The sales cycle is 22 percent longer now than it was 5 years ago.
Why? Because in 2018 people are taking the time to research online before they buy. The days of buying almost anything without researching it first are long gone. This change affects nearly every business, including low-cost, low-risk products, as well as high-cost investments.
What can you do about it? Read on to find out!
What Is your Digital Reputation?
Anything and everything said about you online is your digital reputation. This covers everything from the content you put out, your website design, your Facebook posts, and reviews from customers. Think of it exactly like your personal reputation – what you say, and what people say about you matters!
The Research on Research
Consumers are only becoming more trusting of online reputations. The Pew Research Center found that 91 percent of people trust what they see and read in search engine results. That counts for both the good and the bad results.
The Edelman Trust Barometer found that 65 percent of people trust search engine results more than any other source. All this means that what people read about you online really matters. As great as it may be to have in-person word-of-mouth marketing, digital word-of-mouth sticks around a lot longer. What consumers read can absolutely impact decision making, so don’t you want to put your best foot forward?
Staying Top Of Mind
When researching products is the name of the game, you want to make sure potential clients can find you first. This involves a little SEO mojo (more on that in another post), and consistent marketing efforts. Staying in the top of your prospects mind is critical for consumer recall. If they can remember your Instagram post from last week sharing the new technology you use to keep your beehive happy, they may just buy your local honey during their weekly shop.
Staying in the top of your prospects mind is a calculated game. You need to have a beautiful, functional website along with keeping your social media accounts updated regularly. If you want to go above and beyond you can create customer personas to guide what you post, and incorporate an advertisement budget to make sure the right people see your posts.
But, staying in the top of mind for your prospects isn’t the only thing you need to do. Digital reputation management is critical now more than ever before.
Digital Reputation Management – What Is It?
Managing your online reputation is a must. If a prospect searches for the best local diner, you want your business name to pop up first, with a stunning website and glowing reviews. We always say the web never dies, and that goes for reviews and press as well.
Part of building your digital marketing plan must be to ensure the best possible first impression for new prospects. This includes not just your digital assets (your website and social media accounts) but what others are saying about you as well.
There are so many areas consumers can research a brand now. From Facebook to Yelp, independent bloggers to online magazines. Part of digital reputation management is keeping an eye out on these areas to showcase the good things people are saying, and to mediate when a review goes wrong.
You need to have people (besides yourself) talking you up online! Right now is the time you need an online group of hype-men. A business with no reviews whatsoever looks just as bad as a business with a few negative reviews. Reviews tell new users that you’re legit, and what to expect from you. To get your clients hyping you up online, you’ll want to encourage positive clients to leave a review for you.
Reviews: The Good, The Bad, The Responses
When a prospect searches for the best local diner, and the first thing they find is a 1-star review bashing your food, they’ll keep looking elsewhere. There are, of course, people who won’t look at reviews, but it’s a good idea to stay in the mindset that absolutely everyone is looking at your reviews.
Good reviews are great for your digital reputation! Showcase these glowing testimonials on your website and social media. This helps to hasten brand trust from prospects and new clients.
Bad reviews, on the other hand, aren’t doing you any favors. It’s important, when a bad review comes in, that you respond quickly and calmly. Make sure whatever the person is complaining about is real, first. Stay in touch with your staff and ask them when a specific incident is mentioned. Then, when you’re in the mindset for a calm response (being rash when responding to a negative review tends to make you look bad, not the reviewer) there are a few things to keep in mind.
You’ll want to address the reviewers concern first and foremost. Did they not receive their product via mail order? Track it, see what happened, and send them a new product for free. It’s also a good idea to direct the conversation from the public forum to private message. This can be as simple as ending your response by saying “We’re happy to discuss your concerns further, please feel free to direct message us.”
Your Time Investment
If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is! Many businesses have employees or teams of employees whose sole job is digital reputation management. For small businesses, this isn’t usually an option. You can incorporate digital reputation management into your day to day routine, or outsource it to a marketing company to do the dirty work for you.
Get Online NOLA is a small business obsessed with small business marketing. No time to get into the digital nitty gritty every single day? Let’s chat about it during a free strategy session.