One negative review can cost your business up to 22% of its prospects. This was one of the sobering findings in a study highlighted on Moz last year. With over half of shoppers rating reviews as important in their buying decision, no company large or small can afford to ignore stats like these - let alone the reviews themselves. In what follows I'll let you in on how web scraping can help you stay on top.
What is online reputation management
Online reputation management is carefully maintaining and curating your brand’s image by monitoring social media, reviews, and articles about your company. When it comes to online reputation management, you can’t have too much information. This is a critical part of your business strategy that impacts pretty much every level of your organization from customer service to marketing to sales. BrightLocal found that, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” The relationship between brands and customers has become a two-way street because of the multitude of channels for interaction. Hence the rise of influencer and guerilla marketing tactics.
A key part of online reputation management is highlighting positive reviews to send the message that you are a responsive company that rewards loyal and happy customers. Online reputation management is likewise critical to putting out any potential customer fires. The attrition rate of consumers shoots up to 70% when they stumble across four or more negative articles. You need to be able to act fast to address criticisms and to mitigate escalating issues. Ideally you should not delete negative feedback, but instead show the steps that you are taking to rectify the situation. Besides sparing you an occasional taste of the Streisand effect, this shows that you are responsible, transparent, and not afraid to own up to errors.
How to manage your reputation online
While you could manually monitor social media and review aggregators, in addition to Googling your company for unexpected articles, it’s much more effective to automate the process. There are a lot of different companies and services that specialize in this service including:
Web scraping, the man behind the curtain
Web scraping provides reliable and up-to-date web data
There is an inconceivably vast amount of content on the web which was built for human consumption. However, its unstructured nature presents an obstacle for software. So the general idea behind web scraping is to turn this unstructured web content into a structured format for easy analysis.
Automated data extraction smooths the tedious manual aspect of research and allows you to focus on finding actionable insights and implementing them. And this is especially critical when it comes to online reputation management. Respondents to The Social Habit study showed that when customers contact companies through social media for customer support issues, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Using web scraping, you could easily have constantly updating data feeds that alert you to comments, help queries, and complaints about your brand on any website, allowing you to take instant action.
You also need to be sure that nothing falls through the cracks. You can easily monitor thousands, if not millions of websites for changes and updates that will impact your company.
Sentiment analysis and review monitoring
Now, a key part of online reputation management is monitoring reviews for positive and negative feedback. Once the extracted web data is in, you can use machine learning to do sentiment analysis. This form of textual analysis can categorize messages as positive or negative, and the more data you use to train the program, the more effective it becomes. This is a great method for being able to quickly respond to negative reviews while keeping track of positive reviews to reward customers and highlight loyalty.
Straight From the Horse’s Mouth
Here are two entrepreneurs providing real world examples of how they use online reputation management and review monitoring to increase their business.
The Importance of Review Monitoring
President and Founder of Anvil Media, Inc.
As a career agency professional who has owned my own agency for the past 16 years, I have a few thoughts regarding monitoring reviews and assessing sentiment analysis to move businesses forward:
Monitoring reviews (including sentiment) is essential to your business. Ignoring (negative) reviews can cause undue and unnecessary harm. Since 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business, negative reviews can directly affect sales. Conversely, a one-star increase on Yelp, leads to a 5-9% increase in business revenue.
Online reviews can be monitored manually (bookmarking and visiting sites like Google My Business, Yelp and others daily or as-needed). However, there are a host of tools available that automate the process. Utilize a mix of free (socialmention.com) and paid tools (Revinate.com) to regularly monitor reviews, in order to address negative reviews and celebrate positive reviews.
While the primary objective for monitoring reviews is identifying and mitigating negative reviews, there are a host of other benefits to capturing and analyzing the data. Harvesting and analyzing the data will provide insights that will improve your products and services. For starters, you can measure and trend sentiment for the brand overall. With additional insights, you can track and monitor reviews for specific products, services or locations. Social media and review sites are the largest (free) focus group in the world. Additionally, you can look at competitors and create benchmarks to track trends over time. Lastly, you can identify superfans that can be nurtured into brand ambassadors.
The sources of data vary by company and industry. Most businesses can be reviewed on Google My Business, Yelp, BBB and Glassdoor (for employees). Each industry has specific sites that also must be monitored, including Expedia and Travelocity for travel & hospitality.
To get maximum value from your monitoring efforts, always look at competitor reviews. Customers are telling you what business you should be in based on their feedback and suggestions for improvement... learn from the entire industry, not just your current or past customers.
Online reputation management, social media, and competitor monitoring
Owner of Ace Work Gear
We use tools like Sprout Social which helps us to track mentions on social media for our clients, as this where the majority of the discussion happens about their business. The main reason that our clients want to track these mentions is that people tend to speak more openly and honestly about their experiences with a business on social media than anywhere else online. This also gives our clients the chance to join in conversations with their customers in a casual manner, whereas interactions on review sites can be far more formal.
We report on the number of mentions, and whether our client is being discussed in a positive or negative manner, as well as what the discussion is specifically related to. We look at 3 main social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. We also monitor mentions of competitors across all of these platforms, as per the request of our clients.
Monitoring the online reputation of competitors
Do not neglect your competitors when monitoring reviews and social media. Keeping track of the online reputation of competitors allows you to:
- Correctly position and price your product or service offerings
- Snatch customers who are posting dissatisfied reviews and comments about your competition
- Launch more effective marketing campaigns that address pain points experienced by customers of your competition
- Determine what your competitors are doing right so that you can innovate off of their ideas
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Competitive intelligence and having an accurate overview of your industry only serves to help you sell your products more effectively. And to bring it back to online reputation management, having a negative perception of your brand is like shooting yourself in the foot. You're already at a severe disadvantage, especially when compared to positively reviewed competitors.
How to use online reputation management to increase your sales
In an interview with Don Sorensen, president of Big Blue Robot, he shared that one company he worked with was losing an estimated $2 million and more in sales due to a poor online reputation. Don't let this be you.
- The first step is to level the playing field by locating and responding to all of the negative reviews. With a damaged reputation, you should be in crisis mode and monitoring brand mentions around-the-clock so that you are never caught by surprise.
- Dominate your search results so that there is little room for people with vendettas to swoop in. This means posting regularly on social media, getting press coverage, and answering questions in forums related to your business or your industry.
- Curate your brand's reputation by having an active blog that carefully frames the benefits of your business, tailored to your audience.
If you are proactive and have a positive reputation or have managed to repair your reputation, then enthusiastic reviews and word of mouth will increase and improve your lead generation prospects. Your sales team should also be fully aware of your online reputation so they can soothe potential concerns or draw attention to success stories.
They say that a good reputation is more valuable than money. Guard yours closely with web data and ensure that you are taking every precaution necessary to retain customers and win over new leads.