Everything we're about to say also applies to non-profits, such as 501(c)3's, ministries, churches... you name it. You can substitute employee with volunteer. Replace business with non-profit. Swap buy with give... You get the idea.
In this post, we want to address a critical aspect of business that is often overlooked by business owners and managers.
You’re busy … No … You’re not just “busy.” You’re up to your neck with customers that have their own urgent needs and demands. You have employees that need to be trained, managed, and paid. You have a stack of bills “this high” that never seems to shrink.
In short, you’ve got your nose so buried in 1,001 urgent tasks and to-dos that you don’t even have a free moment to come up for breath... let alone spend the valuable time analyzing how something known as “online reputation” is affecting your bottom line.
But what if we were to tell you that ignoring your online reputation is quietly hurting your bottom line and can even have devastating effects?
What if we told you that you’re potentially losing prospects at an alarming rate because of your online reputation? And these aren’t cold prospects either! These are people who have reached the buying stage. They’ve done their shopping. They know they want or need a product or service like the one you offer. They’re eager to buy — cash-in-hand. Now they just need to find the right place to spend their hard-earned money.
You’re probably wondering, “How in the world did you come up with such a ridiculous claim?”
Simple. We looked at the numbers.
Here’s what one Forbes study uncovered:
- 90% of consumers look at online reviews before deciding where to take their business
- 82% of those consumers read what reviewers (i.e. verified customers) are saying about you and your business
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from family and friends
- You risk losing up to 70% of your potential customers because of negative things folks are saying online about you or your business
That study was done in 2017.
Imagine how drastically things have changed in 2020 with the growth in online shopping thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
It’s true. Your online reputation is having a quiet — but direct — impact on your bottom line.
You simply can’t afford to keep ignoring it.
But before we talk about what actions you can take, let’s ask…
What is “Online Reputation”?
A few years ago, you would learn that if companies want to succeed in today’s marketplace, they have to have a website. And not just any website. It has to be well-designed, easy to use, and provide an amazing customer experience.
Your website, after all, serves as your digital storefront. This certainly remains true for your business today.
But things have changed.
A few years ago companies could build a website, then passively sit back as customers rolled in to purchase their products or services online. There was no need for interaction... No need for relationship. Your website was simply a transactional space for your customers.
But as businesses, small and large alike, started setting up shop and flooding the internet with countless digital storefronts, the number of websites selling similar products or services multiplied. The digital space got crowded.
Customers were no longer sure what businesses they could trust. Which ones provided the best value? Which ones provided excellent customer service? Where can I get the most bang for my buck?
So they started doing what customers always do when they’re ready to buy, but aren’t sure where to take their business…
They started talking to each other.
In the past, your customers relied on family, friends, coworkers, and “word-of-mouth” advertising to help them decide what and where to buy. Believe it or not, that’s exactly what happens online too.
How this process plays out online is what determines your online reputation.
How does your online reputation work?
There are several ways your online reputation is either built up or destroyed... from the ongoing discussions taking place on Facebook, to the “Comments” section of websites, forums, blogs, and even news articles.
But there is one way in particular that gives you (and your potential customers) the clearest indication of the health of your online reputation.
What way is that? The answer is online reviews.
Those 1 to 5-star ratings and comments on Google, Facebook, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages dot com, Avvo, Great Schools, Angie’s List, and the list goes on.
Here’s another very hard truth that many small-business owners either ignore or are completely unaware of, often to their detriment and even demise:
People are talking about you online.
They’re telling others in the digital world about you — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether you want them to or not, your customers — both the current and the former — are sharing their experiences of your business, your products, and your services with others online.
As we pointed out in the bullet points above, you risk losing up to 70% of your potential customers because of the negative things folks are saying about you online.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Smart business owners like you have found a way not just to get more of those positive 5-star reviews, but even turn negative reviews into a compelling reason to choose your business over others!
It’s pretty simple, really. They partner with a trusted advertising agency — usually the same agency that built their website and/or helps them with their digital marketing — to use their Online Reputation Management Software.
This reputation software gives you the power to request more reviews from your satisfied customers.
The result? More 5-star reviews from happy customers that give other prospects compelling social persuasion to utilize your services.
(It also helps with your search engine ratings... we’ll get to that in another article.)
Perhaps even more powerful than getting more 5-star reviews is the ability online reputation management software gives you to respond directly and personally to your dissatisfied customers. This puts you in control of your business’s online narrative. Instead of standing by helplessly as folks post negative comments about your business, you can proactively engage your dissatisfied customers, find out what went wrong, and ask how you can make it right for them before they make their complaints known online.
Effectively, you can stop bad reviews before they ever go online.
And the really great thing about online reputation management software… It’s completely automated. You don’t have to worry about it taking up tons of time from your already overloaded schedule.
Our own online reputation management software can help your small business or non-profit.
Watch the 3-minute video we’ve put together.
We’d even be happy to do a live video presentation for you! ?
What people are saying about ? On Fire Media...