They have the following questions in their mind:
- Does this company's online impression and website make me want to purchase from them?
- Can I trust this business and does this website illustrate professionalism?
- Should I buy from this company based on Internet research and reviews?
The Company Process, Website and First Impression
Part of effective online reputation management deals with trust and the first impression. Does your website ooze confidence for someone to make or justify a purchase? A famous saying is "the way that you do one thing is the way that you do everything." If your site is not up to par, imagine how that transfers to the impression of your services, reputation, customer service, and doing future business. If your website loads slowly or is not mobile friendly that will create a trickle-down of potential complications for a user and loss of interest.
On a subconscious level, people make decisions without being aware of why they arrive at their choices. That means that your website needs to look good in order to make that critical subconscious first impression. Otherwise, people might be double thinking, if you will, about whether they want to work with your company or not.
Consciously, they will be going through the standard deciding factors. Unconsciously, their brains will pick apart every aspect of your website to determine whether you are a “safe” business or not. For starters, if your website looks old and outdated, you are going to lose business. Whether it was intentional or not, your lack of commitment to your website and online presence is impacting your reputation.
That can lead potential customers to other sites because they did not have a good experience with your website initially.
Here are some key factors why visitors bounce off your site and search elsewhere on the Internet:
- Your site loads slowly
- Your site lacks content and looks like a new business
- There is no evidence of trusting you – such as testimonials and case studies
- Your site is not up to date with content that is recent
- Lack of social proof and engagement for your business
- Your site is old and the design is outdated and non-responsive
- Too much information on your website with no call to action
- Missing images on pages to engage visually - all text
- Colors of the site are a distraction to your customer experience
- Lack of videos which increase CTR and engagement
Can I Trust This Business?
Customers will not buy from a company they do not like and trust. Besides having a great website you want to have many ways that a customer can contact you. Part of the layout of your website should include enough functionality and information to keep the customer engaged when it comes to purchasing from your business.
Use of logos of companies that you have worked with as clients along with testimonials about positive experiences they have had with your company will create credibility. By updating your content on your blog and news section, your company becomes more credible compared to a website whose last post is dated two years ago. This also goes the same for all of your social channels.
There are great tools available online that allow you to share your content on many social channels. Videos on your site or embedded from Youtube can increase engagement and explain how your business process works, share client stories, explain benefits your company and can warm up visitors to do business with your company. Consumers like to buy from those they like and can relate to, and this holds true on the Internet with different forms of content and media.
Part of your website optimization, including working on meta descriptions and ranking your site, has an impact on your reputation. If you do not optimize your website for your company name and keywords, then you may find that other review sites will dominate and outrank your for the prime search results about your company, whether they are from customers or competitors.
We know that if you are doing lots of sales and growing fast there is always a chance that you will have a few unhappy customers. We work with huge multi-billion corporations that have complaints because of the volume of business. Let's face it, though: sometimes you can not say the right thing to the wrong person no matter how hard you try and satisfy a customer.
Justification From Third Party Reviews and Google
How is Google helping your potential clients justify to do business with you compared to getting default results from the 3rd party sites and false statements found online? The Internet is so crucial to a sound business in this day and age. After all, people do not even meet someone today for coffee unless they Google who they are meeting first.
How is your company's social footprint online? Your company should monitor and control its search results and what comes up on Google by consistently working on your social profiles and web 2.0 profiles. This establishes your online branding and creates digital firewall to insure that visitors are finding evidence to do business with you.
Here are some of the major platforms that every company should use and optimize:
The biggest reason why a business hires an agency is to leverage the agency's experience and optimize all profiles properly for correct company social branding. Its essential for reputation management and social media and to maximize engagement from potential business you can get from these above platforms. We find so many companies that are not aware of how to properly optimize their social platforms.
Many feel social media is just having a social profile up thinking thats all they do, but that is simply not the case
We research and study the keywords for each profile and align them with your goals, branding and results desired for your online reputation. We find most companies miss using optimized images, optimized videos, optimized audio and cross promotion of content on social channels. We find 90% of the businesses out there miss more than 90% of the optimization they could have on Google because they did not fully understand the details of SEO and social media optimization or how to use these social channels to benefit their online reputation.
As you look at your business strategy and online reputation management it is about doing things a certain way. It is about being committed to what your customers see, how you are viewed on Google and most of all paying close attention to every detail a customer will be evaluating while considering doing business with you. You must have broad approach that evolves into thinking who you want to attract with your website, online reputation and future business. It is important to maximize the Internet while getting into the minds of different kinds of customers rather than being stuck in the way you may have done business 10 years ago. The Internet is the future of business so its important to evolve and change as the Internet changes or you could be left behind and find yourself believing your own excuses as to why your business is having trouble.
The Internet has definitely changed the way we live and do business today. Google allows for anyone in any state or country to find you online and opens up a world of opportunity for those who have a desire to figure it out.
The major key is that you have to work on making your business look its best and have the competitive advantage when it comes to your online image. It is like the story of David and Goliath; you should not be blindsided by the Internet because when it comes down to it, the Internet can work for you and it can also work against you. Most businesses that miss the significance of the Internet have no idea what their online reputation is costing them in lost business.
Hugh Benjamin has been building start-ups for his whole career. He has a proven track record of growing companies from two employees to 200 using his unique brand of high-energy, responsible scaling strategies. Hugh currently runs business development at I Think an Idea, an SEO and content agency in Los Angeles, California.