One question we get asked over and over again is this: Does my business really need an online presence? In many cases, these companies have established local businesses with a thriving existing customer base. But, the truth is, without an online presence, every business is losing out on customers.
Think of it this way. In general, we each spend 27 hours online every single week. 2 hours per day are spent on social media. Your audience is spending an enormous amount of time online. Shouldn’t you be a part of that world? The answer is a simple yes. However, building an online presence isn’t so simple.
It’s a long, complicated web of interconnected platforms. Ideally, they should all work in harmony, and strengthen your business. If it sounds too tricky, don’t worry. Today, we’re going to break it down into simple, step-by-step parts. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a strong sense of what you need to do!
Your website is the first thing on your to-do list. A website acts as a home, and central hub for your company. It is the single place where all roads will lead back to. It’s where your customers first look to find information. It’s where they come to buy from you. Your company website needs a clear message about who you are and what you do. It should have contact information, simple navigation, and content for customers to engage with (more on that later). It has become quite easy to build a website yourself. Using a platform like WordPress.com, you can use digital templates and designs to create a site from scratch.
SEO, or search engine optimization is all about getting your website on the first page of Google results. Now that you’ve build your website, you need to make sure people find it! 70% of people who use Google never scroll past the first page of results. So, if you want people to find your site, you’ll have to make some changes. That’s where SEO comes in. SEO is a tricky business, and it’s worth starting your research at webservicesct.com/seo/ to learn more. The basics are all about using targeted keywords, and building authority with links back to your website.
Content has very quickly become the most important aspect of digital marketing. Content, such as blogs and videos, have a number of great purposes. First, it proves that you’re an expert in your field. It builds trust and reputation. Secondly, it helps you boost your SEO by filling your content full of keywords that Google is hunting for. Thirdly, it helps keep people on your website for longer. They are engaged by your content, which makes them much more likely to buy from you. Lastly, and here’s the powerful one, great content is shared widely across the web. Content helps you reach your target audience, and generate new leads. With your website up and running, make content generation a priority.
Once you’ve written content or recorded videos, how do you share them with the world? With social media, of course. Now is the time to build a powerful series of social media platforms. Start with Facebook and Twitter (although Instagram and Pinterest are fantastic for the retail industry). Build an organic following of customers and subscribers. Share your content with them, and create special offers just for them. Your aim is to create a small, loyal community. Engage with your users, and entice them back to your website.
70% of people now shop online on a monthly basis. That’s a huge portion of your customer base, and you could capitalise on it. An online shop will help boost your business in a big way. Whatever business you’re in, consider building an online store, and selling additional goods. It’s now easier than ever to do this online. If you built your website with WordPress (as we mentioned earlier), use a simple plugin called ‘WooCommerce’. If you’re starting from scratch, use a platform called Shopify.co.uk. They’ll handle all the tricky payment mechanisms, you reap the rewards!
Most of the top digital markets still refer to email lists as the most powerful marketing technique. Building an email list full of potential customers is a great way to stay connected to people. You can send relevant, timely offers and discounts. You can send content and information. All of this builds your brand recognition, and drives people back to your website. Start by putting an email signup form on your site. Offer something in exchange (like an ebook or discount code). You’ll quickly build a full list of potential customers.
Building an organic online presence takes time. Building a social media following one-by-one, and getting views on your content isn’t easy. But, there is one shortcut: advertising. By advertising online, you can quickly drive thousands of people to your website or social channels. Best of all, you can target them specifically, right down to age, location, and interests. Marketing a tricky, niche business is easy when you have advertising on your side. We suggest using Facebook ads to get started. They’re simple to use, and provide a phenomenal return on investment.
We understand that managing all of these aspects of your online presence is tricky. There’s a lot to take in. However, always make sure that every online channel has a clear, defined branding. Think about the biggest names in business, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Apple. They all have simple, but powerful, branding through their colours and presence. Whether you’re on their website, social media channels or reading their email, you know it’s them. Start thinking about how to incorporate your brand into every aspect of your digital presence.
Before we go, we’ll leave you with one final tip. Your online presence is not a one-way street. It’s not a soapbox to shout from. The best companies use their online presence to interact and engage with their customers. Take every opportunity to build a personal relationship, and interact with your followers.
Building an online presence takes time, but it really works. Good luck, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below!