How Is Your Business Perceived Online…and Offline?
The online reputation audit checklist below can also be used to evaluate the perception your prospects and customers have of your offline reputation. While the quote at the right makes a good point, your business reputation is serious business. Many business owners and managers overlook some easy ways to increase how often visitor becomes a buyer.
Here are key ways to build confidence-building signals in your business’ communication tools. If you find one of the typos in this article, you get a discount on your website audit by SEO Buzz.
- Correct Grammar and Punctuation. Typos and grammatical errors create suspicion and lower the opinion a prospect has of your business (studies prove it). Spell-check and proofread everything before you publish it and after, also.
- Reviews and Testimonials. Seeing what others’ have to say about your business is invaluable. And they prove you have been around. While highlighting reviews on your website is a great tactic, focus your reviews gathering activities on independent sites like Google and Yelp. Consider creating some video testimonials…it’s easier than you think. Tip: Use a reviews-gathering tool like LocalReviewz (no monthly contracts…use them only as long as you like!) to make getting fresh reviews easy, consistent, and to help you reduce the number of negative reviews. Receive a signup bonus from SEO Buzz of $50 when you complete your second month of using their services…just mention us when you call.
- Be real. The more your writing, images, and graphics show a consistent business voice and message, or in the case of consultants and other tiny businesses, your own personality, the more genuine your prospects will feel you are when encountering your business. People work with people they like and trust.
- Functionality. All your features like forms, links, and clickable phone numbers and emails must work.
- Company History. Prospects want to know what your business is, who you are, how you were inspired to start your business, your credentials, what you have done for whom. Photos can be your best friend as they are worth a thousand words, right?
- Trust Seals. Badges from reputable organizations like Sucuri, VeriSign, TRUSTe, or the Better Business Bureau help vouch for your trustworthiness and some for safety to use your website.
- Guarantees. If appropriate for your product or service, a well-crafted money-back guarantee statement helps ease concerns of those who are less certain about your business being a fit for them. Make your guarantee can convince them they have nothing to lose.
- Contact Information. Provide an email address, phone number, and your geographical location. Businesses hiding behind a strategy of “just send me a contact form” will result in prospects moving on to the next provider.
Key Digital Marketing Assets
To improve your business’ reputation, take a fine tooth comb to remove all the unwanted trust-killing problems on these online business assets:
- Website – check content and images for mistakes and refresh images that no longer appropriately represent your business or its products and services, check that all forms work, while you are at it, jump on mobile to check all your forms, click phone numbers and emails, etc. Often websites behave differently on mobile that on computers.
- Social media profiles and posts – In addition to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., sites like Yelp and Foursquare fall into this category.
- Shared articles, documents, and presentations on sites like LinkedIn, Slideshare (now part of LinkedIn), YouTube, and any professional organization sites you may participate in. Special note on YouTube…time and time again, I find my clients’ YouTube videos have text inserted in them for transitions or to explain concepts and they have misspellings, even professionally produced videos! Take the video down until you can fix it and re-upload it. We can help with that!.
- Online business and map listings – This includes sites that have rich text and pictures in your profile such as Google, Bing, Apple Maps, MapQuest, and industry listings such as HealthGrades.com for doctors.
- Online sites with reviews – Be sure you are responding to all reviews with brief well-written remarks.
- Email and newsletter campaigns (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.).
- Citations (these are listings where just your name, address, phone number, and website are listed…no descriptions or more detail…making sure everything is spelled correctly will also boost SEO!).
Key Offline Areas to Check
It probably happens less often offline because much of those assets are produced by professionals like graphics artists who have built-in proof-reading processes. But even those can fall prey to errors, so give these a going-over:
- Business cards
- Promotional items (pens, key chains, T-shirts, etc.)
- In-store signs
- Print advertising
- TV advertising
Schedule Your Online Reputation Audit
Put it on your calendar now to plan who will complete your business’ trust audit. Then when you plan the various parts, put it on your calendar! Don’t lose another prospect to silly errors or a lack of focus on key areas such as getting reviews.
Not a nit-picky person? Find a friend, friend of a friend, or employee to peruse your business online and offline. Or hire an editing service such as SEO Buzz to bump up the professionalism (and trust) for your business.