By now, most people would agree that the internet is vital to doing business in today’s world. If you use it right, the internet can help your business. If you use it wrong or neglect it, the internet can hurt your business. It all comes down to your business’s “online presence.”
What is “online presence”?
Online presence is how your business is presented on the internet, specifically, the online destinations where your business can be found such as your website, social media profiles, and business listing on vendors and business partner’s pages.
How does online presence affect your business?
According to Google, 97% of people use the internet to search for businesses. When they search, they are looking for prices, business hours, reviews about your business, and how your business stands up against competitors. You don’t want others to define your business on the internet. That is why you must take your business’s online presence very seriously.
What can you do to get serious about the online presence of your business?
1. Assess what the internet is saying about your business right now. Go online and search for your business. Search for the business owner’s name. See what pops up. You may find that your business is already listed in places like Google Business, Google Maps, Foursquare, YellowP ages, or Yelp – even if you didn’t put those listings up. Mark down the top 15 places your business appears and take note of those that you can have some measure of control over. (Look for links that say, “Is this your business?” or something similar.) Knowing where you stand will help you strategize for the future.
2. Take the time to do some research. As a business owner, you are primarily interested in how using the internet can improve your bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, the internet is a much different marketplace than a brick-and-mortar store or a local shopping scene. That’s where research-based marketing comes in. By doing your research up front, you can find out the digital marketing strategies and tactics that are working right now. You can find out who your customers are and where they are located. You can determine which customers are ready to buy, how much they are willing to pay, and which customers are just searching. All of this information will inform your internet marketing strategy and how you present your business online.
3. Understand that success on the internet is all about relationships. Despite the common lament that the internet is a hotbed for impersonal relationships, research has shown that people feel connected in a powerful way to the brands that they frequently buy from. There are millions of people loyal to big brands like Apple and Amazon—people who will not only stand in line for new products, but who will recommend those products on social media and get their friends excited about them as well. Establishing your online presence is not just about getting more sales, but about creating a consistent narrative that tells the story of your company and its customers. In doing so, you will make, not just customers, but fans as well.
If you want to be successful in the future, take the steps above to get started establishing (or re-establishing) your company’s online presence today.