Online reputation management is an uphill battle for every small business. In a June 2008 study conducted by Opinion Research Corp., 83% of consumers say online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions. It seems that the Internet’s ability to connect consumers has proven its staying power.
In a market where word of mouth and online reviews weigh heavily on consumer minds, small businesses need to be proactive in making sure customers (old and new) have access to fair representations of your services. While there is no simple solution for curing online reputation woes, there are a few things you can do to help your business take matters into your own hands.
Have Follow-Up Conversations
Posting reviews from customers on your business’s website will help promote your company’s industry leading services while simultaneously combating negative reviews posted on sites like Yelp. Placing positive, yet realistic (and most importantly authentic) reviews will also assist in cultivating a positive brand image to potential customers …which will ultimately lead to higher conversion rates.
How do you solicit customer reviews? Most likely your business employs a tracking system that maintains a log of jobs or services rendered as well as customer contact information for those that use your business. Utilize this asset to extract contact information (*TIP: e-mail is normally the most effective means of reaching customers) and send out surveys asking for feedback after a good or service has been delivered. Just asking “How would you rate our service? Please provide any feedback you have” will give some customers the push they need to write you back.
After you’ve received feedback, choose the best responses and follow up with those individuals. If they give positive feedback, ask them if they’d be willing to write a testimonial or online review. On the other hand, if your customer wrote a great description and offered some wonderful praise ask them if they wouldn’t mind having their experience shared on your website. If they’re hesitant, offer the condition of anonymity.
What’s even better than a written testimonial? A testimonial video. Videos break up content-heavy pages on your website, but, more importantly videos draw attention and provide visual affirmation about your company’s services. Webcams are now attached to most laptops, making video testimonials more accessible than ever— so don’t miss out on this great opportunity. When you can sit and watch someone talk about their experience it’s more personable, and you want customers to think “Oh, wow—I could be this happy too, I am going to use this company!” Compliment one or two well written reviews on your high conversion pages by putting a video on these pages too!
Optimize Your Keywords
If you have a website, you probably have an SEO package installed—or, at least, you should. If your website is hosted by WordPress, I recommend the “All in One SEO Package.” There are many different SEO packages for each website host, and within all of these programs you can define “keywords” that help associate specific webpages with Google and Bing searches. Keyword optimization will drive more targeted traffic to your website through search result rankings. If you want to communicate how great your customer service is, then include keywords associated with that phrase in the webpage content and your keyword optimization tool. For instance, if your company offers moving services, your title tag could be “You Deserve the Best Mover with the Best Customer Service. Choose (Insert Name of Company)”—hint: always include your main keyword(s) in your page title.
Ideally, when someone searches for a mover on Google your webpage will rank high on the search results and along with the page title potential customers will see—“best customer service.” But, don’t forget that you have to back this claim up on that webpage, so include a few great customer reviews on the page!
Connect on Social Media
Another great way to manage your online reputation is to actively engage with your customers on social media. Use your business Facebook page as an opportunity for customers to share their experiences, and if someone posts a question make sure to respond to them ASAP. This alone will show other visitors that you are responsive and focused on helping the customer. Make sure you link your social media accounts and provide hyperlinks on your page to drive traffic to your website as well.
You can’t control everything being said online about your company, but you can (and SHOULD!) counteract the effects of negative reviews on websites like Yelp by posting your own reviews and making sure that your website and social accounts rank at the top of search results.
Keep tabs on your company—you can even set up a Google Alert for your business’s name to receive up to date information if someone posts something about your company. When it comes to online reputation management, ignorance is not bliss. By taking advantage of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to improving your company’s reputation!
Tara Chila, blogger for Transit Systems, Inc., writes mostly about moving, business, house & home, kids, and parenting. Transit Systems specializes in a variety of long distance moving and shipping services including furniture shipping.