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The importance of an online reputation for SMEs

At a glance

  • Managing an online reputation is increasingly important for SMEs
  • 81% of consumers conduct online research before purchasing – but 39% of SMEs don’t check their social media presence
  • SMEs are equally concerned about online reputation as they are about a cyber-attack in terms of business risk

Businesses are as concerned with online reputational risk as they are cyber attacks, according to Zurich’s latest SME Risk Index survey. The survey shows that the management of online perception is seen as crucial in the present climate.

All businesses have an online reputation; even if they don’t fully utilise the internet. A study into consumers’ online behaviour reveals that 81% of shoppers research online before buying. In addition to this, a negative online review has been found to change 80% of shoppers’ minds, illustrating how big an asset a company’s online reputation can be.

Online Review

Improving an online footprint

Negative online reviews can result in either lost sales or short-term reputational damage. And estimates from the Economist Intelligence Unit reveal that as much as 75% of a business’s value is directly attributed to its reputation – highlighting the necessity for UK businesses to build and maintain a positive online presence.

Smaller businesses need to be much more aware of how they are being portrayed online, but the SME Risk Index survey found that currently 39% of UK SMEs never even check social media.

Zurich Social Brands

Brokers should highlight the importance of properly managing social media accounts, including Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, and keeping content fresh and company information up to date on popular listing sites. With the increase in use of internet enabled smartphones and the readiness of consumers to express their opinions, via social media or other sites, such as TripAdvisor for hotels and restaurants, and Checkatrade for tradespeople, the online environment is critical to business reputation.

74% of customers believe that if they take to social media to criticise a brand, they will receive better service. In return, those brands that provide a timely response can expect 43% of customers to recommend the brand to their family and friends.

Brokers should be speaking to customers about the absolute necessity for a business to react quickly and proactively to keep on top of their online reputation, and how joined-up thinking can help them achieve this.

SMEs should take advantage of the benefits an improved online reputation can deliver. Presenting a positive online impression can bring heightened local and mobile search visibility and most importantly projected increases in revenue.

For more information please speak to your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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