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Sat, Aug

Protecting your online reputation

Mark Hall, managing director of online reputation management consultancy Got Juice, explains why all businesses need to take their online reputation management seriously.

Negative mentions on the internet about your business or its products could hit you hard in the balance sheet, and once the company has a poor online reputation, it could spread like a virus. So you need to take ownership of your online reputation to avoid painful problems down the line.

Over 85% of purchasers research the Web for reviews and feedback before making a purchase, and 70% of potential customers will not make an inquiry if they read negative mentions of a brand or company. Only five percent of purchasers look beyond the first page of search results, showing how vital it is to ensure that bad reviews are kept to a minimum.

So are you in full control of your online reputation? When a customer searches for a your name do the first pages from their online search results should show nothing but positive mentions. If this isn't the case, then you’re losing out on new business.

Quite often companies are faced with disgruntled former members of staff, unprofessional competitors, unhappy customers or - in extreme cases - ex-partners who post unjust and fake Web content in the form of reviews or blog posts. These may go unnoticed by the company for quite some time, and have a devastating effect on new sales. It is important that you search for your company name and brands on a regular basis, and respond with the right action where appropriate.

Gotjuice.co.uk recommends the following strategy if you want to ensure you and your company stays in charge of its online reputation:

Be prepared for the worst

This could be as simple as creating profiles on all review and social platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Yelp, Qype and sites relating your industry. This will ensure you can respond quickly by putting in a process before any negativity gets out of control.

Ask for reviews

When asking for a review its important that you do just that and ask for a review - don't ask for good reviews and don't ask until you have completed the transaction with your customer, otherwise you may appear too needy. Let the customer know that the company takes their opinions and feedback seriously and that you constantly monitor your progress to improve customer satisfaction.

Become a guest author

Create relationships with industry sites and become a guest author. Ideally, the site would feature your author biography and company name, and the higher quality the website the better the chances will be of the content appearing on the front page of search results

Get your name out there with interviews

Seek out interview opportunities or if asked say 'yes'! Any time you have an opportunity to mention your company name in a positive light is worth the while. This could be a blog post, magazine article or even a podcast, which all stand a good chance of appearing in the search results pages

Publish a book on Kindle

This is a little more time-consuming but well worth the effort. Not only will you and your business be seen as an authority which will result in new sales, but thanks to Amazon's authority, your author page and your book for sale page should both rank well in the search results.

Have someone 'own' your online reputation

Allocate responsibility to a team or individual within your business. If you are a larger organisation it may be necessary to have a dedicated spokesperson who has undergone media training so that they can respond to any questions with confidence.

Identify all possible risks

It is good practice to identify all possible risk scenarios that your business could face in times of a reputation crisis.

Identify your brand ambassadors

Having a list of brand ambassadors is a very effective tool for when you need a friendly face to help seed positive press. This could be bloggers, journalists, industry thought leaders and happy customers.

Keep listening

You must always have an ear to the ground and listen out for both negative and positive comments. Visit review platforms, search on Google News, check results from major search engines, as well as analyse the latest content from Twitter. This can be time-consuming so you may wish to consider the likes of the Got Juice Reputation management portal to oversee this for you.

Budget for your reputation

You may need to issue press releases, pay for advertising or engage with an online reputation management company should a serious negative issue arise. Bad press, a damning newspaper article, or one-star rating on page one of search results can really harm your business. Negative reviews, are difficult to remove, so it is well worth preventing these before they happen.

Run a good business

The easiest way to ensure you don't receive negative mentions is to simply run a good business and ensure you have a process in place to gain new reviews. By offering high quality, great service and good value customers will promote you, and you will reap the benefits.

When you run a good business the greatest compliment you can ever receive is quite simply “I love working with you”. When you gain this level of admiration from customers, it propels your business to dizzy new heights, not only because they will provide you with business time and time again, but also because they have become an advocate or brand ambassador for your company and will quite tell happily promote you and refer you to one and all.

Find the love

Here are eight golden rules for getting customers to love your business, your products and your service. Master these and you won’t have a negative reputation problem.

  •  Always make building the relationship more important than making the sale.
  •  Seek out opportunities for the customer to buy, rather than opportunities for you to sell.
  •  Have meaningful engaging conversations and never give a sales pitch.
  • Show interest and become curious about the customer as a person and let the friendship evolve from that.
  •  Don't try to be a superhero - the silver bullet approach can be left to the cowboys and the pushy sales people.
  • Believe in your heart that you and your business are the best at what you do and always be seeking out new ways to improve your customer service and retention.
  • Always deliver exactly what you promised the customer, no if's and no but's.
  • Never ever take a customer for granted - it can take 15 years to gain someone's trust and 15 seconds to lose it.

 

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