There’s a lot of talk about the death of traditional marketing and the loss of control that comes with this. The era of intrusive marketing is at an end, the era of inbound marketing is upon us.
I personally think that a lot of other blogs are being a bit too quick to jump on this horse, probably because it is fashionable and in other cases because they sell related services.
However, that being said, there is no doubt the sands are starting to shift. One area of marketing where this is especially pronounced is reputation management.
There have never been more ways for consumers to express their opinions and to be heard. There are countless forums, social media, review websites (general and niche), personal websites etc. all publishing reviews of businesses.
They are also a trusted source of information for many potential customers who are searching for your products/ services.
Customers trust positive and negative reviews
Multiple studies all come to the same conclusion; consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
For example, this study found “Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.”
Another survey claims “an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.”
This means every business, big or small, is now in the reputation management (or at least they should be).
In this post I will explain how you can take control of your online reputation.
Be proactive about getting positive reviews
You don’t have to sit waiting or hoping for a happy customer to leave a review. Most people only become motivated to leave reviews when they have a negative experience.
Even if someone does leave a positive review it may be on a website none of your customers visit.
Search in Google for keywords such as “[product] + reviews” and “[brand name] + reviews” to identify the most popular websites that carry reviews for both your industry and you specifically.
Once you have this target list start directing happy customers to leaving a review on them. A lot will be happy to do so if you link directly where they need to go.
Don’t let false claims get away with it
You’ll occasionally get the odd negative review that exaggerates or adds white-lies to make there issue seem more dramatic.
You don’t have to let this slide.
Any half decent review website will have a procedure for you to flag or complain about a review. If you can show they are lying (e.g. your website doesn’t make a performance claim they said you do), they will take it down.
Showcase positive reviews on your website
Use the trust people put in online reviews by using them on your website. You may have noticed this is being done more and more by other websites, and that is because it works.
Even if you have a limited product set, you can take positive testimonials and place them on your home page or landing page.
Any website can fake a review, however faking positive tweets is much harder which gives them more credibility. Take comments made through twitter and put them on your website along with the profile avatar and a link to the tweet.
Add star ratings to your website for Google
Have you ever searched in Google and seen star ratings attached to a result? These are completely manually added by the website owner and they are not a score attributed to them from Google.
That means you can have them as well. Google has a background to the type of data you need to include here, and how to add it to your website.
Address criticism head on
There are two overwhelming emotions a lot of people feel when it comes to addressing criticism online. The first is to ignore it and the second is to get in to a tit for tat argument. Try to avoid both of these, they will only make things worse.
Ignoring criticism creates a vacuum that anyone can fill or add to. You need to fill this with your take on the situation. Getting in to a full blown argument makes you look petty and unprofessional.
Instead, put across your opinion/ stance firmly but politely and stick to it. I personally would only reply once and not let myself get dragged in to anything more.