Building a Strong Online Presence for Your Business
No less an authority than the U.S. Small Business Administration has concluded that small businesses with websites average 39 percent greater annual sales revenue than those businesses without a website. An online presence has clearly become an absolute necessity if a business is to thrive, let alone survive, in today’s Internet-driven business climate.
How a Strong Online Presence Can Help
Outbound marketing is intrusive by nature in that your message intrudes on prospects that are not searching for information about your products or services. Examples of outbound marketing includes traditional and digital advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, and email blasts to a purchased list of prospects.
- An online presence can improve your outbound marketing efforts by reinforcing your outbound messages. Advertising and sales both rely on the power of repetition to accomplish their goals, and your website provides this repetitive presentation of your marketing message.
- With an estimated 97 percent of consumers using the Internet to search for local business information, a web presence serves as a credibility check for those prospects who were introduced to your company through outbound marketing. Today’s consumer expects businesses to have an online presence; without a website, many prospects may feel that you’re not a real business.
Inbound marketing is more focused on helping prospects interested in your product category find your particular company and products. Popular inbound marketing techniques include SEO, pay per click advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing.
- An online presence serves as a source for additional information about your company.
- Your website can be set up to collect prospect’s email addresses to build an in-house list that can be marketed to indefinitely.
- An estimated 85 percent of consumers read online reviews of local businesses prior to making a purchase decision. Without an online presence that includes great reviews, you’re likely to lose customers to your competitors who have a stronger online presence.
The Elements of a Strong Online Presence
- A business website is the starting point for building your online presence. Don’t worry about starting off with a digital work of art – focus on providing the basic information that customers are looking for: your products, business location and phone number, and business hours. Tell your story with quality photos whenever possible. Set up a blog on your site and add informative content on a monthly basis about your products and your industry category.
- Claim your Google Plus Local business listing. It’s free and can help your business get found by customers who are searching for local businesses. Visit google.com/business and click “Get on Google” to get started.
- Improve your website visibility through search engine optimization (SEO). Make sure that your pages and page content are properly tagged. Create a list of buyer-intent keywords that are not too competitive to make ranking for them overly difficult. Pursue inbound links by creating and promoting quality content about your industry to third-party sites.
- Engage with your customers and prospects through social media; it’s the preferred communications channel for many of today’s consumers. Facebook and Twitter are good choices for just about any type of business. If your company primarily markets to other businesses, consider setting up a LinkedIn profile.
- Build a solid five-star online reputation. Monitor your online reputation by setting up Google Alerts for your company and brand names; respond quickly and professionally to any negative comments and criticisms. Collet and publish as many positive reviews as you can.