Knowing what customers think of your business is crucial information that every business owner wants and needs to know. Great online reviews will boost your image and your reputation too. This will potentially lead to more business and more money. Negative reviews are usually left by unhappy customers, disgruntled employees, or sabotaging competitors. Yes, some competitors stoop really low when it comes to knocking you out. People definitely rely on online reviews when searching for a local products or services. So any negative reviews out there about your business could definitely hurt your business.
Are you paying attention to what people are saying about your business online? Along with social media networks, people will talk about your business anywhere online… both the good and bad. Think about it… people do not hesitate to go online to voice their concerns about a business instead of contacting the business directly. Even worse, sometimes business owners have NO idea that the content is out on the web. This can truly hurt a business’s reputation, which is unfortunate, especially when the complaints are not even warranted.
Imagine one of your potential customers Googling your business name and up pops a negative post from one of your customers about how much they disliked your service. If this is the first thing your prospects see, do you think they will be quick to do business with you? No, they won’t. In fact, most people will automatically decide against doing business with you solely based on this other person’s complaint.
It’s just a fact… people rely heavily on the opinions of others when deciding whether or not to do business with you. This is why customer reviews and testimonials are so powerful in converting prospects into buyers. When people see that others love your products, services, or business, they will have no problem doing business with you. On the flip side, as soon as they see unhappy customers, they will avoid you like the plague.
Is this something your business can afford during these tough economic times? You probably answered, “absolutely not” and you are correct.
So how do you, as a business owner, defend yourself from the negativity surrounding your business online? One way is to do a Google search for your business name to see what type of information is coming up.
Another way is to join and engage in social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. People will definitely say what they feel there.
But it’s up to you to catch negative reviews and do something about them, even if it’s just to post a reply to the complaint to defend yourself. If not, you are leaving your business vulnerable to negative publicity, which is not good.
One way to combat a negative online reputation is to get your happy customers to post more positive reviews and testimonials about your business online. This will help to waterdown/negate the negative comments and help you clean up your online reputation.
Let’s take-a-look at Online Review sites right now, where most customer reviews are posted. As mentioned earlier, online reviews are powerful when it comes to purchasing decisions. People are careful when selecting businesses and if they see negative reviews about a business, they are not likely to go that way.
Think about yourself and your own online searching habits… Let’s say you are looking for a plumber online and you come across a customer review ripping them apart. You would probably move on to the next plumber, as would most people. On the flip side, if your prospects see a bunch of glowing reviews about your business, they are more likely to do business with you.
Imagine having the MOST positive online reviews in your local industry? Can you see the powerful impact this can have on your business? Wouldn’t it be nice to knock out your competitors just by having a few extra positive customer reviews? Therefore, online reviews are extremely important when it comes to connecting with your local prospects and customers.
You may be wondering how you can get more positive online customer reviews… There are several local business directories where people can post reviews about businesses, this is a great place to start. Some of the most popular are: Google Places/Maps, InsiderPages.com, Yelp.com, Yahoo Local, and Citysearch.com. You should visit your business listing on these sites frequently to stay on top of what is being said about your business. Not only that, but you should also direct your happy customers to these sites to post reviews about your product or service. In addition to gathering customer feedback, these review sites are also good places to offer coupons and special promotions to help attract new customers.
Think about it… if you were searching for a local flower shop and one listing had a 50% off coupon and the other flower shops didn’t, which one would you choose?
So to summarize to this point, you can see how extremely beneficial it would be to establish an expert reputation.
One of the most important things that any business can have, whether online or not, is legitimacy. If customers think that a particular business knows how to get a job done correctly or sells flawless products and/or services, not only will they come back, but they’ll also offer your business name as a referral to others. And all business owners crave that word of mouth referral like nothing else, as it is pure marketing gold.
But how do you get that reputation? With online businesses, it can be a little bit more difficult to cultivate word of mouth recommendations simply because your customers might be from all around the globe, and thus are less likely to ask each other for referrals as compared to neighbors in a single community. Like everything else about online businesses, it is possible to get that reputation you want going, it just requires a bit of ingenuity and free spirit thought.
One of the best ways to start building your reputation as an online business is to start off with a bang… give away free content. This doesn’t mean that you need to give away free products. But, if you can afford to do so, freebies are a great way to get a customer’s attention. What you can do, however, is start giving out your advice. If you’re a services company, set up a “how to fix it” section of your site that anybody can visit. If you’re a shoe repair shop, make some videos about how to do simple things like fix shoelaces and upload them to YouTube. This is a great way to draw in potential customers who may not have originally been looking for your services, but these folks, doing search engine research, could quickly become customers if they believe in the strength of your advice.
Another great way to build your reputation is to get involved with online forums relating to the product or services that you sell. If you’re a car repair shop, consider joining some forums based on car repair and start offering up your free advice on the subject. Most of these forums allow their users to post “signatures,” which are little text/picture snippets that appear at the bottom of every post. If you use this opportunity to advertise your site, you’ll start generating interest when you build your reputation within that particular forum. Just be sure to actually contribute to the conversations in the forum itself, because most forums have moderators and if your account is deemed to be too much spam oriented, you’ll be removed from the community. Not to mention, people who only use forums to place advertisements and not contribute to the topics at hand are looked at with contempt.
Another way to help build a positive reputation is to use Press Releases. Make more prospects aware of your business and what it has to offer by putting the word out there. Some business owners seem to think that consumers will just “find” their website or their location. With the level of competition out there today, that is not going to happen. Sure, SOME of them will just find you. But in order to really knock your competitors out of the park, you need to write and distribute online press releases for your business on a somewhat regular basis!
Press releases allow you to keep the world up to date with what’s going on with your business; which is HUGE when it comes to managing your business’s reputation. More importantly, it reminds the world that your business exists in a sea of businesses crowding up the web. In fact, the more press releases you put out there, the better.
There are multiple online sites that you can use just this purpose. A couple of sites to help you bring in the new customers are Marketwire.com and PRWeb.com. Sites such as Marketwire promise to save you up to three hundred percent in cost, compared to other press release services. Here you not only save money on advertising, but you can reach local customers in your community quickly. Marketwire has many different options that will help you knockout the competition and is definitely a reliable source for distributing press releases. Another Press Release site to check out is PRWeb. According to their site, local business owners can attract customers fast. This site allows you to send a news release to your local community.
You can let all the locals know when you have opened a new store, are running a new special, or when you have a new product in stock.
Just think of all the extra business you could bring in by using this method. Press releases will allow you to build an online reputation for your business by telling everyone what you’re up to. So not only do they make your business more visible on the web, but they eventually help you convert prospects into paying customers.
Although you can’t control the reviews your business receives, you can improve the way you handle the negative ones. In fact, you can even turn them into “positive” reviews. So how do you do that? It’s simple… just reply. It’s a good idea to reply back to any and all of your customers reviews. Being more personable will show other prospects and customers that you at least care and value the opinions of your customers.
Local business listing sites such as Google Places and Yelp are wonderful sites that allow business owners to easily see and respond to their online reviews. Promptness Pays Off! The sooner you reply back to your customers reviews the better. This will show that you care about the quality of your business and will definitely earn you some “brownie points” from your valued prospects and customers. Replying back promptly will give you a better reputation and will even encourage more customers to write more reviews (hopefully, good ones).
So you have built a strong online presence that has you climbing to the top of major search engines. Business is expanding and new leads are pouring in uncontrollably due to the work you’ve done to build your online marketing efforts. But it doesn’t stop there. Now, that you’ve built your online exposure to serious levels, it’s time to manage and feed it by staying on top of what is being said about your company online.
All you need to do is… on a regular basis, get online, see what they’re saying, and get engaged! You’ll be happy you did when you see how powerful a nice, strong, solid online reputation can be for your business.