Did you know that 33% of Irish SMEs don’t have a website, while 22% of SMEs are completely offline with no website or social media presence? In this digital age, these are significant percentages and missed opportunities. The majority of consumers will do an online search for the products and services they wish to buy, making it essential for your business to be online. People no longer look up the Yellow Pages for a business, they Google it. If you aren’t online, how will they know how or where to find you?
What is an Online Presence for Business?
Anywhere online that your business can be searched for and found is your online presence. It's your whole existence on web and other parts of Internet. Online presence includes your:
- Twitter account and Tweets
- Facebook page and updates
- LinkedIn profile
- Any other social media your business uses
Main Benefits of an Online Presence
Helps Customers Find You
The biggest and main benefit of being online is that it helps customers to find you. If you are not online and your main competitor is; then customers are more likely to find your competition. The most immediate way in which your web presence can help your business grow is by directing more customers your way.
Just because you don’t have a website doesn’t mean your business doesn’t have an online presence. If customers are reviewing you online, their reviews could be your presence. By not building your own web presence it just means you have no control over it. If your business becomes active online, by building a website or opening social media accounts, you can then not only see the feedback you are receiving but also respond to it.
Improves Customer Service
If you can see the feedback your customers are posting online you can act on it. Access to this feedback allows you to both respond to dissatisfied customers and to aim to improve service in the future. Your business being online also means that answers to your customer’s questions are available 24/7.
Reach More People
Having a presence online means that people all around the world can find your business. Maybe you’re not looking to extend into the global market; but by being online it gives your product or service more visibility and more potential. Maybe all the locals in your area already know about you; but if someone is looking for what you’re selling and they can’t get it locally, wouldn’t it be great if they knew they could get it from you?
Increase Your Credibility
If you have a well-designed website you instantly look more credible as a business. If you have no website or social media presence, customers will wonder why. If your business doesn’t at minimum have a social media profile then it won’t look as legitimate as one that does. Your website is also a great place to level the playing field between your business and bigger businesses. Whether you’re working out of your granny’s basement or in a multinational corporation, you can have a fantastic looking website. A professional looking website is the key here. If your website doesn’t look professional then you lose as much, if not more, credibility than not having a website at all.
Save Money on Marketing
Having a website doesn’t mean you don’t have to market, but it does reduce the amount of marketing that you need to do. If all the information about your products and services is available on the website then your marketing material doesn’t need to include it; it can just include the website address. This should save you money on printing and distribution costs.
Boost Your Brand
Your online visibility is a great way to build your brand. You can directly interact with your customers, share what’s important to you and your business, and generally provide more information than customers would normally receive just by buying from you. Give the history of your business, say who you are, share local events; the possibilities are endless, but they all allow for you to build a more personal and lasting relationship with your customers. This in turn increases your customers satisfaction and boosts your business' brand.
If you still need convincing as to why a website is a good idea, you might want to check out our free infographic on some statistics relating to SMEs online presence. It might just help you to improve your online presence!
Now that you know why you should have a website, and you should have a look at some of the top tips for cultivating your online presence in our article 'How to Improve Your Online Presence: The Do's and Don'ts'.