If you run an online business, you probably already know that word travels fast. This can make managing your online reputation a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, there are a few clever strategies you can use to ensure that your brand is viewed favorably.
In this article, we’ll cover why maintaining a positive online reputation is so important. Then we’ll walk you through three effective ways to get the job done. Let’s dive right in!
Why Your Online Reputation is So Important
Your reputation is crucial to the success of your business. It represents what the majority of your customers (or even the general public) think of you. As such, it’s vital to make sure your reputation is helping you instead of hurting you.
This is especially critical when it comes to your marketing strategy. A positive image can make advertising much easier and effective. When you have a strong positive reputation, you can:
- Spend less resources refuting negative misconceptions
- Benefit from word-of-mouth attention
- Create opportunities for new marketing techniques, such as super fan influencers
These days, your reputation will be greatly influenced by your online presence, especially on social media. In fact, thanks to platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, the customer experience may never be the same.
The bottom line? Properly managing your online reputation can lead to more conversions. After all, those who have a negative view of your business are unlikely to pay much attention to your ads or buy your products.
The same applies to email marketing. Most users will need to be at least a little familiar with your company before they sign up for a mailing list. If they hear even a few bad opinions about your brand, they might think twice before engaging with it.
Your online reputation can also matter to peripheral audiences, such as other businesses. You might find it difficult to locate collaboration opportunities if other professionals aren’t interested in being associated with you.
3 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation
Fortunately, keeping up a professional and trustworthy appearance doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are three simple strategies you can use to protect your business’s online reputation.
1. Monitor the Places Where People Talk About Your Brand
The first step towards a positive reputation is knowing what people think of you. That way, you can focus on what you’re doing right. Additionally, you’ll be able to correct misconceptions and identify areas where your business needs improvement.
Unfortunately, not all of your customers will comment about their experiences directly on your website. Furthermore, those who actually do might not be entirely candid. That’s why we recommend that you expand your search for feedback to other platforms.
For example, review sites such as Yelp are popular spaces for users to share their opinions. Studying these reviews can help you get a clearer idea of how your customers feel.
However, it’s important to note that a lot of these comments will be one of two extremes: those who loved their experience and those who were extremely unhappy with it. We recommend focusing instead on the rarer reviews that fall in the middle of this spectrum. These can offer you a glimpse into your brand’s reputation from a more balanced perspective.
If you’d like an example, here’s a useful middle-ground Yelp review of a Home Depot:
As you can see, this visitor provided critical feedback regarding the store she visited. However, she also admitted that she could have prepared better. Even-handed commenters like this can provide you with constructive, actionable feedback (rather than mere complaints).
Social media can also be an important source for this kind of feedback. However, finding those reviews can be trickier, as not everyone will tag your brand in their posts. It can be hard to reliably track opinions, even with social media monitoring techniques.
As such, we recommend that you regularly search for your brand on various platforms, and see what comes up. This can give you a broader view of your reputation, and will mirror what those searching for your brand see. Thus, it can show you what image your brand offers to new potential customers.
2. Engage Appropriately With Negative Comments
Nobody likes getting negative reviews. However, with the right attitude, you can spin them into a positive. Appropriately and professionally engaging with unhappy customers can improve your image.
We recommend that you focus your outreach on the customer’s emotions rather than the direct issues themselves. This has two main benefits. For one, you’ll be demonstrating that you care on a personal level. On the other hand, you’ll also avoid a negative public conversation about your brand.
By the same token, be sure to include contact information in your replies. This gives customers a way to reach out via a more private channel. For example, consider this interaction between a user and Ally bank:
As you can see, this brand’s answer was quick and succinct. Additionally, it opened the door to a possible resolution. This technique can help turn the tide for many unhappy users. It can also boost your reputation by demonstrating that you’re a proactive brand.
Addressing negative reviews can admittedly take a bit of time. However, we highly recommend that you invest in the process. Customer service can play a major role in your reputation. Showing that you’re dedicated, even after a purchase is complete, can be key to gaining and retaining customers.
3. Tell Your Brand’s Story
Finally, your reputation isn’t just determined by what others are saying about you. You can also take control of it through your marketing strategy.
By telling a positive story about what you offer, you can start off on the right foot with new visitors. This can increase customer empathy and boost your recognizability. You can also avoid having customers confuse you with competitors.
We also encourage you to be flexible with your marketing techniques. While the core of your brand will likely stay the same over time, your customers’ feelings might not. Thus, being ready to adapt to new situations can make sure your brand appears attuned to modern events and customer needs.
For example, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted most shoppers, raising health concerns in the process. To put customers at ease, Target decided to advertise its cleaning policies. This kind of care for its customers bolstered the brand’s reputation as a careful and informed vendor:
Finally, you might want to keep broader e-commerce trends in mind. Just knowing how others are polishing their reputations can give you insight into what customers are looking for. You can use that information to adjust your own branding strategy as necessary.
An online reputation is precious and sometimes volatile. Fortunately, tending to it doesn’t have to be difficult. By understanding how to cater to your customers and remain engaged in the conversation, you can craft a high-quality brand image.
Do you have any questions about how to improve your brand’s reputation? Let us know in the comments section below!
Feature image by Gerd Altmann