In essence, Reputation Management is a marketing approach with the ultimate aim of influencing people’s perception of your brand.
You may hear of the terms online reputation management, review management, impression management, or brand reputation management. Regardless of the permutation, they all have the same goal: to shape public opinion of your business.
More and more brands are starting to realize the need to protect their image, and they are willing to spend to ensure that happens. For instance, according to data, the reputation management services industry will grow to $410.71 million by 2025 from the $184 million in 2019. The increase translates to a compound annual growth rate of 14.33%.
Here are some of the statistics you need to know about reputation management:
- More than 8 in 10 execs believe that reputation management is important.
- Nearly 9 in 10 customers first conduct an online search before purchasing a product or service.
- More than 8 in 10 customers put more stock on online reviews rather than ads.
- More than 5 in 10 customers read two or three review sites before making their decisions.
When doing business online, Google remains the primary battleground, considering that it is the default search engine for more than 8 in 10 users globally.
While SEO dominates the conversation, deservedly so, what companies fail to realize is that their online reputation will drastically affect their rankings.
And why do you have to care about rankings?
For one thing, the Top 3 websites on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) cover more than 60% of the market.
Extend the coverage to the Top 5 and the traffic share increases to over 75%.
So, yes, you do have to care about the rankings.
Who Dictates Online Reputation?
But the question remains, who is controlling the narrative?
It is easy to say that you control your brand’s reputation.
Unfortunately, once you open Pandora’s box, there is no telling what types of monsters will escape.
It only takes a single social media post or a grainy video posted online to destroy your online reputation.
The cancel culture is making it particularly dangerous because businesses are no longer allowed to make a mistake. When they offend sensibilities, some people immediately demand their heads, not caring about the employees who eventually lose their jobs.
Even if you think that you are always on top of the situation, you cannot control everything. It is impossible.
But you can take back the power by hiring review management services that will help scrub and polish your brand to make the best first and last impression.
Benefits of Online Reputation Management
You might balk at the additional cost of making sure your brand is spotless. However, you must not think of it as an expense but as an investment.
Here are some of the advantages when you hire pros to manage your online brand reputation:
- You boost the chances of landing on the first page – This one is a no-brainer and you already know why you need to be on top of the SERP for searched keywords in your specific industry. When people see your website first instead of your competitors, they will likely convert. Google will flag companies for various reasons, but nothing drags you down quicker than bad reviews. So, yes, your online reputation has a big effect on your Google My Business rankings.
- You will attract the best talent – If you are in the market for new employees, good reviews will reflect on your brand. People tend to attach themselves to success. Workers also want to work for an organization with high credibility and trust, in an environment where they can be happy. Finally, having the best talent means that you can provide superior service to your customers, which, in turn, bolsters your brand.
- Increase credibility and trust – Customers need to trust an organization first before they will part with their hard-earned money. According to a 2019 survey by Edelman, more than 8 in 10 people insist that trust is an essential element before they will engage with a brand. So, when you work hard to build trust, you will be rewarded by your customers in terms of patronage.
- Take back control of the narrative – Remember how Uncle Ben’s had to change its branding due to protests about stereotyping? How about Aunt Jemima’s pancakes for a similar reason? Or how about when Starbucks received a backlash when it told its employees to avoid wearing Black Lives Matter shirts? Cancel culture is real and it is costing companies thousands to survive the onslaught. An effective review management strategy will allow you to take back control of your brand amid attempts to hostage what you have worked hard for so long to achieve.
- Boost your profits – A study published by Harvard Business School revealed that a single increase in the star rating in Yelp will result in a 5-9% hike in revenues. But you do not need to look at the numbers to arrive at the same conclusion. You know that businesses that developed a good reputation tend to attract the most customers. Another thing that needs to be highlighted is the opportunity to improve your products from honest feedback. As long as you do not discriminate against constructive criticisms, you will only improve the way you run your business.
- Damage control – You cannot expect to control all moving parts of the business. But it only takes a single incident involving one of your employees for the internet to blow it out of proportion. With no effective reputation management in place, you have no idea that your brand is already being tarnished on social media. Review management services are proactive since they will actively scour the Internet for any negative mentions of your brand. It will give you the chance to make necessary tweaks before the narrative gets out of hand.
- Generate more accurate insights – Having a good grasp of how people truly view your brand will enable you to generate smart business insights. Some businesses tend to overlook the bad reviews because they do not care for the additional stress. But you cannot ignore the poor feedback simply because you hate what you are reading. The criticisms will help in your future strategic planning sessions, particularly when you are launching a new product.
- Create brand ambassadors – Review management is not about scrubbing all the negative feedback off the face of the digital sphere. Instead, you win customers back by affirming their grievances and then finding solutions to their problems. You wouldn’t want to engage the reviewer in a defensive frame of mind.
How Much Does Review Management Cost
Putting a price tag on review management services is a challenging task. You need to consider multiple factors, which will affect the pricing.
- The company you are trying to hire, which means they have the experience and track record to command a high price.
- The type of service you want to avail. You can opt for a piecemeal service or a package. The latter will allow you to save money in the long run, but it still would not be logical to pay for a service you do not need.
- The scope of the project. Of course, the bigger your demands are, the higher the fees you can expect. Some reputation management companies agree on a retainer basis, which means a fixed monthly price. Another option is to pay per incident, which means you only reach for your wallet during crisis management situations.
Speaking of crisis management, there are two types: reactive and proactive.
The first one is reactionary, which means you only call in help when your brand is already in the middle of a crisis.
The second strategy is better because you avoid the crisis from taking place. Think of negative feedback as the tip of the iceberg. You only see a small portion when the reality is that the bigger problem is lurking underneath.
With the help of experts, you can craft a crisis management plan that you can deploy on your own.
But back to the question.
Online reputation management services will cost you zero if you are lucky enough to encounter no incidents. Or it may cost you millions, depending on how large your business is.
To cite some examples:
- Complete removal of a bad review may cost somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.
- Managing negative news from mainstream media may cost you up to $10,000. But it could be more depending on the duration of the news cycle and the number of agencies you deal with.
- Countering bad reviews on Google sites and turning them into good reviews will cost you about $1,000.
- Monitoring negative mentions about your brand will cost you from $200-500 a month.
- Managing your social media reputation will also set you back around $500 a month.
- Making sure you maintain a good online reputation will cost $500-1,000 monthly.
Again, you can also avail of packages that include a wide range of services. This option is easier for billing and reporting purposes.
It is hard to put a monetary value on the potential losses. However, a research survey by MOZ revealed that a single negative review will scare away 22% of customers. That is a death knell for small businesses.
Not a lot of small businesses see the value of online reputation management to generate leads, improve rankings, boost profits, and bolster their brands. One reason is that they associate it with crisis management when it is so much more than that.
But it is a worthwhile investment because it will give you so much in terms of returns. For instance, you spend so much on marketing but you can amplify brand awareness through word-of-mouth advertising.
Customers who believe in your organization will promote your product or service to their networks without being prompted. The equation is quite simple: the more positive impressions about your brand, the better it would be for your search engine rankings.
Put Our Digital Reputation Management Services to Work Today
It’s time to ensure your business’s reviews are in good order and in abundance. Improving your online reputation can make YOU the preferred choice for potential clients and customers. Let us implement an online reputation management strategy right now and develop a safe and simple way to build up your 5-star reputation on autopilot.