Starting a business is hard. Trust us, we know. If you’re currently in the midst of such a process, establishing an online presence can be one of the most daunting tasks before you. Your company’s online functionality and persona can make or break its success. But if it all feels overwhelming, don’t panic: we have some advice to help you get your web presence off the ground.
How To Build An Online Presence As A New Business
These days, a web presence is imperative for a new business. Why? Having a website and active social media accounts doesn’t just give you the opportunity to reach more customers and give them the information they need to do business with you; with reviews, photos, and testimonials, an online presence assures new customers that they can trust you. According to a 2019 survey by Visual Objects, a portfolio showcase site for creative firms, 40% of small businesses did not have a website, so building one puts you ahead of over one third of your potential competition!
Even if you don’t have web design skills or an overflowing wallet, a website that supports your business is still within reach. Site-builders like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress all cater to those with budget constraints and the technically-ungifted. That’s not to say a finished project looks like it was made on a budget; with these tools it’s easy to make a modern and professional-looking website. Besides your site, Google My Business and Facebook for Business are essential components of your web presence that let you reach users of those two services.
If you want a website that is completely unique or has special features and functions, custom is the way to go.
No matter how much you spend on a website, you need to make sure people can find it. Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to the way search engines like Google or Bing crawl the internet for the most relevant search results, taking into account things like popularity and proximity. For example, if you Google coffee, you’ll get results with the best optimization for that keyword: the nearest and most highly-rated cafes, the Wikipedia entry for “coffee”, the latest articles about coffee, and links to online coffee sellers. So can you tackle your website’s SEO yourself? Yes. Should you hire a professional? Also yes. Search Engine Journal lists some ways you can improve SEO; if some aren’t within your capabilities, it may be best to find an expert. And remember: SEO is how you improve your search result listings, but it’s not a replacement for good advertising.
When it comes to your online presence, consistency is key, be it in branding, scheduling posts, or keeping information updated. A strong email marketing and social media effort with consistent tones and aesthetics makes your brand recognizable, builds engagement, and converts customers. Tools like Mailchimp and Hootsuite are great for maintaining an email and posting schedule that keeps this message in front of your audience. It’s also vital that information about your business is up-to-date and matching across your profiles and website. And don’t neglect your Contact page: if you want your customers to reach you, make sure yours is fully functional!
Fair warning: this part comes with some homework. Although it’s not always practical to sell a particular product or service through an online store, if you can, you should. But don’t build one just to have one: it should act as your online salesperson who converts customers. Online, you don’t have access to the same powers of persuasion you would use to make a sale in person, so build your website in a way that it can do this for you. Take a look at some retail websites that you frequent or that sell products or services that interest you. What do these online stores do that would convince you to buy from them? Do they seem passive towards visitors or do they actively pursue a sale?
Whether it’s brick-and-mortar or solely online, your business doesn’t exist in a bubble. Use the community around you to your advantage. Is there an event happening near your business? Tell your subscribers to stop by on their way to it. Is there an online trend you can capitalize on while remaining consistent in your social media posting? Don’t leave your followers in the cold! Do you have experience that could help build the reputation of your business? Offer to write a guest post for a well-read blog. The possibilities are limitless.
Amazon.com wasn’t built in a day. Even if you follow this advice to a T, a burgeoning social media following or prolific online store won’t appear overnight. But with knowledge, hard work, and time, you can build an online presence that helps your business thrive.