6 Reasons Why Reputation Management Is Essential for SMBs

Digital Marketing: It's Not Like The 'Old Days!'

Fifteen years ago, having a website with good rankings on search engines was enough for a local business. In fact, it was quite forward-thinking.

But these days SMBs face far more complex decisions with a breathtaking number of additional channels to choose from: Facebook, TripAdvisor Twitter, Instagram, Google My Business, YELP, TikTok.

These are just a handful of the many social media, review platforms, and local directories out there. Reviews and information about a business can be posted on many of these sites without the business concerned even having a profile; this means that it is possible for a small business to have an army of online fans and critics that they are completely unaware of. 

This is not just about feedback. (As you will see) local listings and online reviews are proven to have a huge impact on a variety of other sales and marketing factors. 

In light of these developments, it's no surprise that online reputation management has become an important focus for digital marketing. This is why this week we would like to present to you 6 reasons why reputation management is essential for SMBs.

#1 These Days Most People Read Reviews 

The internet has become the first place that many consumers go to inform themselves when making purchasing decisions: the majority of consumers read at least 4 reviews before buying anything and 10 before using a local business. Many of the platforms listed above play a role in this; here are the four most consulted platforms for reviews:

Google           63%

Yelp                45%

Facebook       23%

TripAdvisor     30%

Percentage of consumers who said they were likely to visit the platform when reading reviews. 

In light of so many consumers checking reviews. It is only natural for a business to want to know what potential customers are reading about them online.

#2 Online Reviews Impact Sales

Customers are certainly keeping an eye on ratings: 56% of consumers think that the star rating of a business is important and 49% value the number of reviews.

The overall impression a customer gets from a  business's review profile has a direct impact on sales; this goes both ways: positive reviews are great for business with 68% being more likely to use a local businesses with positive reviews, and unfavorable reviews are bad for it: 40% of consumers will not use a business with negative reviews and 94% of customers have gone elsewhere because of bad reviews. 

3# It's Not Just About Online Shops

It's important to remember that reputation management is not just for businesses that exist solely online. Most people check the online profiles of physical businesses too. 

A Google study found that 78% of Christmas shoppers looked up a shop online before they visited it.

Consumers' interest in the online profile of physical businesses extends far beyond the retail sector; from finding a wedding venue to making an appointment with a good chiropractor, people are increasingly turning to the internet to help them make their most important decisions: 70% of people looking for legal advice, use the internet to help them decide which law firm to choose.

Online reviews perform a similar role as a personal recommendation from a friend, a recent study found that customers need to read ten reviews before they can trust a local business.

This trend is also widespread geographically: from the largest metropolis to the tiniest village. Everywhere, people are checking, writing, and reading reviews. 

86% of all consumers read reviews for local businesses at least occasionally.

#4 Responding To Reviews Is Good for Business

Reputation management software has made it possible for small businesses to manage their own reputation and respond quickly to customer reviews. This is advantageous for building a brand online; there is no more certain way to ensure customers engage with a brand's message than by answering customers' reviews: 

89% of consumers read review responses.

Over half of customers expect a response to their reviews, yet, 63% of customers have never received one. Those failing to respond to their customers are missing out on a valuable opportunity to strengthen their brand online. Responding to reviews is a great way for a business to distinguish itself from the competition and to demonstrate a commitment to customer service.

Responding quickly to reviews is also a proven way to deal with bad reviews: 45% of consumers say that they are more likely to visit a business that has negative reviews if these reviews have received a response. 

#5 Reputation Management Is Good for Google

Google has confirmed that a well-managed review profile is good for a business' SEO and Google Maps rankings: "High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location"

Google clearly values companies that take the time to manage their reputation: "Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business" Considering Google's appreciation for reputation management, it is likely that the importance of online reviews and local directories, as a ranking factor, will only increase in the future. 

Visibility on Google Maps is especially beneficial for local businesses who can use it to make themselves easy to find through smartphone navigation. 

82% of shoppers with smartphones have used the search term "near me" to find a local business.

#6 Reputation Management is The Future

The importance of being found on Google maps is only set to become more important. The generation who know how to plan and follow a route using a map (or even find themselves on a map) are becoming increasingly outnumbered by the next generation, who have very different ways of getting around;  as far as they are concerned, if your business isn't on Google or Google Maps, it doesn't exist54% of 18-29-year-olds and 55% of 30-49-year-olds have used online maps for navigation in the last four weeks.

The importance of online reviews also set to increase in importance with future generations. According to the Search Engine Journal, 50% of 18-34-year-olds always read online reviews compared to just 6% of people aged 55+. The next generation also has a lot more opinions to share with 80% of 18-34 have written an online review. This all means more reviews and to deal with and more people using maps and local directories find businesses in town and online.

Need Help With Your Online Reputation Management?

Until recently, it was too time-consuming for an SMB to track all of their online reviews; Online reputation management applications like the List Local feature of rankingCoach 360 have made it possible for brand-conscious SMBs to affordably track and manage their own profiles

Business owners can now use the application to interact with customers across multiple platforms in real-time. The application shows you the right directories for your business and helps you to set up multiple listings that can be synchronized with one click.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. 

Learn about the rankingCoach Digital Marketing App

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23 Oct, 2019