Marketers have kept their eye on digital strategies for the past decade or so, with the proliferation of social media, search engines, and online reviews impacting the way we conduct standard business transactions. Today, people are spending more time online than ever, and consumers are making plenty of purchasing decisions online beforehand. Many businesses that typically depend on foot traffic and word-of-mouth marketing, must remain continuously vigilant and innovative in how they educate, engage, and entice prospects.
Building trust and credibility through successful marketing and customer service practices have been critical to running a lucrative business for decades. Yet, online reviews have now upped the ante on reputation management. With more than three in four shoppers now saying that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it’s clear that we’ve all been conditioned to seek out this 21st-century intel before transacting with a new business. These preferences have intensified even more during the pandemic, with a recent survey revealing that one-third of customers now check reviews of online products and services more than they did before.
Aside from rising to meet consumer expectations, there are several reasons why your community should keep your digital reputation in check. Here are a few undeniable benefits of online reputation management in 2021.
Strengthen Your Online Brand’s Identity and Visibility
There are many platforms to seek out information concerning your ratings and reviews. While social media provides an excellent online space for prospects and residents to share their thoughts on your offerings and services, the challenge lies in keeping track of comments made about your community – the good and the bad. You’re probably well aware that remedial measures can go a long way in helping brands tackle damage, or in more appreciative instances, demonstrate your gratitude when responding to positive remarks. There are many options that allow you to manage reviews from multiple platforms within a centralized dashboard, so you never miss a comment again – positive or negative.
Online reviews not only strengthen your community’s identity but also your online visibility. Believe it or not, online reviews play a major part in search engine optimization (SEO). SEO strategies, like link building, keyword implementation, and the addition of back-end titles and descriptions, increase your website’s visibility in search engine rankings, including the 1.2 trillion searches Google processes worldwide per year. In other words, online reviews can garner significant clickthrough rates, especially if you’re regularly earning glowing feedback.
Understand the Evolving Needs and Expectations of Renters
It goes without saying, the last year caused a massive shift in customer needs and expectations. While brands were previously focused on engaging with audiences through the promotion of their products and services, many companies shifted their business models to lend support to their consumer base. Instead of pushing the same overt sales and marketing tactics, businesses are now focusing their energy on customer-oriented approaches that address resident needs and helping them to feel acknowledged and accommodated.
Because 97 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, utilizing reputation management is a great way to establish meaningful connections with customers, understand their evolving expectations, and demonstrate your commitment to their ultimate satisfaction. For example, if a disgruntled resident leaves a comment about disregarded service request, you should respond quickly to let your online audience know that you’re aware of the issue and plan to resolve the problem. In the end, you’ll not only indicate to future renters that you take their concerns seriously, but you’ll also demonstrate to your community that you’re interested in cultivating genuine customer connections that extend beyond temporary transactions.
Build Trust and Loyalty During a Period of Uncertainty
Right now, people around the world are actively seeking support, encouragement, and motivation to move forward, whether it’s from family members, close friends, or even their favorite brands. Therefore, lending your support to both prospects and residents has never been more vital. With social media usage hitting an all-time high, publishing reviews on platforms, such as Facebook and Google My Business, is becoming a more common way to share brand experiences with others. By engaging reviews and comments in a friendly and empathetic manner, you will assist your prospects and residents in feeling positive and affirmed during these uncertain times.
Transparency has always been a crucial factor for securing the trust of your online audience. In fact, 94 percent of consumers tend to remain loyal to brands that offer them complete transparency. Transparency allows space for customer feedback, which will leave the end-user feeling comfortable with your brand and likely to remain loyal to it in the future. At the end of the day, client retention is much more cost-efficient than constant acquisition. So, nurture your residents when and where you can – and a good place to start is by listening to your online reviews.
Kerry W. Kirby is a global entrepreneur, technology innovator, philanthropist, and the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. Over the course of his career, Kerry has been the recipient of an array of highly acclaimed awards, including the esteemed Louisiana Governor's Technology Award. He has been named to the Silicon Bayou 100 List of most influential entrepreneurs for nine consecutive years and has received a prestigious Titan Entrepreneur Award for his technological achievements. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has appeared on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media platforms and outlets. Kerry has contributed to an array of articles and studies on the convergence of technology in the rental housing industry.
Kerry serves on the Board of Advisors of Rainbow, a national nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for affordable housing communities across the country. He also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Multifamily Women’s Summit, an event that allows women to strengthen their expertise, influence, and professional network in the multifamily housing industry, and is Chair of Technology Initiative for the Multifamily Innovation Advisory Council, a private, members only group focused on assisting owners and operators of multifamily communities by reducing risks associated with vetting new technologies and implementations.
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