The importance of an online presence for your business
No matter what your business does or what size it is, having an online presence today is essential.
When people need a service these days, the majority will begin by searching for it online. Whether you want to sell your product online or just need potential customers to find you and engage with you on the internet, having an online business presence isn’t too complicated.
Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Be visible: websites and domain names
To exist online, a business needs a website, and a website starts with a domain name. A domain name is your website address. For example, the domain name of the site you’re on right now is www.standardbank.co.za. The right domain name will allow people to remember your web address and find it easily.
Many companies offer domains as part of their web hosting packages. You pay a monthly fee, and in return, you get anything from free hosting with your domain name to dedicated hosting that comes with a range of services. A customisable website with a domain name is also one of the many things you’ll get if you sign up to SimplyBlu, our all-in-one e-commerce solution.
Step 2: Be discoverable: SEO
You may have the website but wonder why it’s not the first to come up in a Google search. To make sure your company ranks as high as possible, you need to become acquainted with search engine optimisation (SEO). While this subject warrants an article all of its own, the easiest way to ensure your website ranks well is to make sure your site works well and offers useful information to your potential customers.
Other elements of SEO include keyword optimisation (making sure your website is optimised to be ranked by search engines) and ensuring your site is crawlable and indexable (making sure it has the right tech). You can hire someone to improve your search engine ranking or do it yourself. If you choose the latter option, there are many articles and videos online that can teach you the basics of SEO.
Step 3: Be approachable: social media
Having a page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn (or all of the above) is a simple and effective way to be visible online. Setting up an account is free, and it’s a great way to tell your customers about what your business is up to. You would also need someone to engage with any potential customers who contact you through your social media page. If your business is small, you may be able to update its social media pages and engage with your followers yourself. If it’s a bit bigger (or very busy and popular), you may need to employ someone to run your social media account (or accounts) for you.
WARNING: Being on social media can be a great way to engage with your clients or customers, but it can also have unwanted consequences. You need to make sure your company gets positive sentiments and not negative sentiments. If your service is good and your company is well run and professional, this shouldn’t be a problem:
- If anyone engages negatively with your brand, try your best to message them privately to rectify the problem. If you engage attentively with an unhappy customer, you could turn a negative review into a positive one.
- Only post business-related content or content that is in line with your company’s values on its social media accounts.
Step 4: Be noticeable: digital marketing
And as with the physical world, one way to achieve this is through advertising:
- Google adverts:When you search for something on Google, you will notice that the first few entries usually have the word ‘Ad’ next to them. These businesses have purchased Google Ads.
- Social media adverts:All major social media platforms, the most prominent for businesses being Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, offer a way to advertise on their platform.
- Display adverts:This is when you design an advert that will display on a website where you think it will get seen. You would usually need to pay for this. You would also need to hire a designer or agency for this unless you or someone in your company has the skills to do it in house.
- Direct mailers:This is when you collect email addresses from your customers or potential customers and send them emails updating them on special offers, new products or other developments in your business. As with display adverts, you would need to either hire a designer or agency to create this or do it in-house if you can.
Step 5: Be purchasable: online shopping
While it was once a costly and lengthy process to start an online store where you could sell your products, these days it’s simple. You can take your business online with zero joining or subscription fees with our e-commerce platform – SimplyBlu. The platform includes plug-ins, allowing you to build payments into your existing app or website. You also get free Google Ads.