You own a car shop in a city. Your business is going well, but you’re eyeing rapid growth in less time. Referral marketing does work for you. But there is only so much business you can get through it. And you don’t have the resources or time to run commercial ads on local TV channels.
Out of the blue, you learn about digital marketing. Now, to get a high sense of where you stand, you Google search about your car shop. But to your dismay, you find competitors grabbing the front page while there is no mention for your business.
So, what can you do?
Lucky for you, there is a golden-geese called online reputation management strategies in your barn. With ORM, you can turn social and digital platforms into customer acquisition portals.
Interested, are you?
Let’s dive deeper into it.
So, what is Online Reputation Management?
Popularly called ORM, it improves a customer’s perception of your business.
Primarily, it involves two things:
- Identifying online resources employed by your niche to look for service providers
- Take steps to cast your business presence on all such portals.
If a customer performs a Google search for car shops and instead finds your competitors, they might not be sure of your existence. So, if you want to bring your business to light, ORM is how you can do it.
The goal of online reputation management is to grow your customer base and enhance your visibility on social and digital channels.
What is online reputation management for small businesses?
Unlike online reputation management strategies for big corporations that include social media monitoring and investigative studies., you don’t have to do all that for SMBs.
There are four ingredients required to perfect the ORM broth for small businesses.
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, etc.
- Facebook marketing
- Google My Business
Let’s uncover them in the next segments:
Search Engine Optimization:
SEO is to your business what Google Maps is to restaurants. It improves your discoverability on Google and lets you take the lead over the competition. When a potential customer searches for your business on Google, you must grab the top results. For small businesses, their online brick and mortar stores consist of two things:
- Your website
- Your social media profiles
Your website is the online version of your existing store and is the foundation of your ORM strategy. To display your website as the top result on Google, you need to optimize it for its algorithms.
And SEO does that for you.
SEO encompasses strategies and tactics that make your website visible on the SERPs, especially the first page.
Suppose a user searches for car repair shops near me. Now, if your websites rank as top results, they will obviously click on it, review your services, and hopefully connect with you. Although if and where your websites rank on the search keyword: car repair shops near me depends on the enforced SEO strategies. Almost 67% of users don’t go beyond the first five listings on SERPs, which is why an SEO strategy should focus on including the website as one of the five results.
Google My Business:
Did you know, 28% of local searches result in purchases?
Let’s understand what Google My Business can do for your business.
In the above image, can you discover a common link other than the fact that all these listings are results of a search keyword: car repair shops near me?
Well, it is Google My Business.
The three small businesses displayed as lists use Google My Business- a free tool from Google that connects prospective customers with service providers and costs nothing!
Google My Business allows you to list your services on Google so that, when people look for such services, they can find them as a result.
The best part is:
You only have to enter your details, click on Manage Now button, and voila!
You don’t even have to spend a penny in doing so!
While optimizing your Google My Business page, add details like:
- Hours of operation
- Products and services offered
- Business description
- Business category
- Business attributes
- Photos and videos
- Link to book appointment
- Address and Google Maps location
- Social Media profiles links
- Contact number
Once customers start discovering your business through Google My Business, they can add their reviews and rate you out of five stars. It is one thing not in your control. The most you can do is offer excellent services, and customers will review and rate you well.
Always encourage your customers to write reviews about your products and services since 85% of prospects trust and treat them as personal recommendations. More so, always respond to the reviews posted, regardless of whether they are good or bad.
To sum up:
Google plays an integral role in online reputation management services rendered. It is one thing you can own while generating massive foot traffic as well.
Google might be a big engagement portal for your business, but at least 52% of people discover new businesses on Facebook as well. That said, there is a high chance to grow your customer base using this social media channel. As a business owner, you must capitalize on the opportunity and make the most out of it.
So, how to create a Facebook page for your business?
Consider the following steps:
Browse Facebook page creation center. Add details like name, category, address, phone number, and profile picture. Next, add photos: profile and cover. Make sure to use real images and not some stock ones. Your cover photo describes a lot about your business. So, you might want to cast a positive visual impression on your customers.
Once done, control the reigns of your Facebook business. Obviously, you will have to optimize to generate maximum leads.
- Head over to the Edit Page Info tab.
- Change your page template from Standard to Business through the Template and Tabs button.
- Add your business attributes that’ll make it easy for customers to find you in the Categories section. In case of a car repair shop., add phrases like a car wash, car repair, car service, car cleaning, etc.
- Describe your business in not more than 255 characters on the Page Info tab.
You can now start posting images and content that put your business in a positive light. Respond to customer reviews, even if they’re negative. Market and bolster your page’s reputation with a Facebook Messenger Bot.
A Messenger Chatbot is a simple software using AI to converse with users. It relieves you of your customer service duties or handles users when you’re busy. These chatbots don’t completely wipe out human jobs but only make up for the lost time. Also, they are an online reputation management tool active 24/7/365.
For local businesses, review sites come super handy!
Even the top searches on Google consist of the webpages of review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, etc.
How these review sites affect your business, you ask?
Well, let’s say, if customers review your positive image on such sites, they’ll be more than glad to hire you for similar needs.
These review sites are like a local guide for customers, providing them the necessary information of every business in and around the area, their hours of operation, address, etc. However, unlike literal guides, they allow consumers to voice their opinion about businesses they hired in the past. So, all your customers say something about your services, what they liked or disliked, and other prospects review this information before making any decision.
Over 175 million unique users visit Yelp every month. So, it isn’t smart to neglect these websites from your local online reputation management strategies.
It’s like your competitors use it, and every positive review they earn makes you lose that customer forever. So, get your business registered on all these third-party review sites under the free listing options.
And if even for a second you think that customers don’t use them, you damaging your reputation irrevocably.
The simplest way to get reviews is dropping the link of your business wherever you can – the online profile, social media channels, emails, website headers, business cards, etc.
Ask your customers to review you on them. The more the reviews, the more the prospective review readers, and the more the leads. Also, be vigilant in managing the reviews you earn online. Appreciate positive reviews and address negative ones.
The proactive ways to manage your online re
Branding is everything:
Moving on from the platforms to employ to the tips to follow, let’s understand how branding impacts small businesses.
Where people search, businesses must follow!
Small or big, every business needs branding.
Good branding gives you the power to control what others will see online when searching about your business. In other words, it is what constitutes a positive online reputation management strategy.
So, how to fit branding into your online reputation management strategy?
- Search all the online directories that must include your business profile. You can use www.konwem.com. Build your virtual real estate online and cast your brand’s presence everywhere.
- Set up social media accounts for your business on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, etc. Now, post engaging and genuine content with pretty graphics and background.
- Set up your blog section. Blogs are a key to rank on search engines, which is why companies have them. Publish only authentic and genuine content online, including all the top search terms employed by your customer base.
- Respond to negative comments with empathy. Keep in mind that prospective customers view your online behavior. So, make it worth their time.
- Got featured? Include all such information on your homepage to add credibility and trustworthiness to your brand image.
- Be transparent. Negative comments shouldn’t panic you. Rather embrace them. Ask your customers what went wrong and if they would give you another chance to rectify it. Be open to criticism, even if it online.
- Practice proactive online reputation management.
- Never get into online arguments. You might even win it, but it is not worth losing your reputation. So, establish your distance from such unprofessional and unethical behavior. Even if a customer rants at you, show them your apologetic side.
Mostly, when people hear about online reputation management, they don’t want to invest in it because it’s expensive and complicated. Some might even relate it to PR. However, ORM is no such thing. Infact, there is nothing as affordable as an online reputation management strategy. And if correctly practiced, it reaps some real benefits.
As for small businesses, ORM is a perfect way to grow their local reputation, get new customers on board, and build their local empire. After all, if you’re good at what you do, you should let others know about it.