Your brand reputation derives from the public perception of your business and the resulting conversation around it. Brand reputation is critical to winning and maintaining business, and success depends on two major principles:
- Delivering a great customer experience in every interaction a consumer has with you
- Encouraging those consumers to share their experiences in the form of referrals and reviews
It’s exactly what it sounds like: Managing your brand’s reputation, online and offline, so that you’re delivering the experience and message you want to send — everywhere. For brands, reputation means revenue.
Deliver a winning customer experience, Everywhere
Your brand must be informative and reliable across the many maps, apps, search engines, voice assistants, and other AI-powered services consumers are using every day to search — at the critical moments of intent when they need your products or services.
Surfacing in search results and delivering a great customer experience, from discovery to sale, requires:
- Claiming and verifying your listings across third-party sites
- Managing all the facts about your business so that information shows up correctly everywhere customers might seek answers (e.g., Google Q&A, via voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, and of course, in search engine results).
Approximately 80% of US internet users prefer using a search engine to find information about local businesses.
Delivering a great customer experience that boosts your online reputation can’t happen if your business doesn’t surface in these local search results — or if it shows up with incorrect details. If a customer can’t find your phone number, sees outdated product or provider information, or visits the wrong address, they’ll be frustrated and unlikely to return. For example: A customer makes a high-need, high-intent search directly within Google Maps for laptop repair when their computer isn’t working. If your tech repair business’ hours are listed incorrectly on Google My Business and the customer arrives to find the shop closed, you’ve lost a sale — and fostered a negative experience. At best, this damages your reputation with that one customer. At worst, far more customers hear about it if the first customer writes a scathing online review.
Your reputation is at stake if your information is wrong. A bad listing could lead to a bad review for your location — which could result in a potential customer choosing to transact with a competitor over you. To build brand trust and deliver a great experience online, brands today need to deliver answers everywhere consumers search.
What role do reviews play in reputation management?
Reviews have been important since the days when they only existed as a food critic’s article in the local newspaper. But today, with ever-present smartphones and dozens of online review sites, everyone’s a critic — and consumer feedback is more impactful than ever across verticals.
You probably know that online reviews shape consumer perception of your business and impact their decision to visit, but you may not be aware that they also affect whether your business shows up in search results at all. Google often pre-filters for searches including terms like “best” (e.g., “best Italian restaurant”), and will often only show results for businesses with a 4-star rating or above. Reviews are highly impactful in search positioning.
Google looks at several factors to deliver optimal results:
Do the business name and listed business vertical match the search?
Is the customer reasonably nearby?
How many reviews does this business have, how recent are they, and what is their rating?
Know how you stack up when it comes to the competition
Understanding your online reputation and review performance relative to your competitors is crucial to winning and maintaining business. Most marketers know the value of competitive intelligence, but it’s important to make sure you’re putting that information to work with actual metrics about your star rating, and which locations (if you have more than one) are performing best over time against your competition.
Take your reputation management strategy to the next level
If your business is already delivering a seamless customer experience across touchpoints, you can have a further positive impact on your online reputation by responding to reviews. Businesses that respond to 75–100% of reviews see, on average, a higher star rating than businesses who don’t respond — which can boost public perception of your brand, and help you show up in more search results for those terms like “best” and “four-star.” Listening and responding to reviews can help you retain customers, raise your star rating, and showcase your business to potential new customers — but less than 50% of businesses today are responding, so there is a sizeable untapped opportunity in this space.
Which types of reviews should I respond to?
Research indicates that you should respond to at least 50% of reviews if you want to see the greatest benefit in terms of customer engagement and star ratings increase. The question, then, is which reviews to respond to. In order to provide the best service to your customers, and benefit your business, Yext research prioritizes responding as follows:
- ALL reviews 3 stars and below
- Reviews 4 stars and above that contain detailed comments
- Reviews 4 stars and above without comments
How quickly do I need to respond?
It’s advisable to respond to your customers as quickly as possible while still providing a thoughtful and helpful response. 82% of customers say that getting their issue resolved quickly is the most important factor in a great customer experience.
Generate even more reviews to help you stand out in new search experiences
Finally, it’s key that your business continue to receive new and relevant reviews. To show ratings in organic search results, Google requires that you generate your own reviews directly from your customers that live on your website. Additionally, reviews help power recommendations across many AI-powered services, like Amazon Alexa. If a customer asks Alexa or Siri for the “best dry cleaner near me,” it’s reviews that inform the “best” term.