management guide, let’s take a look at just a few stats to show why reputation management is so vital to the success of your business.

Ranking High on Google Matters

The more reviews your business has, the higher you will rank on Google (all other factors being equal).

And here’s why that matters:

  • Google controls 92% of all search engine traffic
  • 90% of people don’t scroll past page #1 to decide and form first impressions.
  • 64% of consumers trust online search engines the most when they’re conducting online research.

First Impressions with Customers Matters

Most of the time, potential customers will look at reviews long before they decide to buy from you.

Take a look:

  • 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their buying decisions!
  • 90% of consumers take the time to read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before even trusting a business.

Managing Your Online Reputation Matters

Negative reviews can cripple your business.

And the numbers here don’t lie:

  • You risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results, 70% with four or more negatives.
  • 70% of consumers avoid buying a product if they don’t trust the company behind it.
  • 1 in 3 businesses (31%) says negative reviews have damaged their business.

The 7-Step Online Reputation Management Guide

So, how do you identify what your customers are saying and take steps to correct negative reviews?

Here are seven steps to get you started.

respond to reviews

1. Find Out What People Are Saying

You can’t manage a bad reputation if you are unaware that there is one.

So, what are customers saying about your brand? Managing your reputation is more than reacting to reviews. It would be best if you decided whether to respond at all – and when.

At times, comments don’t need a reaction. At other times, not responding could cost you your business.

In order to determine what’s appropriate, you need to monitor your public reputation regularly. Knowing your reputation in and out prepares you for dealing with specific events in the future.

This starts with social media monitoring. Monitoring social media is done manually (by searching through social platforms) or professionally (with tools designed to comb platforms for mentions).

2. Respond Carefully

Improving your online reputation begins with a well-thought-out response plan. And, it’s even easier if you have the right reputation management tool.

Should a negative review, comment, or tweet pop up about your company, it’s essential to know the steps you will take next. Don’t respond at the moment but know the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for monitoring your company’s mentions?
  • Who will determine which comments warrant a response?
  • Who decides which position your company will take regarding the issue(s) in question?
  • Who will respond?

The answers to this question are easy if you are the one monitoring your online presence. If your team is larger than that, you need to know the answers to make the process clear.

3. Handle Negativity with Grace

reputation management

When you receive a negative review or an unfairly rude tweet, it’s too easy to respond rapidly or ignore it.

If you ignore it, it won’t go away. Content posted online can stick around for a long time. Responding in a tactful way gives you a chance to recover.

Most customers agree that the right approach to a negative review is polite, professional, and friendly. And your tone is also important. Keep calm and stick to the issue at hand.

It’s important that your customers know you’re listening. Make them see that you’re taking their review seriously. If you play the right cards, you can turn these opportunities into positive interactions.

4. Leverage the Complaints

The age-old saying is, “the customer is always right.”

Of course, this isn’t always true, but there is a lesson to be learned from the sentiment.

Even if you disagree with the bad review, you should closely examine what the customer is saying. What made them feel so strongly that they shared their negative experiences on the internet? What could I have done to change their outlook?

Your brand is only as good as people say it is. If there are people that think it’s suffering for any reason, it probably is.

Treat every negative comment as a learning experience and grow while building your online reputation.

5. Encourage Kind Reviews

Especially do not ignore the good reviews, either! It’s in your best interest to respond to positive reviews. It makes customers who write reviews feel good, but it also encourages others to share their positive experiences.

It’s possible to generate more positive buzz by monitoring your online profiles. Share content and ask for feedback. Ask customers to leave positive reviews if they have a good experience.

If you’re confident in your brand and products, you should feel confident asking customers how they feel. Don’t be shy – you’re likely to get more positive reviews if you actively pursue them.

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6. Follow Through

Don’t forget to follow through with promises you make in responses to positive and negative reviews.

If you said you’d contact a customer for more information, give them a call. If you offer a discount for bad service, make sure they received it.

You are making offers online, which is considered in public. If you don’t follow through and a customer leaves a second poor review, that is devastating to your business. People are watching, and they want to know how the story ends.

Don’t think of this as a chore. Consider it an opportunity to inspire real change within your organization. It will only serve you positively in the long run.

7. Measure Progress

Speaking of the long run, don’t forget to measure your progress. The goal of online reputation management is to improve your reputation. You can’t improve it without tracking your progress.

Use monitoring tools to gather analytics. Check your scores on review sites to double-check that you’re moving in the right direction.

Be proud of the work you’ve done. Celebrate with the data to prove it.

Online Reputation Meter

What Are Reputation Management Services?

While this reputation management guide is a great start, many business owners, unfortunately, won’t have the time or the experience to follow through with each step effectively.

Efforts will be pushed aside for more pressing problems. Reviews (both positive and negative) will go unanswered. And the public perception of your business will ultimately suffer.

That’s where reputation management services come in.

With these services, you can hand off the entire reputation management process to a professional provider.

The benefits here are twofold:

  1. More Time – When you partner with a reputation management service, you don’t have to worry about spending hours every week auditing your brand reputation, responding to reviews across hundreds of sites, or asking satisfied customers to post reviews. Instead, a qualified and experienced professional does it all for you.
  2. Better Results – Starting, managing your online reputation on your own means it’ll take longer for you to achieve the results you’re looking for (e.g., rising in Google’s rankings, turning around bad reviews). Equally importantly, managing your reputation ineffectively can actually cause more problems. Working with a professional service lets you bypass those problems entirely since these services typically leverage a wealth of experience and expertise in the field. And for you, that means better results… faster.

How Much Does Reputation Management Cost?

That depends on the level of service you require.

For instance, if you’re just looking for a comprehensive reputation management tool you can use to handle it all yourself, expect to spend anywhere from $80-$200 per month.

If you want to partner with a professional to manage your online reputation for you, you can spend anywhere from $200-$10,000 per month. Pricing factors that come into play here include how extensive the service is and the size of your business.

It’s worth noting here that you should be careful about choosing options that are too cheap.

Reputation management is a crucial part of the success of any business. And leaving the future of your company in incapable hands can lead to serious problems.

What Is the Best Online Reputation Management Company?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all company that’s perfect for every business. And that means you may have to do a little bit of work finding the right one for you.

Try to find one that’s:

Experienced and has been managing online reputations for at least several years.
Knowledgeable and knows how the many different reputation management factors play into search engine rankings.
Flexible and offers both professional management services and the tools that let DIY business owners handle their reputation management on their own.

For businesses in the St. Louis area or across the entire US, Studio C5 offers comprehensive reputation management services and tools along with simple, flexible, and predictable pricing.

Plus, we’ve been helping businesses like yours improve their online rankings and reputation for well over a decade.

Take Control of Your Online Reputation Management

Your online reputation doesn’t come out of thin air. It is built by customers who are talking about your brand. By controlling your reputation from the beginning, you can make sure your company is represented in the right light.

Make online reputation management a key focus of your business. Get ahead by investing in the right reputation management tool, then start planning ahead by setting goals and committing to drive success.

If you have questions, we’d love to help. Please request a free consultation today so we can empower you with what you need to get ahead and on top of your online reputation. It matters!

Also, consider our free Local SEO Health Audit report. It includes a reputation management assessment amongst other beneficial data to help you optimize your domain to help your business grow!