The digital handshake in an online world.
By Abigail Thorpe
Perception is everything—at least in today’s online world. Managing your business’ online presence isn’t something you can throw on the to-do list and deal with later, it’s central to any business’s success, particularly in a world where online reviews and business information is available in a few clicks of a smartphone, regardless of whether that information is accurate or not.
Eighty-six percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses before they visit, and 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to recent studies by Bright Local. The key takeaway? Establishing an online presence, managing it to guarantee accuracy and regularly updating information is central to remaining competitive in business.
A central part of managing your online presence is responding in a timely manner to reviews both good and bad, interacting with customers online and through social media platforms, and building your reviews and ratings. Review signals make up 15 percent of Google local pack ranking factors, which means they’re incredibly important to your local SEO. Studies show that including positive reviews on your website makes your business seem more trustworthy, while 54 percent of consumers will only use a product or company with four or more stars.
So point made, ratings are important in the general sense, but what do they mean for your bottom line? Having a five-star rating earns your business 39 percent more clicks from Google local than having a one-star rating, and purchase likelihood is a whopping 270 percent higher for products that have five or more reviews.
Reputation management isn’t just about making sure nobody says anything bad about you, it’s about making sure people are talking about you—lots. That means investing time in reputation management alongside advertising. Marketing a product won’t do much good unless your customers trust your brand. The average local marketer spends 17 percent of his or her time on online reputation management—not a small amount when you consider all of the other things demanding a business owner’s time.
Along with the time commitment there are intricacies involved with managing a company’s reputation. You need the finesse and detachment to respond to bad reviews in a way that will help, not hurt your business, as well as the knowledge of how to build reviews and reputation in a solid, trustworthy way that will have longevity and carry your business through a bad review or rating. If you don’t have the time or expertise to manage your business' online reputation, make sure you’re working with someone who does—it’s worth the investment in the long run. Check out how Rocket Fish Digital can help establish, improve, or preserve your business reputation.