With that in mind I’ve created a simple checklist for you to run through to see what you need to work on.
A website that you own and control
There are plenty of free services that allow you to setup a website for your business. Yes they are quick, easy, and cheap, but they also put your business’s online presence in the hands of a third party. Your small business website is the hub of your online presence and you absolutely must own and control it. Third party services get shut down, bought up, hike their prices and more all the time. Owning and building your business’s online presence begins with owning your own website.
Relevant, current and useful content explaining who you are, what you do, how you can help
Content, content, content. You will hear that content is king when it comes to online marketing. Yes, content is important but I prefer to think of it as one of the links in your online presence chain. Like any chain, it is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Your content on your site needs to be relevant, current and useful for your prospective and existing customers. Don’t be daunted by this, you can build it up over time, just make sure you are clear and open and focus on driving people towards doing business with you. That’s why you are in business after all.
A clear way get in touch with you to buy or enquire about your products or services
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reviewed small business websites that doesn’t have a contact phone number or simple way of making enquiries or buying products. The bottom line is that your business needs customers. Make it incredibly easy for them to buy your stuff or get in touch with you for more information. If it isn’t easy, they’ll move on to someone else. Fast.
A way of capturing leads and customers email addresses
The correct answer to when you should start capturing your prospects and customers email address is “yesterday”. When people allow you to contact them they have given you some trust. Do not abuse this, but you can use it to build up a relationship over time with them that will hopefully lead to you doing business together. If you only measure one metric of your online presence it should be how many more email addresses of prospective customers you get per week. Hint: email addresses are better than ‘likes’ on Facebook or followers on Twitter.
One active social presence (relevant to your customers)
A common question I get asked is “Should I be on all social networks?, there are so many now, how do I manage them all?”. I think that worse than not being on social networks is being on them and then not engaging with your audience due to lack of time. You are best to pick one network, that is most relevant to your customer base and put your energy in to engaging with them through that. You should sign up to the biggest networks to protect your brand, but use the most relevant network to your audience to engage and drive people back to your own website.
A consistent brand image and message across all your online profiles
Part of having a successful online presence is ‘being seen’. Take the time to setup your brand profiles across all the touch points in your online presence. People will know when they see you around the web that it is your business they are communicating with. It’s not only the colours and logo you use, but also the way you communicate. Be your brand, everywhere you communicate with customers.
A basic understanding of SEO and action steps in place to improve it for your business
Via specific searches in major search engines is still the primary way people will find your site, or at least that is the way you will get the most targeted visitors to your site. It’s good to get a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and an understanding of what you can actively influence to improve your business’s visibility in search engines. There are many great sources for this information, and there are many poor ones. I’ve got more coming on SEO so stay tuned and make sure you are signed up for my newsletter.
A weekly plan for building your online presence
Having a holistic, consistent and useful online presence for your business is a journey not a destination. You have to keep working at it. Have a plan for what you are going to do and when. Make sure you are actively and regularly engaging with your customers and make sure that you are building your presence over time.
Use of tools to save you time keep everything updated & secure
There are lots of great tools out there that make managing your online presence quicker and easier. Whether it is an app like Buffer to schedule your social media updates, Google Analytics to understand the traffic you are getting to your site, or various backup and hack monitoring services that keep your site secure, it can be a mind field. Coming up I’ll be sharing my favourite tools and how to use them effectively.
The right mindset to spend a small amount of time, over the long term to build you business’s online presence
“Rome wasn’t build in a day” and neither will your business’s online presence. You need to be prepared to perserve and keep building slowly. The compounding effective of doing a little often will soon start to show in increased traffic, engagement and customers for your business. You just have to stick with it. I’m here with you so please follow along.
This post was in part a response to my recent survey. Thanks to those of you who took the time out to respond to it for me. This post, and the direction of the site going forward is in response to those answers. If you haven’t had chance to fill out there survey yet, it’s still there and takes only 2 minutes. Please fill it in here.
The concept of building small business online presence is what I’m about here are Really Simple Web. I will always strive to give you simple, actionable advice that enables you to build an effective online presence for your small business while being able to focus on the most important things; growing your business, keeping your customers happy and making more money. Make sure you are signed up to my newsletter below to get all the latest posts and more freshly delivered to your inbox.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments, alternatively if you want a private individual response please drop me a line here I’m here to help.