98% of customers research a business’s products or services online.
That means managing your brand’s reputation on search engines can be the difference between success and failure, which makes managing your current online reputation and online image important to business owners.
Image via BrightLocal
This complete guide explores the following aspects of proactive reputation management:
- What reputation management is.
- What it mainly focuses on.
- The business benefits of brand management.
- How reputation management enables sales.
- How reputation analytics can revolutionize the deal flow process.
- Strategic ways to implement reputation management.
Let’s dive right in:
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is a marketing and branding process that involves monitoring your brand’s online perception, negative and positive reviews in search results, then actively implementing management strategies that improve public perception.
According to Wikipedia, brand reputation was originally a public relations term referring to any effort to influence, control, or enhance customer reviews or a business’s online presence.
In the Internet and social media age, this multi-faceted approach encompasses social media marketing, public relations, branding, marketing, content marketing strategies like SEO, crisis management, and other techniques that help a business create a positive business reputation.
What Does Business Reputation Management Focus On?
Reputation management usually focuses on the following:
Listening and Monitoring
This is about monitoring online content and conversations on various platforms, social media channels, and review sites for bad reputation and reputation attacks on your current overall reputation.
The goal is to monitor your reputation to ensure your business stays informed about customer and workforce sentiments, addresses concerns promptly, and engages in meaningful conversations that help build a positive brand presence and image.
Building Credibility and Trust
This is one of the most important aspects of a company’s reputation.
Credibility and trust usually come from consistently delivering on promises, maintaining high-quality services, products, and brand values, and providing exceptional customer experiences. This establishes a credible and trustworthy brand image.
Addressing Negative Feedback and Managing Crises
Most ORM plans also focus on promptly addressing negative feedback and customer complaints as part of a broader engagement, customer, and relationship management strategy.
This also entails having a crisis management plan that can capably and effectively help your business respond to negative reviews or navigate and mitigate reputational damage during challenging times.
The Business Benefits of Reputation Management
Brand reputation management has many business benefits.
For example, it:
Encourages Customer Loyalty and Retention
Because ORM focuses on ensuring your brand has a positive public image, it is a vital customer loyalty and retention tool.
After all, a positive public reputation can foster repeat customers, brand loyalty, and brand ambassadors. Apple’s public reputation is a prime example of this.
Because of Apple Inc.’s reputation for superior, high-quality products and services, it has a loyal fan base and ecosystem that attracts lifelong customers. That’s why people keep buying Apple products.
Can Give Your Business a Competitive Advantage
Every business has a public reputation that can give it a competitive edge.
For example, a business known for its innovative workplace culture, dynamism, and fair employment policies can attract and keep top talent, which can give it an innovative edge.
Coca-Cola, one of the strongest, most recognized brands, is a prime example. Whenever the company advertises positions, it receives many applications from top-tier candidates because its positive brand image and associations precede it.
Is a Sales Enabler
Modern customers, employees, and business partners want to associate with businesses and brands known for their positive online and offline reputations.
This is one of the key benefits of ORM because when your business manages its brand image so well that it has a positive public perception, this image can enable complex sales efforts.
TripAdvisor is a prime example of how reputation management can attract new customers and enable sales. Its travel industry reputation remains one of the best, making it the first platform travelers use to plan trips and find hotels, destinations, and activities reviews.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into how online reputation management acts as a sales enabler:
How Reputation Management Enables Sales
Reputation management is a critical sales enabler. Here is why:
ORM involves actively managing and shaping how stakeholders, customers, investors, and employees perceive your business. It encompasses brand perception, reviews, and customer feedback. This process is a highly-effective sales enabler.
When branding, marketing, and sales teams have reputation analytics insights, brand resources, plans, and strategies, they can create, launch, and manage effective branding and marketing campaigns that lead to closed deals.
The power of reputation management as a sales enabler also lies in the effectiveness of a positive reputation.
A positive reputation builds trust, credibility, and customer loyalty, which creates a solid foundation for sales and marketing teams to establish successful and meaningful customer relationships that help them close more deals.
Customers who perceive an organization as trustworthy and reputable will likely be more receptive to sales efforts and make purchase decisions.
How Reputation Analytics Can Revolutionize the Deal Flow Process
Deal flow is the rate at which a business attracts partnerships, investments, acquisitions, or potential opportunities and deals.
Reputation analytics can improve deal flow processes by providing valuable brand and reputation insights into potential deals, partners, or investment opportunities.
Industry-trusted reputation analytics software and tools like Dealfront, Trustpilot, Hootsuite, and others can allow your business to analyze its partner’s reputation, identify, and leverage its strengths, whether positive customer sentiment, a strong reputation, or innovative practices.
For example, most reputation management software and tools have comprehensive features like review monitoring, sentiment analysis, brand mentions and monitoring, automated responses, competitor tracking, social media management, and others that can impactfully improve the deal flow process.
These tools can provide invaluable data that helps businesses of all sizes take a data-driven approach to identifying high-quality opportunities, deal evaluation, risk mitigation, and negotiating with potential partners and investors.
Strategic Ways to Use Reputation Management For Sales Enablement
Although reputation management is an involved, ongoing process, every business, big or small, can implement it as a sales enable using four key steps:
1. Assess Your Current Reputation
This is the first step. Here is why:
Conducting a digital reputation audit lets you know your company’s online reputation and identify areas where you can improve your reputation.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Review and respond to online reviews, mentions, customer feedback, social media conversations, and ratings to assess your online reputation. Identify strengths and weaknesses, areas requiring improvement, and potential risks or issues.
- Compare your reputation metrics with your industry peers to gain insights into where you stand within the market. This analysis helps identify areas where you can outperform your competitors and differentiate your brand.
2. Create a Reputation Management Plan
A comprehensive reputation management plan ensures your efforts are strategic, coordinated, and aligned with your sales enablement goals.
To create such a plan:
- Define clear and measurable reputation management goals that align with your branding and marketing objectives. These goals include improving your brand’s digital perception, increasing positive online reviews, or enhancing customer satisfaction.
- Identify your target audience and craft messages and campaigns that resonate with them. Tailor your reputation management efforts to reach and engage your target customers effectively.
- Determine the most relevant communication channels for reaching your audience, such as social media platforms, industry forums, or review sites. Develop tactics and strategies to leverage these channels and effectively convey your messaging.
3. Monitor and Measure Reputation Metrics
Implementing a system for monitoring and measuring reputation metrics allows you to track progress, make data-driven decisions, and continually optimize your reputation management efforts.
- Use reputation monitoring tools to track and analyze online mentions, social media conversations, and customer reviews. These tools provide valuable data and insights into your brand’s online reputation.
- Define and track relevant KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your reputation management efforts. KPIs can include sentiment analysis, customer satisfaction ratings, online review ratings, and referral rates.
- Regularly analyze the data collected from reputation monitoring and analytics tools, then use this information to make informed decisions and adjust your reputation management strategies.
4. Crisis Management and Damage Control
Preparing for potential reputation crises and having a crisis management plan helps minimize damage and preserves your brand’s online image.
You can do that by:
- Identifying potential risks or scenarios that could negatively impact your brand’s online reputation. Develop a crisis communication plan that outlines strategies, responsibilities, and key messages to address such situations effectively.
- Establishing a clear protocol for responding to reputation crises. Define roles and responsibilities, establish communication channels, and ensure transparency and authenticity in your messaging.
- In times of crisis, respond promptly, transparently, and empathetically. Communicate openly with your audience, address concerns, provide updates, and take responsibility for any mistakes while demonstrating your commitment to rectifying the situation.
How Long Does It Take To See The Impact Of Online Reputation Management On Sales?
The impact of reputation management on sales can vary. Most businesses start seeing positive results within a few months of implementing reputation management strategies. However, it is important to note that reputation management is an ongoing process.
Can Reputation Management Help Mitigate The Impact Of Negative Reviews?
Yes, reputation management can help mitigate the impact of negative reviews by actively addressing concerns, offering solutions, and demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction.
How Can Reputation Management Support Lead Generation And Conversion Rates?
Reputation management supports lead generation and conversion rates by building trust and credibility, attracting quality leads, and establishing a positive brand perception that increases the likelihood of converting leads into customers.
Online reputation management is not the sole responsibility of the public relations team; it is a strategic asset that can empower sales and enhance deal flow processes.
Embracing reputation management as a sales enablement strategy can help organizations build stronger customer relationships, establish credibility, and drive revenue growth.
Additionally, choose an online reputation management software tool that can capably allow you to monitor how your business appears online and that meets your reputation management needs.
If you’re unsure which reputation management tools to use, consider working with a reputation manager, online reputation management companies, or service providers who can meet your reputation management needs.