Every entrepreneur knows reputation can make or break any company. When it comes to  online reputation, studies show that you have two-tenths of a second to impress your audience before they form a perception of your website. While you probably shouldn’t care about what other people think, it’s different in business where reputation is a very powerful asset and should hold the same value as your revenue.

 

1.Why Online Reputation Matters for your Agency

If anyone Googles your brand, are search results coming up negative or positive? What else comes up in the search engine result pages (SERPS)? Is it your website? A snippet from your store? A review? A video? Note that your services and what your customers say determine your reputation. Anyone can post online reviews now and what’s more, anything posted online is not only visible to everyone, it can also last forever. Here are the top reasons why reputation management matters to your agency:

1. Online reputation is a testament to your brand’s character and trustworthiness

Your reputation, whether it’s online or otherwise is said to always be the first thing customers take into consideration even before they take a deeper look at what you can actually offer. It represents your company and the first thing anyone’s going to be looking at before even doing business with you.

2. It gives you a competitive advantage

A good online reputation positions you as an industry leader. A positive online reputation represents authority, and this differentiates your business from thousands of businesses out there today. The more people view your agency in a positive light, the more people will see you as someone to turn to in the industry. This will translate to more people searching for your brand on Google which will eventually reflect an increase in sales.

3. Lowers cost of acquisition

There’s a higher probability for a product with as much as five reviews to be purchased compared to a product with zero. Online reviews are powerful enough to affect purchase decisions; it can also decrease your cost of acquisition.

Cost of acquisition or Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the measurement used to determine how much you spend to acquire a single customer. A positive online reputation can have a positive impact on your CAC for obvious reasons: the higher the rating of a product, the more people will talk about it, the more buzz it creates online, the less your business needs to advertise. Why? because your customers are already doing it for you.

4. Online reviews matter and will affect decision-making

Online reviews are the first thing most US consumers look at before making a purchase. Reviews are proofs that are highly accessible to interested consumers. These are considered facts from other customers who already bought and tested the product which is the reason there’s already some level of trust involved. Add the fact that reviewers are also putting their reputation out there by claiming that their reviews are factual.

5. A bad reputation can push potential clients to switch to competitors

A study from Harvard Business School indicated that 92% of people hesitate to do business with companies with less than four stars. This can result in a potential client switching to the competitors’ direction. This is something you should definitely prevent from happening. An example of negative press would be an incident with Domino’s Pizza back in 2009, when two Domino’s Pizza employees posted a video on Youtube showing employees preparing sandwiches in unsanitary conditions. The video garnered millions of views on the first day. Their revenue that year was the weakest they’ve ever had.

chart: macrotrends.net

It’s worth noting that they were able to properly handle the situation by removing the employees from the position and talking to the main audience who knew about the issue by addressing their comments online.

6. Positive online reputation will increase your website rankings

Later in the article, we will be talking about how increasing your online visibility using Search Engine Optimization will also increase your online reputation. But, it’s also worth mentioning that this also works the other way around. A good online reputation, with the right SEO strategy, can contribute to an increase in online ranking. This will affect your agency in many ways. Web rankings determine which websites are shown in the first page of search results whenever a user enters a keyword relating to your line of business. Considering that search engines drive 300% more traffic to sites than social media, the flip side is 75% of users never click past the first page of search results. Remember the times you looked up something on Google? Did you ever go past the first page? When did you last click beyond the second page?

No matter what business, whether you’re in the legal services industry, dental industry, food and beverage or SAAS, it will be a huge benefit to delve deeper into what SEO is. Know more about what it can do to make an impact in strengthening your online reputation.

7. You get higher conversion rates

97 percent of consumers consult product reviews  while 85 percent of consumers seek out negative reviews before making a purchase. Once your online reputation starts to pick up rhythm, so will your revenue. Revenue is an indicator of how well your reputation is doing.

Notice how all successful brands tend to have the best reputation—NIKE, ADIDAS, UNDER ARMOUR– these are just some of the biggest names in sports that highly rely on reputation. This is why they attach their names to high performing and winning athletes. Top athletes have the best reputation and by co-branding with them, brands like Nike are telling the world their reputation holds the same standard.

Online reviews and testimonials have the same effect. Users are also putting their own reputation on the line by stating their experience with the product, in return, their opinions are held in high regard.

 

2. How to Develop a Positive Online Reputation

There are many ways you can build your online reputation to establish your authority and credibility as an agency. Your aim is to create a positive online image,  maintain it and keep the bad press away.

1. Measure brand perception first

Brand perception is how people, not just your clients, view your brand. As an agency, you have to get used to your business being judged all the time. Every word you speak and action you take will be the basis of brand perception.

Because brand perception stems from what your customers say about your brand, one way to measure and track it is by finding ways to talk to them

  • Forums
  • Surveys
  • Monitoring online reviews, including social media

Measuring your brand perception will allow you to determine which aspects make you unique, what your areas of strengths are, and target what you need to improve on.

Here are 4 key metrics when measuring Brand Perception:

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is how well your industry recognizes your product by name. You can measure this through surveys or creating a forum and asking the members questions that will reveal what they think about your brand. Here are some guide questions you should use.

  1. Which brand comes to mind when you think about Product or buying Product.
  2. Why did you choose this brand? (recommendation, price, availability, quality, online reviews)
  3. Are you the main decision maker in the company? (Are you a major influencer when making decisions for your agency?)
  4. Where did you hear about our agency? (Ask this question if they’ve heard of your Agency.)

Brand Association

This simply tells you what traits consumers equate or relate your brand to when they hear the name. For example, the Nike brand is associated with performance and success, while when hearing the word Google, people immediately think ‘The Internet’, while Starbucks is now more associated with being ‘Globally Recognizable’ more than they’re linked to the terms ‘high class coffee’ or ‘globally standard service’.

Brand association can be anything that people can come to associate your brand with. It goes without saying that your brand should be connected to something positive.

Quality Perception

This is how people view the quality of your service. The quality of your products or services heavily influence brand perception. Start assessing your products’ performance, appearance and also if your products or services deliver what you say they do in your ads, copies and marketing campaigns.

Brand Loyalty

Customer loyalty is one of the ultimate determinants of success — if not the ultimate —  for any brand. Loyal customers are a testament that your product and services work and that there are people who are willing to come back and patronize your products, not just once, or twice but for as long as these products are available to them.

2. Be a subject matter expert

Being seen as a subject matter expert (SME) is an asset because you will be the first person people will be turning to when they need advice for something that involves your area of expertise. Why? Because not only are SMEs valuable for their knowledge of the industry, their reputation is at the level where they are seen as someone who people can turn to for advice.

How can people know that you’re the subject matter expert they can turn to for help?

There are many ways. You can share your approach with your clients, do online training programs, post blogs and publish case studies on your website blogs showing the effectiveness of your product and how it helped your clients. Here’s a guide that can help you write a kick-ass case study for your agency or your clients and also a sample case study for your reference.

3. Be consistent, don’t be random

If you want to create a positive online reputation you have to be consistent. From the services and products you produce, in all the messages you send and in any platform you choose to deliver them, all the way to how your agency deals with customers, needs to be well thought of and consistent.

Consistency is key to success, and like how Anthony Robbins phrased it ‘It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.’.

Randomness has the tendency to confuse customers. People expect an agency to be consistent in the products or services delivered as well as the way they send messages. Be consistent even in caring for your customers. You have to show everyone the same treatment no matter who they are, no matter what setting you’re in. This tells people that you know your brand. The opposite message is conveyed when your agency uses random treatment in their processes.

4. Leverage Satisfaction

Customer reviews and shares are great but you shouldn’t just rely on them. If you know that your product and services are making people happy, are helping people out and making their day-to-day lives easier, then feel free to leverage on this and tell the world about it. Boast about how your agency is making people’s lives easier. You can do this by creating interesting content that promotes this message and distributing it through various channels.

The goal here is to let the world know about the positive impact your agency had on other people’s lives.

5. Utilize Social Media

Remember that one happy client can lead to a chain of happy clients. One way you can increase your online reputation and know what people are saying about you, is by being active in social media. This includes Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world next to Google. Be clever and take advantage of this. Posting videos can get people to comment  and it’s a great way to gather information on your brand perception. On the other hand, although Facebook likes or social media signals don’t have a direct effect on your Google ranking, you can use this as an avenue to promote your brand and establish a positive reputation.

6. Always keep an eye on ratings, comments, and reviews

Be mindful of rating, comments and reviews. Reviews can boost sales if they’re positive and raving about your products or services, but it can equally damage your business if it’s a bad review. 86 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company following a bad experience. Following this, it takes about forty positive customer experiences to undo the damage done by the negative review.

7. Take advantage of Search Engine Optimization to establish a good first impression

Ranking high in Google automatically awards your business a brand of authority. It tells people that Google recommends you and that your brand is credible enough to pass Google’s standards. How do you improve your Google ranking and end up on top?

If you’re in the digital marketing industry or someone who’s planning to start an SEO business is one of the most effective ways you can catapult your site on top of search engine results pages. This is no secret, SEO has the capacity to align and identify your business goals, and shine light on how you can improve your business strategy (thanks to competitive analysis and site analysis). But not everyone knows what value SEO can bring to increase your online reputation.

The techniques involved in doing SEO increases the popularity of your website. Link Building, for example, is a practice that allows you to collaborate with reputable sites which results in backlinks. Your online reputation will shoot up in the eyes of both Google and the user who stumbles upon your site through that backlink.

3. How to Manage Negative Comments or Reviews

Even though you’re confident about your product or services and think you’ve executed everything well, there will be times when some people will still run into something negative to comment about. It just goes without saying that you can’t please everyone and anything can happen. But in business, this can be damaging especially if you’re a start-up. Having negative reviews can detract your SEO activities and influence your site rankings. You have to act on it and do ‘damage control’ as quickly as possible.

1. First, judge if it’s correct or if the negative comment has basis.

If it’s not valid, don’t reply to it but do track who the person is. Pay attention if they’re actively spreading false information off-site as well. However, if what they’re saying makes sense, evaluate where the commenter is coming from. If the writer is unhappy with your product or service, refer to no. 2.

2. Don’t defend, don’t excuse. Put yourself in their shoes.

If the customer is complaining about your services or has reason to be upset because of a particular shortcoming from your part, it’s best to apologize and quickly fix the situation.

Reach out to the person who wrote that comment. Offer an alternative service for free or add in an extra service after fixing the current situation. It’s not just because ‘the customer is always right’, and it’s not about being a ‘Yes Man’ which we don’t recommend you become — it’s about making your customer feel special and seeing your customer’s complaint as a feedback on what you need to improve on.

3. Give them compensation.

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent while it’s down to 5-20 percent when it comes to selling to a new one. Customer retention should be one of your major goals. One negative reviewer can possibly be one your most loyal customer if handled the right way.

Don’t view a negative review as bad press, view is as an opportunity to make your company better. Offer them free products and services, discount codes or interview them and discuss how you can make your company better.

4. Be professional and thorough.

Handling issues in a professional manner shows that you’re in control of the situation even though sometimes the situation is out of your control. Take this issue with JetBlue Airways in 2015 as an example. A passenger had a problem with his monitor and was unable to play movies or watch videos during his 4-hour flight.

credits: twitter.com/jetblue

Jetblue Air was quick to respond, in a professional manner, while showing the passenger empathy and care. The outcome? The customer was quickly pacified in return. Quickly accepting the apology and compensation.

This is one prime example of what can happen when you handle a negative review professionally. Not seeing a customer complaint as an attack but as a cry for help.

 

5. If you have addressed and fixed the issue, talk to the reviewer to change the rating or edit the bad review.

We have now established the importance of maintaining a good rating and the power it holds in attracting customers.

Now that you have taken action in fixing the customer’s issue and have turned the matter around, it’s time to have that reflected on the review as well.

There’s nothing wrong with asking them politely to change their reviews. Be honest and tell them you value customer ratings and that it’s really important to you if they can revise theirs. Send them a private email explaining your intention.

Here’s a template:

 

Hi {Customer},

This is {Name} from {Agency}. Thank you so much for your cooperation and for working with us through this issue. We’re so happy that we were able to resolve it with you. Here at {Agency} we pay heavy attention to customer experience and in this regard we take customer reviews and feedback very seriously.
We’d highly appreciate it if you will be able to edit and revise your previous rating. You can update your review any time. Thank you for your time and we’re looking forward to providing you with more amazing services.

Sincerely,

{Signature}

{Agency Name}

 

Don’t forget to respond once they have modified their rating or review.

 

Sample template:

Hi {Customer Name},

Thank you very much for your time. It means so much to us that you updated your experience rating.

Let us know if you need anything else and feel free to contact us through phone or email. {phone or email information}

 

Best Regards,

{Signature}

{Agency Name}

 

Add in a discount or promo code as a token of your appreciation if you want.

 

In a Nutshell

 

Your reputation can position you as an industry leader, but note that it can take as long as 20 years to build a reputation, yet it only takes five minutes to ruin it. These words from Warren Buffet ring true no matter what business you’re in. Take extra precautions. You have to determine the traits and values that your company will live by, instill it in all your processes and be consistent with them.

You have to determine the traits and values that your company will live by, instill it in all your processes and be consistent with them.

In  the end, reputation is developed because your agency was able to make other people’s lives better. It’s about helping your target audience solve their problems and attain their goals that will increase your online reputation. The people that you’ve helped,  your loyal clients and customers will do the rest for you.