Holiday reputation and listings management guide for retail
Ready or not, the holiday season is here. Your retail brand can’t put off preparing another minute. Sales-ready shoppers are on the hunt and making lists for their big Black Friday and holiday purchases. Will your business make the final cut?
For location-based brick-and-mortar brands, online visibility and reputation play a massive role in standing out against nearby competitors. With more options available online and off, businesses need to be strategic and local SEO savvy to drive buyers through their doors.
To push locations to the top of the search pages for anyone searching for a retail store near them, an updated and optimized online listings and reputation strategy for 2022 is vital. Consumer and online search trends have shifted within the last year, so you can’t just repeat whatever worked in the past.
A few examples — just this fall, Google Business Profile implemented major changes to their platform, which can affect search ranking and visibility. Additionally, while people are excited to shop as the peak of the pandemic fades further away, worries of an economic recession simultaneously weigh on many minds.
If you want to attract retail customers to your storefronts, increase foot traffic, and snag more holiday revenue, take a fresh look at your current listings, ratings, and overall strategy. Then focus on getting your online presence into tip-top shape fast!
Optimize your online listings for the 2022 holidays
More than ever, people start their holiday shopping online — but few end it there. In 2021, only 13.2% of retail purchases were made online, a number that dropped 3% from the height of the pandemic.
While shopping on the web offers convenience, most people prefer the interactive in-store experience you simply can’t get digitally. From trying on new clothes to asking employees for recommendations to sprawling out on a demo mattress before buying a new bed, humans still vastly prefer the perks of shopping in the “real world.”
So, the question isn’t whether or not shoppers want to visit a physical store to do their holiday shopping. It’s how to move them from discovering your brand online to choosing your brand over local competitors to ultimately purchasing at a nearby location.
The journey starts by building optimized online listings for all of your storefronts. With fully optimized business listings, you’ll maximize online ranking power and help your brand land on top of the search engine results page, or SERPs.
As Google Search and Maps remain by far the most popular, with over 91% of all search queries worldwide, we always recommend prioritizing listing optimization on Google Business Profile (GBP) first.
Get started by checking these listing optimization to-dos off your list:
1. Claim and verify your GBP listings
Ensure that you have claimed and verified your retail locations in GBP. Claiming a business instills customer confidence as they know 1) it’s a brand-verified location and 2) your brand actually monitors their Google listings.
In fact, a claimed business in GBP gets 7x more clicks and is 70% more likely to attract buyers to a location. Needless to say, it’s worth it.
2. Fill out every section of your Google Business Profile
Don’t leave a single section within your GBP listings blank. First off, Google’s algorithm gives more ranking weight to complete GBP listings. Additionally, prospective buyers want to feel fully informed before taking a trip to a store. Here is what every GBP listing must include for holiday search success:
- Phone Number
Listing accuracy is also critical. Is your phone number and address correct? Has your store description shifted in the past two years? Do you need to add or remove a category? Take this time to make sure everything looks right.
3. Update store hours for the holidays and Black Friday
During the holiday rush, few things are as critical as store hours. Of course, accurate hours are always critical, but people expect hours to shift during this season. Whether opening and closing days and hours expand, shorten, or stay the same, carefully communicate that to customers via your Google listings.
In our article, Optimize Your Google Business Profile for the 2022 Holidays & Black Friday, learn more about creating optimized online listings, including how to update business hours for the holidays, add Google Posts to your profiles, and more!
Boost your retail reputation management for the holidays
Hooray! One of your listings made it into the 3-pack, or the top three listings highlighted on a user’s Google search query. You’re officially in the running for that user to hop offline and drive down to your brand’s closest location to make a purchase.
But you haven’t sealed the deal yet. First, they’ll compare your online presence and reputation to the other top-ranked competition. Whichever brand shines brightest will likely win the day — and score a big holiday purchase.
Here’s how to make your online brand reputation sparkle:
1. Pay attention to reviews and make agile CX updates
This is it! The busiest time of the year for most retail brands. You don’t want to waste any opportunities to bring in those holiday dollars — and often, the best opportunities emerge via trends in your online reviews.
By tuning into the voice of your customers (VoC) via online reviews, brands can access an entirely new level of feedback that’s just waiting to be explored. Are multiple reviews from shoppers who LOVE the new winter product selection but won’t return because of long lines and grumpy staff? From location-based to enterprise-wide, take these invaluable insights and make quick, agile adjustments to mitigate these issues.
2. Always respond to online reviews
Are you responding to every positive, negative, and neutral online customer review? If the answer isn’t yes, start the habit today!
Review response is an incredibly effective conversion, retention, and customer loyalty strategy. Read more about the benefits of a review response process here, but in a nutshell, people want to build genuine connections with brands. Review response provides an easy way of doing just that.
Whether a brand representative replies to feedback by thanking the reviewer for a 5-star rating, or offering empathy and a resolution to a 1-star reply, it shows that the business cares and invests in the customer’s experience. This isn’t just powerful for the reviewer — it publicly demonstrates to any prospective buyers exploring your online presence that your brand takes CX seriously. For many, customer care stands as an influential selling point that can push your store over the top.
3. Speed it up with review response templates and tools
Responding to reviews might sound like a great idea, but who has the time for that? You do! Even the largest enterprise retail brands can respond to 1000s of reviews in no time by using a few fantastic and accessible tools.
One low-tech and no-cost technique is the use of review response templates. Create 10-15 review responses for various situations and ratings. Leave a placeholder for specific details like names, locations, pain points, etc. When you want to reply to a review, just copy and paste an appropriate response and fill in the relevant information.
For an even faster, more hands-off approach, check out innovative technologies and tools like bulk review responses, recommended responses, and even full-service solutions like ChatExec. There are many great ways to connect with customers through their reviews. Just make sure you do it!
Get a jumpstart on building those templates and learn more about writing great responses with 10 Review Response Templates You Can Use Right Now.
Don’t forget your social media
Social media plays a massive role in attracting retail customers over the holiday season. The hectic holidays also cause many companies to put social media on the back burner. Don’t make this mistake!
Facebook. Twitter. TikTok. Instagram — these platforms are all fantastic opportunities to excite customers online. But simply having a profile on social media won’t move the needle. Instead, use social media to promote holiday events that entice those on the fence to pay a visit — and spend some money.
A few fun ideas and incentives:
- Holiday-themed photo booths
- Black Friday costume contests (who doesn’t miss Halloween?)
- Product giveaways for loyalty club members
- Pet pictures with Santa Claws
- Raffles for exclusive products or services
Don’t let time stop your social success. Again, we know how crazy the holidays get. That’s why we highly recommend planning and scheduling your social media calendar in advance. Also, just like on Google Business Profile, be sure that your social media channels have accurate and up-to-date business information, holiday hours, links, photos, etc.
In 2023, build a strong listing, visibility, and reputation strategy that saves your team time while bringing in more customers than ever! Schedule a demo with the experts at Chatmeter to learn how our partnership can deliver incredible results through smarter CX.Book a Chatmeter Demo