Why is establishing a strong online presence is critical to businesses that want to thrive in this digital age? Let’s explore what is an online presence, what is the importance of an online presence and how to create and improve one.
Nowadays, there are millions of websites, and all of them strive to attract customers. So, creating a website for your small business is a good step but does not guarantee that it will attract customers. Companies that are thriving today are those that have established a robust online presence.
What is an Online Presence?
Online presence is the overall appearance of an individual or a business on the internet. Online presence is much more than just having a website. It refers to your entire existence on the internet, including the social media and email and search engine (paid and organic).
For instance, a business that doesn’t have a website but has a Facebook or Instagram account still has an online presence. Any form of existence on the internet is an online presence.
Companies use different strategies to establish an online presence. There are some companies that rely entirely on social media while some depend on the traffic from search engines.
Regardless of the approach used, the most crucial factor is reaching out to the target audience.
There is a big difference between having an online presence and having a robust online presence.
I got you covered on the basic online presence in my step-by-step tutorial to build a website for your business. I also have a free course
Having an online presence is quite easy. All that is needed is a website or creation of a new social media account.
However, creating a robust online presence that brings success to a business is often tricky. It requires the right marketing strategies, a thorough understanding of the target market, excellent communication, and consistency.
Importance of Online Presence for Small Businesses
It Makes it Easier to Reach Your Target Customers
When you want to a buy product or service, you will most likely do your first search online. So, having an online presence can give you an advantage over your competitors.
Today, most customers prefer businesses that have an online presence because it makes things easier for them. A simple online search will provide them with what they are looking for.
For instance, if an individual in Virginia is hosting an impromptu family get together and needs some bottles of wine, the first thing that he/she will do is search for “wine store in Virginia” and can easily choose your business if it shows up on top of search engine results.
It is an Easy and More Effective Way to Market your Brand
Branding is essential, especially for small businesses. Customers will only purchase your products/services only if they know what your business is all about and what it offers.
Marketing is costly, especially for small businesses that are operating on a tight budget. Unlike traditional marketing techniques such as TV advertising and print media that are very expensive, online marketing is quite cheap and, in some cases, free.
For instance, it does not cost you anything to open a social media page for your business. It also does not cost you anything to optimize your site to boost its ranking on search engines. The internet has created a level playing field, and you can use it to increase your brand visibility.
An Oline Presence Allows You to Build a Relationship with Your Target Customers
Studies show that it is easy to build good relationships with potential customers online than offline. The good thing about going online is that it allows you to interact one on one with your target audience.
For instance, if you create a social media account for your business, you will be able to interact with your audience frequently, enabling you to establish a strong bond. It also allows you to understand your customers. The best way to communicate and connect with your target audience is by having an online presence.
It is a Cheaper Way to Market your B
Marketing plays a crucial role in the success of any business (big or small). However, unlike large, well-established businesses that have the financial power to market their brand online and offline, small businesses operate on a tight budget hence have limited marketing options.
Online marketing allows small businesses to sell their services because it is cheaper but very effective.
It makes it easy to showcase your products/services
Online presence makes it easy for you to showcase your products or services to your target audience.
For instance, if you have just launched new products and you want to market them to your target audience, all that you need to do is take a photo and post them on your social media account, and your followers will see them instantly. You can even showcase your products or service outside business hours.
How to Create a Robust Online Presence
The importance of an online presence cannot be overstated. A strong online presence can help your business achieve anything that you could ever want, including attracting more followers, gaining more leads and much more.
So, how can you create a robust online presence? Below are tips to help you out
Create a plan
The journey to building a strong online presence starts with a good idea. The plan should clearly outline the reasons why you need to go online, your target audience, and tools to use to help you achieve your goals.
Also, ensure that you track the progress of your plan regularly and make necessary changes if need be.
Create Value for Your Target Customers
It is challenging to create a strong online presence if your business does not provide value. Creating value means posting information that is relevant and useful to your target audience.
Consumers are very selective and won’t hesitate to block or ignore you if they realize that you post content that is not factual or does not add value to their lives.
Focus on One platform
Being everywhere online may seem like a good thing, but it could end up destroying your business rather than building it up.
Focusing on one online platform is highly encouraged, especially for small and start-up businesses. It is difficult to give an equal amount of attention if you focus on all online platforms. This could hurt your business.
For instance, if your customers realize that you are not active on Facebook, they will quickly shift their loyalty to one of your competitors. So choose one online platform and put all effort into ensuring that you get the best results.
Engage with your audience regularly
One of the best things about the internet is that it allows you to interact with your target audience. For instance, if you have opened social media account for your business, ensure that you engage with your audience regularly.
Online users prefer companies that engage with them regularly. So, ensure that you respond to their questions and queries fast.
Be consistent and patient
Creating a strong online presence needs consistency and patience. Give your target audience a reason to visit your website or social media page every day by posting fresh and informative content regularly. Creating a strong presence online also needs patience.
Your online campaign will not bear fruit overnight, it will take time, and that is why you need to be patient.
Practical Strategies to Improve your Online P
Focus on networking
You have probably heard of this phrase, “it is not what you know but how you know.”
One of the best ways of improving your online presence is through networking. The internet has eliminated many barriers that are present in traditional marketing.
Some of these barriers include geographical locations, times, zone differences, and travel expenses. This means that you can easily network to increase your brand visibility to your target audience.
Create quality content
When it comes to online visibility, content is king. The quality of content that you post on your website or your social media account will determine the success of your business.
If you want to increase your online presence, then you must create content that is relevant, informative, and engaging.
Major search engines like Google usually favor websites that provide superior content to users. So, if you want to improve your site ranking on the search engine result page (SERP), then you need to post quality and engaging content regularly.
Protect Client’s D
With a steady increase in online crime, many customers are cautious about which company they engage with.
If you want to gain customer trust, then you need to put stringent measures to protect their data. You need to prove to them that their data are safe with your business. Any form of cybercrime can dent your online reputation.
Respond to Customer Concerns Cromptly
This is a critical strategy that most small businesses usually overlook. If you want to boost your online presence, then you need to put concrete measures in place to ensure that customer concerns are addressed promptly.
For instance, if a customer makes a complaint, you need to respond fast and offer a satisfactory solution. This will help to increase customer trust in your business.
When I am looking for a business I go straight to the internet.
In fact, the other day I recommended a business to another mom at a soccer game. I told her all about how great this new exercise place was. Then I said I’ll look it up and text you the website link.
I couldn’t find the website but I did find their FaceBook Page. So I sent her the link to the information on FaceBook.
So you see the importance of an online presence? Of course it would be easier if they had a website but even social media puts a small business on the map.
This also answers the question “what is an online presence?” It is the combined existence of information of a person or business on the internet.
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Do you need to set up a website to improve your online presence? Sign up for my free step by step course to build your website this weekend.