Only 40% of Small Businesses Encourage Customers to Leave Positive Online Reviews Despite Online Reputation Management Best Practices

New findings suggest that not enough small businesses advocate for their brand in ways that allow them to build their online reputation. Small businesses that want to exercise greater control over their online reputation must first claim control over their brand’s online narrative by encouraging customers to leave positive reviews and sharing positive content about their brand on social media.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2019 — Although 53% of small businesses actively manage online reviews by publicly responding to them, less than half of small businesses proactively promote their own brand online, according to a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website.

Only 40% of small businesses encourage happy customers to leave positive online reviews.

Businesses that don’t encourage customers to leave positive reviews put themselves at a disadvantage because people are more likely to complain than compliment good service.

“It’s not hard to get a happy client to write a review, but it does take some nudging,” said Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of SEO Image, an SEO and reputation management company.

While responding to negative reviews is critical to any online reputation management plan, small businesses should also advocate for their brand.

Most Small Businesses Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Small businesses recognize the impact of online reviews and respond to them. More than half of small businesses (53%) respond to online reviews publicly and (48%) respond privately.

It’s especially important for small businesses to respond publicly to negative reviews to demonstrate they care about the feedback they receive from customers, said online reputation management experts.

“If a potential customer sees a company’s response to a negative review, they’re more likely to buy from them because it shows they care about their customers’ feedback,” said Anthony Will, CEO of Reputation Resolutions, an online reputation management company.

Social Media Is Underused as an Online Reputation Management Tool

Most small businesses that monitor their online reputation (94%) have a social media presence, but only 44% use social media to promote and share positive content about their brand.

By using social media to share news about their brand, small businesses can build rapport with customers and claim more control over their brand’s reputation.

Businesses should be careful, however, not to come across as overly self-promotional.

“You want to help your target audience make the best decision for them — not just say how great you are,” said Lauren Elliott, marketing communications manager at Thee Digital, a web design and marketing agency.

Proactive Management of Online Reviews Can Help Businesses Strengthen Their Digital Reputation

The report concludes that small businesses should respond publicly and professionally to online reviews, encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews, and use social media to promote positive information about their brand.

Public relations firms and experts recommended that small businesses combine proactive and reactive strategies to exercise greater control over their brand’s digital reputation in 2019 and beyond.

The Manifest surveyed 529 small business owners and managers in the U.S.

Read the full survey report: How Small Businesses Can Manage Reviews to Strengthen Their Online Reputation.

For questions about the survey or a comment on the findings, contact Toby Cox at

About The Manifest

The Manifest is a business news and how-to site that compiles and analyzes practical business wisdom for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small and mid-market businesses. Use The Manifest as an approachable tour guide through every stage of the buyer journey. With three main offerings — data-driven benchmarks, step-by-step guides, and agency shortlists — The Manifest strives to make your business goals a reality.


Toby Cox