According to a 2012 survey by SteelHouse, an e-commerce company, 98 percent of shoppers said that online customer reviews have a major influence on their decision to purchase a product or service. The survey also found that 72 percent of consumers claimed they always read reviews before making a purchase. Most respondents read up to 10 reviews about a product or service before making a decision. So it’s more important than ever to monitor what’s being said about your business online.
Sharing reviews & purchases. The growing role of social media means your customers aren’t just writing reviews online. They’re also sharing them with their social networks as well as on various sites, blogs, Google, Yelp, Citysearch and even Craigslist. More than half of those in the SteelHouse survey said they regularly share their online purchases. Fifty-five percent of shoppers said they prefer to share their purchases on Facebook, followed by Twitter (22 percent), Pinterest (14 percent), Instagram (5 percent), and LinkedIn (3 percent).
Buying what they see. Along with sharing their reviews and purchases across their networks, customers are also buying what they see on social media sites. Thirty-three percent of Facebook users said they have purchased a product or service they’ve seen in a Facebook ad, on the news feed, or on a friend’s wall. Fifty-nine percent of Pinterest users have made a purchase based on an item they saw on Pinterest.1
Protect your reputation. Clearly the opinions of individuals have never carried as much weight as they do today thanks to social media. Your business’s online reputation should be viewed as an asset just like your business’s equipment. And it should be protected just like a retailer would protect merchandise in their store. But it’s tough to be everywhere at once given the seemingly infinite number of places online that need daily—and sometimes even hourly—monitoring. That is where a reputation management tool comes in.
A great marketing tool. A good reputation management tool or service makes it easy to not only monitor what people are saying about your business, but also where they are saying it. That way you can seemingly be everywhere at once and never worry again that you’re missing out on reviews or an opportunity to engage with your customers.
How it works. A reputation management tool, scans the Internet, looking for mentions of your business and reports them all back to you. It allows businesses to check for accuracy, share the good stuff, and respond—if needed. Find out who is saying what about you, monitor social buzz, keep an eye on the competition, all in one easy to use area. A good reputation management tool should send weekly activity email alerts and provide an online dashboard to keep you informed 24/7.
Perfect for small businesses. Many small businesses think reputation management is just for the big guys when, in reality, it’s actually quite the opposite. Big businesses have larger advertising budgets that allow them to fill the airwaves and Internet with their messages to build their image. Online reputation management is an affordable tool for many small businesses that can help them compete against the larger budgets of the big guys. And when you consider that customer referrals are the lifeblood of most small businesses, managing your reputation online is downright economical compared to many other forms of marketing.
A worst case scenario. Take for example a customer in a smaller town who goes online to find a foreign car repair specialist. They search “foreign car repair” and two good options come up on their results page. Repair Shop A figures prominently near the top of the page with three reviews, whereas Repair Shop B scores much lower on the page and doesn’t have any reviews. Businesses with reviews—good or bad—typically score higher in search engine results pages. If those three reviews are all bad, the customer is likely to choose Repair Shop B with no reviews over Repair Shop A in spite of its prominent location on the search results page. If the authors of those bad reviews shared their experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, blogs or other social media networks, it’s not going to be long before Repair Shop A’s business starts to suffer regardless of how good the rest of their advertising is. If Repair Shop A had been managing their online reputation, they might’ve been able to turn three negatives into three positives and actually increased their business.
Don’t ignore bad reviews. Remember the old saying of “an unhappy customer tells ten people.” But with the power and reach of today’s social media and review sites, that number could be more like ten million. What’s worse is damaging information about a business on the Internet is likely to be visible to anyone for days, months and even years to come. No matter what the size of your business, it’s very likely that customers are talking about you somewhere. Ignorance is no longer bliss. What you don’t know about your reputation can hurt you. It takes a lot of time and money to build a good reputation for your business, but it only takes one inaccurate or damaging comment to bring it down. Start managing your online reputation and see what customers are saying about your business today. You could learn a lot about how to improve your company’s products or services and win customers for life you might otherwise have lost.
1– Source: SteelHouse Social Shopping 2012 Survey