Your Reputation Matters
- 83% of consumers say that online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions. (Source: Opinion Research Corp., June 2008)
- A Word of Mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20- to 50-percent of all purchasing decisions. (Source: McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010)
- Harvard University research on Yelp shows that a 1-star difference in reviews on Yelp may result in 5% to 9% in business gained or lost. (Source: Harvard University, September 2011)
These days anyone can go online and leave a negative review or damaging comments about you or your company. Websites such as ripoffreport.com, scam.com, scambook.com, pissedconsumer.com, and complaintsboard.com allow anonymous postings without any validation of the poster’s identity. All that is required is an email address. Although some of these sites may track the IP address of the poster, it is virtually impossible to acquire such information without legal action and a subpoena of the website’s logs. Furthermore, simply acquiring an IP address would not allow you to easily identify the poster. You would also need the records of the ISP as well, which would require another subpoena, and they may not be available at all.
With the ever-increasing prominence rise of social media, consumers will often times take advantage of sites such as Twitter and Facebook to leave negative feedback or even libelous rants that can seriously damage a company or an individual’s reputation.
Many of the sites mentioned above rank very high in Google and other search engines due to their popularity. Therefore, if you or your company has any negative reviews on these sites, those reviews may very well appear in the top results of the search engines when someone is searching for your name or brand.
In the early 2000s, a new industry was born called Online Reputation Management (aka ORM) or Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM).
Online Reputation Management helps to eliminate or reduce the damage caused by negative internet posts that are ranking highly for searches on their company names, brand names, or individuals associated with an organization (such as the company president). Removing the offending pages is most often not possible, even with legal action; however, the targeted use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing makes it possible to move such pages down in search engine rankings to the second page or lower, where they will be “buried” and attract less attention.
Big Business vs. Small Business
It does not matter if you are a large business or a small business, having a great reputation matters. What doesn’t matter is whether you are a one-person company or a large multinational with complex customers. What people see when they search for you online makes a difference.