You’ve decided to invest in content marketing and are hoping this will boost your site’s authority, drive more traffic, and of course, revenue for you. Great! Content is huge today and it’s important to your website and blog and honestly, your business’s bottom line. Adding relevant, useful content is always a good idea in my opinion. However, before you rush off and start creating loads of new content, let’s talk about something you might not have thought about.
Before you write
Before you start writing anything, I want you to take a step back and do a quick audit of all your owned and earned content properties. Obviously, your owned content properties are easy to find, your website, social channels, blog, etc. These are all properties you have control over and can craft the message you want your audience to see. These are the ones that are ultimately the easiest to manage and control. They’re where you’ll put a lot of your content development focus in the coming months.
Your earned content channels are different. They’re the sites that have information about you but you’re not in charge of what’s shared. These can be a great asset to your organization if they contain positive information.
However, if your online reputation is less than stellar, these become a potential issue for you. While you can’t control what consumers say about your organization, you can control how you react and manage the reviews. These earned channels represent both a big opportunity and a big liability for your business. Consumers believe reviews and use them to help make a purchase decision.
Whether the information is valid, is not always known. A review is simply someone’s opinion of a situation or product. Therefore, online reputation management is critical. Your customer’s opinion about their interactions with you may shape a future customer’s decision whether to do business with you.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is exactly what it sounds like – it’s you actively managing your online reputation. Seem silly? You’d be surprised how many companies have issues and aren’t even aware of them. Why is this a problem? Most of the online reputation issues are related to negative experiences and come in the form of negative reviews.
If you’re focusing on your content marketing efforts and trying to build your brand awareness and you have a bunch of negative reviews or comments on third-party sites… you could end up building an audience that is run off because of negative information.
Why is online reputation management important?
Research shows that consumers are going to check reviews before making a purchase. Therefore, online reputation management is critical. Irrespective of what industry you are working in, you likely have a review site of some sort to contend with. If you’re a B2C brand, you may have reviews on places like Google, Google Maps, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Wedding Wire, BBB, Glassdoor, etc.
There are hundreds of review sites. If you think you’re immune to negative reviews, you’re sadly wrong. They can happen to anyone. Any brand. For any reason. The thing with online reviews is that they’re someone’s opinion. However, more consumers search for reviews today when making a purchase. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation per BrightLocal’s 2016 online review research survey.
Additionally, 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. If you have negative reviews on your accounts, consumers will see them and they’re unlikely to dig deep to find better reviews. 73% of consumers think reviews more than three months old are no longer relevant per the same survey.
Now that you understand the importance of review sites, you may be curious what you can do to improve or manage your brand’s online reputation. This is where the audit we talked about earlier comes in handy.
Start by searching for your brand name. Go through the traditional sites and see what you find. Then add in the term “review” and see if new sites pop up. Go through the reviews, read them, and take what’s being said as the customer’s truth. Maybe you don’t see the experience the same way but this is what they felt.
While you can’t make everyone happy, you need to honestly review the feedback and see if there are issues to address. If there are, then, by all means, address them. Often the key to online reputation management is better training for your customer service team. If they’re empowered to take care of customers at the time of the first interaction, you often see fewer negative reviews.
If the overall feel is positive, that’s great. You may not have to do much clean up today but you still need to manage the process. 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more (BrightLocal, 2016). If you’re a local business, this is a critical statistic.
So, how do you ensure you continue to have positive reviews for your business? It’s easy. Provide great customer service to every customer every time. And don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review when asked (BrightLocal, 2016). Imagine that, all you must do is provide great service and ask your customers to review you and they’ll help you manage your online reputation. Seems easy enough, right?
What if there’s a problem?
Maybe you’re not as lucky as some and when you start pulling up your reviews, you see issues. Are there patterns? Are there themes to the negative reviews? Are they related to customer service or pricing or quality of your products? What’s going to be most important for you is to acknowledge these negative reviews and take steps to resolve the core issues that cause them?
You can’t just hope they’ll go away because they won’t. And they’ll hurt you in the long run. It may be hard to take some of what’s been said. And it’s likely easier to ignore it but if you want to grow your business, you must address the problems. Do not fight the reviews. Do not try to prove that the customer is wrong.
Accept, acknowledge, correct and move on. I’ve seen situations where the company tried to respond to the negative reviews and only made it much worse for them. Be the bigger person here and respond appropriately. Don’t assume it’s all someone else’s fault or the customer is lying.
Why does it all matter?
So, why is all this important to content marketing? If you’re investing in content (or any marketing for that matter), you’re trying to drive traffic to your site, you’re building brand awareness, and ultimately, you’re hoping to make new customers. It’s important you know what you’re dealing with from the beginning and address the issues proactively or if you have no issues, devise a strategy to remain problem free. You need to actively manage your online reputation to grow your business. If you’re going to put a lot of time, effort, and money into a content marketing program be sure what customers read about your business is good.