What do you do when looking for a new product or service? If you are like me and everyone else in the world, I start with a Google or Amazon search. If a brand I trust appears, I will look at their offerings first. I don’t always have experience with the brands in the search results though. In that situation, I will look to gain insight into the potential purchase. This is where good ratings and reviews can make or break a deal. If one brand has a strong online reputation and the other doesn’t, I will select the brand with better reviews almost every time.
If your answer was similar to mine, our buying habits line up with the average consumer. Consumers will read 10 reviews on average before they feel that they can trust a business. Additionally, 78% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This percentage is even higher for younger consumers.1 These stats along with many others help to show how important a strong online reputation is for maintaining and growing a business.
What is Online Reputation Management in Digital Marketing?
Online reputation management usually consists of managing ratings and reviews across different online platforms. The actual process of managing a brand’s reputation can come in many different forms. It can involve gathering reviews, managing the review process, responding to reviews, addressing bad reviews, listening for brand mentions and other more traditional public relations services.
Why are Ratings and Reviews Important?
Managing your online reputation has many benefits. The biggest is building brand trust with your customer base. Brand trust helps influence consumers in the marketing funnel, both in the consideration and conversion phase. For example, a great review may get a new prospect to consider your brand or it may be the differentiating factor that gets a consumer to choose you over a competitor.
Check out our article on Creating a Digital Strategy with the Marketing Funnel to see how a reputation management program can fit into a larger marketing strategy.
On top of that, managing your reputation helps to increase visibility. Each platform with a strong reputation provides additional opportunities to get in front of prospects. Many search engines and platforms show a preference to brands with better ratings too. This helps increase visibility even further.
Ratings and Reviews Best Practices and Reputation Management Tips
Where Should I Collect and Manage Ratings and Reviews?
Possible platforms to consider for reputation management include:
- Social media channels
- Google My Business and other search engines
- Review and recommendation websites
- Listing and citation websites such as Yellow Pages
- Seller platforms such as Amazon
- Brand owned assets
- Custom solutions
- Locally popular channels
- Industry specific platforms
- Other locations
Although all these platforms can be managed, that is typically not necessary. What’s important is identifying the platforms that your prospects are active on and where your efforts will have the biggest impact.
How Do I Collect and Manage Reviews?
There are two main methods to accomplish this; manually or tool-assisted. Manually involves visiting and watching all the sites that are being managed. With more than just a couple of platforms used, this can become very time consuming and inefficient.
Using a tool-assisted method can greatly improve efficiency and remove redundant efforts. They can include other benefits such as reaching out to customers automatically, a customized review process, automated listening for mentions and catching negative reviews early.
Regardless of the method selected, employee involvement is another critical component for collecting ratings and reviews. Empowering employees to identify and promote reviews at the right time and with the right customers can dramatically increase the number of positive reviews. They can also point customers toward preferred channels or methods, helping to get more reviews in the right places.
The Importance of Real Reviews and Avoiding Fake Reviews
As discussed above, brand trust is a key benefit of collecting ratings and reviews. Fake reviews can destroy that trust. If a consumer believes that they have seen a fake review, the benefits from any real reviews are lost. It is likely that these fake reviews could damage brand trust for that prospect and others they communicate with too.
To prevent prospects from thinking that reviews are fake, some less than perfect reviews should be allowed to go through. These reviews need to be addressed positively though. This lets customers know that you might not be perfect but you are committed to customer satisfaction. Carefully balancing a high overall rating and different review types is a critical step in reputation management.
Another type of fake review to watch for is spam reviews or malicious negative reviews. These are false reviews that might be created by a bot, a disgruntled customer or a competitor. Much like negative reviews, these need to be addressed properly to keep your brand’s reputation strong.
Reputation management programs including ratings and reviews are becoming more important as consumers rely on reviews more. They help to increase brand trust, convert more customers and improve visibility. However, it is key to follow certain best practices to increase efficiency and prevent damage to your digital presence.
1 Local Consumer Review Survey – Bright Local