Benchmarking Your Business' Online Reputation
What is benchmarking for business online reputation?
Benchmarking in business is assessing your company’s practices and metrics and then comparing them with those of industry peers and competitors. The data gathered by benchmarking can help you to see what other businesses are doing better, or worse, and what is directing customers to their business over yours.
When it comes to online reputation and benchmarking, it can be a little less clear-cut as to what you should be monitoring and why - especially when you’re a small, independent business.
Why should I use benchmarking?
Benchmarking can help you to identify areas that could be affecting your online reputation. Continuous improvement of your business will help you to maintain a steady growth of customers and income and put you ahead of your competitors in the market. Essentially, you’re seeing what’s working right for everyone else and implementing that into your own business strategy to offer the best option to new customers.
Comparison to your industry peers might feel like a negative step for your business - especially if you’re offering a different service or have a unique style of branding. But if your peers and competitors are ranking higher than you in their online reputation management, then potential customers are likely going to give their business to them and not you.
How do I monitor and report benchmarks?
Understanding what you want to achieve for your business will help you create successful benchmarks. Benchmarking your online reputation might feel a bit like eating soup with a fork, but it once you’ve got the hang of the process, you can really start to focus on where to improve your business model. Here are four steps to help get you started.
Step one: planning
Jumping into a benchmarking report without prior planning is going to make your journey much more difficult. Before getting bogged down in the research, make sure to have a firm understanding of:
- What is it that I am benchmarking? Your online reputation might not be limited to just good or bad. Really nail down what it is about the reputation that you want to understand and improve, and focus your benchmarking around that. A good example of this would be a restaurant that is looking to improve its reputation around customer experience. Knowing which element of your business needs improving will help you to drill down to the finer details of your reputation that need improvement.
- Who should I be comparing? You should be benchmarking yourself against businesses that are similar to your own. There’s no point including a multinational string of hotels against your own local bed and breakfasts. Look for businesses that are of a similar size to your own, and have a similar business focus. It’s great to be aspirational for your business, but you’re going to find lots more to work from when you’re benchmarking against your peers.
- Do I have a plan in place for this information? It’s hard to know what you’re going to find, but planning to have actions to take away from this exercise will mean that you’re better prepared for any adjustments that you might need to make.
Step two: analysis
All that data might feel overwhelming at first, but taking the time to analyze what you’re seeing will help you build a better picture of what changes you might need to start implementing in the future.
Make sure to focus on what is relevant to the improvement of your online reputation for now - you can always come back and set some benchmarks for other aspects of your business at a later date!
PRO TIP: Set a specified end date for each stage of your benchmarking process. Check-in with the progress and make sure to record any changes. Benchmarking should have a clear end date in sight.
Step three: making changes
Now you have an evidence-based idea of what is working well for your competitors and peers, and where your business might need improvement. Using this data, you can start looking at the changes that you can implement into your business, and setting achievable key performance indicators (KPIs).
It’s important to make changes that are manageable and achievable - remember, the goal is to improve your online reputation! Make sure that you’re maintaining a level of quality in the service that you provide, and don’t change too much too quickly. Manageable and scalable growth is preferable to quick and harsh changes that could risk your reputation.
Step four: revisit and revise
After you’ve implemented these changes, monitor, and assess how they are changing your online reputation - for better or for worse! What might work well for your peers might not be suitable for your business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How are your target demographic reacting to these changes?
- Has there been an improvement? If not, why?
- Are there small adjustments that might improve this process?
- Will my online reputation continue to improve if I keep implementing these new actions?
Benchmarking helps you to implement a process of continual improvement in your business. Every action that you implement from your learning should be focused on the positives that they can offer to your business, and not the negatives of your past business failings.
Remember! Benchmarking isn’t there to shame you or your business and point out all the things that you’ve been doing wrong - it’s simply a business practice that can help you to keep building a better business.
Not sure where to start? Here’s our handy checklist to help get you through it all. Use this for each website or social media network where your business appears.
Benchmarking social media reputation
▢ Follower count - have you lost or gained followers recently? Where has this come from?
▢ Engagement - has there been a boost in engagement. Is it positive or negative?
▢ Reviews - have you had any new reviews? Engage with the poster whether the review is positive or negative
▢ What are your ratings like compared to your competition? Do they have a better online reputation? What are they doing differently?
Benchmarking review sites
▢ What is your current star rating? How does that compare with your biggest competitor? What about your top three best competitors? Top five?
▢ Is there one review site where you’re getting higher reviews than another? Why is this?
▢ Are your reviews more negative or positive?
▢ If negative, are your industry peers facing similar problems, or is this a problem specific to your business?
▢ Are there any sites where you don’t appear?
Benchmarking your website
▢ How clear is your page in comparison to that of your competitors?
▢ Is there something that they have that you don’t i.e., blogs, live chat functions, critical contact information
▢ How are they presenting their business compared to how you are delivering yours?