Over the past decade or so, the climate that businesses must operate within has been changing drastically. Gone are the days of word-of-mouth and referrals getting customers through your doors or booking appointments with your business. This digital age that we all live in also means that businesses must now learn to thrive online just like they have with their brick-and-mortar locations.
Concepts and undertakings like online marketing and managing your brand’s online reputation are key to successfully draw in members of your target audience from the digital channels, like Google, that they’re coming through.
The truth is that almost anyone can throw together a website that, by most measures, looks authentic and trustworthy. Time and time again, people are drawn in through great advertisements in apps like Facebook or Instagram, are taken to an online store that looks “real” and they go ahead with their purchase. In the weeks following, their product may never arrive, they may notice excessive charges on their credit card or the website they ordered from may have disappeared altogether.
As users have become savvier, online culture has shifted so that reputation is key to getting new customers. Because there are so many faux businesses out there, users are looking at product and business reviews, or even blogs and social media posts from outside sources, to find out if the business is actually trustworthy.
This is why managing your online brand is so important and, as a first step, you should be Googling your own business and auditing what appears before you move forward with any re-branding or marketing efforts.
One of the biggest hurdles that business owners who run digital goods and services businesses have to deal with is imbuing a sense of credibility and trust in your business. These days, consumers who are shopping online are hyper-aware of online businesses who may be trying to misrepresent their goods and services.
For the savvy business owner, online reputation management is a key strategy for accomplishing this goal.
Because credibility is entirely based on the experience you provide, reviews that support your claims are weighed heavily in the minds of discerning customers. Everything, from an online review on Google or directly on your website, to a social media post that tags your company in it, counts toward your overall credibility in the digital world.
Business owners who supply digital goods and services are ahead of the curve on this issue when compared to traditional businesses. However, you must constantly strive to improve your customer experience and deepen the level of trust that customers can place in your business.
Each and every customer you have should be viewed as an investor – because they are investing their time and money in your company and its services.
So, make sure you’re giving them a motivating reason to place that first order, or become a repeat customer, by providing them with opportunities to read feedback from others and leave a review of their own.
This is where online reputation management software could be beneficial for you as a business owner. Because these tools allow you to save time, easily monitor reviews that have already been left for your business, and quickly solicit reviews from a large number of customers, you’ll be able to foster that sense of trust without detracting from your business’s other operational needs.
Nowadays, 90% of consumers will read reviews about a product or business they’re interested in before they’d consider moving forward. If you frequent Amazon, you likely check out the reviews left on a product before actually placing your order. From photos of the product to the experiences of users who previously purchased a product, these reviews and ratings can greatly influence whether or not someone will add that product to their cart.
One thing that business owners can do to help manage their business’s online brand to boost its digital trustworthiness is to specifically focus on growing the number of online reviews left for their business and products. This can be done through staff asking personally during checkout or at another point in their interactions with customers, or through reputation management software that automates the entire process.
By improving the communication between your business and customers, with a focus on bringing that feedback online for others to see, you can collect useful feedback about your business. The benefits of this information are endless, but can be narrowed down to their most salient examples:
In the end, the culmination of your business’s online reputation will sway potential customers either in the direction of working with you or taking their business elsewhere. Dependant on the steps you take to accurately manage what is being said about your business online, and what kind of user experience your site imbues, your business can thrive online.
Author: Garrett Smith
Bio: Garrett is the Founder of RepCheckup, an online reputation management software, and Pitch + Pivot, an entrepreneurial marketing consultancy. He’s also the author of Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices and has been helping businesses successfully sell and marketing online since 1999.