You have traffic, but no leads. What could be the problem? Maybe your online reputation is killing you. From bad reviews to malicious forum posts to negative word of mouth, your reputation precedes you for good or for ill.
The only way to increase sales, when this happens, is to tackle the issue head on. But first, you have to find the problem. Then you have to fix it. Here’s how to do it.
Play Detective On the Internet
Find out where all the negativity is coming from. Google is excellent for this kind of thing. Search for your business (or your name) and append the words “scam,” “review,” “problems,” or “issues” to the search query. These should turn up anything on the Internet that is written about you in a negative light where someone claims to have been taken advantage of by you.
For forum posts and other word of mouth press, use your company name and append it with words like “forum,” “blog,” “Facebook,” or “Twitter” to catch major social media sites, blogs, and forums. Or use these tools to monitor your reputation online.
Engage Bad Press
If you find any serious complaints, address those. It’s worth the effort to sign up to a forum or respond to a blog post and engage your antagonists. It’s especially worth it if the allegations are untrue.
Many times, people might feel like they were ripped off if you gave poor service or they felt like they didn’t get everything they expected. It happens. You can’t please everyone. What you can do is offer to make things right in their eyes. Even if they reject your offer, that kind of engagement will show other people that you do care about your customers.
Always be civil and business-like in your responses to negative comments. This gives you the moral high ground and allows honest engagement. Remember, other people on the forum might believe an allegedly wronged customer over you without ever hearing your side of the story. It will look worse if you post something unprofessional or defensive.
Use Negative Testimonials as Bait
Collect negative comments that seem far-fetched and “out there.”
Many people who complain about a company do so in poor taste. Create a special section on your site that highlights all of the negative comments that seem too ridiculous for a rational person to believe, then juxtapose those negative comments with positive comments. If you’re offering stellar service, it will show through in the positive comments.
In this way, you’re not hiding the fact that you get negative press. You’re just illustrating how irrational the negativity is while simultaneously showing off what your best customers really think of you. It’s a controversial strategy, because few businesses want anyone to know that someone doesn’t like them.
The truth is that everyone complains about someone. Don’t hide from it. Embrace it, and show potential customers that you’re not afraid. While it might seem counter-intuitive, it has a way of increasing sales.
Create Good Press
Good press will help to counter bad press.
Give interviews, write gust blog posts, encourage satisfied customers to leave positive feedback for you on review sites. Don’t write fake reviews, but rather promote the good reviews that you do get. Fake reviews often come off as being, well, fake.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t do press releases, or interview satisfied customers. By publishing good press, you may be able to overwhelm the negative reviews. People tend to give weight to the number of bad reviews vs. good reviews on the Internet.
It doesn’t matter that most of your customers are satisfied. If you have three bad reviews, but only one good review published online, it makes it look like you offer shoddy service.
SEO, or “search engine optimization,” is a way to make your website better for visitors and for search engines. Good SEO focuses on high-quality content but another element of SEO is building good-quality backlinks to your site.
If you do everything you can do to promote your site through links, Google may rank your site high in the search engines for your niche. If you do a good job linking to positive reviews and good press, there is an excellent chance that it will push negative press down in the search engine results pages.
This kind of SEO strategy has been used by some large companies to hide the fact that they offer poor quality products and services. However, if you use it honestly, and responsibly, you can minimize the effect of lies and nonsensical ramblings about your company thus polishing your image.
Regardless of what you do, negative press won’t go away. The goal should be to minimize the impact of negativity and balance out the bad with some good. If you can create a compelling reason why the negative press should be ignored, your traffic will start converting for you.