Modern marketing relies heavily on online reviews, but their importance doesn’t stop with your ratings. There is a whole world of possibilities for companies that realize the full power of the reviews their offerings are generating.

Online Reputation Management 101

Before the internet, the reputation of most companies relied solely on word of mouth. Feedback had to be transmitted from customers to business leaders through employees and suppliers. It was slow and ineffective, but nobody cared because it affected every business the same way.

Today, things are different. Through social media, online review platforms, ecommerce sites, and forums, people can share their opinions in seconds. These instant reviews have global reach and can affect your business profoundly.

Think about it, any customer can write a review in a matter of seconds. This review will be read by thousands of potential new customers, affecting their decision to purchase your products or deal with your competitors. How do you deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly reviews? The answer is through online reputation management, which is the active monitoring of your reviews.

If a review is good, your employees should get it into as many review aggregates as possible to maximize its impact. If a review is negative, you need to take steps to address it.

You can’t just shove a bad review under the rug, because it will backfire. Instead, get any feedback you can from it, and have an employee write a direct response to either apologize or explain the situation to the reviewer.

People will avoid a product that has overwhelmingly bad reviews, but if you try to “game” the system, it will only produce more negative reviews. You have to roll with the punches and provide polite and thoughtful responses to negative reviews.

Online Reputation Offline Business

Keep in mind that your reputation might expand online even if you do business solely offline. Satisfied customers might be leaving you positive reviews on Google maps, and you might not know it!

Even if you haven’t established an online presence for your business, good reviews will still trickle in. These reviews are often made by local customers who want to notify others about their great experience with your business.

If you don’t manage your online reviews, you might be missing on a huge source of leads. Leaving these reviews unmanaged  is also risky if your business attracts negative comments. Some dissatisfied customer might slander your company and you won’t know about it unless you actively manage your reputation.

Long-Term Branding Effectiveness

It‘s true that online reviews can boost your SEO rankings, but they do also confer long-term benefits to your entire brand. When it comes to reviews, quality is as important as quantity.

For example, Amazon ranks reviewers based on how many helpful reviews they have written. Having a review from a top reviewer will empower your brand without costing you a dime.

You can also highlight particularly helpful reviews in other media. Your marketing department may even start sharing the best reviews on Facebook and Twitter, saving them time and effort when it comes to content creation.

In time, your brand will gain momentum solely from good reviews. This entire process costs next to nothing and will help your business in the long run.

Competing and Comparing

Potential customers will look at several online reviews before making their decision. This includes reviews of your products, as well as the products of your competitors.

Recent surveys have shown that 90% of all consumers check online reviews before even visiting a business. The surveys also show that 88% of consumers see online reviews as being as trustworthy as personal recommendations, and that a single negative review will cost a business 30 customers on average.

If you don’t manage your online reviews, your competitors will. In a market where the review is king, you want yours to stand out more than your competitors.

Never Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Some businesses might be tempted to resort to fake reviews in order to overcome the competition. This strategy is only viable in the short term, as giants like Amazon actively seek out and destroy fake reviews.

However, fake reviews of your competitors can be good news for you. By reporting fake online reviews on competing products, you are effectively boosting your own genuine reviews!

Responding to Online Reviews

You can’t manage online reviews without responding to them. This simple truth lies at the heart of online reputation management. It might seem like a significant investment to have someone monitor and respond to every review, but it’s definitely worth it.

Thankfully, there are many ways to automate review management while keeping the quality of your responses high.

Monitoring Your Online Presence

Monitoring your online presence will allow you to see how your business is growing and which products are the most popular. Reviews are more than just stars. They are powerful market indicators that you can leverage to optimize your business strategy.

You should respond to all reviews and take note of what most customers are saying. The features they praise the most should be the ones that you focus on.