Neglecting Online ReviewsAbout 90% of consumers look online for reviews as part of their pre-purchase mantra. Almost the same number of consumers trusts online reviews as much as they would a friend’s recommendation, according to research firm, Invesp. Positive online reviews will likely increase your sales quota attainment while negative online reviews will achieve the opposite, according to the infographic by Invesp.

The latest marketing statistics and trends from internet search giant, Google, also concur and indicate that about $1.1 billion worth of retail sales were influenced by the web in the past year alone. More important is that about 60% of consumers will browse online reviews in the hope that they find reputable local businesses to buy from.

But how do you manage your online reputation to become one of the businesses that online consumers want to buy from?

Consumer Reviews—the new sales frontier

Once you’ve made that great product, took charge of customer service, streamlined the sales process and put up an online store, you still need to get prospects buzzing—and in your favor. What better platform to sound your sales horn than on the internet? If you choose this path though, you can’t underestimate the importance of online customer reviews, not now and most definitely not in the foreseeable future.

Most people looking to buy a product or hire a service are too busy to visit an on-site store. Online reviews also offer what you may not: honesty, sometimes blunt reviews based on product usage or services experienced.

Smart marketers know this, which is why reputation management is too important to pass up. As a smart marketer too, you’ve probably known for some time now that word of mouth is the best and most effective prospects conversion tool out there. But it can also hurt your local business if not managed properly.

The Challenge of Untamed Social Media

However, as it turns out, more businesses are having to spend more on branding and rebranding campaigns as online platforms such as social media networks counter their otherwise clean-slate reputations online.

With millions of consumers watching customized reviews on YouTube, sharing product information on Facebook, and tweeting away user experiences on Twitter, there hasn’t been a better time to implement an online reputation management strategy.

The best way to kick-start a winning strategy to not only woo potential customers, but also successfully manage customer retention is to seek a dedicated and professional reputation manager to help build and consolidate your brand.

But would hiring a repute manager offer any returns on investment (ROI)?

In one word, yes! In the longer term, however, your success would depend on some decisions you may have to make prior to hiring the services of a reputation management expert for your business.

Further research indicate that three business traits are most important if they are to attract customers (72%) who only take action after they’ve read positive reviews of your business:

  1. Reliability
  2. Expertise
  3. Professionalism
  4. a) Reliability

About 27% of consumers want to know if they can trust you, your product and or service. Will your product do what you say it will, or do you offer better customer service throughout the sales process, or will you be there when they need you to follow up on their purchase?

  1. b) Expertise

More people (21%) are looking to buy from a genuine seller. If previous customers think you are not up to task, probably thinking that you aren’t sure what your own product or service entails, you could lose as many as 30 customers from one such negative review on Yelp!

  1. c) Professionalism

Professionals are trusted and will sell 18% more than anyone else. A reputation management expert’s job is to build you a brand that will resonate with your specific clients’ perspective of what professionals are—and what they aren’t. Neglecting to respond to bad reviews, especially, will definitely hurt your business in the medium to long-term.

As such, why neglect online reviews concerning your business while you can use them to build a more reliable, expert and professional business using these quick tips.

Don’t:

  1. Be defensive. Instead act and respond quickly and take responsibility
  2. Be rude. Responding politely and in direct response to the negative review will earn you both respect and trust.
  3. Be unconcerned. Negative reviews are a point of ruin for your business as you’ve seen above and understanding what customers think will not only help call out and rectify unwarranted reviews and inadequacies in negative reviews but will also help build trust among clients as they realize that you actually do care.

It is probably what you’d do too if you swapped roles with your clientele. In fact, that same instinct applies when you are out trying to hire a reputation management professional.