Your copy may be slick, your ads may be clickable, your retargeting game may be on-point, and your videos may be engaging, but even with all of these tactics clicking on all cylinders, you are leaving opportunities on the table if you aren’t also focused on online reputation management.

Consider the following:

  • More than 75 percent of online shoppers trust digital reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.
  • Companies or products that have a five-star rating earn 39 percent more clicks than companies or products with a 1-star rating.
  • On average, consumers spend about 14 minutes reading reviews before making a purchasing decision.

You may think these stats would be enough to cause any organization to make online reputation management a high priority, but given that nearly 60 percent of executives believe reputation management should be addressed and only 15 percent of those executives provide direction or resources to tackle the problem, it is clear that, for many organizations, online reputation management is a forgotten marketing strategy.

If your organization finds itself among those who haven’t quite grasped the importance of online reputation management, we are including a few valuable tactics you can undertake to make some needed improvements to your reputation management efforts.

Use this four-step online reputation management strategy to improve your credibility.

Online reputation management strategy tips: Set up alerts.

1. Know what is being said.

Before you can react to what is being said on digital channels, you first need to know exactly what it is that people are saying.

A number of tools exist that can help you, but a few of the best include:

  • Google Alerts: Utilizing Google Alerts is absolutely free and can be tremendously helpful in your efforts to scour the internet to locate instances when people are discussing your brand or products. You can opt into receiving an email anytime Google locates a mention — good or bad — of your product on blogs, web pages, and news sites.
  • YEXT: This service is not free, but if you are taking your responsibility to know what people are saying about you seriously, then the cost may be worth it. YEXT allows users to claim and manage local listings. Customers can then use the review monitoring feature to find real-time reviews on sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp.
  • Social media moderation: You can moderate your social media accounts — as well as comments being made on other social accounts — by reviewing comments and using the search function to find mentions of your brand. Many social publishing tools include features that make this sort of moderation quick and easy, but manual moderation is possible as well.

2. Encourage and manage online reviews.

Encouraging your customers to leave online reviews is one of the best ways to market your business with very little effort on your own part. Yes, it is important that you provide great service or great products, but even in the instances where you fail, there are things you can do to turn lemons into lemonade (see next section for more on this).

Data suggests that two out of every four customers would be willing to leave an online review if asked to do so. If you aren’t asking your customers to leave reviews, you are missing an opportunity. Of those who leave reviews, most who do so are motivated to inform others of their customer experience. Other reasons include to help other people make decisions and to let the business itself know about the customer’s experience.

Some of the ways you can encourage your customers to leave a review include:

  • Ask in person
  • Ask over the phone
  • Send an email blast
  • Send a personal email
  • Request a review on a “thank you” or confirmation page
  • Include a request within product packaging

Online reputation management strategy tips: Respond to angry users especially for your reputation.

3. Respond to users — especially angry users.

All right, so you encouraged an online review, but your service or your product didn’t quite cut it and now you have a negative review floating across the digital waves. Now what do you do? Well, if you are content marketing expert Jay Baer, don’t freak out. Instead, “hug your haters.”

Here is how Baer explains the concept of hugging your haters:

The reality is that haters aren’t your problem. Ignoring them is. Your most important customers are actually those that like you the least… Today with more and more and more and more customers interacting with businesses in pubic instead of in private, customer service has become a spectator sport. It’s not just about making the unhappy customer happy, now it’s about how the onlookers perceive your business as well.

Responding to angry users or responding to those who have left negative reviews online with compassion and a real desire to resolve a problem will not only improve the customer experience for your angry customer, but it can help other potential customers see that you are serious about taking care of them — even after the completion of their purchase.

4. Use SEO to accentuate the positives about your brand.

Search engine optimization is a valuable tool in helping ensure that meaningful content rises to the top for those who are searching your brand and products online.

A couple of the positive ways you can utilize SEO to optimize your digital reputation include:

  • Search ads: SEO is more than just playing defense against negative content — it also is characterized by going on the offensive to promote positive aspects of your brand and products. Invest in search ads on Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms to ensure your brand is a relevant part of the digital search conversation.
  • Focus your content on your unique value and your locale: In recent months, Google has made changes to do more to search for answers to questions rather than simply crawling sites for key terms. Because of this, you have the opportunity to create content that answers the questions your audience is searching for. In one fell swoop, you are managing your reputation by showing that your products or brand can do what consumers want, and you are also adhering to search best practices that will make your content more findable.