Maintaining your online image is a full-time job.
Keeping up with user comments, reviews, and messages—especially if you have multiple profiles to manage—can be exhausting. Yet, it’s necessary to know what people are saying about your business.
In fact, according to a report from Edelman, when researching a new product or service online, 64% of customers trust search engine results. In other words, what people see in search results regarding your business matters a lot.
Two words that often pop up when it comes to a business’s online presence are review management and reputation management.
But what exactly are they?
They may sound the same, but they are two different components that play important roles in how a business manages its image online.
In this article, we’re diving into why both review management and reputation management are essential to driving sales, foot traffic, and the overall success of your business.
What is review management?
No question reviews play a critical role in the decision-making process of customers.
But what does it mean to manage your reviews?
Review management involves the monitoring and responding of reviews your customers leave on various channels you’ve created for your business, like Google Reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and more.
According to a report from BrightLocal, 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. What’s more, a report from Yotpo found that 43% of customers trust text over photos or videos.
Having a strategy that details how your business responds to all types of reviews is key to positive review management.
Responding to negative reviews
The truth is, not everyone is going to have something positive to say about your business. Negative reviews can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not careful. You can’t control what people choose to write in their reviews. However, you can control how your business responds to negative reviews.
Take this interaction from Hungry Howie’s Pizza, for example:
The company handled the interaction well by apologizing and acknowledging the customer’s poor experience. But any brand can issue an apology; what makes this response great is the solution offered at the end. This shows both the customer in question and other potential customers that Hungry Howie’s cares about their experience and wants to make things right.
Negative reviews give you the opportunity to show that you care about your customers’ experience and that you are committed to righting the wrong (even if you did not do anything wrong). Learning to see negative reviews as a chance to show you care can be an excellent catalyst for your business.
Responding to positive and neutral reviews
In the same vein, neutral and positive reviews must also be approached with care.
The same Hungry Howie’s demonstrates the importance of responding to positive feedback, too:
Responding to both neutral and positive reviews shows that you care about all your customers and that you aren’t just paying attention to the negative comments.
What is reputation management?
Review management is just one part of your overall image online. On the other hand, reputation management is how your brand or business is perceived online as a whole, in addition to reviews.
It’s a culmination of your presence online—from what your customers say about you to the content you produce and share online.
This includes variables like:
- Overall online presence
- Reviews and ratings
- Social media channels
- Articles and news sources
Excellent reputation management involves not only knowing how best to react to what people and your customers say about you but also knowing when and how to respond or to flag a review.
There are several components to successful reputation management:
- Be transparent
- Make timeliness a priority
- Learn from your mistakes
Successful reputation management also involves assessing your presence beyond your dedicated channels, both online and offline, such as your SEO efforts and word of mouth marketing. We’ll touch more on how to improve your local SEO later.
Having a holistic understanding of how your business is perceived online is the first step in successful reputation management, and can help you get discovered online faster.
Why are both important for your business?
Both review management and reputation management are essential components of a positive online brand image. A strong online presence involves the management of both your designated review channels and other avenues customers may use to discuss your brand. In short, you can’t have one without the other.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why both review and reputation management are essential for any business.
Create opportunities for consistency
A strong online presence involves being consistent across every channel—from your website to how you respond to user comments and messages. If your brand comes across as disjointed, it can hurt your brand as a whole.
What does consistency look like in action?
Templated review responses
This is one of the best (and easiest) ways to protect your brand from inconsistencies and from saying anything you shouldn’t say.
For example, Delta Airlines uses Twitter to streamline customer service inquiries. When responding to a customer, they use a templated response that asks for information like the customer’s confirmation number, flight routing, and other details to ensure they have everything they need to help.
This way, Delta confirms they’re helping the right customer, and subsequently can help more customers at a faster rate.
Frequent channel monitoring
Keeping tabs on every channel can be overwhelming. From checking each channel regularly to responding to customer complaints, reviews, and questions, it’s a lot. Hiring a team to do the heavy lifting for you can be the best option.
Hiring a team to monitor these channels ensures consistency. It also takes the pressure off you and your team to dedicate the time needed to support dependable reputation management.
Improve your local SEO
As mentioned above, reputation management and review management play a role in your search visibility (local search ranking) online. Because most customers start their search online, typically using the keyword combination of [service] + [location], it’s imperative that your online properties, like your Google My Business (GMB) listing and website, are optimized for this search.
Reviews and your overall online reputation influence your local SEO ranking, like so:
When people search for your business specifically or a term related to your business (e.g., pizza near me), the first thing they’ll see is Google the top three results from Google, as well as the Google Map. They’ll also see results for sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and more.
Therefore, optimizing your website as well as other channels like your Google My Business listing for local search is critical. Reviews and accurate information on your Google My Business listing also help you show up in Google’s “local three-pack” results (or the first three results on the SERP), which boosts your discoverability. GMB listings are a critical part of showing up in Google’s local pack, so it’s important to make sure that it is always up to date and consistent.
It’s imperative to keep all your channels uniform, especially if you have more than one location.
Gain a big picture understanding of how your customers view your business
Rankings and reviews aside, it’s vital to know how your business is viewed from a bird’s eye view perspective. If you aren’t sure how your brand is being received on a comprehensive level, how will you know what changes you need to make or if you’re doing right by your customers?
This level of self-awareness is essential to make reputation-related decisions as well as how your efforts (both in-store and online) are performing.
Across your channels, pay attention to things like:
- Direct and indirect customer sentiment
- Shares, likes, and comments
In addition to reviews and social media, a great way to understand how your customers view your business is to send out a survey. It’s best to keep your survey short but not too short that it yields no valuable information. Also, be sure to send it out after a customer visits your store or makes a purchase, so the experience is fresh.
Review management and reputation management go hand-in-hand
How your business is perceived online has a direct impact on its growth. However, you can’t control what people say about your business.
Review management and reputation management are critical to maintaining a positive image and ensuring that your customers are heard, no matter what they have to say.
Curious about how an online reputation management service can help your business? Contact us today to schedule a demo.