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What is Reputation Management? | Grade.us Blog

Reputation management and review management are different. Reputation management is reactive; review management is proactive. They have different tactics. Read More...
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What is reputation management?

Is it simply managing your online reviews? Maybe it's a term that's synonymous with review management. Perhaps it's just another way to describe the process of attracting customer feedback, right?

This sounds reasonable but it's completely wrong.

Reputation management is not the same thing as review management.

These terms, while similar, point to an entirely different set of strategies and tactics.

So? What's the big deal here?

Is there a downside to reputation management?

There's a specific cadence in order to manage customer feedback. Use the right framework, the right set of tools at the right time, and you produce outstanding results.

You probably already know that, right?

When customers give you the kind of positive feedback you need to generate a tremendous amount of goodwill in the marketplace. Your customers...

  • Spend more
  • Buy more often
  • Purchase at higher prices
  • They’re more loyal
  • Are more agreeable and willing to negotiate
  • Are more forgiving when you fail
  • Will share your business, product or service with more people
  • Will become rabid customer evangelists

Which in turn produces even more (quantifiable) benefits for your business.

  • Your conversion rate skyrockets
  • Your advertising costs drop dramatically
  • Return on ad spend grows rapidly
  • Customers spend more money without being asked

Reputation management, when mishandled, comes with an unpleasant downside.

  • Fall behind and customers are perpetually dissatisfied
  • Motivated detractors continue to escalate their negative feedback
  • New customers are repelled by this reputational arms race
  • As a result, your conversion rates plummet
  • New customers refuse to buy. Current customers stop buying
  • Return on ad spend goes down rapidly as advertising costs go up
  • Customers communicate disloyalty. They haggle and complain

How can reputation management, when mishandled, produce these kinds of horrible outcomes? If you're managing your reputation isn't that a good thing? If we want the answer to that question we need to define reputation management clearly.

Reputation management typically begins with a crisis

It's an important distinction to make, but it also sounds like an incredibly negative thing to say. It isn't a negative thing at all when you understand the differences between reputation and review management.

What sort of differences?

Reputation management is reactive. Review management is proactive.

reputation management versus review management

This still sounds really bad, doesn't it?

It's as if reputation management is an incredibly negative way to approach customer feedback. There's this emphasis on the unpleasant side of things - tearing down, hiding, removing, reacting - it just sounds terrible.

It's a wonderful thing.

Wait, what?

How is this a wonderful thing? We just spent all this time talking about how negative this all sounded! If this is what reputation management is all about, how can this be a good thing?

Reputation management has a valuable place

It isn't negative.

But, it's a reactionary tool that's designed to respond after the fact. Reputation management is a helpful way to:

  • Combat libel and/or slander
  • Deal with false, inaccurate or misleading content
  • Quarantine damaging information that can’t be removed but needs to be buried
  • Impede smear campaigns, stymie hit jobs/character assassination pieces
  • Counteract competitor misinformation
  • Blunt the effects of internet, social, and political mobs
  • Restore or rebuild the damaged reputation of a person or an organization

Reputation management strategies like:

  • Legal takedown notices
  • Improving content displayed in target search results
  • Publishing original content/launching new sites to compete with/bury negative content
  • Acquiring media mentions and influencer reviews
  • Issuing press releases
  • Suppressing unwanted data/content
  • Contacting editors and publishers to remove misleading, incorrect or unsavory content

It's probably no surprise that there are bad habits within reputation management that come with an unsavory reputation. Black-hat tactics like astroturfing, censorship, manipulation, or spin are obvious abuses that should be avoided.

Wait a minute.

Couldn't reputation management be used to garner positive attention?


In the right hands, a solid reputation management campaign can produce a positive lift to marketing campaigns. Here's the issue with that. When most customers ask about you, they're not looking for a polished campaign from a well-known blogger or influencer.

They're looking for someone just like them.

They're looking for a customer with the same set of desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems. They're looking for their version of feel, felt, found.

Most experienced sales people know this one.

Feel, felt, found asks you to (a.) genuinely empathize with buyer fears/concerns (b.) talk about a customer who felt the same way, then (c.) share evidence showing things weren't as bad as your customer thought.

This is what customers want.

Which is why most customers prefer review management

Buyers are essentially asking your current customers to provide them with a version of fear, felt, found. Your buyers read a variety of reviews to identify:

  • Your customer’s fears and objections going in
  • Your answer to their fears and objections
  • Your customer’s desires, goals, and expectations
  • Whether those desires, goals, and expectations were met
  • If not, what happened?
  • If they were, how long did it take?
  • Whether your product or service was a fit for their wants/needs
  • How they were treated, whether you cared about them (or not)
  • Whether you provided them with value

Can you see the difference?

Working from this angle, it's easy to see why reviews are proactive. They produce the kind of consistent, scalable feedback your customers are looking for.

Online reviews act as builders, they...

  • Build your customer’s confidence
  • Boosts your return on ad spend
  • Improve your marketing conversion rates
  • Increase your organization’s reputational currency
  • Decrease lead times
  • Increase your revenue (and profits)

Your customers are vouching for you in a public way. There's nothing to hide, bury, repair or take down. In fact, negative reviews, when handled appropriately, produce more leads, sales and revenue.

This is also wonderful.

Here's why.

With review management, you and your customers are working together to deliver the good news about... well... you. You're able to work with a large list of third-party review platforms whose interests are aligned with yours.

Both of you want the same thing. More customer reviews.

It's so valuable too.

Northwestern University's Spiegel Research Center analyzed 57,000 reviews from anonymous consumers and 65,000 reviews from verified buyers of more than 13,500 unique products in diverse categories. Their research shows reviews can increase conversion rates by 270 percent!

That's amazing!

Here's the million dollar question. Which one is more important, reputation management or review management? That's a bit like asking whether a screwdriver is more important than a saw.

It depends now, doesn't it?

If you're looking for a consistent way to grow your business, use review management. If you're looking to reduce the effects of something unpleasant on your business, use reputation management. This is why it's unwise to choose one or the other.

You need both.

Here are some helpful tools you can use to get started with review management:

This isn't an either/or proposition. Reputation and review management are just different tools designed for different purposes. You need both.

Reputation management is reactive by design

Review management, on the other hand, is all about being proactive. Reputation management typically begins with pain. It sounds incredibly negative but it's actually a wonderful tool when it's used appropriately.

A time to build and a time to tear down.

That's the key distinction to remember. With the right education, you'll have the training you need to earn or hire the support you need. Reputation management is nothing more than a helpful set of tools that are designed to help you react to an unfavorable event. Review management, on the other hand, is geared towards building and growing businesses.

Choose the right tools and you'll have the strategy and tactics you need to achieve amazing results whether your outcomes are reasonable or unreasonable.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.