While some would view online reputation management for small businesses as inessential, you don’t have to wait until your business scales up to hone in on your brand image. Besides, growing a small business without a strong brand reputation is virtually impossible, especially not in 2023, when consumers are more digitally equipped.
So what is online reputation management for small businesses, exactly? And is it really that beneficial? Let’s find out.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management for small businesses is the process of monitoring, shaping and protecting how the public perceives your brand. Practically, online reputation management (ORM) entails managing the image of a brand and has various advantages. For instance, you may manage brand reputation to improve customer loyalty, avoid reputational risks, generate reviews, and ultimately, improve online reputation.
Many entrepreneurs mistake small business reputation management with public relations (PR). And while they aren’t the same thing, executing an online reputation management strategy with PR initiatives on the side can bolster your brand image visibility.
The Importance of Online Reputation Management for Small Businesses (Benefits of Brand Reputation Management)
How do small businesses compete with large brands in their community? What can set them apart? The answer: a strong brand reputation. Through small business reputation management, your brand image can become your advantage over your competitors.
Here are more reasons you should manage brand reputation:
Establish your small business as trustworthy. Before visiting a physical store, Google and Ipsos report 83% of American shoppers search online. When you manage brand reputation, you essentially build customer trust that leads to store visits, increasing your small business sales.
Generate reviews. Statista reports that 55% of consumers use search engines, and 33% specifically seek online reviews of products or services they’re interested in purchasing. This means generating reviews is crucial for small businesses, and so does investing in review response management.
Increase brand visibility online. According to Google and Ipsos, four in five shoppers use search engines to check business information. Properly formatted reviews also contribute to search engine optimizations since they are rich in keywords, mentioning your brand and offerings.
Manage reputational risks proactively. We mentioned that ORM means you also avoid reputational risk. It’s impossible to improve online reputation without getting ahead of the risks your small business might encounter. But with ORM, you actively “watch your back” and address issues promptly.
Knowing your target market demands. ORM allows you to keep an eye on the conversation about your brand online. Thus, your small business marketing initiatives are informed. With online reputation management services, your small business is shielded from wasteful marketing efforts.
If you’re looking to improve customer loyalty, all these benefits ultimately lead to that.
How To Get Started With Small Business Reputation Management
So how do you exactly start with online reputation management for small businesses? In this section, we provide a practical online reputation management strategy to get you started.
1. Develop a Brand Guideline
A brand book shifts your purpose, mission and vision into a design. It specifies how an organization should represent itself to the public, including the use of its logo, typography, color choices, photography and other elements. Simply put, it serves as a guide that promotes consistency in the way a brand appears, feels and sounds.
Remember that brand consistency is critical if you want to build customer trust and loyalty. In the next tip, which is an audit, you can use your brand book to see how your team is currently doing in terms of staying on-brand.
Related article: How To Improve Customer Experience With Brand Consistency and Online Reviews
2. Audit Your Online Presence
Even though your small business is relatively new, you’ll still likely find valuable information about your business online. So you should scour the internet and discover what people say about your small business and its offerings. While you’re at it, take note of where the conversations about your business are taking place.
To do this, conduct a branded search by inputting your company name and its offerings on search engines like Google. Similarly, you can also look up the name of your business key personnel. A simple search like this is crucial to developing your online reputation management strategy.
3. Claim Your Listings on Major Directories
You’ll uncover business listings you need to claim during the audit. With this, make sure to prioritize top directories like Google, Facebook, Yelp and Bing since niche or smaller listing websites aggregate information from them. Moreover, claiming your Google Business Profile (GBP) allows your small business to show up accurately on Google Maps.
During the audit, we asked that you take note of where conversations about your brand are happening. So if there are any more directories on your list other than what we mentioned above, claim your listings on those too.
Related article: The Most Important Local Citations You Should Claim
4. Monitor Brand Mentions
You can audit your online presence periodically, but you should monitor brand mentions daily. Doing so lets you stay on top of what your customers say about your brand. You can create a Google Alert for your brand name to receive an email notification every time your brand is mentioned online.
Otherwise, you’ll have to search through online platforms manually. Additionally, there is software like Rize Reviews to automate brand mention monitoring with a single dashboard, saving your time from such a tedious task.
5. Generate Reviews From Customer
Online reputation management for small businesses is not complete without review generation. Gathering feedback demonstrates your willingness to listen and build customer trust. In the same way, reviews are user-generated content (UGC) — UGCs are solid social proof that appeals to customers more since they are from their fellow customers.
There are a lot of ways to generate reviews, one of which is through a website review widget. Through a widget, you can highlight positive reviews for prospects and let customers know where they can leave a review.
6. Turn Your Reviews Into Actionable Insights
Another advantage of gathering customer feedback is that it presents you with actionable insights to improve customer loyalty through an informed strategy. So to improve online reputation, take note of recurring themes mentioned in your customer reviews and commit to resolving any issues. And keep an eye out for marketing opportunities.
For instance, if customers are complaining about a particular feature of your product, you can focus on improving that aspect. When you’re done, let customers know with an update, telling them you hear them.
7. Have a Review Response Management Strategy
A 2021 survey from Kelton Global, a consumer insights and strategy consulting company, found that 88% of consumers are likely to look past a negative review if they see that the business has responded and addressed the issue. Responding to reviews, whether positive or negative, shows that you’re committed to customers.
If you received a review that seems defamatory, you could always consult with the review platform’s guidelines. If you’ve confirmed that the review is against the policy, flag it immediately so it can be removed.
Automate Your Process With Professional Online Reputation Management Services From Rize Reviews
Understandably, small business owners often have limited capacity, such as time and staff; thus, brand reputation management can be a real pain. Fortunately, there are ORM companies like Rize Reviews that offer white-label solutions.
Rize Reviews help small business owners focus on managing their businesses day-to-day operations while our team shapes and protects their brand image. If you want to see how our platform works, book a free demo today.
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