6 Tips For Marketing Your Business To Get More Local Customers

6 Tips For Marketing Your Business To Get More Local Customers

 

For businesses that rely on local customers, marketing used to mean putting an advert in a shop window or local newspaper, or maybe handing out flyers. Now, local online marketing has really come into its own and provides businesses with a whole host of different tactics to get in front of new customers.

 

But, to really get the most out of local online marketing, businesses need to make sure they’re doing it right and not just wasting time and effort. Here are our Top Tips on How to Really Succeed in Local Online Marketing.

 

  1. Have a plan and stick to it

 

This should be obvious, but unfortunately it’s a crucial step that many businesses forget. If your marketing isn’t planned out it becomes almost impossible to track and measure any improvements, or lack of improvements that you make.

 

If you have no previous experience of putting a marketing plan together then take some time to do a bit of research, dull as it may seem it is a far better use of your time than going in blind! A basic local online marketing plan could start off by listing your business goals, then breaking down how you intend to achieve them.

 

For example, do you want to increase revenue by 10% across the quarter? How do you intend to get there? Will you employ an additional sales person, or will you sell higher value products? How will you get that message across to potential customers?

2. Invest in a Mobile Friendly website.

  • 40% Of Mobile Searches Have Local Intent (Source: Google: Creating Moments that Matter)
  • In October 2016, mobile internet web usage took over desktop (Source: Telegraph)
  • Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead. (Source: MicKinsey & Company)

Make sure your website is mobile ready

 

With Statistics like these it’s pretty obvious that you need your website to be mobile ready! People who are searching from their mobile are likely to be out and about, looking for what they need at that moment. If your website can’t be opened from their phone because it uses flash, or because there is too much to load then you could be missing out on valuable business leads every day.

 

3. Make Sure Your Campaigns Are Geo-Targeted.

 

geo targeting

 

If you want to attract customers within a specific local area, then it’s no good aiming your adverts far and wide where people from anywhere in the world can see them but can’t take action!

 

Sites such as Facebook and Google Adwords and other Display Ad networks, allow you to target ads using a geo-location feature, meaning your adverts will only be seen by people in the locations that you specify.

 

Think about how far people are likely to travel for your service and then target those areas to find your new customers.

Research conducted by Bright Local conducted a survey asking respondents how far they would drive to for 13 different local services. The results are below.

 

Driving Times to Local Businesses Infographic

 

Interestingly people are willing to travel for 5 minutes longer to visit a Dentist/Doctor than they would a Solicitor or an Accountant.

 

Alarmingly people are willing to travel an extra 2 minutes to go to a Pub then to a Gym. What does that say?

 

Make sure that your location is obvious to anyone who might be searching your kind of service within your area. Don’t leave this information confined to the contact us page. Include your location details on every page of your site so Search engines recognise it and more importantly potential customers know exactly where you are.

 

4. Engage with Customers Online.

 

social media engagement

 

When you’ve spent a lot of time building up your local online marketing you also need to be seen as a real human presence, not just a marketing machine. This means you need to take some time to engage with your customers, respond to comments they leave on your website, have conversations via Twitter, and thank people for their feedback.

 

Social Proof is now all important, and online comments and actions that remain searchable and in the public domain are often viewed as being just as important as recommendations from Friends and Family.

 

Don’t undermine your own marketing efforts by forgetting to be a real person!

 

5. Be Top of the Search Engines

Basic SEO strategies can help generate sales and customers so it’s vital to get it right. If the search engines recognise your site as being filled with valuable information on a subject then it also helps your credibility with customers.

Being at or near the top of search engine rankings will ensure you get the best of the search engine traffic coming to your site on a regular basis.

It’s not just SEO that gets you to the top of the Search Engines. Tools such as Google My Business also help, along with Videos, Images, reviews and a strong social media presence.

 

6. Get 5 Star Online Reviews

 

 

Local search user reviews help build new customer trust. If a person isn’t acquainted with your business, they’re going to want to get an idea that other people, past customers, are happy with the work or service you have provided before spending their money with you.

 

If they do not know anyone whom they can ask about your services they turn to online user reviews to get a feel for how you operate.

 

90% of consumers read 10 reviews or less before they feel that they can trust a business (Source: BrightLocal)

Therefore it is imperative that you have in place a system to get clients to leave their positive feedback online.

 

Local Online Marketing is not complicated but with increased competition for people’s attention, time and money it is vitally important to have a plan and continuously act on it to build a stream of new customers.

Get 5 star reviews fast

Local Knowledge Panel Now Includes Reviews From the Web

Local Knowledge Panel Now Includes Reviews From the Web

Google recently announced that they were adding “reviews from around the web” to the local knowledge panel for businesses. Find out how this may affect you here: http://bit.ly/2cpHQTv

Last week Google announced that they were adding “reviews from around the web” to the local knowledge panel for businesses.

Google stated

“Whether your site publishes editorial critic reviews, best-of places lists, or aggregates user ratings, this content can be featured in local Knowledge Panels when users are looking for places to go.

Reviews from the web is available globally on mobile and desktop, Reviews from the web brings aggregated user ratings of up to three review sites to Knowledge Panels for local places across many verticals”

 

What is the Knowledge Panel?

If you were to Google any business name (take your own business as an example), on the left hand side of the page Google will return a list of the most relevant sites on the internet related to your business and on the right hand side of the page there will be the knowledge panel for your business. Take a look at the example below:

 

Knowledge graph example of Bath Spa Dentistry

 

The knowledge panel will display your location on a map, the Name, Address and Phone Number Citation (NAP), your opening hours, images of the exterior and interior of your office. It will also show the customer ratings that your business has from Google My Business, as well as some snippets of those reviews and now “the reviews from the web” section that will showcase reviews from other relevant sites. Good or bad.

 

Why have Google Added Reviews from the Web?

 

Reviews from the Web is intended to increase the number of sites that can display user reviews allowing the user to gain a more informed buying decision.

 

When it comes to making purchasing decisions, customers look for trust signals, and so does Google. One of those trust signals is online reviews, with 90% of customers  saying that their purchasing decisions are influenced by them. Google also uses user generated content including online reviews as a ranking signal for how your website will perform for keyword phrases in search.

 

Here are a few examples of what “Reviews from the Web” Look Like

dental reveiws from around the web

 

In the example above you can see a dentist that has reviews being pulled through from NHS Choices and Yell along with the reviews they also have from Google My Business. This gives three separate social signals for any potential patients to read and decide for themselves if they are a good practice to choose.

 

jmw solicitors manchester knowledge graph

In the above example Google is displaying user generated reviews from Facebook and Trustpilot.

 

Slater and gordon knowledge graph

Slater and Gordon have optimised their website and used structured review snippet data on their website to alert Google of their user reviews.

 

What sites can you get reviews from?

 

Google has not yet provided a definitive list of sites that it is pulling reviews from. Sites that have been seen are sites such as Yell, Facebook, Trustpilot and NHS Choices to name but a few. As the roll out continues to take place we will see more and more sites being added to the knowledge graph.

Actions that all business owners should take.

 

  • Build Your Reputation

 

Put in place a system that actively asks and makes it super simple for your patrons to leave reviews for your business on the sites that are included on the knowledge graph.

 

  • Manage your Reputation

 

Understand exactly where your business is listed online and what reviews are out there. Once you know this, monitor those sites to check for new reviews, good and bad, that could alter your review score. Direct your patrons to these sites, for example Google+, Yell, NHS choices, Facebook, or industry related sites that are relevat and are present on your knowledge graph.

 

  • Market Your Reputation to Help you Win More Customers.

 

Implement the Google review snippet and use each and every one of your reviews on your website and across social media to shout about the benefits of using your business to all who are watching and in need of your services.

 

Google cares what people say about your business because its users, your customers, care. Make sure the information that Google presents to your next customer is strong enough to make your competition irrelevant.

The next step for you to take is to implement a 5 Star Review strategy. Find out how to do this by downloading our free report below.

 

Get 5 star reviews fast

Do Customers Really Trust Your Business?

Do Customers Really Trust Your Business?

I’m sure your gut reaction says that yes, they do, but how can you prove it?

 

Let’s look at this from the customer’s point of view. If they are looking for the kind of service you provide, how does your business prove to those customers that you’re the best company for them?

 

The answer is, they look at your track record, and the quickest way for them to get a good idea is from your past clients who have already employed you to do the job that this new customer wants. So, they look at your reviews.

 

Online reviews and recommendations are now incredibly important, in fact they have contributed to the biggest shift in consumer buying in the last 100 years and few businesses are really harnessing their power.

 

Do you know how many reviews an average consumer will look up before making a decision?

It’s 10, yes that’s right, TEN.

 

If your business doesn’t have 10 reviews online then you’re giving your next potential customer their first reason not to get in touch with you (Source: Brightlocal).

 

Taking this one step further, the number of reviews that a consumer wants to see before they trust a business is actually very similar. Studies report that consumers want to see between 6 and 10 5 star reviews before they think a business is trustworthy (Source: Searchengineland).

 

The bottom line is that without those 5 Star reviews, your business isn’t trusted online. And that’s what we’re here to help you solve: How to Build Your 5 Star Reputation.

 

You might think that this sounds a little extreme, after all, how many people really read reviews?

 

Astonishingly, 97% of consumers aged 18-34 read online reviews to judge a local business (2015 local consumer review survey). This age group are the millennials, the next group of buyers. When 97% of them are using reviews to judge a local business before they call, or before they set an appointment, and way before they spend any money, it means improving your reputation is the most critical thing that you can do online for your marketing and to get customers.

 

If you’re sitting there feeling quite smug, knowing that millennials aren’t your target audience therefore online reviews and reputation needn’t concern you. WRONG.

 

If you widen the statistics for the whole population, that is ALL age groups, it’s 92% of consumers now read online reviews for local businesses (2015 local consumer review survey).

 

So how does increasing your positive reviews actually translate to an increase in business?

The University of California Berkeley published the results of a study of 328 businesses where they found that by increasing the rating by just half a star could increase revenues by 19% (Source: Economic Journal).

 

More importantly when we asked consumers – when you’re searching for a business online who would you call first? Only 18% said they would call a business that actually showed up at the top of the search results. 27% said they would choose the cheapest service. However, the majority of respondents said they would call the business with the best reputation.

 

The game of marketing has changed dramatically. You don’t need to be the business with the best SEO, and you shouldn’t have to offer the biggest discounts to attract peoples’ attention. What your customers are looking for is the most reputable company to do business with. Which is something we all should have been aiming for all along!

 

The next step for you to take is to implement a 5 Star Review strategy. Find out how to do this by signing up for our free report below.

click here

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Your Reputation Is and Always Has Been Your Biggest Competitive Advantage

Business ReputationReputation has always been important to any business. For many businesses, word of mouth and referrals from customers has been a big part of their growth strategy. Even companies with teams of salespeople and generous marketing budgets rely on their brand name and reputation to help seal their deals.

In the last few years thanks to the growth of the Internet and social media we’ve seen huge changes to how people interact with brands, and businesses that have struggled to adapt to the change of pace have seen their online reputation out of sync with their real world persona.

Businesses of every type who don’t take care of their online reputation are missing out on customers. This may sound like a bold statement, but it’s true.

Think about when you last wanted to buy something, or the last time you were looking for cinema listings or a restaurant. What about the last time you needed some information? The chances are you Googled it. Every time we need inspiration and turn to the internet what we’re really looking for is articles, videos, reviews or blogs to show us the answer, or let us know that what we’re interested in is approved or enjoyed by others too. Or the opposite!

The point is, that what we’re searching for is actually the human connection, because people want to connect with other people. We go online to share information and ideas, to find out on social media what our friends have been doing and to see what is liked, what is popular and what is newsworthy. We are connecting with other people, and brands that we like and are interested in.

This is where business reputation becomes even more important because increasingly, the businesses we are most likely to spend our money with are the ones we have the biggest emotional connection to.
When people are looking for opinions and recommendations whether it is for a Dentist, Lawyer or Cake Shop, the online opinion will be formed by the online content that is shared by your brand well before they get to the point of considering speaking to you in person.

And no matter what kind of business you have, increasingly, we’re using online content and social connections to help us with our buying decisions. Think about the three most used websites right now – Google, Facebook and YouTube. All of these sites are about Content and Connections. So if you want your business to stand out from the crowd you should make sure that you stand out where it matters online. One of the most obvious features that can set you apart from your competitors is Online Reviews.

If your business has had a great offline presence but has never focussed on its online presence, all it takes is one person to undo years of hard work by leaving a bad review and sharing it on social media. A bad review is someone telling the world that you don’t care about your customers and in a world where social connections are the new word of mouth, caring about what people say about you is your Strongest Competitive Advantage.

Please get in touch to find out how we can help you with bad reviews online

Protect Your Online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

Protect Your Online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

Protect your online Assets – Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any!

protect your online assets - life ringWe’ve said it many times before, but a website really is a non-negotiable part of doing business. I spoke to a prospect earlier today who said that he doesn’t do any marketing, online or otherwise. Yet this same prospect had a website, has local directory listings and has clients leaving opinions of his services online, Google even brought up a newspaper article from last month that mentions his name and business directly. All of this was (except for his basic website that has been in place and unchanged for years) was without his knowledge and out of his control.

It’s never been easier for potential customers to find out what others think of your business. Likewise, it’s never been easier for existing customers to leave their opinions of you, good or bad, very publically and without contacting you to let you know.

Even if you are like the prospect that I spoke to earlier and don’t wish to actively market your business online there are steps you should be taking to protect your online interests that shouldn’t take you too much time, but will ensure that you are protecting your assets to a certain extent.

Claim your Google+ Local Listing.

Every business in the world has a Google + Local page or they can claim one. The vast majority of businesses haven’t done anything with theirs as they haven’t even realised it’s there to be claimed. If you claim your Google + Local page you can give yourself an advantage when potential clients are searching for businesses like yours in your local area because Google wants to offer its own results over and above anything else. An optimised Google + Local page will also help when people search directly on your business name, because Google will recognise this as another citation of your business being valid.

Claim your local directory sites.

customer reviews - yellSites such as Yell, Thomsonlocal and Yelp are like the evolved version of the old phonebooks. They list business contact details, addresses and usually a brief description. This information will most likely have been auto filled from your website, but won’t necessarily have been refreshed even if your website information has been. These local directory sites hold a large amount of credibility with search engines who recognise them as a valid source of information. Many local directory sites have been online since the early days of the internet, which adds into their trust factor as far as the search engines are concerned. If you claim your business listing in an online directory you are given the opportunity to add additional information, for example pictures, offers, or even just give more accurate detail about what you do.

Set up Social Media sites in your business name.

You may have no desire to represent your business on Social Media, but the fact is that millions of people do use it, and you may have customers or potential customers looking for you on there. The worst thing that could happen is that someone else could set up a page using your business name and pretending to be you. Ensure this doesn’t happen by setting yourself up, and if you don’t want to use the sites leave a message clearly stating the best ways to get in touch with you. Once you’ve set the sites up, set up email notifications for if anyone does write on your wall or send you a tweet just so nothing slips through the cracks.

Make sure your Business Name, Address and Postcode are correct.

Each business has a unique Name, Address and postcode (NAP) and Search Engines use this information to ensure that information they return is about the same business, not another business with the same name. If you have moved premises you’re likely to remember to update your stationary and forward your post, but you also need to make sure that you update your address details with all local directories, Google and on your own website so that online searchers can find you too. It’s also important to keep all citations of your name and address the same, for example if your building number is 24-26 High Street, some people may just list it as 24, or 26. Whilst a postman would hopefully understand and deliver your mail, a search engine would see these as different things and therefore not give you the same credibility in the search results.

Encourage Positive Reviews

local seo - excellent customer service

It’s an unfortunate fact that people are more likely to complain than they are to praise. Your business may have had hundreds of satisfied clients over the years, and you may even have a box full of glowing testimonials, but it only takes one dissatisfied client to vent their frustration publically online to ruin your online reputation. Whilst the obvious solution is to always provide excellent customer care, there’s always going to be an occasional slip. If you already have dozens of happy customers talking about you online then one bad review will be a drop in the ocean. If you have no positive reviews then the bad one is all that anyone can see. Take pre-emptive action by encouraging everyone you deal with to leave a positive review of your business online. If you’ve followed the advice above and claimed your local directory listings then you can even ask people to go to a specific site to leave their reviews. We set up private review portals for our clients to make sure reviews can be captured and posted as easily as possible.

Not every business wants to actively manage their online profile, but it is important to have some kind of system or process in place as even if you aren’t interested in being online, I can guarantee people will already be talking about you and your business on the internet.

To find out how you could make it easier for clients to share their great reviews about your business online click here!

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

online presence 2013This week the UK’s biggest department store chain, John Lewis, announced their incredible December sales figures: growth of 13%. This was despite poor performance in the retail sector in general and partly due to Internet sales growth of 44% on last year.

John Lewis’s managing director, Andy Street said, “That hour when we opened our clearance website, at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve, was our single busiest day online, ever.”

It isn’t just John Lewis who have noticed a huge increase in online customers either. Information service Experian announced record numbers of people visited UK retailers’ websites over the festive period. UK internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011, according to Experian. The Boxing Day level – 113 million visits – was 17% up on the same day in 2011.

The growth of the internet means that shoppers are using digital devices such as tablets and smartphones to search for bargains – then only travel to those specific shops to buy those items if they need to.

So what does this mean for non-retail businesses?

With consumers becoming more and more accustomed to being able to check online for what they want, when they want it, the online trend is only set to get bigger and bigger. People no longer need to rely on information they get from friends and family – they have the whole world at their fingertips via the internet.

It means that whatever service someone requires, whether it’s a builder, solicitor, Dentist, Accountant or Beauty Salon, they can find the information online, research several companies, get reviews from other customers and potentially have made up their minds on which one they will use before they even pick up the phone to enquire in person.

Whatever line of business you are in, you need to ensure that your business can be found immediately that people search for you online. Whether or not they know your business name, if they search for your type of business, in your local area you need to be found. Even if your business demands that sales are made offline (like a Dentist, or Beauty Salon) people still need to be able to look for and research you online.

The internet means that even small businesses tucked away on quiet roads can compete with much bigger high street premises. With all the potential competitors out there, once someone has done a search on the internet they are presented with what can fit on to one page of the screen. Suddenly, your competition isn’t every business in the area, it’s those 7 or 8 businesses whose online presence is good enough to put them on the front page.

online reputation managementFor any business, reputation has always been important, but now that so much business and research is done online with less human involvement from the business in question, online reputation management has suddenly become even more important. Unless your business’s internet presence is top notch, you could be losing business hand over fist and not even know about it.

John Lewis has managed to do what an awful lot of businesses haven’t: they’ve kept their department store business strong and also built up an excellent Internet business that leverages the brands great reputation.  If they hadn’t built up their internet business, things could have been very different – there is already a long list of now closed down high street names who failed to capitalise online.

Don’t let your lack of an online presence make 2013 an unlucky year for your business!

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

customer expectationsIn a recent client meeting, we were discussing the issue of negative online reviews and the impact they can have on your business’s perceived reputation. The client in question had received 2 negative public reviews online in the past month, yet had also received gifts of wine, flowers and chocolates from some of the hundred plus new clients they had served that month. Taken into context, the 2 negative reviews should be a drop in the ocean, yet they are there online for all the world to see, while the Thank you cards and gifts remain discretely in the office.

Managing your online reputation and encouraging those positive reviews online is one thing, but dealing with difficult customers in general is another and if you really want to minimize the negative online reviews then the customer issue is what you must get to the bottom of.

Whilst there are some people who will always be a nightmare customer, no matter who they’re dealing with, they’re few and far between. Most people who submit bad reviews will legitimately feel that they’ve been hard done by and if you seem to be getting several of these type of reviews it may be worth adjusting your customer engagement plan to make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered every step of the way.

Set Expectations

Make sure your client knows exactly what it is and isn’t that you’ll be doing for them. Explain your working hours, expected turnaround time, potential problems that could arise and how you can work around them.

Think about putting together some sort of fact sheet or welcome pack that you can give a client to take away with them, but make sure you draw their attention to the important parts. If there is a step in the process you are likely to be kept waiting for information or results then make sure your client knows that any delay there will not be down to you or your business, for example if you are a conveyancing solicitor and waiting for survey results.

Above all, make sure that your client is happy with the process and that they understand what is going to happen.

Have a clear Communication Strategy

A common complaint from customers of many businesses is around communication. Either that they didn’t get any updates, or that they were kept waiting, or that they couldn’t get hold of the person they needed to.

When you are explaining your process to a customer make sure you let them know when and how you’ll be getting in touch with them with updates. Whether it is a daily email, weekly phone call, or a letter next month make sure you stick to it. While you might know that everything is moving along as it should be and that there is nothing to report, a client who is waiting to hear from you about their Divorce paperwork, house purchase, or Tax rebate may be frantic with worry.

Make sure that you follow up when you have promised to, even if it’s a simple email saying you’ve got nothing to report! Likewise, make sure that if people need to contact you there is a way for them to do it. If you never check your voicemail, then make sure people can’t leave message on it, if you’re away for 2 weeks then make sure people know who will be looking after them in your absence.

Always be Proactive

Don’t leave it to chance that a customer could go online and leave a bad review. Every time you deal with a client, ask if there is anything else you can do for them. If there is, then great, you’ve saved them from going elsewhere! If there isn’t, then ask them for feedback there and then; with more positive reviews the odd negative review then won’t have the same impact. It’s also a great way to ensure that you’re always doing everything you can to keep all of your customers happy.

And finally, always thank clients for giving you their business and make them feel like they’re your most important customer.

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

2013 Is The Time to Make Your Local Marketing Digital!

A recent study commissioned by Balihoo of 384 brand marketing executives in North America has shown how national brands will be prioritising their local marketing in 2013 with Digital tactics playing an increasingly important role.

Balihoo’s survey results are in line with other industry research showing the growing importance of local marketing for national brands,” said Pete Gombert, Balihoo’s CEO. But why is this?

One answer could be that the emergence of tools such as Google + Local means that local customers are now more inclined to leave reviews, search for local alternatives and expect more from a business they intend to spend their money with.

The strength of the Internet and Social Media now means that Local Marketing has gone global. A customer with a national base, for example a law firm with sites in several different cities, has good reason to focus their marketing in each local area as customers from Manchester will want to know what other Manchester customers think, not necessarily what a customers in Bristol found. Likewise, a bad review in one area could damage a reputation nationally and businesses need to be aware of how to best manage this.

expected_2013_marketing_spend

With 91% of the businesses surveyed expecting to spend the same or more on local marketing in 2013 as they did in 2012, local reputation, localised blogs and mobile sites are only going to become more relevant.

In fact, the top three areas earmarked for additional spending in 2013 were

  • Mobile,
  • Local Blogs,
  • Online Customer Reviews.

use_of_local_digital_tactics

*Images via Balihoo Research Micro Study: National Brand Use of Digital in Local Marketing

Interestingly, these are also the only three areas where 2013 spend is predicted to be higher than 2012 spending.

So where does this heightened interest in Local Marketing leave the existing Digital Marketing spend? Perhaps only time will tell, but companies that expect to spend more on local marketing in 2013, are currently using less digital tactics than ones not planning to spend more, and two of the biggest spending drops predicted for 2013 are Facebook and other Social Media sites.

At the moment, it has been the businesses with the largest turnovers that have placed the highest importance on Digital Marketing, perhaps because they have the biggest budgets to invest in what has been seen as emerging technology. This may all be set to change, as less than 5% of businesses ranking Digital Marketing as “Pointless” or “Unimportant” to their National Marketing success.

One thing that is usually certain though, where big businesses spend successfully, smaller businesses are generally quick to follow so it seems that 2013 will be the year of Digital Local Marketing!

Do you think 2013 will be the year of Digital Local Marketing? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Is Your Lack of Online Reputation Management a Ticking Time Bomb?

Is Your Lack of Online Reputation Management a Ticking Time Bomb?

Is Your Lack of Online Reputation Management a Ticking Time Bomb?

reputation managementWords spread very quickly online. It’s great if someone is raving about you in a positive way; not so great if the word being spread about you is a derogatory one. Previously when you received a poor service from a solicitor such as poor communication, constantly having to chase them for action, or missed deadlines, you would merely complain to the office manager or the partner. Truth be told, not a lot would happen.

These days you can tell the partner that you will be posting your comment on Yell, Yelp, Qype, Google+ Local, Thomson local or other legal specific review sites as well as on your own social networks complaining about your experience. That should have a far greater influence on the company making positive changes for your situation and also improve things for the better for other clients.

That’s because people trust customer feedback. So, just as glowing recommendations are better than any sales spiel that you have, negative comments and damaging reviews can drive customers away by the bucket load and act like a ticking time bomb for your brand online. If you don’t want your business to suffer then you need to think long and hard about your online reputation management strategy.

Reputation Management is All About Trust!

The way people make their buying decisions has changed and Social and Buzz now play an important role in the marketing mix. We are now more likely to read restaurant or hotel reviews online before booking a table or a hotel, or read book reviews on Amazon before we enter our credit card details.

The power of community and conversation is back, we are now more reliant on recommendations from friends and reviews, just as we were before the internet phenomenon where businesses relied on word of mouth marketing to assist their business growth.

Today we share what we like and dislike and post freely about our good and bad customer experiences. This gives all business owners the opportunity to use good feedback as collateral and negative online business reviews as means for improvement.

So how can you manage your reputation when anyone has the ability to say anything about you even if it is not true? You need to invest the time to find out how your business is positioned online, i.e. what customers are saying about you, and you need to use all the tools available to act fast and limit any lasting damage a negative review about your business could cause.

Reputation Management Top Tips

Optimise a Page on Your Website for Your Company Name

If you optimise a page for your company name or product name then Google should pass authority for that page in the search engines listing meaning your business should be displayed in the top positions.

Create an Online Portfolio

Google likes to provide their users with choice in terms of the media they serve. Therefore think about using video, images, pdf’s and other forms of content optimised for your name to appear in the listings.

Monitor Your Reputation Regularly

Set up a Google Alert for your company and product names. By setting up a Google alert you will be sent an email every time someone mentions your name or whatever search criteria you asked to be alerted about, every time the phrase is mentioned on websites that are in the Google index.

Reach Out to Negative Reviewers

There is only one thing that is worse than a negative review and that is a negative review with no response from the business in question. By ignoring the review it won’t go away, assess the review and respond accordingly, giving the reviewer every opportunity to contact you so you can put the issue right.

Act On the Review

Once you have showed people that you are listening then you need to show people that you care by finding the root cause of the problem. If the review said staff were rude then you need to make it clear to the staff that any further reviews will not be tolerated and to help the staff you may introduce customer service training. If waiting times are unbearable then you need to look at systems or staff in order to improve times. Problems are there for a reason, find out what it is and rectify it so it does not happen again.

Reputation management merely highlights the importance of giving your customers what they need so that, rather than shouting about how you failed them, they shout about how you delighted them and far exceeded their expectations.