With reviews becoming ever more commonplace for local businesses, we wanted to uncover the ways that those in charge of marketing for local businesses saw, used and prioritized online reputation management solutions.

We asked the attendees of the Local Business Marketing Summit a series of questions on online reputation management in 2018. Thank you to the Local Marketing Institute for giving us this opportunity, as well as to the 255 marketers, SMBs, and enterprise employees who spared their time to share their insights.

If you had any questions on the survey’s demographics or contents, please get in touch on content@brightlocal.com, or leave us a comment below.


Questions

  1. How important is a positive reputation to the success of your / your clients’ businesses?
  2. How much of your working week is devoted to online reputation management?
  3. What are the most important benefits of a positive reputation?
  4. How difficult are online reputation management tasks?
  5. What’s stopping you from putting more effort into online reputation management?
  6. In the next 12 months, will you spend more time on online reputation management?
  7. In the next 12 months, how much of a priority will online reputation management be for your business?
  8. What are the most important review sites?
  9. Have you had fake reviews written about your / your clients’ businesses?
  10. Do you currently use software to help manage your online reputation?
  11. Why do you use online reputation management software?
  12. What’s stopping you from using online reputation management software?
  13. What are the best practices to follow for successful online reputation management?

How important is a positive reputation to the success of your / your clients’ businesses?How important is a positive reputation to the success of your / your client's businesses?

Key Findings

  • 87% of respondents say a positive reputation is very important to their business success
  • A positive reputation is important to every respondent

A positive reputation is a huge boon for every business, so it’s great to see that its necessity is so universally recognized.

It’s always been really important for businesses to develop a positive perception that attracts customers. And in recent years, online reviews have become more and more prevalent, with 86% reading reviews in 2018 (up from 67% in 2010).

With consumers placing so much emphasis on reviews when choosing a local business, we’re really pleased that reputation is so important to the local businesses, enterprises, and marketers of our study.

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How much of your working week is devoted to online reputation management?

How much of your average working week is devoted to online reputation management?
The above averages are based calculating midpoints for a set percentage range.

Key Findings

  • 69% of respondents spend 1-20% of their working weeks on online reputation management
  • The average proportion of the week is 17%, with enterprise businesses spending the most time

While the majority of people chose the smallest segment, the estimated average equates to 17% of all respondents’ working weeks. This is almost a day a week!

Of course, online reputation management is a vital tool for business success, but that doesn’t mean it should dominate your time. There are a number of tools out there to help automate the monitoring, responding to, and asking customers for more reviews. By automating such processes, you can achieve the same results, but free yourself up to focus on the improvements necessary to build a business worthy of positive reviews.

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What are the most important benefits of a positive reputation?

What are the most important benefits of a positive reputation?
Respondents were able to choose three options.

Benefits of a Positive Reputation

  1. Makes potential customers trust businesses more
  2. Helps to convert searchers into new business leads
  3. Boosts rankings in local search results
  4. Makes businesses stand out from competitors
  5. Generates more clicks and calls from new customers

The two biggest advantages to businesses are improving trust among customers, and helping to convert leads. As explored in our Local Consumer Review Survey, 68% of consumers said positive reviews made them more likely to use a local business.

Benefits related to trust were more important than those directly linked to financial gain. While a positive reputation often links directly to increased custom, it’s refreshing that trust is respondents’ top priority. After all, developing a trustworthy business will attract customers in itself in today’s online reviews-focused world.

Boosting search rankings was also a key priority for many of our respondents. According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey, review signals make up a significant proportion of local ranking position, so it’s no wonder this is such a high priority.

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How difficult are online reputation management tasks?

How difficult is online reputation management?

The Most Difficult ORM Tasks

Identifying and removing fake reviews

Our research finds that 79% of consumers read a fake review in the past year, with 25% saying they’d read “a lot”. It can be difficult to spot a fake review, but often, even harder to get these removed. If you’re in need of advice, Ben Fisher wrote a great blog on how to tackle a fake review attack.

Encouraging customers to write online reviews

Getting customers to leave reviews can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. But, according to our data, 60% of consumers who are asked to leave a review go on to do so. There are plenty of tactics and touchpoints to consider when generating reviews – from asking during sales, to follow up emails, to including reminders on receipts, and beyond. Find out how we can help you connect with your customers to get more reviews.

Educating staff about the importance of reviews

While it’s easy for business owners and marketers to appreciate the benefits of a positive online reputation, it can be harder to filter this importance down to the rest of the team. Share feedback freely among the team, praising staff for their good work, and making visible changes based on negative customer reviews. If appropriate, you could consider linking your online reputation to staff’s performance reviews and bonuses. The better the business does, the better they do.

Finding the most relevant review sites to focus on

It’s important to monitor all of the review sites that your customers may post on or look for a provider on. Monitor the top general review sites (e.g. Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, BBB, Manta, Angie’s List etc), as well as industry-specific review sites.

Getting an overview of all reviews across sites

Monitoring your online presence takes time and attention to detail. If your strategy relies on irregularly monitoring a handful of top sites, you risk missing negative feedback that could influence potential customers. Online reputation management tools can lift the burden of monitoring a wide range of sites, allowing you to view all your feedback in one place.

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What’s stopping you from putting more effort into online reputation management?What's stopping you from putting more effort into online reputation management?What's stopping you from putting more effort into online reputation management?

Key Findings

  • Time is stopping 50% of respondents from putting more effort into online reputation management
  • Budget is the second biggest reason

With half of respondents being deterred from expending effort on their online reputation due to time constraints, a significant proportion of businesses are failing to live up to the expectations of local shoppers when it comes to reviews.

The average consumer reads 10 reviews before trusting a business, with 57% wanting a business to have at least a four-star review rating before using them – could businesses that don’t meet these expectations risk putting off customers?
Another block for businesses is the availability of budget for online reputation management. Rather than outsourcing or hiring an employee to spend a day a week on your online reputation, it’s worth looking into the affordable tools available to help limit the amount of time spent. Tools shouldn’t have to break the bank.

Just a handful of respondents said they were held back because they didn’t believe consumers trusted online reviews.

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In the next 12 months, how much of a priority will online reputation management be for your business?

In the next 12 months, how much of a priority will online reputation management be for your business?

Key Findings

  • 77% of businesses are making online reputation management a priority in the next year
  • Just 2% see it as a very low priority

Despite every respondent saying a positive reputation was important to their business success, only 77% plan to make online reputation management a significant priority in the next year.

However, with such a tiny proportion saying it will be a very low priority, it’s likely that the rush towards online reviews will only continue to grow in the future.

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