- You’ve probably heard: Word of mouth recommendations have moved online, and your online business reputation is key to attracting new customers and increasing in-store revenue.
- Did you know: Thousands of small businesses across America use technology to boost their online reputations?
- What that means: Rather than manually checking and monitoring reviews on sites like Yelp, business owners can use software to automate the daily monitoring and receive alerts to any pertinent changes. It’s kind of like online credit monitoring for your online reputation.
- Where to start: While protecting your reputation requires constant monitoring, there’s no need to spend your time combing through your reviews every day. Nor can you afford to let them go unchecked, either. You should at least:
- Keep an eye on new reviews and overall rating changes
- Respond to and engage with customers who leave reviews
- Measure the impact your reputation has on your sales
- Why it matters: Word of mouth has moved online, so your online reputation plays a vital role in attracting new customers to your business. A one-star rating increase can improve overall revenue by 5-9% (higher for industries like hotels/motels) where a one-star drop has a similar, albeit negative, impact on sales.
- The takeaway: You don’t have to be a social media specialist or even very tech-savvy to take control of the conversation about your business online.
Many of the day-to-day tasks required to maintain a healthy online reputation feel like busy work, which makes it easy for us to push those activities to the back-burner.
Your time is your most valuable resource. A 10-minute task here, another 10-minute task there, and suddenly you’ve spent a couple hours on seemingly trivial activities. Since even trivial tasks can be vital to your success, why not farm out some of the work to technology?
What is your online reputation?
Before the internet, one of the most effective ways to attract new customers was by word-of-mouth recommendations. Today, peer-to-peer recommendations take the form of online reviews and ratings. When shoppers want a suggestion or to read about a place to visit, they turn to review sites and apps. Your online reputation is a blend of reviews from sites like Google My Business, Yelp, FourSquare, TripAdvisor, and Facebook. Your online reputation lives anywhere people have discussions—in real life, or digitally—about where to spend money locally.
Managing all the touch points associated with your online reputation can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. For years, we’ve found ways to leverage technology to automate some of the most daunting and mundane tasks, like bookkeeping and paying our taxes (think of tools like TurboTax and Quickbooks). There are tools available to small business owners that will automate much of the work associated with protecting your online reputation. Many of these tools are new, groundbreaking, extremely cost effective.
What that means: Rather than manually checking each of your review listings or website, you can set up notifications to alert you to new reviews. You’ll never miss what you’re customers are saying, and you won’t have to visit a bunch of different websites or apps to stay in the know.
Where to start boosting your online reputation
Here are some of the essential elements you need to keep an eye on if you want to manage and protect your online reputation (all of which can be automated).
- Keep an eye on new reviews and overall rating changes. In the age of push notifications, you have complete control over how many and what kinds of notifications you receive so you stay informed, not inundated with alerts.
- Remove the clutter so you can keep moving forward. Report spam and manage false or inappropriate reviews with ease.
- Respond to and engage with customers who are leaving raving reviews and quickly thank them for their support.
- Measure the impact of your reputation on your business and know how it compares to your competitors and local market. See how you rank and see your business through the eyes of your prospective customers. As you get more reviews and ratings, you’ll see foot-traffic in your store increase, so will sales and revenue.
Why should you care about protection your online reputation
Your online reputation plays a vital role in your new customer acquisition. A negative review can have negative implications if left unattended.
Research shows that your online reputation directly affects sales and revenue. A one-star drop or increase in your overall rating could mean a 5-9% increase or decrease in store-wide revenue. And the impacts are more significant at the local level. This same study compared the effect of a 1-star change on local businesses to larger chains. The larger the chain, the less of an impact their rating shift had. The smaller the business, the more influence the rating shift affected their sales.
With businesses already operating on razor-thin margins, even a plus-or-minus 5% change to your bottom line revenue could be the difference between barely surviving or thriving in your market.
When you consider that more than one in two businesses (55%) wouldn’t survive more than three months if their sales took a nosedive, a 5% drop in sales could be catastrophic. On the other hand, a 5% increase in revenue could provide the much-needed cash-flow your business needs and allow you to invest in other areas of your business.
Your online reviews are modern word-of-mouth recommendations. Improving your online reputation will not only increase your foot-traffic, but it will also improve your bottom line. You will notice the effects of a healthy reputation and will feel it throughout your business. Best of all, it can be measured and tracked.
And remember: You don’t have to be a tech-savvy expert to manage online reviews. Even a few, simple steps will protect your reputation and increase your sales.
Harness the power of online reputation sites and boost your online reputation. Womply is the #1 online reputation system for small businesses. Womply monitors your reputation sites while you focus on the things only you can do for your business. Our tools will help you keep negative reviews from going online, thank your biggest advocates, apologize to disappointed customers, and even encourage your happiest customers to post reviews with one click, all from one place. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!