Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | December 29, 2018

3 Steps for Protecting your Online Brand Reputation

41% of companies that experienced a negative reputation event reported loss of brand value and revenue. Online brand reputation has grown to play a vital role in the consumer decision-making process and can be tied directly to the successes and failures of businesses.

Everything a customer sees and reads about your brand online via social media, review sites and your local listings has a direct influence on whether or not they decide to visit your business. For companies with brick and mortar locations, the ability to convey trust through online channels is now one of the keys to turning more online searchers into in-store customers.

Your online reputation speaks louder than your advertisements

83% of buyers no longer trust advertising while 78% trust recommendations from their online peers. Today’s customer has come to care less about what brands have to say about themselves and care more about what their fellow consumers have to say.

Customers no longer have to rely on a brand’s advertising to decide whether or not a business is a good match for their needs. Thanks to sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter, they have all of the information they need to make a quick and confident decision about which stores to trust, which stores will provide a great experience and ultimately which store they should visit.

Protect your online reputation and reap the rewards

Your online reputation works as a form of social proof that helps consumers make more confident decisions. When previous customers are complimenting you and raving about your stores online, new potential customers feel reassured that your business is right for them – it diminishes the risk they feel when considering trying a new business.

85% of customers will use the Internet to research businesses before making purchases. This means that when properly managed, a business’s online reputation can be responsible for driving hundreds of new customers into their stores every day. At the same time however, when a brand’s reputation is left purely in the hands of consumers without any means of protection, it can have a devastating impact on their bottom line.

Here are three steps to take in order to protect your brand’s online reputation and win more customers:

1. Control your listings in the local search results

68% of consumers say that at least half of their local searches result in a visit to a business. These visits can be tied directly to sales with 58% of consumers saying that at least half of their local searches eventually lead to a purchase. The potential for local search to lead directly to sales makes protecting your reputation in the local search results crucial to your businesses success.

Google My Business:
When it comes to local search and discovering new businesses, there is no place more frequented by customers than Google. This means the first step you should take towards protecting your online reputation is building and claiming business listings for all of your stores through Google My Business. This ensures that all of the information customers read when they  find you on Google will be accurate and trustworthy.

As you create and claim your listings, be as detailed and accurate as possible. Be sure to include all of your stores information such as business name, category, attributes, address, phone number, website and hours of operation.

Consistent NAP:
Once your Google My Business pages are squared away the next step is to ensure accurate and consistent business name, address and phone number (NAP) across all search directories and review sites, such as Yelp, Facebook, Yellow Pages, etc. While NAP is the minimum that you should ensure is consistent, it is a best practice to be sure that all other information (as mentioned above) is consistent as well.

Having inconsistent business and location information across multiple sites will cause both search engines and customers to lose trust in your business – leading to lower search rankings and fewer customers.

Remove Duplicate Listings:
Finally, in order to protect your reputation within the local search results, you will want to hunt down and remove any duplicate store pages on all of the top search and review sites. Duplicate pages arise when a local business has more than one listing for a single physical store in an online directory. Duplicates can arise for any number of reasons, but regardless of why they were created, their existence alone will threaten the locations ability to rank well and win customers.

(Click Here for information about Chatmeter’s local listings management services which help you easily control and manage all of your business listings)

2. Manage your reviews

Over 90% of people regularly or occasionally read reviews to judge the quality of a local business. Reviews are one of the most powerful tools for driving more customers into your stores, but with 90% of people reading less than 10 reviews before forming their opinion about your business, the window to make the right impression is small.

Monitor New Reviews:
With consumers reading less than 10 reviews, that means you need to constantly stay on top of what people are saying about your locations by monitoring all of your incoming reviews on every site for each of your locations. By monitoring all of your incoming reviews, you then have the opportunity to pinpoint and handle any potentially damaging reviews before they have the opportunity to become a re-occurring problem.

Respond to Reviews:
It’s not enough to sit back and monitor your reviews and make changes when you see a problem, you also need to actively respond to your reviews as well. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, helps protect your online reputation in a number of ways. First, it builds your reputation and trust with consumers by showing them you are active and engaged online and you care about what they have to say. In addition, when you respond to negative reviews it shows both the reviewer and future customers that you are willing to take responsibility and make changes in order to improve the customer experience. Finally, responding to reviews helps protect your reputation by giving you the chance to turn a negative into a positive.

30 percent of customers who received a response to their negative review later turned around and changed it to a positive one.

Track and Analyze Trends:
Monitoring and responding to reviews is a great start to protecting your online reputation, however when you track and analyze trends in customer reviews, you become more proactive in protecting your reputation. Analyzing trends in customer reviews can be difficult without the right tools. Looking at ten, twenty or even fifty reviews at a time can give you the gist of how people are feeling and what they are saying, but it is hard to understand the big picture. What are people really saying about your business and how have their feelings changed over time?

This is where tools like sentiment analysis come into play. Sentiment analysis can take thousands of reviews, break them down into individual statements, identify key topics within each statement and then tell you whether the sentiment around that topic is positive or negative. Powerful tools such as this can help you track and analyze trends around important topics and understand how people’s perceptions have changed throughout time; it gives you the ability to truly understand what your customers are saying about the different aspects of your business and even predict what they will want in the future.

3. Leverage social media

83% of customers say they discover new businesses, services, and products on a monthly basis through social media before other sources. There is a growing trend around researching and engaging with brands online through social media making it a crucial area for reputation protection.

Promote your social presence:
Social media is a great location to build your brand’s reputation and an area in which customers expect to be able to find and communicate with you. Let your customers know that you are active on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and that you are excited to engage with them on these sites.

Monitor and Engage with User Generated Content:
Similar to reviews, it is important to monitor, track and engage with all of the social content generated by users. This can mean commenting on users pictures of your business, retweeting your followers and responding to comments. When you are active and engaged in social media you build trust with both your previous and future customers.

Your online brand reputation is the lifeblood of your organization, it is one of the key resources that customers rely on when deciding things like what to eat, where to go, and what to do. As more channels become available for customers to voice their opinion and experiences online, protecting your reputation will become more and more difficult. Schedule your FREE demo with Chatmeter to learn about the leading industry tools for online brand reputation protection.