Reputation is everything. It’s a priceless asset that’s challenging to repair once tarnished. And when you own a business, the last thing you want is for your company’s online reputation to suffer.

A bad reputation or even a negative review can seriously hurt your bottom line. A 2020 survey shows that 94% of US online customers said positive reviews increased their chances of buying from a business. And 92% said negative reviews made them less likely to buy from that business.

💡 Read Brand Reputation 101: Monitoring, Analysis, and Management Tools

That’s a whole lot of missed opportunities, and where online reputation management can make a big difference.

In this article, we’ll dive into the basics of online reputation management. We’ll show why it’s important, and a few best practices to help you grow your customer base and drive sales.

Let’s jump right in.

What is Online Reputation Management? 

Online reputation management, often abbreviated as ORM, is managing your online presence and how people perceive your brand.

It involves monitoring, analyzing, and improving all aspects of your digital footprint to ensure that it’s positive and reflects well on you.

And if you stumble across some negative comments, concerns, and reviews, you have a structured approach on how to respond and mitigate issues before irreversible damage takes hold.

Your primary goals when using ORM are to:

  • Create an online search structure that accurately reflects your business
  • Build a healthy brand reputation that you can sustain for years to come
  • Establish a loyal customer base that’ll drive repeat purchases and word-of-mouth referrals

Read Brand Audit: How to Do It in 6 Easy Steps

Benefits of Online Reputation Management

Now for the meat and potatoes: why online reputation management is critical to your business success.

Here are a few benefits of implementing online reputation management for your business today.

Expand your reach 

A solid online reputation helps you expand your reach, gain new customers and increase brand awareness.

Optimizing your online presence is an essential part of the modern marketing strategy. Think social media and SEO (search engine optimization).

Luxury Presence, a company specializing in website design for realtors, affirms online reputation management is fundamental in the real estate industry. And it’s more than just having a solid website.

Most real estate agents rely on social media to post and promote their listings and open house showings. This digital strategy helps attract many new potential clients with whom they might not have had previous direct contact.

Take this Instagram post from Jason Oppenheim, the co-founder of The Oppenheim Group, as the perfect example.

jason oppenheim instagram post
Jason Oppenheim’s Instagram post that gathered over 15K likes

If he only posted the property on the multiple listing service (MLS), Zillow, or even his website, he’d be missing out on the 15,339 likes he amassed in a single social media post. That doesn’t even count the number of shares and comments.

The key takeaway is that social media has the power to expand your reach. Ultimately, you can use it to your advantage to strengthen and broaden your online footprint.

But SEO is the way to go if you want to play the long game.

With more than 90% of all online sessions starting with a search engine, you want to secure a top spot in the go-to resource for information. But more on that later.

Read 4 Ways to Measure Brand Health & Tools to Use

Build credibility

When building and managing your business’s online reputation, it’s important to remember that consumers constantly compare you to someone, namely your competitors.

So why not spy on your competition to understand what works well and what doesn’t?

Running a competitor analysis helps you uncover your competitors’ best-kept secrets, what you need to do to gain a competitive edge, and how to appear more reliable.

And let’s face it, credibility is the key to winning over customers. That may involve designing a high-quality website or engaging with customers on social media.

Let your competitors be the guinea pigs. This strategy will help you understand what types of companies are gaining more popularity online (aka the ideal company profile). Also, it will reveal what you need to get a leg up on trends.

The ideal company profile is similar to the ideal customer profile. But unlike it, it shows the perfect company from the customer’s point of view. Piggyback off of what works well for the competition and stay clear of the things that don’t.

Customer reviews

Another simple way to build credibility online is through social proof, like customer reviews.

Most consumers use online reviews to research a company before they make a purchase or invest in a service. Your online reviews can be the determining factor that pushes a potential customer over the threshold to make a purchase.

And according to Podium, you need at least a 3.3 out of a 5-star rating for customers to even consider engaging with your business.

So if you’re able to build credibility and trust with your audience, they’ll be more likely to buy from you, leave positive reviews, and refer your products or services to friends and family.

And if you’re ever in doubt about whether your brand’s online reputation and credibility are important, remember there are brands out there that have taken the risk of operating in areas that are the most sensitive to people.

These murky waters require the most care and precision to build an online reputation.

For example, many people probably couldn’t imagine buying Viagra online years ago. But today, it’s become more common than ever, with over 62,000 global monthly searches.

Why? Because of the way that telehealth companies like Hims & Hers Health have revolutionized the healthcare industry by building a trustworthy reputation (scoring 4.5 out of 5-star reviews) for selling prescription and over-the-counter drugs online.

hims&hers reviews - online reputation management
Hims & Hers reviews

Hims & Hers focuses on removing the stigma around health and wellness by breaking down barriers and providing easy access to quality healthcare.

Establish a loyal customer base

Customers are more likely to buy from you if they trust you.

Trust doesn’t come overnight, but it’s a huge asset once established. You build trust by treating your customers with respect and providing positive experiences with your brand.

A good customer experience will help build trust over time — but this also means that negative experiences can damage it very quickly.

Think about it. Would you return to the same bakery if the brand was notorious for selling stale pastries that lacked flavor? Probably not.

On the other hand, would you be more inclined to make repeat purchases from that same bakery if the brand was known for delicious cookies, fresh bread, and a happy customer base? Most likely.

Read How Social Media Listening Can Increase Customer Advocacy

Improve your business

No matter what type of product or service you sell, maintaining your reputation is as crucial as the quality of what you offer.

And paying attention to your online reputation can help you find gaps in your business model.

For instance, you have a company like VPSBG that sells high-quality VDS (virtual dedicated server). But you start to notice feedback from customers that the price point is too high for some startups to afford.

So to help combat this issue, you add another product offering for shared hosting at a more affordable price.

more pricing options vpsbg
Adding more pricing options

Managing your online reputation means more than just focusing on getting 5-star reviews.

It also means understanding what your customers think about your products and services, identifying your flaws, and then adapting to build a healthier business.

Boost your bottom line

The goal of any business is to increase the bottom line. But a negative online regulation can seriously hinder this goal.

A study by Deloitte reveals that 41% of companies that experienced a negative reputation reported a loss of brand value and revenue.

Avoid these downward spirals by creating a proactive online reputation management strategy.

When you can successfully manage your online reputation, it’ll have a positive impact on your business by:

  • Generating more leads
  • Increasing sales
  • Improving conversion rates (the percentage of visitors who become paying customers)
  • Increasing average order value (how much money each customer spends)
  • Building a loyal customer base
  • Driving word-of-mouth referrals

Online Reputation Management – Best Practices

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of online reputation management, let’s look at three best practices you can implement to really make a difference.

Use social listening tools

Every PR pro, marketer, and startup business owner can benefit from a social media listening tool.

Determ lets you know about every comment, article, or hashtag mentioning your business, so you can be the first to know about each relevant online conversation.

Determ – media monitoring and social listening tool

You’ll receive instant mention alerts delivered straight to your phone, email, or Slack. Nip the negative comments in the bud before they grow into significant issues.

Here are some other benefits of using a social listening tool:

  • Keep an eye on keywords, phrases, or specific sources
  • Access to powerful search filters and advanced Boolean operators
  • Scour over 100 million online sources and display relevant information in a single feed
  • Check social media, websites, forums, comments, and blogs in any language or location
  • View historical data to identify trends and areas for improvement

Knowledge is power. The more you know about how people are talking about your brand online, the better chance of creating a dominant online presence that you are proud of.

Focus on SEO strategies

Although there are many ways your potential customers can research information about how to solve their pain points, Google remains the go-to source.

People trust Google, and as such, they trust websites that Google has determined best meet their needs.

If you want to build trust and improve your company’s online reputation, consider widening your audience reach by implementing an SEO strategy to boost rankings on the search engine results page (SERP).

Most search traffic doesn’t go past the first page of search results, with the first result on Google getting 27.6% of all clicks.

Read 5 Ways to Power Your Brand Reputation through Content Marketing

highest organic CTR on nr 1 organic result on google
Highest organic CTR comes from #1 result in Google

To help secure the best chance of ranking first on Google, focus on keyword research, on-page SEO, and building authority backlinks to your website.

If that sounds a bit overwhelming, you’re not alone.

Hire an SEO strategist or SEO content agency to help you when in doubt. While it takes time and money to do so, the payoff is worthwhile once Google views your website as an authoritative resource for potential customers using its search engine.

Leverage user-generated content

Besides showcasing positive reviews on your website, you also leverage user-generated content (UGC).

Reach out to some past customers and have them post images or videos sharing how much they enjoyed your product or service on social media.

Tailor Brands does a great job of sharing positive experiences from customers on their Instagram. UGC helps create a sense of trust for new customers, even more so if there are positive comments from other customers.

tailor brands instagram - online reputation management
Tailor Brands Instagram

You can also tap into UGC to help add a personal touch to your brand and avoid spamming your followers with too many “salesy” pitches.

For instance, LaCroix incorporates a photo from a user in between two promotional product photos to add a human element that’s more relatable on Instagram.

using ugc on IG feed - online reputation management
Using UGC on IG feed

Wrapping Up

Let’s face it, your online reputation matters. And it’s far easier to proactively monitor and maintain a positive reputation than it is to rebuild a negative reputation from the ashes.

With the right online reputation management strategy, you can improve your credibility in your niche, expand your reach, and build a loyal customer base.

We hope this blog has given you a better understanding of online reputation management, how it benefits your business and some best practices for long-term success in a digital world.

Felipe Gallo is the Partnerships Team Lead at uSERP. He’s been involved in all things marketing for over 6 years, founding his own agency and working with a wide variety of clients. He is passionate about music and hopes to open his own academy some day.