Ten Steps to Build Your Online Presence
Modern technology has a tremendous impact on all aspects of our lives today, from communications and socializing to commerce. It makes sense that your small business needs a solid online presence. Your website and your social media profiles contribute to the widespread recognition of your brand. They can play an essential role in bringing in new business and retaining existing customers. According to Adaptive Marketing, 97% of consumers use the internet to find a product or service.
What is an Online Presence?
Online presence refers to activities and content that an entity has on the internet, such as portfolios, accounts, interactions, and any piece of information created by or about a person or business. It is essential to build your business reputation, increase brand awareness, and provide visibility to your products or services when potential customers search for related keywords. It also helps consumers find your business before they know it exists, and it helps them learn about your reputation before making a purchase. Eventually, all of this information will play a role in your customers’ purchasing decisions.
Why should your business care about online presence today?
How often have you picked a restaurant based on online reviews or chosen a product over another because it looked “more reliable” on the internet? That is how powerful an online presence is to a business. And, if not managed well, it can be a deal-breaker.
The more presentable your business looks on the web, the more likely customers are to trust you. It doesn’t matter what type of business you own—an offline or online business, a startup, or a big enterprise—your presence and conduct on the web matters to your customers.
Besides being there for your customers, there are more reasons to think about your online presence.
How to Build Your Online Presence
Here are some appropriate steps to build a powerful online presence:
Step 1: Plan for success. First, determine the business’s goals relating to online presence. Do you want more customers or to maintain your current ones?
Step 2: Register a domain. The domain you select for your website significantly impacts potential customers’ ability to find you online. A domain name is the “online address” of your company. Registering a domain is relatively cheap and easy, but it can also be challenging to find what you want due to so many websites. There are various available domain name extensions that you can use to accommodate the domain name of your choosing, such as .com, .org, or .net. For-profit businesses generally use .com, while non-profit organizations tend to use .org. You also have the option to purchase multiple domain names and extensions and have them all point to your website, which helps to ensure that prospective customers will find you faster.
Step 3. Get your website professionally built. Your website acts as your 24/7 online shop.
Step 4. Make sure to list your website with the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others. Get their listings out there. Start with the big ones like Google+ and Bing, then create listings on smaller, more local sites.
Step 5: Get Social. Choose which social media is more appropriate for your target audience. A good start might be Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If it’s relevant, expand to sites such as Pinterest or LinkedIn. Evaluate these social sites against the business’s goals and pick a few to try out.
Step 6: Build a community. Connect the business’s social profiles to their website and social profiles for cross traffic. Invite current customers to follow social profiles and interact with other companies in the area or field to grow that community further. Posting relevant content will keep fans interested, which will help in building that online community.
Step 7: Be Consistent and Provide Value. When posting information to your social sites, make sure it is consistent with your business goals and values while also providing value to followers. It applies to any content you create or share with your audience. Value quality over quantity of posts and information. Also, be engaging! Ask questions and start conversations with fans.
Step 8: Be Active – When posting, create a realistic schedule for yourself. If you’re always very busy, don’t plan to post every day; instead, try once a week. Set up a schedule that works for both you and the business. Choose a specific date and time to post and keep it consistent. The more active you are on social profiles, the better and more engaged the business will appear.
Step 9: Follow Up. Keep track of the traffic passing through the website, and stats from social profiles, such as followers, likes, shares, and retweets. These numbers will help you to see what is working and what is not. Building an audience takes time. If you do not see an immediate spike in your numbers, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Give your current plan at least a month before making any significant strategic changes.
Building an online presence is an ongoing, ever-evolving process. Monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed. With a robust online presence, you’re sure to keep your business clients ahead of the competition while they enjoy an increase in customers and traffic. If you feel this is too much, hire someone with more experience. It will pay itself off with time.
Step 10: Communicate with customers via email. Another key to building your online presence is to create an email list through which you can deliver content. An email list enables you to engage with current and potential customers daily, weekly, or monthly. To grow your email list, you can create content that people have to sign-up to receive. Customers today appreciate a business that communicates with them and provides valuable content that can either influence or convince them to make a purchasing decision. In addition, 80 percent of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention.