When it comes to building a brand or establishing a business, a lot of business owners tend to go all out with their marketing, which is not a bad thing at all. However, if you’re running a business, you could be doing all the right things to market it, but still come up short in terms of attracting new customers. In most cases, there is one thing that can help rectify this and boost your marketing efforts, along with sales – online reputation management.

What is online reputation management (ORM), and why is it important?

Simply put, your business’ online reputation is how the public perceives your business and its level of quality and service on the internet, and ORM is the process that you put in place to manage it. Here’s why it’s extremely important to manage your online reputation:

  • When it comes to finding information about businesses, 65% of people trust online searches more than anything else.
  • 91% of online adults use search engines to find information.
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.
  • For every 1 star increase in Yelp ratings, businesses see an increased revenue of 5-9%.

What these statistics tell us is that whenever people want to buy a product or avail a service, their primary source of information is the internet. Furthermore, most purchase decisions are based on public feedback, i.e., ratings and reviews, so it’s quite clear that you need to be focusing on improving your online ratings if you want more customers choosing your business over your competitors’. In this article, we’re going to discuss the four main steps you should take to do just that.

#1 Get Listed

Before you start worrying about increasing your star ratings, you need to make sure that people can rate your business in the first place. In other words, you cannot let people know about your business’ stellar service if they can’t even find it online. In order to avoid such a situation, you need to make sure that your business is listed in all the relevant places online.

This includes search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), online business directories (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.), social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), and other niche-specific listing sites (here’s a list). Make sure that your business is listed in all the relevant sites, and that you also provide up-to-date information and rich data (such as images, walk-in videos, catalogues, etc.). Most importantly, you need to make sure that your business details are accurate and consistent across all these directories and websites. This is extremely important for two reasons:

  • Inconsistent business information across various sites affects your local organic rankings.
  • Incorrect information negatively affects your business’ rankings and user experience when it comes to ‘near me’ searches, which could possibly lead to negative reviews from disgruntled customers who, say, called you on the incorrectly listed phone number only to find that it was a wrong number, or drove all the way to your business only to find that it was closed today, while the listing mentioned that it was open.

If you feel like getting your business information listed on all these sites manually is too cumbersome a task, you can even automate it by using a listings management tool like this one. Once you’ve listed your business across all relevant sites, you can even take it one step further by placing ‘review us on’, ‘rate us on’, or ‘find us on’ cards like the one shown below. These can act as visual cues for customers to rate and review your business. Notice that the image below has a QR code as well. Incorporating QR codes in your stickers or cards can make it even more easier for customers to review your business, since all they need to do is scan the code to land up at the specific review page.

#2 Actively Respond To Reviews

One of the best ways to positively influence customer ratings and reviews is to actively respond to them. Statistics show that 52% of customers expect brands to respond to their reviews online. This makes it clear that customers want brands to be more engaging, and listen to what they have to say.

Above all, responding to online reviews, be it positive or otherwise, shows them that you care about their opinions, and are willing to take their feedback seriously. It also gives you a good chance to avert any repercussions that might occur due to negative feedback, and maybe even turn it into a positive experience for the customer.

#3 Stay Active On Social Media

User engagement has a direct impact on the number of reviews and ratings your business receives. On that front, there is no doubt that engaging with your customers and followers on social media has a huge effect on public perception, number of brand mentions, and reviews. People love to see witty, engaging content from brands everyday, and a lot of them end up sharing these posts and/or following the brand. For example, take a look at how Charmin took it’s brand presence on Twitter to a whole new level through witty posts, and amassed more than 81K followers. Here are a few more examples on how you can use social media engagement to better your brand perception and garner more positive reviews and mentions.

#4 Review Generation

You can also look at using an online review generation wizard to start gathering more ratings and reviews for your business. This will automate the process by letting you send a feedback request after a customer makes a purchase. As soon as the customer provides the feedback, they will be prompted to post it as a review on a site of your choice. This is a great way to remind your customers to review your business, increase the number of reviews that you get, and also improve your ratings online.

To Wrap It Up

The four steps that we discussed above, if diligently followed, can lead to a substantial increase in your business’ reviews online, and along with it, your star rating. However, these are just the pillars in your ORM strategy. The foundation is, and will always be, a customer’s experience with your brand or business. With that in mind, focus on providing a great customer experience, and see your star ratings automatically improve.

Apart from this, focusing on ORM also helps improve your business’ local SEO, since it betters your review signals, which are important when it comes to organic local SERP rankings. This is especially helpful if you’re running a local business. You need a solid Local SEO strategy, and ORM needs to be an integral part of it. If you’re unsure of what else your local SEO strategy should include, here’s a checklist that you can use.