Online Reputation Management For Local Businesses: Why It Is Critical in 2024

76% of consumers today conduct an online search before making a purchase. And 36% of shoppers look up a product online while inside the store!

This means that people’s first impression of your business is formed by the top search results that appear when they search for your product or store. And they are not only looking for your business listing or website; they are also looking for online reviews from fellow users. 

So why is managing your business listings and product pages not enough? Because consumers are more likely to trust online reviews rather than what your own website says.

Small Things That Can Go Wrong

Imagine you are looking to buy a product—something you really want, like the trendy clothes you just saw on a social media app, or that irresistible dessert you’ve been craving. 

Conducting a quick search on engines such as Google is generally your first action in this scenario. 

Now, if the search results are full of negative reviews or complaints, it can impact your purchasing decision.

Negative reviews are bad, but they can be avoided and managed with proper processes. A crisis, on the other hand, occurs suddenly and is far harder to manage.

Big Things That Can Go Wrong – What Constitutes a Crisis?

Marketing campaigns and product launches can sometimes randomly go wrong, even if you follow proper procedures before launching them. On the brighter side, the chance of things randomly going wrong is extremely low. 

Small things that seem harmless can quickly attract negative attention to your local business. A crisis generally occurs due to the following reasons:


  1. Snowballing Social Media Issues 

Well-intended social media posts and comments can sometimes result in a huge backlash against your brand. Even people who have never heard of your brand will invariably come to know all about it. This is not the kind of exposure you want for your business.

No one has been able to reliably predict how and when this happens. But sometimes, it is your own fault. More about that in the next point.

  1. Tone Deaf Marketing Campaigns

Your marketing campaigns may backfire if they are not thoroughly researched and in tune with consumer sentiments. This has happened to several well-known brands with substantial marketing budgets.

Sometimes your marketing team will fail to see the complete picture and offend a demographic – which often happens to be your target audience. Tone-deaf content that does not take emotions and local norms into consideration may cause immense damage to your brand reputation and image.

  1. Long-term Social Media Perception

A crisis is not always easily noticeable. Negative perceptions can build over a long period of time on social media.

When you come across posts or comments on certain businesses’ social media profiles, you may notice that sometimes they are filled with consumer complaints. Over time, this creates an unconscious bias among consumers who will associate the brand with poor-quality products and consumer support.

Online Reputation Handling For Local Businesses

Any combination of the above-mentioned problems can lead you to lose the consumer in the initial phase of the pre-purchase process. 

Increasing sales and conversions require a flawless online reputation. Remember, your advantages as an offline local business will become apparent only when the consumer decides to interact with you.

You can step up your reputation management game with the following strategies:

  1. Proactive Monitoring

Proactively monitoring consumer review and perception trends can help you tackle issues before they gather momentum. This also ensures a better consumer experience, which inevitably leads to lower churn rates. 

Engagement management features offered by SingleInterface can help you streamline and automate much of this process.

  1. Multiple Checks

Having multiple independent people or teams review your marketing campaign before it goes live can significantly reduce the risk of having to implement your crisis management plan. Fostering open communication is critical for this – no one speaking up defeats the entire purpose of having checks.

If you are uncertain about how the market will react to a certain campaign, canceling it is better than facing any potential backlash.

  1. Crisis Management Plan

Even with perfect strategy and great execution, social media reactions can be unexpectedly negative. 

This has a very low chance of happening, but it is still necessary to have a ready-to-implement crisis management plan.

This includes quickly identifying adverse consumer reactions, followed by a thorough introspection to identify what went wrong. After this, you should work on a war footing to contain the damage and issue further communication.

A product offering with review management features can help you manage reviews centrally or at a location level. This can help stores address concerns directly or have a dedicated crisis and reputation management team for the entire company. With smart integrations like AI-powered charts, you can even automate some of this process.

  1. Adding The Human Touch

The reassurance provided by being helped by a human can significantly increase consumer satisfaction. However, having humans handle and monitor your entire online presence is cost-prohibitive. 

Proper reputation and crisis management require synergy between technology and humans. Technology like AI-powered chat can quickly resolve small problems, while more complex ones should be immediately escalated to a human. Product offerings like SingleInterface’s Engagement and Reputation Management can help you strike this delicate balance.

Final Words

Offline businesses have certain advantages over purely online ones:

  • Google Maps searches for “shopping near me” have been increasing by more than 100% year over year..
  • Phone calls to stores are 10 to 15 times more likely to result in a purchase compared to web leads. 
  • 69% of consumers examine products in-store before buying online – a great brand reputation and consumer experience can convert them right there.

What offline local businesses lack is omnichannel consolidated data; and tools to properly use that data. Comprehensive product offerings like SingleInterface can bridge this gap. SingleInterface provides the capability to manage and streamline the entire buying journey from an integrated dashboard.

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