The growth of the internet and digital marketing has heralded the practice of Online Reputation Management. In 2020, it is set to become one of the biggest trends in digital marketing with people’s buying decisions directly influenced by the information they find online.
Until recently, most businesses hadn’t focused too much on their online reputation with their attention on building their digital marketing. However, with the rise of user-generated content in social media, search engines and 3rd party sites, businesses are realising the importance of taking control of their online reputation.
What do you see when you search online?
Your online reputation is how people perceive your brand when they search for and find your business on the web. With increasing levels of user-generated content influencing other customers’ perceptions, businesses are prioritising efforts to enhance and protect their image.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) focuses on the management of content in search results and social media. Customer experience indicators, such as ratings and reviews, have become central to a brand’s online reputation. Businesses carefully monitor and manage these customers’ interactions across the web to ensure that they create a positive impression.
Smart businesses know they must be easily found in search engines, as well as build trust at these touch points in the customer journey, earning a positive online reputation in the process.
Can online content impact your bottom line?
Websites, business listings and directories, social media and search results are just some of the channels where customers find a business or brand online. Their customer journey can connect them with many different touch points of your brand, some owned and some user-generated. During the process they are forming crucial impressions, which will determine their purchasing behaviour.
A 2019 study into consumer reviews on local businesses found online reputation heavily impacts buying behaviour.
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
- The average consumer reading 10 reviews before trusting a business.
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 82% of consumers will be deterred by negative reviews.
- Positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to purchase from a business.
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
- 4 to 4.5 star businesses earn the highest average revenue.
Is your online reputation giving you a competitive edge?
Your online reputation can be one of the most important sources of competitive advantage. It can determine whether a business meets its objectives. This is especially so for local businesses in industries such as hospitality, retail and services who rely heavily on customers rating their experience highly and writing a positive review.
Businesses have always depended heavily on a positive reputation, something that is largely out of their control and based purely on the individual opinions of people. Before the internet, local businesses that attracted a lot of new customers through referrals thrived. Today’s online review culture is the equivalent of word-of-mouth.
How does ORM shape image and reputation?
Prior to the internet, consumers had very few ways to learn about a company and mostly relied on traditional media, such as print, outdoor and radio, Yellow Pages and word of mouth. It’s much the same today, except consumers have the loudest voices in channels that are online and omnipresent, sharing opinions openly on social media, blogs and review sites.
The practice of Public Relations (PR) was introduced to help businesses influence public perception and thereby shape image and reputation. PR agencies use events, campaigns and sponsorships, as well as print media, building relationships with journalists who were once the main source of media content. These traditional reputation management practices are still used, but businesses are focusing their strategy on digital.
Can businesses effectively manage their online reputation?
There are a number of ways businesses can proactively influence what information people will find online.
As part of the Online Reputation Management process, businesses must monitor content on the internet and address content which is potentially damaging. SEO can elevate positive content, as well as suppress and counter negative search results.
Social media is an element in Online Reputation Management strategy. Pages and profiles on social media create additional channels for people to interact with your business so it’s important to keep content fresh and up-to-date, as well as engage in conversations with followers.
Customer feedback campaigns are also an important part of the process and tools, such as Orbit are making it easy. Feedback collected can catch customer complaints before any damage is done. Equally so, it provides Online Reputation Managers with a good opportunity to take complaints offline and resolve problems. Happy customers identified in the survey process can be encouraged to share their great feedback in an online review, which means businesses are increasing the volume of reviews online, which is great for SEO.
What can ORM do for your business?
Your reputation is the beliefs or opinions that people generally hold about your business. These attitudes and perceptions of you are being shaped by the experiences they have online. The techniques used in Online Reputation Management ensure that when people are searching for you, the content they find encourages them to purchase from your business.
Overall, Online Reputation Management helps businesses take control of the online conversation and put their best foot forward.