8 Reputation Management Platforms for Merchants

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remove-search-box-google_s-toolbar-800x800As customer review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor proliferate, reputation management platforms are becoming an increasingly important tool in the local merchant’s arsenal. Nearly a quarter of small businesses now monitor their online reputations, according to BIA/Kelsey, and revenue for e-mail, reputation and presence management platforms — collectively known as ERPMs — is expected to reach $3.1 billion by the end of the year.

SMBs have good reason to invest in these types of services. Anyone can review a business online, and the effect of those comments (positive or negative) can outweigh the effect of a traditional media ad. A one-star increase on a company’s Yelp profile can lead to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue, according to a recent report from Harvard Business School.

Here are eight platforms that each tackle online reputation management in a slightly different way.

1. Marchex: Track and analyze online comments.
Marchex’s reputation management platform tracks more than 8,000 sources — from Twitter, to local blogs, and community forums — and uses the mentions it gathers to create detailed reports. Merchants can use these reports to see what their customers are saying online and gauge how well they’re stacking up against industry competitors. Marchex also notifies merchants when their directory listings are inaccurate, spurring them to update their information on popular sites. Businesses can sign-up to try Marchex’s reputation management tools for free.

2. Yext: Real-time reputation management.
Local listings make up a big part of a merchant’s online reputation. Yext is a platform that SMBs can use to see what’s been posted about them on more than 50 of the largest search engines, review sites, and social networks. Merchants can monitor reviews posted on sites like Yelp and Foursquare from within Yext’s PowerListings dashboard, and track how customer sentiment has changed over time. Business owner can also share selected reviews with their location managers, to ensure customer complaints are identified and addressed. Yext’s PowerListings packages range from $12 to $41 per month.

3. Veribo: Suppress negative search results.
Veribo is a reputation management platform that businesses can use to take control of their presence online. Veribo handles the heavy lifting, and assigns a project manager to each new client. Project managers work to pinpoint the search results their clients would like to disappear, and create new online content. This content is then promoted through Veribo’s online channels, effectively burying any negative reviews or websites. Veribo offers custom pricing based on a client’s location, competitiveness, and the number of negative search results.

4. Chatmeter: Reputation management for chains and franchises.
Chatmeter offers tools that chains and franchises can use to stay updated on what’s going on at their individual stores. Business with multiple locations can monitor the reviews being posted about each of their establishments and respond to individual complaints immediately when they pop up on the web. Chatmeter measures brand sentiment on dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, and Patch. This sentiment is then analyzed and delivered in daily email alerts to Chatmeter clients. Chatmeter offers a tiered pricing structure with volume discounts for chains and white-label partners.

5. VendAsta: A white-label platform for media and advertising companies.
Media and advertising companies can use VendAsta’s white-label platform to offer “reputation intelligence” tools to their own SMB clients. VendAsta gives local media companies and advertising agencies tools that their clients can use verify their online business listings, monitor popular review websites, and protect against defamation by ex-employees. Merchants can also opt to use VendAsta’s do-it-for-me solution, relying on trained digital analysts to manage their directory listings and reviews. VendAsta offers a tiered pricing structure for white-label partners.

6. Reputation.com: Give your business a polished online presence.
Reputation.com helps SMBs take control of their online search results with tools for continuous web monitoring, review tracking, and negative content suppression.  The company works with clients to remove negative or inaccurate customer reviews. It also offers tools that businesses can use to encourage satisfied customers to post their opinions online, as a way to counteract negative reviews. The company’s “Reputation for Business” package offers custom pricing, starting at $400 per year for the most basic level of service.

7. LocalVox: Learn how to manage negative reviews.
Responding in a timely and professional manner can mitigate the damage done by a negative review. LocalVox offers tools to guide businesses through this process, providing suggestions on how to respond to customer comments that pop up on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Citysearch, and other popular sites. Since acquiring Postling in 2012, LocalVox has included self-service reputation tools with every marketing package it sells. In addition to its self-service tools, LocalVox also offers full service social reputation management — which includes influencer outreach, review monitoring, and geo-targeted keyword leads — starting at $999 per month.

8. Swipely: Monitor reviews tied to specific campaigns.
Swipely isn’t typically thought of as a reputation-monitoring service, but the AIO marketing and payments platform introduced reputation management as part of its spring 2013 update. Businesses that use Swipely can now monitor their reputations on Yelp, Google, and OpenTable within the context of their sales results. This allows businesses to compare their reputation to nearby competitors, identify their most influential customers, and see how their ratings or reviews are trending over time. Swipely offers variable pricing, with merchants typically paying between 2% and 3% to accept payments through its platform.

Know of other reputation management tools? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.