10 tips to improve your brand’s online reputation

If you’re not keeping tabs on your brand’s online reputation, you could be shooting yourself (or at least your brand) in the foot.

An online reputation comprises various strategies to shape the world’s perception of your brand online. If handled correctly, you’re able to build brand trust and impact consumers’ purchasing decisions in a positive way. In other words, a good online reputation supports your bottom line.

Think of it as your brand’s first impression for potential customers. 

In fact, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before trusting a business, while about 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

If you’re not on top of how your brand is perceived online, you could be losing out on customers and sales.

The following are 10 tips to improve your brand’s online reputation and put your best foot forward.

Start with an audit

Before anything else, you need to understand where your brand’s online reputation stands right now.

Thoroughly review all online reviews, and while this can feel overwhelming with so many potential places for customers to review you, keep it simple by beginning with the top four review platforms where consumers typically do their research on you:

  • Google
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Facebook

If you’re in a specialized industry that has an industry-specific platform for reviews, include that as well. For example, home-improvement brands will want to keep an eye on HomeAdvisor.

Of course, we encourage you to also Google your brand to see where else it might be popping up, just to cover all your bases.

Once you’ve compiled all the review platforms and reviews, double-check that all business contact details, location information and operational hours are up to date. 

Then, look at what customers are saying. What is the ratio of positive-to-negative reviews? Are there far more positive than negative? If you have multiple locations, is one location standing out in a positive or negative way? Have you responded to all reviews? 

Really assess where your brand is at perception-wise. Knowledge is power, and this information will fuel your online reputation strategies moving forward.

Keep in mind that you can set up Google Alerts to inform you of brand mentions online and more.

Decide on a review strategy and start replying

Now that you know where your customers are reviewing you and what they’re saying, it’s time to implement a review strategy for all relevant review platforms.

Perhaps you set a weekly time to regularly check for any new reviews. This would be the minimum effort we would recommend. If possible, turn on notifications wherever you can so that you can reply to all new reviews as soon as possible.

In fact, about 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online review within seven days.

You should respond to every review regardless of whether it’s positive, negative or neutral. And timeliness is a factor to be aware of. You’ll want to thank customers for positive reviews, but you definitely don’t want to leave a negative review festering without some sort of response.

Not sure what to say when it’s negative? Always view it as an opportunity to deliver amazing customer service and turn that experience for that customer around. (It’s definitely not the time or place to argue with the customer.) See our 11 tips to best respond to negative reviews.

Encourage happy customers to review you

Unfortunately, a customer is about 21 percent more likely to leave a negative review after a negative experience than a positive review after a positive review.

You must consistently work against that tendency by asking your happy and satisfied customers to share their experiences online. There are numerous ways to do this. Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Offer incentives, discounts or cash rewards for customers who write reviews.
  • Send email follow-ups to customers requesting a review with a link to make it easy.
  • Have your employees remind happy customers to review you and explain the benefit that positive reviews have for your business.

Monitor all relevant social media platforms

Of course, you can’t properly manage your online reputation without a thorough plan involving social media.

First, consider all the platforms where your brand has a presence (an account, in other words). Then, think about any platforms that might be used by your customers, where they can post about you regardless of whether you have an account or not.

For example, if you only have accounts on Facebook and Instagram, that doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t tweeting about you (for better or worse) on Twitter.

You’ll need to embrace social listening, which is not just about monitoring what is being said about a business, brand, person or topic on social media. It’s also about acting on it. This can involve engaging with commenters or even adjusting brand strategy.

Learn more about social listening and how it’s different from social media crowdsourcing.

Prioritize your SEO tactics

Search engines can be a huge source of organic traffic to your website, but they also serve as research vehicles for consumers to learn more about businesses, products, services and so on.

So, your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy must be on point.

Ideally, you not only want to rank for the keywords that would help drive consumers to potentially purchase from you. You also want to rank for branded keywords that reflect your online reputation for consumers. In other words, you want your brand’s positive mentions ranking above any potential negative mentions.

And remember that blogging regularly showcases your expertise that will only benefit your online reputation, especially in search engine results.

Dive deeper into what you can do with our 12 SEO marketing tips for beginners. You also can level up your SEO skills with these 10 free online SEO courses.

Develop a public relations strategy

Earned media definitely can improve your online reputation, but it can take a little extra effort. 

The extra effort involves a public relations strategy, which is all about promoting your brand’s inclusion in related articles, TV segments and more in the press.

Earned media is not to be confused with paid advertising. But leveraging press releases and connecting with local media outlets and reporters could lead to your brand earning some new coverage over time.

Work with influencers who have great online reputations

In the simplest sense, an influencer is anyone with a digital following (or audience) on a social media platform (but not necessarily) whom you’d like to attract.

The purpose of influencer marketing involves increasing brand awareness, targeting new and niche audiences and increasing impressions and reach.

This makes it a great vehicle to improve your online reputation because you’re leveraging the trust consumers have for an influence to boost your brand.

Check out our seven tips to know before starting your first influencer marketing campaign.

Monitor customer service complaints

Even though online reviews can take a lot of your focus, don’t forget about the complaints that are being given to your company directly.

How these complaints are handled can often impact resulting online reviews, though.

Depending on the size of your business, you may need a tool, such as Invoca, to help you stay on top of a high volume of call center or customer service department interactions.

Understanding what complaints are coming in can help you fix anything that isn’t working as expected as well (and prevent future complaints).

Keep track of your competitors

While it’s important to understand your own online reputation, you can take the next step by understanding that of your competitors.

Are they receiving mostly positive or mostly negative reviews? Are they responding to them? How are they responding? What are their customers saying about them?

Find out more about what a competitive analysis is and how you can start yours, as well as 16 tools to make your competitive analysis easier.

Commit to resolve recurring issues

At the core of successful online reputation management is the commitment to resolve any recurring issues to improve your brand’s buyer experience.

Consider the information (positive and negative) that you receive from customers as a critical piece to this commitment. If you keep your customers happy, you’ll prevent many negative online reviews from even happening.

It’s no easy task, but your responsiveness will serve your business beyond just your online reputation. Think about it: How many potential customers simply disappear because of a less-than-ideal experience and never return, whether they made a purchase or not? It’s important to get ahead of the issues and continually innovate what your brand can do better.

As you begin exploring your brand’s online reputation, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

11 tips to best respond to negative reviews

No business wants (or wants to have to respond to) negative reviews online. 

But they do happen, and you must respond to reduce any damage to your online reputation and potential sales.

About 90 percent of consumers worldwide read reviews before buying products, and about 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or a family member.

Of course, negative reviews can happen regardless of the quality of your service and/or product, or even how many other people love it.

The following are 11 tips for you to respond effectively to any negative reviews that might come your way.

Respond quickly

Time is of the essence. An unanswered negative review will only fester and draw more attention online.

Whether it’s you or someone else on your team, ensure that you have a system in place to regularly check for new reviews. Many platforms will send a notification as well, but don’t simply rely on that. Notifications can get missed.

Aim to respond to reviews within 24 to 48 hours maximum. But truly, the sooner, the better. Reviews and responses are timestamped, so others reading the thread will see how long it took you to respond.

See our six ways to be more responsive to your customers.

Introduce yourself and your connection to the team

While it’s fantastic for the owner of a business to personally respond to customer complaints, it’s not always realistic.

But whether you’re the owner or a representative of the company, be sure to introduce yourself to help establish that personal connection with the reviewer.

Acknowledge the issue

Acknowledgment is huge. It doesn’t matter whether you think the customer is right, just having an off day or doesn’t understand your process or product at all.

Keep your emotions in check, and read the customer’s feedback objectively.

Then, start by thanking the customer for not only bringing the situation to your attention but taking the time to do so. It opens the door to finding a solution.

Apologize

Again, it just doesn’t matter whether the customer is right or wrong, it’s your responsibility as the business to take the high road and apologize for the issue he or she had.

Apologies go a long way and show that you care about delivering a high level of service. Make sure to be clear that the customer’s happiness is your No. 1 priority.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between “I apologize” and “I’m sorry.”

To apologize is to take responsibility for something on behalf of your company. To say sorry is to emphasize with the customer without acknowledging that your company is specifically to blame.

When there’s a negative review because of something your business is responsible for, then apologize.

When there’s a negative review because of something outside of your control, then you can consider the “I’m sorry this happened to you” approach.

If needed, offer an explanation

Tread lightly here. It’s easy to go so deep into an explanation that it can read as an excuse or being defensive.

Often, an apology alone will suffice. But when necessary, keep your explanation short and to the point. If there was a technology glitch, for example, say that. But don’t dive into all the headaches that glitch caused you personally or how cumbersome it was to get it fixed.

Remember that as a business, you must take responsibility for all good (and bad) experiences.

Think quick context, not an extended narrative. Less is more. 

Reinforce your company’s values

Similar to offering an explanation, it’s best to concisely state the importance of customer service to your business. Spending too much time on this point can be taken wrong.

Just briefly mention what your current standards for customer service are, that you take customer complaints very seriously and that customer service is an integral part of your company’s values.

Make it right for the reviewer

Remember that a bad experience with any business likely costs a customer time and/or money (and that’s where emotions can run high, for sure).

Be sure to not only make it right, but to compensate the customer into using your business again. A 20 percent discount on his or her next visit or product can turn a one-time, unhappy customer into a lifetime, loyal customer.

Of course, the compensation should make sense for the situation at hand. If they’re dealing with a malfunctioning product, for example, 20 percent off a second product doesn’t make sense. But a free exchange as well as 20 percent off a future product can work well together. You both fixed the issue and encouraged them to continue doing business with you.

If nothing can be done to resolve the situation, write a compelling public response to the review that shows your sincere regret and desire to avoid that type of situation from happening again. 

There’s a wide range of options here. Focus on the immediate problem at hand, and don’t be afraid to step out of the box when it comes to making it right. Every business is different.

Be human and personable

Whether you get hit with 10 online reviews per week or hundreds per day, make the effort to not sound “canned” in your responses. 

While consumers can sense if a reviewer is being overly aggressive or out of line, they can also sense if you’re templating a bit too much in your responses.

There are many helpful online review response templates available on the internet, but use them as inspiration. They’ll never substitute the type of thoughtful response you can write on your own after reading and thinking through the issue a customer had.

Remember that you always want to humanize your brand as much as you can online. Avoid templated shortcuts.

Keep it short

There obviously are several components to any successful response to a negative review, but overall, try to keep your response as short as possible.

Longer replies often get ignored. They also can (simply in their length) appear desperate or defensive, and there’s really no need to go crazy in length. 

At the end of the day, you have a customer who is unhappy. Address that directly and concisely.

Invite the reviewer to continue the conversation offline

While there can definitely be a little back and forth in review responses, a public comment thread is not the best place to hash out all the finer details of resolving an issue for a customer.

Invite that customer to continue the conversation with you directly. This can be with a direct phone number to call, an email or even a direct message on a social media platform.

Of course, don’t just leave that ball in his or her court. When you comment with that invitation, take the extra step and also let them know that you just directly messaged them, for example.

Remember that you’re writing for two audiences: the customer who had a negative experience, as well as all the potential customers who are reading your reviews. Make sure that the end of your response has a “next steps” approach. It doesn’t leave anyone hanging.

Get a second opinion

When in doubt (and obviously if possible), don’t hesitate to run your written response by a colleague for a second opinion.

As much as you might want to be objective and fair in your responses to negative reviews, they naturally trigger emotion and can even feel like a personal attack. Because of this, it never hurts to get an outside opinion on your response before you post it.

In conclusion

Remember that negative reviews can happen on almost any online platform, not just Yelp or Google. Your business could be tagged in an unhappy tweet or a check-in post on Facebook.

Have a system in place so that you can stay on top of all online reviews coming in, not just the negative ones. If a customer has a great experience, thank him or her for sharing. But now, if someone has a bad experience, you can confidently address it. How you do so can actually outweigh any negative perception that a negative review might otherwise cause.

Negative reviews are not a battlefield for you to go to war in. Take them as an opportunity to convert unhappy customers into brand loyalists and to maintain your integrity as a business.

Online reviews are a form of social proof that you can leverage to actually grow your business. Check out these nine ways you can use social proof in your digital marketing.

As you begin taking on negative reviews with a fresh perspective, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.