Small businesses have long relied on their brick and mortar storefronts to bring in clients. But in today's digital landscape, designing a stellar online presence is just as important as a physical one—if not more so.
In fact, a recent study showed that over half of "near me" and "where to buy" searches on a mobile device resulted in a visit to a physical storefront. So whether your shop is located downtown or online, a strong internet presence can help potential customers find you in the first place.
If that sounds like something you're interested in, read on to learn all you need to know about creating a strong online presence.
What Is an Online Presence?
Your business's online presence is the footprint that it leaves on the internet. This could include your website and online store, social media profiles, mobile apps, or any content on other websites that links back to your business. All of these things help new customers discover your business and continue to interact with it in the future.
But building an online presence for a business isn't a one and done deal. Once you've set up your webpages and profiles, you have to actively maintain them and post new content in order for them to generate new sales. Here are a few of the best ways to maximize your online presence's ROI.
Starting Off Right: Choosing the Ideal Platform
The first step in creating an online presence for your business is to select the appropriate digital platform. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to this, so let's take a quick look at each platform's pros and cons.
When you think of an online presence, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a traditional website. There are a couple of ways you can go about setting up your website: you can build a fully customized one on a platform like WordPress, use a simple drag-and-drop editor like Wix or Weebly, or hire a designer to build it for you.
Websites are beneficial because you have complete control over their appearance and content. They're also a permanent place for people across the globe to find information about your brand, and they're useful for sharing content in blog format.
The downside? Websites can be costly to set up and maintain. At a minimum, you'll have to pay for a domain name and hosting service, but many people outsource design and web page optimization as well.
If you have the time and money to invest, websites can be well worth it. But not every business needs a website—some can get away with a simpler option.
If your business's main goal for internet presence is to operate an online store, then an e-commerce platform may be right for you. Companies like Shopify and Squarespace can help you set up a beautiful virtual marketplace in minutes. They let you post product images and descriptions, handle transactions and track orders all in the same place.
E-commerce sites tend to operate on a subscription basis. You'll pay a monthly fee that varies depending on the plan and features you've selected. This can get expensive, but it's a great way to extend the reach of a brick-and-mortar store to the internet.
For some businesses, even an e-commerce store is unnecessary. If you're only looking for a way to interact with your audience and showcase some of your products or services, a social media profile may be all you need.
Social media accounts are free, so they're a great option for newer small businesses or those that don't have a large marketing budget. There's also the option to invest in paid advertising campaigns as your budget grows. However, you will sacrifice a lot of control over your page's design, and your audience reach is at the mercy of future algorithm changes.
Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts are a great place for most businesses to get started. And with an estimated 2.77 billion social media users around the world, there are a lot of opportunities to connect with new clients.
A social media profile is great for a business that wants to hold direct conversations with their customers via comments, polls, and messaging. It's also great for posting photos and videos and can supplement a website or e-commerce shop. But if you want to sell products directly through your social media profile, you might end up having to pay for expensive plugins.
Once you've set yourself up on the ideal platform, it's time to make sure that people can find you! Here are the top three ways to make your brand visible on the internet.
1. Maximize Your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your rankings in search results. It relies on the strategic placement of popular search terms and keywords in your on-page content, headers, image descriptions, and tags.
There are countless resources available online that offer SEO advice. But if you're just starting out (or don't have the time), this is a great opportunity to recruit the help of an expert.
2. Content Creation
Content marketing can take many forms. E-mail newsletters, blogs, infographics, case studies, podcasts, and videos are some of the most popular. Each of these can help to drive online traffic to your business, but they need to be relevant and useful to your intended audience.
Before creating any piece of content, ask yourself this question: "What are my ideal customer's pain points, wants, and needs?" Then, try to put out work that solves their problems, answers questions, or is entertaining.
3. Interact with Your Audience
Finally, no matter what type of online platform you use or what kind of content you create, make sure that you interact with your customers! Reply when they leave reviews or comments, answer questions in a timely manner, and make sure they know their voices are being heard. This helps improve your brand's reputation online, making it more likely that loyal customers will spread the word to their friends and families.
Make Building Your Online Presence a Priority
The process of building the ideal online presence won't look the same for every business. So if you need some support along the way, the experts at Snap SEO are here to help. We'll work to maximize your social media reach, leverage your content, and improve your search engine rankings.
Contact us today to find out how we can take your online presence to the next level!