Improving, protecting and promoting your company’s online reputation is no longer just “something I should work on.” The latest statistics and trends show that 90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you want to increase sales (who doesn’t?) then you need a winning formula to capture your happy, loyal customers’ opinions.
More people read reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before buying and this has a direct effect on sales.
- 86% will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.
- On average, a 1-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5%-9% increase in revenue.
- ONE negative review can cost you 30 customers.
The evidence is clear that focusing resources on improving, protecting and promoting your company’s online reputation pays off.
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews.
- 72% of users say that positive reviews make them trust the business more.
- 92% will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.
Now, you may be asking, “This is super valuable info but how do I actually apply it to our business?”
I agree that it’s a struggle to make the connection from theory to application. I regularly see a huge breakdown in the internal process within each company and there are many factors that lead to this. Stay tuned because I have a formula for you to follow that will remedy this dilemma.
There’s another school of thought that says, “Great info but we have a vendor that does all that for us.”
There are many “solutions” that promise to clear up your online reviews and manage them for you. Given that online reviews and your reputation play such a crucial role in business growth, is it really prudent to hand off your brand to a 3rd party that doesn’t really have their finger on the pulse of your business? (and certainly doesn’t make your company’s profits a priority?).
Nobody manages your brand reputation like you do.
The shift in social marketing and online reputation management: taking it internal.
I’m seeing a big shift in how companies approach their marketing and online reputation. The shift to taking it internally is born out of a need to understand exactly how the process works and whether or not the company is getting a return on their investment.
I know my newer clients (mostly automotive retail companies) all reached out to me because they made the decision to take their power back and create a better online presence for themselves.
Many have hired a marketing manager and a small team made up of content creators, reputation managers, developers and designers. With the trend going to digital first, and the frustration I see with vendors who cannot deliver quality products timely, making the shift to internal marketing makes sense for a lot of companies.
7-Step formula that will give you the power to improve, protect and promote your online reputation
No matter where your company is in the process of digital marketing, the following 7-step formula, when executed well, will help your business build a solid online reputation and pave the way to increased sales.
Step 1: Create a Review Conversion Funnel
Systematically drive customers to one conversion funnel that routes them to the review sites you care about.
You’ll need software to create your review conversion funnel. At Kruse Control, we use and recommend Grade.us. I’m not a paid endorser, the software simply works well. Watch the 25-min demo at the top of homepage and see for yourself–> here.
Step 2: Automatically ask, remind and guide happy customers through the funnel.
You’ll increase review volume and quality by establishing criteria and leveraging software to automatically guide happy customers through the process of completing a review.
Gauge their intent with one simple click. “I had a good experience.” or “I had a bad experience.”
Guide the happy customer to the review site(s) you care about so they can share their feedback.
Step 3: Recover unhappy customers before they vent online.
For those that chose “I had a bad experience.” get a second chance by guiding unhappy customers to a mobile-responsive recovery page. You can fix their problem and sometimes even turn a bad situation into a profitable one.
Step 4: Analyze results daily for actionable insights to improve upon.
Each review gives insight into your customer’s perceptions and an opportunity to improve. Another benefit to automation software is knowing exactly what’s being said about you in real time. My clients often call me with questions about how to respond to reviews. Positive or negative, every review deserves a response.
Step 5: Turn your reviews into stories to boost engagement.
Many companies choose to feed their reviews into their websites. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but they’re missing a big opportunity to elaborate on those stories.
Each review is a customer experience that can be revealed in a unique way. Not all will be the story of the century but, with a little storytelling skill, many of your customer’s experiences can be documented either by written word, audio or video on your site and social media.
Heck, in some cases, Facebook Live would be awesome. The main complaints I hear about social media marketing is not knowing what to post and/or not having enough ideas. There’s a goldmine in telling stories about your happy customers.
Step 6: Engage employees in the review process.
The bridge to documenting those stories is your employees. They’re the ones who are witness to the great experiences your customers have (often due to the employee’s help) and employees alone possess the ability to capture them.
Employees who are mentioned by name in online reviews give credibility to the company. “The employee is awesome therefore the company must be awesome.”
There’s another important benefit of being named in a review. Customers are Googling salespeople. Reviews show near the top in search results and thereby give you and your employee authority online.
Step 7: Motivate employees with proper training, incentives and recognition.
Social selling and online reputation training programs (Kruse Control included) must always establish what’s in it for the employee. Let’s face it, the majority of your sales force will not necessarily see the value at first in building online reviews. There’s a learning curve and addressing it sooner rather than later is key.
Recognize, incentivize and reward those who are enthusiastic about getting verified reviews and very often, the stragglers will realize they’re missing out.
Put the formula into action
While you can’t completely control what customers are saying about you online, you can do a lot more than hoping and praying.
Leveraging this proven formula to improve, protect and promote your online reputation will help your company increase sales…and create a solid force of advocates to build your business!
Author: Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the U.S.