Socrates once said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Many company executives, doctors and other professionals have dedicated their lives to walk the walk if they are going to talk the talk.
The way a business earns a good reputation is no different.
Striving to provide the best product or service for the consumer while maintaining ethical standards is important for any business that wants to continue to grow. With the introduction of online reviews, the importance of having a great online reputation can make a world of difference in separating yourself from your competition.
In the mind of the consumer, perception is reality. Because of this, the importance of having a fantastic online image can’t be understated.
If you are interested in acquiring new customers, retaining your current ones and growing your business, you need to invest in online reputation management to ensure you know what is being said about your business online and are able to discover the actionable insights you need to act on in order to maintain your customers’ happiness.
Unfortunately, monitoring your online reputation can be an extremely taxing undertaking, but it’s ultimately worth the investment regardless of what industry you are in.
The Cost of Online Reputation Management
Before you can measure the ROI of reputation management, you need to know the costs associated with starting a program. As a business owner, you don’t have unlimited resources, but you also need to be willing to invest in the necessary improvements to make your business better.
If you decide that you are going to invest in reputation management, you have to commit to:
- The hours needed to monitor your star ratings/reviews
- The necessary resources to improve what customers are complaining about
- Tools that will help your team be more effective and efficient in their tasks
Think of your online reputation like you would a house. If you know there are issues with the master bathroom, you are going to make the necessary improvements to increase the value of your home. If you have an issue with how people think of your brand due to an issue with your location or service, there are going to be costs associated with that.
In the long run, however, those costs will pay off in a big way as more people begin to admire the improvements you have made. In a way, the benefits of a reputation management program can be felt for years after you make the initial investment.
Here are the ways you can measure the ROI of a reputation management program.
Sentiment and Reviews on Social Media
Social media is used for more than just funny cat pictures: it’s actually a huge part of consumer research where people can find out information about businesses and brands.
Even if your business doesn’t use social media a lot, your customers and your potential customers do when they are interested in finding a product or service. This means your business is being scrutinized on social media platforms, even if you don’t pay attention to them.
There are many different KPI’s to look for when you are measuring the impact of your reputation management program, including overall consumer sentiment, engagement and of course, actual star rating improvements.
Before you start a reputation management program, however, you need to measure your current social media stats to set an accurate baseline.
- Your current star rating average
- A list of complaints customers have left in reviews
- Your current number of followers
- Your current levels of positive engagement (different than just engagement score)
Seeing a lift in each of these areas can demonstrate the impact of your reputation management program.
This is pretty easy to measure as Facebook gives you an average rating every time you pull up your business page. Make a note of your current star rating and set a goal for how much you want to raise it in the next year.
While keeping tabs on your star rating is easy, to get the full picture of how your program is performing, you will want to dive a little deeper than just a composite score. Take note on why the customer left the review they did. What were their objections for not leaving a five-star review?
Finding that underlying “why” will highlight the areas your staff needs to improve in as well as act as a measuring post for your reputation management program. If you are implementing everything correctly, you should see complaints about that area becoming less and less frequent.
Another quick note on customer complaints and feedback: you really want to examine the sentiment people have towards to your brand, so you will want a reputation management software program with Natural Language Processing to better categorize user feedback.
The number of followers you have on all the different social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is also a good indicator of how well-liked your business is. Unhappy customers aren’t likely to engage with your brand outside of a negative review, so adding more followers is an indicator of positive sentiment towards your brand.
This does not mean, however, that you should go out and buy followers like many “social media experts” will advise you do. Inflating your followers with fake followers and spam is only going to hurt your ability to measure actual social media engagement levels and will stand out like a sore thumb over time. Don’t do it!
Lastly, if you see an increase in user engagement like reposts, comments, etc. you will know your reputation management program is doing what it’s supposed to do by activating your “tribe” to have more positive interactions with you. The key here is you only want to measure positive engagement, so make sure you are paying attention to the sentiment behind the engagement.
These should be easy numbers to find with basic social media monitoring APIs.
Direct ROI from Social Media
If you are interested in getting hard numbers from your social media engagement, look at traffic from your social media pages to your website as well as average conversion rates or click to call metrics.
Social media is a great tool for growing your brand, but in general, it’s not the primary point of conversion for many users. Instead, leverage it as a way to respond to and engage with your customers and get a better idea of how they are perceiving your brand.
Measuring ROI on Review Sites
For physicians, restaurants and other service-related industries, paying attention to review sites is even more important than social media. You will want to keep track of your ratings on Google, Yelp and industry specific ones – for example, Vitals for medical providers. If you haven’t set up or claimed profiles on these pages, you will want to start there.
These directories are how many consumers find services online, and they trust what other people are saying about the level of service being provided.
Like measuring the impact on your social media platforms, you will want to start by getting a baseline for how your business is currently viewed by customers.
You will want to look at:
- Star rating
- Current customer sentiment
- SEO results
Star Rating for Review Sites
Very similar to social media, you should see an average or composite score of all of your reviews on a platform. This will give you a trending up or trending down indication of how your customer service is doing in the eyes of the consumer.
When looking at these scores and reviews, it may be tempting to respond to a negative review, but we recommend checking out our guide on how to respond to negative reviews before opening that can of worms as you can do more harm than good if you aren’t careful.
The ultimate goal you should set for yourself is to improve your star ratings by at least half a star in the first year. That should realistically be an obtainable goal.
Current Customer Sentiment
You will want to analyze current customer feedback to better understand where you are failing to meet their expectations and how you can fix the issues they are having. Identify just a few key areas and make them an operational focus over the next year for your business.
Did you know online reviews greatly impact search engine results?
Search engines like Google prefer serving up the best possible results for their users and use star ratings as social proof to ensure they are giving a user the best quality service when performing a local search.
Measure your current organic traffic and see where you rank currently. If you do this, make sure to use the Incognito feature on Google Chrome.
If you aren’t ranking #1, you may even want to read your competitors reviews to get an idea of what they are doing for an idea on how to improve. Hopefully, these rankings change as you continue to make improvements from customer insights.
While you want to measure your impact online, offline measurements of success are usually even more crucial for driving business decisions. Reducing customer churn and increasing retention are far more important than how many followers you have on social media.
In order to do this, take baselines of the following KPIs.
- Net promoter score
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Patient/customer referrals
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Estimated market share
These are KPIs that will lead to long term revenue growth for your organization and should be the measurements of focus for evaluating the ROI of your reputation management program.
There’s one more crucial part in measuring the ROI of your reputation management program: the benefit of building a better relationship with your customer.
The Real ROI of Reputation Management: Customer Relationships
Closely monitoring your reputation online helps you get a better idea of what your customers care about and how they think. That’s invaluable for any organization because it gives you the information you need to make good decisions about how your organization should operate.
There’s more to it than just that though: reputation management gives you the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with your customers.
If you aren’t investing in reputation management software, odds are you aren’t getting the valuable insights you need to better satisfy your customers and make them lifelong customers. Therefore, the true cost of reputation management software isn’t necessarily the price you pay, but the lost opportunity to grow your business if you don’t invest in reputation management.
84 percent of consumers trust an online review as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend. If you want to be successful in today’s market, you have to take what people are saying online as seriously as new customers do.
When you see a pattern in what feedback customers are giving you, take steps to make the operational or staffing improvements needed to address the customers’ complaints. Continued iteration on your processes or products will lead to happier customers who leave positive reviews, influencing more people to try your business.
Increased customer acquisition and retention are priceless for any business and reputation, which is the true ROI of reputation management.
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