You probably already know that your small business’ online reputation is important, but you might not understand just how meaningful it is. Approximately 88% of consumers say they’ve read reviews to help them make a decision about a business; the same percentage actually trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And 85% of them will read 10 or more reviews before they’re satisfied.
Think of your last 10 reviews. Now pretend you’re a customer trying to decide if you’re worth doing business with. Would you become a patron based solely off of your online reviews? If the answer is “uh, maybe,” then you have some serious work to do!
Here’s how to make sure your small business is presenting its best side to the Internet.
1. Search Yourself
No, we’re not talking about some new-age self-awareness technique. Pull out your laptop and do a quick search for your small business’ name.
Google is a great starting place, but don’t forget the other search engines – Bing, Yahoo, Ask and even AOL.
Is the general impression positive, negative or lukewarm? Remember, your potential customers will see exactly what you see when they search your small business’ name.
2. Read the Reviews
“Read” is the imperative word here. Do not just skim. Do not just count gold stars. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and actually read every single review. Some may give you a glowing feeling, while others may have you reaching for some aspirin. No matter what, keep reading.
You don’t need to respond to every single review. However, if you read a complaint about something you can fix, or something that is patently untrue, comment (or send the person a private message) to see if you can turn their bad experience around.
3. Stay Plugged In
Once you’ve read your small business’ reviews, it’s a good idea to set up monitoring programs that make it easier for you to manage your reputation in real time. Google Alerts, TweetDeck and other social media listening tools will alert you each time someone mentions your business. A lot of popular consumer review sites, such as Yelp, Angie’s List and ConsumerReports, also offer email alerts that let you know when a new review or rating has been posted.
Your small business’ online reputation is going to ebb and flow in real time, so it makes sense to use every tool at your disposal to keep on top of it.
First impressions matter, and often, that first impression is going to come from a potential customer searching online for your small business. A bad reputation will have them hitting the “back” button, so make sure your online status keeps you moving forward.
Do you need a hand changing the way people see your small business online? Let Mischa Communications help! We’ll show you how easy it is to keep your online reputation in tip-top shape.