Most people today search for information online before engaging with a business, making search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing indispensable marketing strategies for modern companies.
But what ties into these two practices is another essential area of digital marketing: online reputation management (ORM). In this guide, we define ORM, its uses and how it dovetails with your local SEO strategy to boost overall web presence.
What Is ORM?
ORM is the practice of monitoring brand mentions in the digital space. Its purpose is tracking customer feedback and letting the brand respond to build a strong customer relationship. More importantly, ORM helps identify negative posts, comments and reviews that companies can respond to and resolve promptly to save their reputation.
Customer testimonials can be good or bad. In particular, each negative review and feedback (organic or intentional) amplifies the negative perception. Without ORM, a damaged reputation can result in customer attrition and considerable financial losses.
ORM has four functions:
- Protecting the brand or person by mitigating future reputational risks.
- Monitoring mentions on review sites and other web properties.
- Identifying problems and activating the crisis management plan to resolve an issue.
- Using a variety of reputation recovery strategies to maintain a positive image.
The concept of ORM is multi-faceted and involves these activities:
- Public relations
- Customer relations
- Digital marketing
- SEO strategies
Large organizations often have an in-house enterprise-level reputation management team, although some use third-party ORM services. Meanwhile, SMEs can leverage the expertise of a local SEO strategy and online reputation specialist to control their brand’s online narrative.
Why Local Businesses Need Online Reputation Management
As more people rely on the internet for sources of information, more local businesses realize the importance of having a local SEO strategy. Also of utmost importance is using ORM services to prevent damaged reputation and keeping a positive brand image.
Here are the top reasons why you need to know what is ORM and how it helps you.
1. Reputation Damage Control
Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Certain circumstances may arise that, when made public, can damage reputation. Without an ORM strategy, professionals and businesses may be unaware that their image has taken a hit until it’s too late.
On social media, for example, many frustrated consumers make negative posts. Likewise, brands that fail to meet expectations may receive negative feedback on review sites. On eCommerce sites like Amazon, products may receive bad ratings and reviews.
According to ReviewTrackers, 94 percent of consumers said they had avoided a business because of a bad review. If one negative feedback can turn away many potential customers, imagine how much worse it would be if there were many bad reviews.
ORM can help brands and professionals avoid losing customers. Reputation management specialists, for instance, use advanced tools to track brand mentions. Upon spotting a problem, they respond and resolve the issue before it goes out of control.
2. Enhance Brand Reputation
Building a positive brand image is one of the reasons why local businesses need ORM services.
In the last year, 99 percent of consumers have used the internet to find information about a local business and 93 percent will read reviews to determine their quality. Online reviews can therefore significantly influence buyer decision-making.
It makes sense that brands want to make a positive impression because it correlates with higher customer engagements. For instance, 72 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a local business with positive reviews. At the same time, 72 percent will only take action after reading a positive review. In other words, having a positive brand reputation helps increase leads and conversions.
3. Service Recovery Paradox
Negative online reviews can amplify the negative perception surrounding a brand. Therefore, professionals and companies need an effective ORM strategy to negate the bad rap. The good news is that ORM services can also turn negativity into a competitive advantage.
According to Lee Resource, 70 percent of consumers will do business again if the brand resolved their issues in their favor. Moreover, 95 percent will do business again if the brand fixes the customers’ problems instantly.
The White House Office of Consumer Affairs also reported nearly the same numbers. For example, 56 to 70 percent of customers who complain will do business again if the brand resolves their problem. If they feel the brand acted quickly and are satisfied, 96 percent will do business again and probably refer others to the brand.
This phenomenon gave rise to the service recovery paradox theory that suggests customers who had a bad experience but received a prompt and effective response to their problems will be more loyal customers than those with no bad experience.
“A 5 percentincrease in customer retention produces more than a 25 percent increase in profit,” said Fred Reichheld, the business strategist known for his research on loyalty marketing and loyalty business model and the creator of the Net Promoter System.
Reichheld elaborated that return customers buy more over time. As they do, the cost of operations to serve them declines. They also help a brand generate more business through referrals.
4. Collect Invaluable Market Insight
Monitoring reviews, posts and comments are core ORM activities. While its primary function is to identify negativities, it also presents two benefits.
Consumers love engaging with brands, with 83 percent expecting companies to respond to their comments on social media within a day or less. Responding to the audience is a great way to develop a stronger customer relationship and forge brand loyalty.
Based on the feedback gathered – both good and bad – brands can gain insight into:
- How they compare to the competition
- How their customers feel and what they have experienced
- What consumers think a brand could do more
- What other things do the consumers want
Market feedback lets professionals and businesses improve their value proposition and services. It may also allow opportunities for growth, such as providing a new product or service. In this regard, ORM can help an entity strengthen its brand positioning.
10 Proven ORM Strategies for Local Business Marketing
You can rely on Google Alerts set up to monitor certain keywords like a brand name. But to track mentions more efficiently, it is best to use professional ORM services. Upon finding customer feedback, here are the things you need to know before responding:
1. Respond Promptly and Empathize
Not all customers leave a negative review whenever they encounter a problem. Instead, many of them reach out to customer support first. Such being the case, companies must reply as soon as possible.
Being respectful and courteous are the norms in any customer engagement. But the staff must also empathize with customers to make them feel understood, which can help ease some of the frustration.
2. Never Argue
Considering that 96 percent of customers leave because of a bad customer service experience, the last thing a company wants is to have one of their staff arguing with customers. Remember that the goal is to fix the problem, not sacrifice your local business marketing efforts.
Customer service and support are among the most challenging jobs one can do. While a company may have a policy on never arguing with customers, emotions are not easy to control. The position is highly stressful as the staff has to deal with all sorts of negativities, including unreasonable, rude and angry customers. So the company must invest in employees’ continuous training and mental health care.
3. Use Names Instead of Generic Salutations
Use names when responding to reviews because it sounds more personal. The complainant and others who see your response interpret your message as empathic and caring.
4. Say Thank You
Customer feedback can be positive, negative or neutral. Regardless, try to begin by saying thank you. It is your way of showing you appreciate and value their candid review.
- Thank you for your [review/feedback].
- Thank you for bringing this to [our/my] attention.
- Thank you for letting [us/me] know about this.
5. Empathize and Apologize
Rather than being defensive, put yourself in the shoes of the complainants and understand how they feel. Own up to shortcomings and say sorry. This way, you can let people know they can trust you.
- [We/I] apologize for the inconvenience.
- [We are/I am] sorry that our service did not satisfy your expectations.
- [We are/I am] sorry that your experience was unsatisfactory.
6. Take Responsibility
No matter how great your products and services are, you cannot please everyone. So even if the issue is not your fault, never be defensive or make excuses. Instead, acknowledge the problem and reassure the reviewer that you hold yourself accountable and are committed to high standards.
- “We strive to deliver a great experience and regret not meeting your expectations. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We will use your feedback to review and improve our service to ensure it does not happen again.”
- “Thank you for posting this review. We are sorry to hear that our service was not up to standard. So we will use this matter as an opportunity to investigate and determine how to resolve this issue best as soon as possible.”
7. Avoid Cookie-Cutter Responses
While two or more customers may have the same issues, remember that everyone is unique. In other words, they may have different perceptions of the same problem. As such, address each complainant by considering nuances that may matter. For example, include details of the complainant’s experience and let them know what you have done or how you plan to resolve it.
8. Ask for Second Chance
Extending a hand and inviting the customer to return accomplishes two things. First, it lets you change the narrative from negative to positive. Second, it lets the complainant know you are confident in delivering the best customer service and experience.
9. Use a Chatbot
Make it easy for customers to get help, advice and communicate. One way to do that is to use a chatbot. Consumers generally do not like to wait if they have a question or complaint. If they cannot find help from the company, they are more likely to leave a negative review or post their grievances on their social media accounts.
A chatbot helps reduce response time and can answer up to 80 percent of typical questions. Furthermore, it can help a company save up to 30 percent of customer support costs. Like other communication channels, though, it is not a one-stop solution. For complex issues that require human intervention, a chatbot helps keep customers engaged, making them feel cared for or heard.
10. Adopt an Online Reputation Management Strategy
Today, most grievances made public are online. So while a social media presence may provide digital marketing opportunities, it is also where many companies receive negative comments and posts. Product pages and review sites are other channels where people may leave negative feedback. Adopting an ORM strategy is the best way to mitigate those reputational risks and protect yourself.
How ORM Helps Local Businesses
In local business marketing, one of the things you want to do is to establish a strong social media presence. It is not only a great place to market your products and services but also to connect and engage with the audience.
Ideally, customers who are satisfied with your service can post positive feedback, which you can use as customer testimonials to attract more sales. But if a customer had a bad experience, you might get a negative review. So at the very least, some companies have Google Alerts set up to track their brand mentions. This way, they will know whenever they are mentioned and can respond accordingly.
To fully protect yourself from a damaged reputation, call 866.325.0303 to contact Rize and learn more about what is ORM and how to gain more followers and positive reviews to repair or boost your brand image.