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When potential customers are on the search for a business to meet their needs, they’re confronted with highly revealing information about your business. This information includes reviews of your products or services along with competitor comments about your business. It may not all be true, and it may not all be positive. Your reputation management is vitally important to ensuring that your best foot is always forward.

During the process of finding your business, a customer (or buyer) will go through three stages during their journey to finding you. This journey is aptly called the “buyer’s journey”. Finding ways to capitalize on each of these stages with nothing but glowing, and realistic, reviews will ensure that customers not only see your business in a positive light but also choose your business to solve their needs.

How Reputation Management Affects Your Business

Your online reputation is like your calling card or your brand appearance, so finding ways to showcase the positive while hiding the negative is becoming more important. This is particularly true in an age when customers are increasingly heading to the internet to learn about their purchasing options.

In fact, 7 out of 10 customers seek out opinions before making buying decisions. The stats are as high as 85% for adults under the age of 35 years old, and this millennial generation is increasingly becoming the main earners and spenders larger amounts in our changing economy.

The Steps a Buyer Takes to Find You Online

Consider your own steps when deciding on a business to meet to your needs in order to better understand the buyer’s journey.

You start with a problem and head to the internet for a solution, or at least 70% of adults are opting for that route, and this is the general route when searching for a business:

  1. You Google “Mechanic near me” and then refine your search, but you realize that you weren’t clear enough.
  2. You change to “GMC Mechanic near me” but there’s still more to consider as three options have come up.
  3. Now you switch to “Harry’s GMC Mechanic reviews” to figure out if this is the mechanic you want. The reviews aren’t great, so you keep looking.
  4. You now search for “TCS GMC Mechanic reviews” and you find both good ratings and contact information. You’re ready to go!

This is the detailed process of the buyer’s journey to finding your brand. Let’s dive into this a bit further to understand what just happened in #3, because it’s not as obvious as you think.

Where Your Reputation Management Makes a Difference in Google Searches

The buyer’s journey can be summed up in three stages with each stage playing an important role in reputation management.

The First Stage is Awareness

At this stage a customer encounters an issue that they need to solve. This is when they head to Google since it’s one of the most trusted sites, and they’ll start searching for ways to solve their problem. This is illustrated in step #1 above.

In general, during the awareness phase they may be doing one of two things:

  1. Identifying their problem (such as figuring out who to call when water starts leaking from the roof of your house)
  2. Searching for a solution provider (such as a tire center for a punctured tire)

Your reputation doesn’t come into play very much at this point, but your ability to stand out in a list of only three options is very important. Learn how to stand out in the local 3-pack.

The Second State is Consideration

At this stage a buyer is filtering through the few options they get from their search, and this is illustrated in #2 above.

According to Moz, there are 18 ways to show up online, and reviews are in the top 5. In fact, nearly ⅔ of customers will make their decisions based on reviews, placing reviews among the most important areas to consider, and 33% of search results now contain reviews. That number is only going up.

Customers like to see reviews, but they’re weary of a perfect 5 star score. It’s easy to engineer a glowing online reputation, but it’s not always smart for your business. What is smart is figuring out how to lessen the negative while improving the positive reviews.

Of course, you can always DIY your Reputation Management at this stage. We have some great tips to help you, but remember that there are other businesses who are doing the same thing. So, being one step ahead is part of making your business stand out.

The Third Stage is Decision Making

During this final stage, a customer becomes attracted to their top business choice and proceeds to book a call with them. If you’re the lucky winner in this scenario, then congratulations! If you’re not, then you may have just moved one spot down on the business listing totem pole.

The Next Steps to Improving Your Reputation Management

Now that you’re aware of the journey a buyer takes to finding you and where reputation management comes into play, it’s now important to understand the deeper mechanics to how it works. You can read the second part of this two part series in the January 2018 blog issue.

In the meantime, there is never a better time to start nitpicking through the results that show up when customers are in search of the services you offer. Reviews and competitor commentary can greatly affect who chooses you, and there are techniques to ensuring that you’re able to stand out during Google searches with nothing but positive, and realistic, reviews. This creates trust and awareness while helping you grow your bottom line.

Contact us today to begin making your business stand out in a positive light through reputation management.

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