Mastering Online Reputation: Boosting Your Reputation

Your online reputation can make or break your business. It’s absolutely critical that your business look as great online as it does in person, and indeed, a better online reputation should result in more business for you. But for most businesses, improving their online reputation isn’t quite as easy as it seems. In this post, we’ll look at specific strategies for enhancing your reputation. If you need a primer on what makes up your online reputation, why it’s important, and what metrics you should track, check out one of our previous posts on our online reputation resource page before you continue.

boost reputation with reviews

As for now, you should have a few goals in mind when it comes to improving your online reputation. As we’ve noted, the things that make up your online reputation include everything from your online reviews (across many platforms), your online digital footprint (think your website or your contact information on third-party websites) as well as what the media, bloggers, influencers, and forums say about you.

First, let’s focus on helping you boost your reputation by getting you more high-quality reviews and more feedback from your customers. For most businesses, getting reviews is the single most effective way to boost reputation. If you take one action to improve your online reputation, focus on getting quality reviews.

Getting More Online Reviews

Getting more reviews is as simple as asking for them. In fact, 85% of customers are open to leaving a review if you just ask.

customers willing to leave a review

The trick here is that in order for asking to really be effective, you need to ask them the right way, and make it as easy as possible to complete. There are a few different ways to ask, with pros and cons to each approach:

  • Asking in person – It can be awkward for your staff to ask, and sometimes they’ll forget. Sometimes it’s awkward for your customers to be asked—are they supposed to just stand there and leave a review while you watch? If they plan to leave a review later, will they remember? Not many will. Asking in person is the least effective method.
  • Sending an email – Email can be effective at getting reviews, but it can also be a nuisance. According to Statista, about half of all emails are spam. On top of that, open rates for effective emails are right around 20%. Not great. And while your company’s email is well-intentioned, chances are your customers don’t need more emails in their inbox. Use email invites with caution.
  • Text invites – Texting a review invite is easily the most effective way to get more reviews. Average email open rates are around 20%. Meanwhile, text message open rates are a whopping 98%. If you text your customers a review invite, their chances of seeing it are great. If you’ve recently done a great job taking care of them, and if you make it super easy for them to write a review, they’ll absolutely do it.
email vs. text message

Not every business has the ability to text message their customers—let alone text them a review invite. For businesses looking for a way to do both, Swell is a great option. It’s easy to text customers a review invite during times when it’s convenient for them to leave a review. The results are often astounding. Check out this page for more info.  

Digging Deeper With Surveys

Reviews provide fantastic social proof. The trouble is that they don’t always dig as deep into an area you care about. What if you want a real deep dive into the service you provide? What if you want to evaluate particular employees or products? If you need candid feedback, you might consider sending an anonymous survey to your customers. This not only keeps communications open, it also proves that you’re constantly aiming to improve. Check out this post for a deep dive into survey types and how to develop the right one that will get you the information you need.

Using Online Resources and Influencers

Reviews give you an important view into your customers’ opinions. But there are still many other corners of the internet where your business might be found, and it’s worthwhile to understand how you can look awesome in these places as well.  You may recall we looked at these in a previous article, but now we’re going to discuss some proactive approaches to putting these to work for your reputation.

The Media

The Media
Not all journalists are crazy. Promise.

Traditional media outlets like local newspapers can have a wide footprint. Between feature articles, reviews, and other news, they have the power to make your business look awesome or look awful. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get positive media buzz around your local business:

  • Pitch story ideas – Many journalists will tell you that journalists are lazy. If you make it super easy for them to write a story about you, they might do it. But your story must be compelling. Maybe you’re hosting a huge grand opening of your fifth location. Maybe you started a charity program. Maybe you’re launching a food-eating challenge. Find an idea for a story and do a quick write-up that covers the details. Find a few journalists at local publications who’ve written similar stories and email it to them. If you have a solid idea you’re actually doing them a favor and giving them something to cover. Many publications also have a general email used for new pitches. Note that this doesn’t have to be a newspaper. It could be a trade publication, a morning news show (they’re always visiting local businesses) or even a radio program.
  • Invite critics to your establishment – Restaurants in particular can benefit from inviting critics to their establishment. Find a few critics inside local publications, write down their email, and send them a message about why you’re unique and why they should visit. You might end up with a review before you know it. Just be ready to wow them in case they stop by—they might not always announce themselves.

Bloggers and Influencers

Bloggers and influencers might write about you without you asking them to—which is why it’s so critical to always provide an excellent experience to customers. But here’s the thing, you can also use these people to promote yourself. According to a 2019 survey by Influencer Marketing Hub, businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

But before you consider inviting influencers to your establishment or paying them for promotions, there are some things to evaluate:

  • Background and focus – Does this influencer understand your industry niche?
  • Personal Values – Does this person’s values match your company’s?
  • Controversy – Has this person done anything controversial in the past that would cause you to be negatively associated?
  • Audience footprint – How much reach does this person have? Can they prove it by showing you their social media pages or web analytics for their website?
  • Previous success – There are a lot of wannabes out there. Can this influencer prove they’ve created real results for past clients?

There’s always a risk when working with public figures. Just ask Subway after the whole Jared thing. To make sure you minimize your risk, carefully research bloggers and influencers before you work with them.  

Online Groups and Forums

From the comment section of a mom blog to your favorite Facebook Group and even forums like Reddit, there are dozens of places your business might appear.

The reddit forum

Navigating these waters can be a bit tricky and time-consuming. People can sniff out a sales pitch a mile away and being promotional will get you nowhere—and in some cases it’s strictly verboten based upon the rules of the group. Here are a few pointers for getting the most from social groups:

  • Follow the rules – Most Facebook groups, subreddits, and forums have basic rules. Be respectful and follow them.
  • Be honest about affiliations – Most forums will respect if you’re upfront about the business you represent. Just don’t try to pitch products and services and you’ll be fine.
  • Listen – If you join a group, you’re there to learn and understand what people are saying. Start by listening more than talking.
  • Be a helpful member – If someone brings up something that you’re an expert on, don’t be afraid to offer some guidance. The more helpful you can be, the more trust people will have in your organization. Remember, no promos and no sales pitches. Offer guidance and try to build trust and your brand will gain credibility. When someone needs something that you offer, you’ll already be top of mind.

Promoting More Customer Engagement

We’ve mentioned ad nauseum that your business earns its reviews. That’s why in addition to applying all the feedback you gather you should be thinking of more powerful ways to engage with customers. Not only does this promote more open dialogue (feedback is invaluable), it’s also an effective way to improve the customer experience. People expect to be able to reach you anytime and anywhere. Creating channels for them to do so will make it clear that no matter how they reach out, you’re listening. This level of service is a powerful way to make your business stand out and to promote loyalty among your customers and prospects. Below are the ways every modern business must engage if they’re hoping to be the best:

  • Text Messaging – We’re talking about texting again? It’s that important. According to Twilio, 85% of customers want to be able to text a business. To modernize your customer experience, one-on-one texting is essential.
customers want to text
  • Online Chat – A customer looks at your reviews and decides you’re worth exploring. The next place they go is your website. From here, it’s up to them to surf around and find the answers they need. But what if you could be there to guide them from the moment they arrive? That’s the power of an online chat. When you can engage with people from the moment they arrive on your site, you’re already providing a better experience than the vast majority of businesses out there. Online chats connect your experts with a prospect so you can begin building trust right away. With that kind of service, they’ll be walking in your door in no time.

A lot of businesses will read the above and think “crap, that’s a lot to take care of.” But with tools like Swell, you can gain the ability to text message your customers from a central place, whether you just need to chat or you want to send review invites. Swell also has a convenient WebChat tool, which is easy to add to your website, so you can engage with visitors who come your way.  

Bringing It all Together

At this point, you should be constantly learning how you can improve and actively making changes that enhance the customer experience. You should be soliciting reviews and feedback, so you not only identify more ways to improve, but also turn your happy customers into your free advertising. On top of that, your new approach to engagement should be creating more trust with customers and drawing in new prospects. What’s next? At this point it’s just a matter of keeping the process going. Get more feedback, use it to improve your business, look better online, engage more, then get more customers. Rinse and repeat.  

And just one more time in case you missed it. The Swell platform makes it super easy to do everything we just talked about in this guide. It’s designed to help you gather more reviews and monitor your online reputation—you can even reply to reviews inside Swell. But that’s not all. Swell also promotes engagement by making it much easier to conveniently chat with customers. Whether they want to text message or chat on Facebook, Swell brings together communications from lots of different platforms, so you can chat in one place. If you’re looking for a tool that helps you use your online reputation to grow, you’ll definitely want to sign up for a Swell demo today.

Doing that will help you improve your reputation, get more customers, get more reviews, and then the whole process repeats itself (a three-part process we refer to as the discover, connect, grow flywheel).

discover, connect, grow flywheel