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Marketing agencies: What do your clients’ businesses “look like” online?

When looking for business recommendations, like where to dine out or which landscaper to hire, people used to simply ask their friends, family, and coworkers. But over the years that has evolved, and now—thanks to a world of connected consumers—many of us rely on the opinions of strangers who are more than willing to share their experiences.

Key points

  • Stay familiar with how people are talking about your clients online on all the key platforms
  • Help your clients stay active in online conversations about their business
  • Contribute useful, high-quality content and keep it up to date
  • Be clear and authentic to build trust with existing and potential customers

Online reviews and social media are the new “word-of-mouth” marketing—with the benefit and detriment of it lasting longer and reaching more people. These days, everyone knows how to search the internet or check the Yelp app to find whatever they need, so it’s important for businesses to pay attention to their online reputation with the help of their agency partners. Follow these simple steps to help your clients put their best foot forward.

How do your clients look online?

Start by seeing what kind of content, opinions, and reviews are already out there for their business. Search for their business name on all the major platforms where you imagine potential customers would potentially find them. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to search their competitors’ online presences to see how they look. Get inspired and come up with best practices to differentiate your client’s business from the competition.

If they’ve just started their business, they likely have a clean slate, which can be both good and not so good. On one hand, there’s nothing to clean up or fix; and on the other, you have to start from scratch.

In either scenario, once you know what information and reviews already exist, you can set up notifications to be alerted when there is new, online activity about your client’s business or industry. This way, you can help them respond quickly, if needed.

Have your clients enable Yelp email notifications and/or push notifications via the Yelp for Business mobile app to be notified when a new review about their business is posted—in addition to alerts for other consumer interactions on Yelp. As an agency, you’re also invited to join the Yelp Advertising Partner Program. This gives you access to manage the Yelp Pages of all your clients in a centralized dashboard, plus many other features that have been curated especially for marketing and advertising agencies.

You can also set up Google alerts with your client’s business name and any competitors you’d like to watch. Follow the industry both nationally and locally too, which is as simple as signing up for an alert like “Electricians, San Francisco, CA.”

After you’ve set up social media accounts for your clients, take ownership of their business online by setting up a few branded hashtags. Encourage patrons to follow them, tag the business, and add hashtags any time they interact with your client. When they have a good experience with the business, this equates to free exposure as they’ll be promoting your client’s business on their own social media channels. You’ll also be able to quickly search for the latest comments, questions, or reviews for your client’s business. Consider including hashtags on all social media platforms, email marketing, and any print advertising you do on your client’s behalf.

Join the conversations

Make sure all of your client’s information—such as hours of operations and content about their offerings—is current and up to date across all platforms. Provide all relevant information that helps tell their story. All online forums should be considered extensions of their business, so keep them sharp and tidy.

If you find reviews online that your client hasn’t yet replied to or commented on, it’s never too late to respond. No matter if they are negative or positive, they should thoughtfully and professionally respond to all mentions of their business. And remember that while negative reviews can feel hurtful, they’re also an opportunity to make it right and showcase your exemplary customer service.

Your client’s online reputation depends not only on how promptly they respond but how they deliver those responses as well. When replying to questions, comments, or reviews, you can help them use a consistent and authentic voice that best represents their business and speaks to their target audience.

If there are multiple employees handling social media platforms for your client, be sure everyone is trained on the proper way to respond. Social media management apps like Sprinklr, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social allow you to accumulate all social media posts across multiple sites—making it easy to view and respond to those posts.

On the technical side, if your client’s website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you should absolutely consider doing so. People are using smartphones to do research and make purchases for all kinds of products and services. Mobile-based sales are expected to reach $345 billion dollars in 2021, up from $148 billion in 2018—so mobile commerce is large and growing fast.

Maintain authenticity and transparency

After establishing your client’s presence, their online reputation will begin to organically grow. And nothing fuels growth more than authenticity and transparency. Online audiences expect honesty from the businesses they patronize. They want to know important details upfront, and that information should always match up with their actual experience.

Your clients should also inject their own personality to help build their reputation and familiarize consumers with their business as a whole. People want to do business with other people, not businesses, so they should let their charisma shine though. Note that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s probably best to keep politics and personal opinions off of your client’s business pages.

Ultimately, the most authentic way to build your client’s reputation online is to let them do what they do best—be an expert in their craft. Fill their social media platforms with examples of their work; write articles about what’s happening with their business; and let them do everything they can to help their customers. They’ll remember your client as being resourceful and knowledgeable, making them more likely to return.

As you nurture your client’s online reputation, ensure their business info is up to date, and stay tuned in to what people are saying. All reviews are an opportunity to grow and improve, plus remember that reviews should never be solicited. By providing memorable, high-quality service, your clients will draw in authentic, positive feedback, and new visitors will become loyal customers. Be active with all commentary about their business, and expand their marketing efforts by providing industry expert content. From there, watch their business thrive.

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