With almost 2.5 billion people across the world using the internet everyday, the quality of any business’ online presence – from the look and feel of your website, to the content you share on your social media feeds – is becoming increasingly important.
But, when thinking about your online presence, it’s not just what you do that’s important; it’s what your customers do, and how people talk about you that you really have to consider…
Review sites such as TripAdvisor, Which?, and Review Centre have become incredibly popular in recent years – providing a platform for millions of consumers to share their experiences, and give potential customers the social proof they need to make a decision about a product or service.
People buy from people, we always have and we always will, and review sites are the modern form of ‘word of mouth’; if AngryTraveller1994 leaves a negative review about your highland hotel on TripAdvisor, for example – claiming their room was dirty and their breakfast overpriced, your online reputation will inevitably suffer – not only because someone’s said something negative and people using the site, but also because TripAdvisor is really high-ranking on Google for travel websites.
Which brings us seamlessly onto our next point: search engines.
Now, it may seem obscure to link your reputation with what search engines are doing but, actually, the two are as connected as a leopard to it’s spots or your business to your employees – these days, you can’t have one without the other and, more often than not, when people search for something related to your product or service, reviews sites are what appear first in the search results.
Understanding this is crucial to understanding how important is brand reputation online, as people naturally click on their first available options, when looking for something in particular; generally never scrolling past the first 5 results to get to what they want.
If a potential customer lands on a high-ranking review site before they discover yours, and 70% of the reviews left relating to your brand are negative, those potential customers will not buy from you, for fear of having a bad experience.
And now onto our third point we go… Sales and how important is brand reputation online.
Let’s start piecing this all together, using our highland hotel example:
1. A young couple – totally in love and care-free – are hoping to fly up to the highlands of Scotland for a romantic getaway; looking for a weekend full of castle ruins, fresh air, and rolling, chocolate-box hills surrounding a fairytale cottage-esque hotel with breathtaking views of a sparkling Loch.
2. They search for “Hotels in Scotland” on Google, and the first 3 listings are travel review websites, the fourth is booking.com, and the fifth is your site, for your hotel.
3. The couple click on the first result: TripAdvisor. They come across photos of your fairytale, cottage-esque hotel amid chocolate box hills, with rooms overlooking the local Lock. Great! Except…
4. They then examine the content further down the page. AngryTraveller1994, TravellingViking1366, and LucyandSteve4Eva have all left reviews rated 1 star out of 5, after one terrible week, off-season, when you just weren’t feeling your best.
5. The couple leave the page, and continue their search, never to risk spending their hard earned cash, and precious time, in your lovely little hotel that, actually is perfectly suited to their needs.
And, as quickly as that, you’ve lost out on a potential sale worth £250. Times that by 10 or 20 online searches a day, and you start to see the crippling, and very real, effect a poor online brand reputation can have on your business – losing you sales, and costing you money.
Fortunately, there is hope if your online reputation is poor or needs a little bit of love.
Regularly monitoring popular review sites, using social media, and investing in local Search Engine Optimisation are all things that can help you create a positive online brand reputation.
If your customers reach out to you on your Facebook or Twitter feeds with a question or concern, a complaint or compliment, always take the time to respond.
And if someone leaves negative feedback on an external website, like a review site, always try to use the criticism to improve your product or service, whilst working with the website in question to have the review removed or publicly resolved.
Your business’ online reputation is crucial to the overall success of your business; giving potential customers social proof, and contributing significantly to your sales, and consequent growth.
To start fostering a positive online reputation, talk to us today.
Get in touch now - it could be the start of something special.