There are several fundamental truths to every business. First, products and services are the lifeblood of every company. Second, all businesses have a brand (whether they intentionally build it or not). And third, brand reputation matters. But, why is reputation important to an organization, exactly?
What is reputation?
Reputation is a culmination of how society, including customers, stakeholders, employees, and the general public, views a business or individual.
Because it’s fairly abstract, we tend to measure company reputation on a qualitative scale that ranges from “good” to “bad” rather than with a numeric score. And, since it’s based on opinion, there are many factors that influence reputation, including statements, actions, associations, third-party commentary, social media, and especially Google search results.
Why is a good reputation important?
In the era of the internet, online reputation is everything. Think about your marketing strategy for a moment. Your paid team buys ads on numerous mediums from broadcast to print to digital to display. You invest in public relations to get top-tier brand mentions. Your PR team sends out hundreds of press releases to drum up a fever pitch of interest in your products and services.
All of these efforts ultimately drive consumers to one place: Google. And what potential customers discover there will shape their opinion of your brand. If it’s positive and in line with your brand messaging, your marketing efforts will be amplified. However, if your Google results are negative, off-brand, irrelevant or laced with competitor content, your marketing ROI will take a hit.
Below, I’ll show you some compelling data about the importance of reputation in business for customers, executives and companies, including some key benefits of a good reputation.
Online reputation affects offline brand perception
It can be easy to dismiss what happens online as unimportant to the day-to-day operations of a business. But your online company reputation has a great deal of influence over offline brand perception.
Look no further than these reputation management statistics for proof.
Why Reputation is Important
- 50% of consumers will question a brand’s competency if they have negative reviews (source)
- 95% of customers browse online reviews before they commit to a purchase (source)
- 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company with a bad reputation (source)
- 54% of executives believe reducing unfavorable search results would drive revenue growth (source)
So, we know that online reputation is important because it impacts real life behavior like hiring and sales. And legions of potential customers, stakeholders, and employees read what people say about your brand online.
Why is reputation important for CEOs?
A CEO’s reputation is important because it impacts the entire company.
This connection wasn’t as strong several decades ago when business owners rarely ventured beyond the board room. Now, news cycles erupt instantaneously, and CEOs have countless platforms to express their unfiltered thoughts. Fortunately, many executives now understand how their personal brand influences the company’s reputation.
74% of executives believe their customers tie brand reputation to executives reputation
According to a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, 74% of executives believe their customers tie brand perception to executive perception.
Because CEOs are the face of their company, personal statements have dire consequences for the brands they lead.
Consider the Boycott Goya trend which surged after the CEO praised Mr. Trump but fizzled out before it caused real damage. Or, look at how this CEO’s negative reputation cost his company $96 million in market value within hours. Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos is another example. Her company’s 9 billion dollar valuation evaporated after she committed shocking levels of fraud which resulted in an HBO documentary.
Of course, the opposite is also true.
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, has built one of the best reputations of any Fortune 500 CEO. He consistently displays transparency and thought leadership, and he even uses Twitter to personally answer customer concerns and comments. His efforts to boost his personal brand have translated to a positive online reputation for the company he helms.
Why is corporate reputation important?
According to Harvard Business Review, a strong reputation allows businesses to:
- Attract better people
- Charge a premium
- Enjoy strong customer loyalty
Furthermore, HBR explains that because these companies reliably provide sustained earnings and future growth, they have higher price-earnings multiples and market values as well as lower costs of capital.
The impact also extends to consumers.
Google gives consumers instant access to limitless information which allows them to choose between more companies, and do more research than ever before. New customers can read product reviews, investors can learn about a CEO, and job seekers can research a prospective employer. For better or worse, the first page of Google is one of the most important drivers of corporate reputation.
Negative employee reviews will turn away top talent and force you to spend more money on recruiting. A volatile CEO will scare off investors which diminishes access to capital. And bad customer reviews impede sales which stimies revenue growth.
Why is reputation management important?
It’s probably evident by now that your company’s reputation is its most important asset. But far too often a brand’s online reputation is out of sync with the real world. That’s because search results are curated by an algorithm that uses hundreds of different ranking signals. As such, if you take no action, your search results won’t improve.
However, if you know how to leverage those signals, you’ll be able to influence what appears for branded search queries.
That’s where reputation management comes in. Reputation management acts as the moat and drawbridge to your brand’s digital fortress. Not only do reputation management firms protect your brand, they also build up the kind of favorable content you want your customers and stakeholders to find, right when you want them to find it.
Reputation management can improve nearly every aspect of your business. However, it’s an extremely technical process that requires expertise and collaborative efforts across multiple disciplines. Going it alone, or worse, partnering with a high-risk firm that operates in the shadows can do more harm than good. So, before you partner with any ORM firm, ask them these 10 simple questions.
With that, let’s dive into the importance of online reputation management (ORM).
Market share + Market value
The market is saturated with good brands vying for customers’ attention. It takes a monumental amount of effort, resources and time to stand out in this highly competitive marketplace. But, most importantly, you need a great reputation.
A recent study found that 8 out of 10 companies saw an improvement in their market value when they improved their reputation. Furthermore, per the previously mentioned Forrester Consulting study, 41% of brands believe reducing undesirable search results would increase market share.
41% of brands believe reducing undesirable search results would increase market share
Your brand’s market performance depends on maintaining a positive brand image.
It’s nearly impossible to tie reputation to an exact dollar amount because there are far too many variables. But, we do know that brands with a bad reputation pay heavily when it comes to revenue. VisionCritical calculates the loss of revenue due to a bad reputation at $537 billion in the U.S.!
Want a more specific example? We helped a national furniture retailer recover approximately $32 million dollars in monthly revenue. Read the case study here.
Investors and board members
Investors are vital to the financial health of your business because they grant you access to capital which fuels growth. This investment powers R&D, acquisitions, and team expansions. Board members are also important for their connections and expertise. However, in exchange, investors expect to be rewarded with stable and consistent returns, not unnecessary reputational risk.
Customers today have dozens of review websites at their fingertips. This is a great virtual word-of-mouth referral system. Unfortunately, these sites can be magnates for angry customers to vent their one-sided frustrations. Negative reviews don’t always tell the full story, but they do heavily impact whether or not a customer chooses to do business with you. Yet, according to Podium, 91% of 18-to 34-year-olds believe reviews are as trustworthy as a recommendation from an acquaintance.
Online reputation repair companies monitor brand reviews and carefully track sentiment to make sure they accurately represent your business. As a result, you’ll be able to step in and fix issues before they snowball out of control.
It’s not just customers who can leave online reviews about your business. Current and former employees can also leave feedback. The employee-review site, Glassdoor, uses a star rating system for both the company and its C-suite executives. Unfortunately, just like with customer review sites, Glassdoor can be a place for disgruntled employees to seek revenge against a former employer by stretching the truth, or completely misrepresenting it.
Since review sites rank very well in Google for branded keywords, one-star reviews could appear on the first page of your search results. As a result, you’ll struggle to hire top talent, or you’ll pay a premium to convince them to work for you.
Sadly, it’s extremely difficult to get Glassdoor reviews removed. That means the only way to get rid of them is to push them deeper in Google where people are less likely to find them.
Partner with the leading reputation management company
We looked at numerous statistics about why it’s important to build a good reputation, including how a positive reputation impacts your bottom line. Then, we discussed the risks of not taking action or hiring the wosrst kind of reputation management company.
The truth is, at the end of the day you need more than a handful of positive reviews if you hope to shape the opinions of others within your target audience. You need a comprehensive reputation marketing strategy that prioritizes your brand’s online presence just as highly as its offline presence.
But, as we discussed earlier, ORM demands a depth of knowledge around search engine optimization (SEO) that few people have. Because of this, most businesses don’t have the required expertise to bring this task in-house.
In fact, according to a 2005 study by Rosa Chun:
“Most companies don’t have a dedicated internal department that’s responsible for managing corporate reputations. Instead, marketing and communications handles external perceptions, while human resources manages internal culture. Many companies outsource the work to specialized reputation management companies.”
If you’d like to learn more about our strategies or how we’ve helped companies like yours, contact us here. Otherwise, you can read these article about how reputation management works:
Reputation Management Resources
10 Questions to Ask Your ORM Firm
Spot a high-risk ORM firm with these simple questions.
How to Push Down Negative Search Results
Find out how to bury negative search results in Google
Reputation Management Pricing Guide
Find out how reputation management pricing works.