As of 2016, there are 28.8 million small businesses in the economic landscape of the US. This translates into 99.7% of businesses in the country. However, in your mind, as a small business owner, this info snippet probably translates into one word – competition.
Besides, the Bureau of Labor Statistics warns that only 50% of the small businesses survive for five years or more because of less Investment opportunities. Only one-third survive ten years and beyond. In other words, there’s competition, and the odds may not be pitched in your favor. So, how can you stand out from the rest of the crowd?
In a customer-centric business world, one of the effective ways to make some name is by treating your prospects and customers well. This means you need to be well-informed about online reputation management.
Here are six ideas to help you save your reputation and build trust with your audience:
1. Be responsive
The first step to managing your small business’s reputation in the online sphere is by being responsive. It’s possible you’ve already set up social media pages for your work. However, the aim is not to be present. Instead, it’s to be available to your audience.
Hence, when they shoot you a Facebook message or leave a review on your product or service, you should give them a response. A 2017 study learned that 43% of the customers were very satisfied with the customer service email interaction that they had with a business. The researchers dug out to find that the speed of response was the reason for their satisfaction.
Moreover, a survey concluded that customers expect a response within an hour when they message a business on Facebook. These findings boil down to one conclusion – be responsive.
2. Monitor your business’s reputation
You can’t act unless you know you are the one people are talking about. Luckily, Small Business Reputation Management tools and software can help you manage your online reputation properly.
Set up Google alerts to receive notifications when your brand is mentioned or when people search for the keywords that you use. This will keep you posted about your reputation, leaving you ready to respond to all sorts of reviews and feedback, whether negative or positive.
3. Practice active social listening
Besides getting alerts from the web, you need to be active at social listening. Sprout Social defines social listening as a “process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging your insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.”
To this end, use social listening tools to catch what people are saying. A simple tip is to skim read through the hashtags on social media that are related to your business, and your customers may be using. Social listening has two major benefits among a lot more.
For one, it allows you to find out what your customers are saying and gives you an opportunity to respond to them. Secondly, you can learn about the content that interests your audience. As a result, you can produce relevant content.
4. Blog regularly
It’s not hard to believe how significant blogging is considering 53% of the marketers applaud blogging as their top content marketing priority. Blogging gives your brand the opportunity to educate your customers about your brand or service. It is an effective way to gain leads and engage with existing customers.
Thus, blogging checks off both the pointers of customer acquisition and customer retention. In addition to helping you stay connected with your customers, blogging boasts SEO benefits. Research points out that sites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages than those that don’t utilize the potential of blogging.
The key to tapping into blogging as a successful way to manage your small business’s reputation is writing posts on matters that interest your audience. This is why social listening is helpful. You can also blog about topics that your customers or prospects frequently ask you.
5. Engage with your audience
The key reason behind monitoring your reputation and social listening is to engage. Learning the digital word about your business is not enough. You have to go the extra mile and engage with your customers. Address their concerns or thank them for doing business with you.
Customer experience is an effective measure for cutting through your competitors and making lasting customer relationships. By 2020, customer experience is anticipated to rank higher than product and price. You can greatly benefit your business by taking a step toward customer experience by engaging with your audience online.
You can also spread awareness about your business by being active on social media, for instance, by participating in Twitter chats. Although it only takes 10 seconds for a prospect to form an impression of your business’s branding elements, it takes about 5-7 impressions for them to recognize you. Hence, social media engagement is a stellar way to spread the word.
6. Respond to all online reviews
Approximately 90% of the customers read online reviews before they work with a business. On top of that, 84% of the folks trust those words as recommendations from their circle. This means that a negative review can extensively hurt your sales by discouraging other people who may be reading those reviews.
However, your response and the way you handle the situation cannot only resolve the angry customer’s issue, but it can also show other potential customers-to-be how well you treat your customers and their concerns. Therefore, you need to keep an eye open for reviews on your products or services and respond as needed.
Summing up, word of mouth is crucial for a business even if it means that the word is wearing a digital jacket. Plenty of sales come from online sources, therefore, managing and ensuring that the customer opinion about your brand is positive is crucial for your business.
To this end, stay active on social media and actively monitor what individuals are saying about you across the web and other channels. Be responsive and engage with your customers. Don’t forget to respond to negative reviews to save one unsatisfied customer from negatively influencing others prospects.