How would you feel if your conversion rate grew by 120 percent?
Research from Uberall shows that companies that move their aggregate review rating from 3.5 to 3.7 stars experience a 120 percent growth in conversions. If your review rating increases by 0.1, you can experience a conversion rate boost of 25 percent!
If you’re familiar with reputation management, you understand the impact it can have on your business. If you’re like most business owners, you’re unsure how to build, protect, and use your reputation effectively.
Reputation management solves that problem.
Reputation management consulting gives you an actionable plan showing you how to build, protect, and amplify your reputation.
7 Ways a Reputation Management Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business
When most people think of reputation management, consulting isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Most businesses automatically assume that they have the skills and training they need to manage their company’s reputation on their own.
Many people think it’s just about getting reviews.
Ask your customers to write reviews for you on Yelp or Google Reviews, and your reputation grows automatically. It’s fast, simple, and easy, and to a certain extent, it works.
But it’s also not enough.
This is why you need reputation management consulting. With the right support, you’ll:
- Understand the different types of reputation: Consultants will help you identify whether your reputation is positive, mediocre, negative, or positive and negative. They’ll show you what the impact of each will be and how each will impact your business.
- Understand where your reputation is strong or weak: Your reputation management campaigns should start with benchmarks. You’ll need to know where you’re doing well and the areas that need improvement. Your consultant should be able to prioritize the areas in your business that require your attention first. Do you need to improve product quality? Or should you focus on improving customer service first? Which review platforms will have the biggest impact on revenue? They should be able to answer these questions and provide you with a plan you can follow.
- Know how to build your reputation: You build your reputation in several ways — product and service quality, customer service, awards and accolades, financial performance, results achieved for customers, etc. They’ll point out obvious but missed details; if your reviews are positive but your customer service is poor, it’ll eventually catch up with you.
- Identify the tools, resources, and people you’ll need to build your reputation. Will you need third-party review management tools? Will each of these tools need login credentials? They should provide you with a list of the items you’ll need to run a reputation management campaign successfully.
- How to use and amplify your reputation to grow your business: Most companies that understand the value of reputation management focus their attention on getting reviews. They’re not sure what to do with the reviews once they have them. Your consultant will show you how to use your reviews to attract more customers and lower advertising costs. They should also provide you with a plan that uses your reputation to increase your conversion rates and revenue.
- Have what you need to protect your reputation: Your company can make all of the right moves and still end up with a poor reputation. Bad review blackmail, competitor fraud, bad customer behaviors, social or political missteps, and general crises are all issues that need to be addressed and prepared for.
- Know how to repair your reputation: Your consultant will provide you with a crisis management plan that deals with any major or minor problems, and provides you with a recovery plan to bring your company back from any reputational disasters. Your consultant will provide you with a realistic timeframe.
These are areas that you’ll need a consultant to help you with.
How to Get Started With a Reputation Management Consultant
The consultant you choose can help you get started with the items you need ahead of time. But it’s better if you come into the relationship prepared and ready to work. Here’s a list of the items you’ll want to prepare ahead of time.
- Set goals, objectives, and KPIs for your campaigns: These will most likely change once you bring your consultant on, but you’ll want to have an idea of the goals you’re looking for ahead of time. Focus your attention on both internal and external goals. For example, an internal goal would be improved customer service ratings from customers who contact you via phone, live chat, or email. An external goal would be more four and five-star reviews on Yelp or Google reviews.
- Choose a point-of-contact and team that’s responsible for review management. Typically marketing, customer service, or sales receive the responsibility for review management. You’ll want to choose a single department and team, give them the decision-making authority and autonomy they need to manage your reputation.
- Create a governance policy: You’ll want to determine the specific people who will work with your consultant to implement the changes they recommend. You’ll also need to set legal guidelines that specify what your team should respond to, when they should respond, and how to do it. It can be as simple as deciding that you’ll respond to all reviews. This is also likely to change a bit once you have your consultant on board.
- Create and claim all of your review profiles: Make a list of the review sites in your industry; create an account for the mainstream, niche, industry-specific, and specialty sites. If you need to create an account specifically for your consultant, get that ready ahead of time.
- Share credentials and access: Your consultant may ask for access to third-party tools (i.e., Google Analytics). If you’re using third-party review management tools, they may request access for those as well. Depending on the consultant you choose, they may also need access to content management or web development tools.
- Set reporting requirements: You’ll want to set guidelines on your campaign reporting. How often do you want your consultant to provide you with campaign updates and reporting? Who should receive these reports? Owners and management, in addition to the team that’s responsible for reputation management?
Your reputation management consultant will tell you what they need to get started, but it’s always best if you’re prepared ahead of time.
Measuring the ROI of Reputation Management Consulting Services
Measuring ROI is one of the biggest hurdles in consulting. Research from Consulting.us points to ROI as a problem. They found that 27 percent of the companies surveyed refused to hire consultants because it’s too hard to measure ROI.
This doesn’t have to become a problem that keeps you from hiring a reputation management consultant. In fact, you already have the information you need to measure the ROI of reputation management. If you’ve done the upfront work of setting goals and KPIs for your campaigns, you already have what you need to measure your ROI.
Work with your consultant to calibrate your goals upfront.
You’ll want to get your consultant’s help with the goals, objectives, and KPIs you’ve set with your team. Your consultant should be able to tell you, at the beginning of your campaigns, whether your goals, objectives, and KPIs are realistic and in line with reality.
If your goals aren’t realistic, your consultant should be able to explain why.
If they are realistic, and both of you come to an agreement with the goals that you’ve set, measuring your ROI is easy. Just refer to the goals you set at the beginning of the relationship, then verify that your consultant has helped you to reach those goals.
It’s a simple and easy way to make sure you’re getting the ROI you need to be profitable.
4 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Reputation Management Consultant
Choosing the right reputation management consultant doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. You can approach the vetting process the same way you would for any other consultant or professional. You outline your values, expectations, and requirements ahead of time; then you find the providers that meet your criteria.
Here’s a shortlist of the criteria you can use.
1. A Stellar Reputation
Your reputation management consultant should have a stellar reputation in the industry. There shouldn’t be any questions about their legitimacy or doubts about their integrity. If a consultant has lots of negative reviews, poor feedback, or concerns about their standards, they’re not a good fit for your business.
Look for customer feedback on public sites, forums, or social media. There should be a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative feedback about their business. Ideally, you’re looking for a large mix of reviews, positive feedback, and buzz around their business online.
2. A Proven Track Record
Your consultant should be able to provide you with case studies, testimonials, or references. You’ll want to hear from clients directly. You’re looking for evidence that shows you:
- How they work
- The problems they solved
- The results achieved
- The way they served their clients
These details provide you with lots of materials you can work with. Some reputation management companies may write case studies where they conceal their client information, ignore those. Ask your consultant to provide you with one or two examples from clients who’ve decided to share their story. This makes it easier to do some basic fact-checking if something doesn’t sound right.
3. Their Plan For Your Campaign
A great consultant will be able to give you a high-level overview of the strategies and tactics they’ll use to improve your reputation. They should lay their plans out in detail, covering important details like:
- The content they’ll create for you
- How they plan to improve your reputation (with specifics)
- Who they’ll ask to write about your business
- How they’ll get others to talk about your business
- How they respond to reviews and feedback
- Their approach to SEO
- Whether they’ll share content with you before posting it online
They should be open and completely transparent with you about your campaign. Anything less than that is a serious red flag. If your consultant is doing anything on your behalf, they must be transparent with you about their work.
4. They Answer Your Questions
You should be able to ask your consultant important questions about your campaign. They should provide you with clear answers to each of your questions and concerns. Here are some questions you may want to ask your consultants ahead of time.
- Will you see the content they post before it’s posted?
- Do you have experience helping other clients in my industry?
- How would you respond to a legitimately angry customer?
- How do they plan on improving your reputation?
- How will an improved reputation accomplish your goals?
If the consultants you’re considering refuse to answer your questions or they’re evasive, it’s probably a good idea that you choose a different consultant.
Feel free to expand on these criteria and add the details you’re looking for on an as-needed basis.
Reputation management has a huge impact on your business. If you’re looking for a consultant to help you with your campaigns, you probably already know that.
When most people think of reputation management, consulting isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Many companies aren’t interested in hiring consultants because they don’t know how to measure ROI. It’s common for businesses to assume that they have the skills and training they need to manage their company’s reputation on their own.
Use this guide to find the reputation management consultants you need. Choose your values, expectations, and requirements first; then create a list of consultants who fit that list. The consultants you find will be able to help you meet your goals.