So you’ve realised the benefits of creating an online presence but don’t really know where to start? Don't worry, we’ve complied a list of some easy steps you can take to build and improve your online presence and some of the main dos and don’ts in website creation. 71% of Irish consumers are more likely to buy from a business that has a website, so doing it right is important. If you don't know the benefits of creating an online presence then you should check out last week's article 'Why Having an Online Presence Can Help Your Business Grow'. For an overview of the entire topic you should have a look at our article 'Online Presence for Business'. At the end of this article we’ve even included a handy website grader to help you know how your website ranks.
How to Build an Online Presence:
- Create a website
- Start a blog/social media profiles
- Build an e-mail list
- Be active on social media
- Manage your reputation
- Advertise online
Do Optimise Your Content
Content is the most important part of your website. Make your content educational but don’t forget that people need to find it. You should think about keywords and phrases, and use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practices to your benefit. Also, because so many people use their mobile phones for searching now you should consider how your website and content will look on a phone screen. You should ensure that you are producing valuable content that showcases your business.
Do Think About Navigation
Some of this is repeated in the ‘Don’t Neglect Web Design’ tip, but think about your navigation. You want your customers to be able to get around your website with ease. If they find your website difficult to navigate they may become frustrated and give up.
Do Be Yourself
If you don’t be yourself you may across as inauthentic. I’m not suggesting you use the same language on your website as you would use when talking to a close friend; but it’s important to be genuine with your customers. Make sure your online presence reflects your brand and maintain consistency across all of your online interactions.
Do Take Your Time
Everything worthwhile takes time and a good online presence is no different. Creating your website and your online presence shouldn’t be rushed. Take the time you need to do it properly. Create good quality content that you can be proud of rather than rushing and having your reputation suffer because of a sloppy website.
Don’t Neglect Web Design
Obviously, content is the most important part of your website but the importance of your web design should not be understated. Appearances matter. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting in tracksuit bottoms, no matter how fantastic your presentation is. When your customers arrive on your website they want to see a well-designed and easy to navigate page that helps them find what they’re looking for. Ultimately your website reflects your business, so you want your customers to have a pleasant experience when they are visiting it. Therefore, it can be a valuable investment to employ a professional company to create and design a website for you.
Don’t Be Overly Promotional
Customers know you’re trying to sell something, but they won’t want to visit your page if all you do is shove your sales pitch down their throat. By all means, share your special offers, discounts, etc. that’s what your website is there for; but try to work your business information into your posts in subtle ways as well. Don’t just post about yourself, share relevant articles, or local events.
Don’t Neglect to Update
If you forget to update your website or your social media for a long time, your customers will think you’ve gone out of business. Obviously you don’t need to update every day; but if you haven’t updated in a month, you’ve got a serious problem. Use your website and your social media to promote your special offers. Share articles that you think your customers will be interested in (obviously a bit of user discretion is advised here, don’t forget what you share reflects on your business). Your online presence is a great way to drive business, but like a plant it needs attention and water. You might consider hiring someone specifically to manage your online presence.
Don’t Misuse Social Media
Your business social media reflects your business, so be professional. This doesn’t mean your social media has to be stilted and stiff. Feel free to use a bit of humour, but use your discretion and use appropriate humour. Posting regularly is important to keep your business relevant but relevancy is the key here. Don’t post just for the sake of it, post relevant, or interesting material.
These tips should help you to make the most of your online presence. A mistake some small businesses make however, is to only have a social media presence. While social media is important; research suggests that 92% of consumers prefer to get product information from a company website rather than a social media page. This simply highlights how vital your business website is. Now that you know why you should have a website, and some of the top tips for cultivating your online presence; you should take a look at our article that looks at the cost of building an online presence for business here.