It seems just like yesterday when your customers were discovering your business in that trusty, dense, phonebook. You remember the Yellow Pages, don’t you?.
Fast-forward to today, and customers are finding your business online and most likely from their mobile device. A lot has changed in a short period, the world becoming more and more digital. And, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this shift toward digital has only accelerated.
According to Alliance Data, 89% of customers begin their buying process with a search engine. This means a potential customer’s first impression of your business is almost guaranteed to come from your online presence.
The Internet, and Google, in particular, has replaced the Yellow Pages. If your storage operation’s online presence isn’t maintained correctly, it could have a detrimental effect on your business. And managing this digital presence consists of two main pillars; your online listings and your online reputation.
Successfully managing both separates you from your competition, setting you on a path to continued success.
Benefits of Online Listing Management
The main benefit of optimizing your listings management strategy is its impact on your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. The general goal of SEO is to have your website appear as high as possible in the organic section of Google search results. One of the most important things Google considers in reviewing your website is current and accurate business information, such as your business name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP).
By merely keeping your listings accurate and up-to-date, you’ll be rewarded with a higher ranking on Google. It’s also worth noting that the inverse is true; if you have inaccurate NAP data across these listings, Google will count that against your quality score, potentially ranking you lower in search results.
The more times you appear on the first page of a Google search result, the more likely a customer will have the confidence to check out your business. This is one of many ways to quantify brand awareness. If you’re appearing in the Paid Ads section, the Google Map Pack (thanks to Google My Business), and ranking high on organic search, you’re at a considerable advantage.
Additionally, suppose you’re on all of the leading listings management websites – or apps. Even if the customer isn’t searching on Google, there’s a really high chance they’ll find you at those other locations. Another interesting stat worth considering is that Google noticed 50% of customers who conducted a local search on their mobile phone visited the store within the same day. One way or another, enrolling in listings management is gonna provide a lot of value for your brand.
Providing an excellent customer experience is really what it all boils down to when it comes to your digital presence. And it’s especially crucial during COVID-19. If you’re altering your office or access hours during the health crisis, you’ll want to make sure they’re accurate across all your online listings. If not, you risk having a customer come into your facility with no one to help them. This increases the likelihood they opt for a competitor and possibly even leave a bad review online, which could deter other potential customers. Happy customers lead to positive reviews or referrals, which leads to more business.
Ways to Manage
It’s possible to claim and update your local listings on your own, especially if you only own one or two locations. If you have multiple facilities, this process can quickly get out of hand. This is especially true if any of your business information changes for any of your locations.
As for how you do it, each listing service handles the claiming or creation of listings differently, so we’d recommend visiting each website to learn the nuances, whether it’s Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, or something else. Most of them are as simple as creating an account and providing proof of ownership.
If you don’t have the budget or time to handle your listings management yourself, there are plenty of services and software available to manage the process. In addition to the time savings, these folks typically keep their finger on the industry’s pulse, so if you need to make a change to your listings to attract more customers, they’ll be the first ones to know.
Now, ensuring your online listings are current and accurate is only one element of managing your online presence: the other, and possibly most important piece is your online reputation. Which, when boiled down, is word-of-mouth on the Internet.
As we’re sure you know, word-of-mouth is nothing new. In fact, it’s always been one of the most effective ways to market your business. And while positive and negative reviews of your business could spread quickly before the Internet, now they spread faster and broader than ever. And potential customers rely on these reviews more than ever in their purchasing decisions.
At the end of the day, reputation management means taking control of the online conversation.
Good Reviews = Good Business
According to G2.com, 85% of people trust reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations. And 92% of buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.
- 86% of consumers read reviews as part of the buying process
- 57% of consumers won’t use a business with fewer than four stars
- 85% of consumers feel that reviews older than 3 months are not relevant.
It’s also important to note that positive reviews play a significant role in Google’s search algorithm, especially for local searches.
Clearly, the better and more often reviewed your business is online, the more likely you are to attract new customers. Now, you might say that customer reviews online aren’t something you can control. This isn’t exactly right because, if you’re running a trustworthy business with exceptional customer service, well, those reviews may write themselves.
This is crucial to remember, as reputation management is not a process to manipulate or remove bad reviews. Instead, it’s a process to encourage satisfied customers to leave good reviews while responding and attempting to resolve bad reviews.
Want a Good Review? Ask For It
Like we stated earlier, one of the most important ways to get good reviews online is by operating a trustworthy business with exceptional customer service. Do right by the customer, and they’ll likely do right by you. However, a common trend online is that customers who had a bad experience are more likely to leave their negative reviews versus satisfied customers leaving their positive reviews.
So, often, your best course of action is to ask your customers for positive reviews. You can easily do so through text, email, or in-person conversation.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are inevitable. For whatever reason, people that feel slighted in one way or another are going to try and shout it from the rooftop. We all know that each customer experience is different, and miscommunication or misunderstandings will happen. Regardless of what leads to a negative review, your best plan of attack is to respond to it and resolve it.
Firstly, that’s just excellent customer service. Secondly, other potential customers will likely see that you don’t shy away from bad reviews and are willing and able to work things out. Plus, there’s also a chance you can turn that negative review into a positive one.
While the Yellow Pages still exist, that’s not where your customers are finding you. They’re typing a search into Google, like from their phone. If your business doesn’t appear near the top of said search with a positive reputation, chances are you’re missing out on their business. That’s what managing your online listing and reputation boil down to. When it’s done correctly, on your own, or through a service, you’ll continue to find your operation in a strong position to succeed and gain new business.