Say YES to an Online Presence
Building up an online presence requires a careful combination of several different strategies. You need a professional website rich with great content and information about your business. But the question is why will I achieve maximum online presence? In this article we will show you!
An SEO and link-building strategy is to ensure that your website doesn't go unseen in the search results. You'll need to access web analytics to monitor the success of your website and to get to grips with the type of people looking for your business. You'll also need a social media presence in order to widen your online reach, not to mention user-friendly tools like an online booking system to help customers access your business whenever they need to. So... how far have you got in tackling the online aspect of your business?
The problem that many small businesses have when it comes to their digital strategies is that they don't truly appreciate the importance of having an online presence, and find themselves investing time and money elsewhere. You no doubt already know all the things you have to do to grow your online visibility, but do you know why doing so is so vital? Well, we're here to tell you exactly why your online presence should be top of the agenda.
When you need information quickly, where do you look for it? For most, the answer is Google. A whopping 97% of consumers look for local business via web searches, and whenever we need vital information like store opening hours or addresses, we turn to Google to answer our questions. We also strive to access as many services as possible online, from doing our weekly grocery shop to booking a table at our favourite restaurant. Not only can an online presence help potential customers to learn more about your business, but it can also help you to close sales or bookings.
Online appointment booking can make your services more accessible to a wider variety of people. Those with busy schedules may not have the time to call you or drop into your premises to schedule appointments, so if you give them the opportunity to book online within a matter of minutes you'll already be in their “good books”. Online appointment booking is also particularly useful for sole traders such as fitness coaches, who may be busy working when their phone rings with new enquiries. Rather than leaving it to chance that the caller leaves a message or tries again later, you could instead provide them with an online appointment booking system, so that they can schedule a time to suit both you and them with just a few quick clicks.
It get's better!
If you've worked hard to create a brand that your customers love, you're going to want to show it off to as many people as possible. Having an online presence is the best way to do it. A professional website with on-brand design and engaging content is the first place to start, but you shouldn't underestimate the power of social media channels for expanding your reach.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even SnapChat can all help you to communicate more directly with your customers than via your websites. You can have direct conversations with your followers, get involved in trending topics, and give potential customers an idea of your business's style and ethos. A waxing salon, for example, might use Instagram to showcase gorgeous pictures of their premises in order to communicate the relaxing, welcoming environment into which they invite their customers. A hairdressers could post short videos to Facebook of their latest styles, and in doing so give potential customers a brilliant insight into their skill. Having a wide online presence, particularly on social media, can really help you to show off all these brilliant details of your brand.
There once was a time when small businesses had to rely on word of mouth or print advertising to draw in the customers, but those days are gone. The internet can allow you to expose your business to hundreds if not thousands of eyes every day when you use a combination of an optimised website and social media to get your brand out there. For businesses with bricks and mortar premises like auto repair shops, who often rely on passing trade or word of mouth to get the customers in, having an online presence can dramatically increase the size of your audience.
But wait - there's more!
Not only does an online presence give you access to a greater audience, but it's a relatively inexpensive way of doing it, too. There are, of course, costs involved with website design, maintenance, and SEO, if you choose to outsource this process, but this pales in comparison to the amount you may have spent on traditional advertising to access the same volume of potential customers. Plus, it's free to create a social media presence and to get a listing in many online business directories, such as Google My Business.
Utilising tools like online appointment booking also helps you to save money on labour costs. If customers can book online, you and your staff will spend less time answering calls and will be able to spend more time on other crucial tasks that can help your business to grow. For some businesses, online appointment bookings may even allow them to function with fewer staff, which can make for significant savings.
More customer recommendations
We mentioned earlier that people these days tend to turn to the internet for any and every piece of information they need, and that goes for product and service recommendations too. Review sites are everywhere and it's second nature to many of us to look for buyer reviews before committing to purchase a product or service. This is a brilliant thing for small businesses, because each positive review is like a word of mouth recommendation that is exposed to significantly more people.
For some, customer reviews can be daunting because any negative words said about your business have the potential to damage your reputation. However, providing that you're being the very best you can possibly be, negative reviews should be at a bare minimum and a drop in the ocean compared to the positive ones. Be sure to encourage satisfied customers to leave online reviews and you'll be well on your way to building a very impressive and compelling online presence.
Most small businesses these days have a good understanding of the tools required to build an online presence, but fail to see just how valuable an online presence is to the success of the business. We hope that this list has helped you to understand the many ways in which an online presence can boost your business so that you can start prioritising your digital activities and begin in earnest to grow your brand online!
Read more about Shore's online appointment booking system to see how it could impact your business for the better.