The online presence of a small business is the core thing that I focus on here at really simple web.
But what is a small businesses online presence and why is it so important?
An online presence is made up of several elements:
- a website that you as the small business owner control
- social media profiles to drive people to your website
- an email list to interact with your customer
- interaction on directory sites
- interaction on review sites
- a mobile offering
- advertising presence
- appearance in search engines
- links to your site shared by your customers
The key thing about your online presence is that it is any touch point you have with customers and potential customers on the web. Anywhere your business is represented online is part of your online presence, whether you have full control of it or not.
Really simple web exists to make understanding this online presence and leveraging it for the maximum benefit for your website easy for you as a small business owner.
Let’s take a look at your online presence in a little more detail.
Your Website, Under Your Control
The most important part of your online presence is your website. This is a site that you own and is under your control. This is the one place online that you can have full control over the information that is communicated to your customers about your business.
You want to be able to keep this up to date, and accurate at all times. This is why I preach that this should be something that you control. If you have to wait weeks for a web designer to do this for you then you could be putting your business at risk. Similarly if you have a third party or social media profile as the home for your business then you risk that company a) going bust and b) serving up ads beyond your control.
Step one in any online marketing campaign for any type of business should be to have a website under full control of the business.
As this is electronic communication, it is part of your online presence.
Capturing email addresses from your customers allows you to communicate with them in a more personal way. You can literally get right in to their inbox. I am not talking about spamming here, but the permission to communicate directly with your customers. This is an incredibly powerful technique as you can push useful information to them.The fact that they have already given you permission to email them is the first part in your journey towards turning them in to a life time customer of your business.
Social Media Profiles
A few years ago social media profiles were only in the realm of the personal domain. A few years before that they didn’t really exist at all. Now pretty much every brand, celebrity, company and person has a social media profile. You’ll want to be in on this game too, but you really need to make sure that you use it correctly and that is to drive customers towards your website that you control.
Industry and Local Directories
There are a lot of professional websites out there for you to have a presence on. It is very difficult for me to tell you which ones you will need to belong to as it will be highly specific to your industry and locality. You will need to seek out what presence you require on these sites at some point.
A lot of industries have review sites. Some will be part of local directories as above, others will be part of major sites such as Yelp, Trip advisor, Google places etc. The key to this is that you need to know where your customers are talking about you so that you can thank them, respond to feedback (both negative and positive) and learn how to improve your service. You will also get mini reviews via social media. It is important to be on top of your online presence in these areas so that you can build you community.
Search Engine Rankings
This is related to your website that you control and also to your social media profiles and review sites to some extend. You want to try and make sure that you give your profiles the best chance of appearing high in search engines for your business. Ideally you want your site to rank number one for your company name at least. You will also want to make sure that you rank highly for keywords related to your industry. The more useful and relevant content you add to your site, the greater the presence you will have online in the search engines, and the more opportunity to catch customers.
Mobile Internet is getting faster and more and more people are getting Internet enabled devices. Accordingly, more people are looking for your business and your type of business from their mobile phones. You will want to be ready for mobile with mobile adverts, website, SMS marketing and more.
You online presence is any consumer touch point through the online world.
Why is maintaining a good online presence important?
More and more of your potential customers are looking for businesses like your through the web. There is no escaping that you need to be in the game to give your business the best chance of snaring new customers.
People will routinely check out businesses online now before they even go out the door to visit them. They will compare you with your competition, they will check out your prices and see what other people have said about your products and services.
As a small business owner the web offers you fantastic opportunities to interact with your customers and you really want to make the most of it.
It may seem overwhelming at first but if you learn to control and interact with your online presence it will really enable you to leverage the web to grow your business.
Understanding the online presence you need to have is only part of the battle. As a small business owner you will be very busy and you need to make sure that you only do the most effective things online to grow your business.
Prioritizing Your Online Presence
When you have limited time to make sure that your online presence is working to grow your business, you need to make sure that you prioritize. One way to do this is to get guidance and the best way to do this is to sign up for my newsletter below.
I promise that I will give you only really simple techniques and actionable advice to grow your business.