The short answer is; in the world of constant consumer connectivity, any business without a solid, positive online reputation will sink. Online shopping and service procurement is increasing in popularity, but what comes before the sale is just as important. According to a Bright Local survey, 97 percent of consumers regularly looked online for local businesses, and every day, 12 percent of people searched the online business world. That offers huge potential for local shop owners and service providers to increase sales and reach their goals. What then determines the business these customers go for? Their online reputation.

It has been estimated that 36 per cent of people judge a company purely on their online presence.

Reputation management is the term used to keep track of and mould a business image online. It looks at not only what pops up on searches, but comments, reviews and posts across all social media platforms. It has been estimated that 36 per cent of people judge a company purely on their online presence, which is a massive proportion of potential customers who then go on to recommend your products or services (or not!). When looking at your own business online reputation, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Why Local Business Should Care About Their Online Reputation

Digging Up The Past

In the real world, gossip is common but easily shrugged off and forgotten in time. In the digital world, once something is out there, there is no retrieving it. There are some very clever (albeit evil) people out there adept at seeking out damaging posts, out-of-context content and distorted images from the depths of the world wide web that the unfortunate targets knew nothing about. The sad thing is that no matter how much positive content, feedback and comments a business receives on a day-to-day basis, one damaging remark set in stone via the internet may be all it takes to unravel years of hard work.

85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Social Proof

The business world is highly competitive and digital word-of-mouth is gold. Whereas once upon a time we would verbally ask friends and family for a business recommendation, now we jump online and look at reviews from complete strangers. According to a Bright Local consumer survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. We say gossip can spread like wildfire, but digitally it is the speed of light. Reviews are instantly accessible to a wide audience, which is part of their charm, but need to be kept tabs on to make sure they are useful. This does not mean negative reviews should be deleted either; when handled in the right way, negative reviews can be turned around to highlight a different positive of your business, clear up misunderstanding or simply show you care about genuine customer concerns.

Testimonials are another fantastic way to boost your social proof and thus your online reputation. Where possible, include logos of brands you have worked with and ask someone in the organisation to offer a quote of glowing praise for your work. You should be proud of these testimonials – show them off by placing them in a prominent section of your website and share them on your social media accounts!

Unwanted Links

It is a good idea to regularly type your business into a search engine and see what comes up. You may have been linked to a site unknowingly or had an article written about your business that is news to you. This can be damaging and you certainly should care about how this could affect your business, especially if the source of the offending article pops up on a search engine listing before your own site.

Regularly Updated, User-friendly Website

According to the Digital Australia: State of the Nation study, 40 per cent of organisations that fail to offer consumers a high quality digital experience run the risk of losing the customer. Make sure your website runs smoothly, is easy to navigate and the purchasing flow is straightforward. If it isn’t, customers will soon notice and sales will be lost.

For the longevity of your business in this highly competitive world, you need to take steps to ensure your online reputation is squeaky clean and stays that way; you cannot afford not to. As a time-poor nation of busy business owners, it doesn’t hurt to enlist some help in online reputation management. Talk with the Banter team about how we can assist you in keeping your business in good light in the ever-evolving and often scary digital world.