Online reputation management is one of the most important marketing strategies available to businesses who rely on digital marketing.
It involves review marketing and social media management, two tasks many local businesses are often too busy to implement.
In this post, we discuss how online reputation management would make a fantastic service for a marketing professional to launch as a side hustle.
What is an Online Reputation Management Company?
An online reputation management company is a digital marketing agency that specializes in services related to online reviews, social media marketing and branding.
This type of company offers a wide variety of services in order to maintain a positive brand image for their clients online.
These services may include:
- Optimizing review profiles.
- Responding to reviews.
- Getting more reviews.
- Managing mentions and comments on social media.
- Some agencies even offer content planning and scheduling.
- Business name, logo design, color scheme, persona/mission statement and web design.
You don’t need to offer all of these services as an online reputation management company.
Just know that these are some of the tasks your potential clients are handling on their own. Some are complicated while others are simply time consuming.
As such, many businesses are on the look out for services that can take these tasks off their hands.
3 Quick Examples of Online Reputation Management Companies
WebiMax is an award-winning online reputation management company.
They create custom reputation strategies for businesses and implement them with multiple services.
These include removing negative content, promoting positive content, utilizing unclaimed business listings, suppressing negative reviews, responding to reviews, getting more reviews and more.
Because they’re a larger company, they also offer services related to SEO, social media, lead generation and web design.
NetReputation is another well-regarded online reputation management company. They offer reputation management for individuals as well as businesses.
They target specific industries, including legal, construction, senior living, retail, automotive and more.
In order to help clients maintain their reputations, NetReputation offers content removal, review management, branding services, public relations and even Wikipedia page management.
Customers can also expect help with SEO and social media.
Birdeye is a large-scale online reputation management company that targets multi-location businesses of all sizes.
They offer reputation management products for every step of the typical customer journey, from the time a customer searches for a query related to your business to when they’re a loyal customer in need of support.
These products are broken down into three categories: Attract, Convert and Delight.
Specific products you’ll find under these categories include listing management, online review management software, customer service applications and more.
Should You Launch a Digital Marketing Agency Instead?
What is a digital marketing agency, and how does it differ from an online reputation management agency?
A digital marketing agency, as the name implies, is a marketing agency that specializes in all areas of digital marketing.
While this includes online reputation management, it also involves content marketing, advanced social media marketing, SEO, email marketing and even advertising.
Online reputation management companies offer these services as well but only when they relate to online reputation management directly.
Still, you could create a digital marketing agency that offers reputation management as part of a longer list of digital marketing services.
It’d allow you to cover your bases and reach a much broader target market.
Even so, there is a case for focusing on things like review marketing and listing management.
Let’s talk about that.
4 Reasons Why an Online Reputation Management Company is the Way to Go
1. You Can Target a Specific Need in Digital Marketing
Digital marketing agencies are a perfect fit for busy business owners and managers who don’t want to hire and train dedicated marketing teams.
Even so, not every business needs all of the services this type of agency offers.
“Online reputation management” is a bit of a broad term, but more often than not, it’s a reference for a specific problem local businesses have in regards to digital marketing: online reviews.
Online reviews play an important role in the success of modern businesses. Businesses need to receive a majority of positive reviews, respond to reviews and receive reviews on a frequent basis in order to appear in local search results.
This reason alone is why so many businesses are able to find success by creating products and services that target online reviews and online reputation management as a whole.
By breaking down digital marketing and providing a solution for a specific need within it, you can target a much smaller market that’s less likely to be as competitive as a broader niche.
2. Many Businesses are Not Managing Their Online Reviews
Enter a local search term, such as “bookstores” or “restaurants,” in Google.
Look through reviews of a few local businesses in your area in search of answers to the following questions:
- Are they responding to reviews?
- How often do they receive reviews?
- Do the restaurants in your area have good ratings?
You can also take a look at each business’ social media profiles to see how they’re handling those.
You’ll probably notice a pattern: while businesses that appear highest in search results manage their reviews quite well, businesses who don’t provide the same level of care struggle.
This is the gap your online reputation management company must fill, and it could be happening for a number of different reasons.
A lot of business owners are busy. Most businesses require a lot of work and planning to function, which doesn’t leave much time for marketing.
Plus, what spare time business owners do have is likely spent taking care of life’s other responsibilities.
Even teams struggle with marketing. Plus, some business owners and managers may simply not know where to start as far as online reputation management goes.
This is where your reputation management agency comes into play. Your services can handle some of the most important tasks involved in local SEO marketing, tasks your clients are too busy or too ill-informed to handle.
Plus, by outsourcing this task, they don’t need to go through the process of training and hiring a dedicated employee to cover it.
3. Online Reputation Management is an Important Digital Marketing Strategy
We’ve already mentioned this fact, but it is another reason to launch your own reputation management company.
Online reputation management is one of the most important strategies in digital marketing, especially for local businesses.
According to Google, 46% of queries entered in the search engine have local intent. This means when users enter search terms in Google, they’re seeking local businesses 46% of the time.
As you know, Google has partitioned its search engine to suit different needs, including local search.
Plus, it’s also divided different sections of the search results page into what it calls “knowledge graph panels.”
One of these panels is called the “map pack.” It lists the top three local business listings for your search term alongside a snapshot featuring all three on Google Maps.
Each listing displays its corresponding business’ name, average rating, city, hours and phone number.
Users can access additional listings by clicking the View All button, but most will only see the first three that display.
Local SEO has its own set of ranking factors that determine whether or not your business appears as one of the top three listings for search terms related to your niche.
Online reviews is a major ranking factor, which is why developing an online reputation management strategy is so important.
So long as local SEO remains influential, businesses will always need the services of an online reputation management company.
4. It’s a Simple Starter Service to Offer as a Young Digital Marketing Agency
Side hustles are a great way to earn a bit of extra income on the side and even start new business ventures that help you leave your old source of income behind.
However, because that main source of income is still where you spend most of your time during the week, your side hustle needs to be simple. This prevents burnout and poor performance across all of your responsibilities.
This is why starting an online reputation management agency over a full-on digital marketing agency is such a good idea.
It allows you to break down digital marketing for local businesses and start slow by catering to one specific need.
Plus, online reputation management is a multi-part strategy. You can break it down even further to get more specific about the type of service you want to offer.
For instance, instead of offering “online reputation management services,” offer a single specific service, such as:
- Getting more reviews.
- Responding to reviews.
- Increasing brand awareness.
- Social media inbox management.
- Logo design.
- Web design.
- And more!
How to Find Customers Who Need Reviews
Once you decide you want to start an online reputation management company, you’re ready to start strategizing and landing your first client.
Fortunately, as a digital marketer, you already know all of the steps it takes to increase your online presence.
By putting it all together and introducing a few new steps, you’ll find customers in no time.
Work On Your Own Online Reputation
A lot of the strategies you’ll be applying to clients’ reputations can be applied to your own. By improving your own reputation, you can increase your online presence and have customers come to you.
Claim your business listings online, especially on Google, and work on your social media strategy. Become more interactive with other businesses on social media so they think of you when they need your services.
You can also blog about reputation marketing and guest post on influential marketing blogs, just as you may advise your clients to do.
This will help your name become associated with reputation marketing, which will, like social media marketing, encourage potential clients to think of you when they need reputation management services.
Use a Professional Point of Contact
Before you go all in, potential clients will need a way to contact you and learn more about your business.
There are a few different ways to do this. The most effective is a professional website.
A website allows you to create a full-on landing page to market your business alongside more detailed pages of the services you offer. It also gives your blog a place to call home that’s not a third-party platform.
Most importantly, you can use it to host a contact form potential clients can use to get in touch with you.
For the emails themselves, use a professional business email address hosted with a service like Google Workspace that uses your own professional domain.
Plenty of businesses even get away with using a professional @gmail.com email address if you need to start off simple.
As a final resort, simply use your social media inbox to communicate with clients, and fill your profiles with as much information about your services as you can.
Connect with Business Owners Face to Face
Travel to local business events in your area as a way to get to know other businesses in your area.
The idea is to network so you can build up your contact list and relationships with other businesses in your area.
Just as before, this is to create a list of potential clients who will think of you when they need your services.
You might also consider striking up conversations with business owners in your area directly in their locations.
You shouldn’t bombard them with your services, but it’d be an opportunity to casually ask them about online review strategy and similar marketing techniques.
Browse Review Platforms
This is another cold-calling technique, but it’s probably one of the most effective ways to discover potential customers who actually need your services.
Open Google, Facebook or Yelp, and choose an area you’d like to serve as well as an industry. Input both into your preferred platform, and start browsing.
Look for businesses who have and are responding to reviews but aren’t quite keeping up with them.
These are signs of businesses who know the importance of online reviews but need help managing them.
This type of potential client is golden.
If you target businesses that don’t have reviews or businesses who don’t bother responding to reviews, you’re going to spend a chunk of your marketing effort convincing them of the importance of review marketing and online reputation.
It’s better to target clients who already know your worth.
Starting an online reputation management company is daunting, but it’s a great side hustle for those with experience in marketing.
It can be broken down into smaller services, and your service fulfills a common need of all businesses in the modern era.
As you build up your clientele, you may come across a few businesses who host their websites with the self-hosted version of WordPress (.org, not .com).
Starfish Reviews would be a great addition to your toolkit for these instances.
It helps you generate reviews, manage them and even use them as social proof by displaying them across your clients’ websites.
It does this with marketing funnels that allow you to showcase a certain call to action based on the type of response a customer leaves for you.
For displaying reviews, you can create collections out of the reviews the plugin fetches for you from over 10 different review platforms.
Check it out as you launch your new side hustle, and good luck!