People love to talk.
These days, they’re talking to each other online — often directly on social media, or sometimes indirectly via reviews, ratings, and comments.
Whether or not you’re currently maintaining an online presence for your business, customers are still talking about you, finding you, reviewing you, and recommending you online.
Before completing a purchase, 55% of people search the web for reviews and recommendations. In 2020, 88% of consumers who searched for a business on their smartphones visited or called the store within a day.
If you aren’t taking charge of your online presence, you’re at risk of losing control of your first impression from potential customers.
You’re also at risk of losing out on business simply because customers don’t understand what you sell, what you stand for, and why they should buy from you.
Build Your Online Presence in Four Easy Steps
If you take ownership of your online presence, you can tell the story you want your customers to hear about you. You’ll also be helping them find your business when they’re in need of your products or services.
Starting this process as early as possible will help you expand your customer reach, bring in new business, and continue to grow.
Even if your business is already up and running, it’s never too late to reevaluate your online presence and update it with the latest best practices. To get started, come up with a strategy to get your business operating on the digital channels that matter to your customers.
Then you’ll need to work the plan on a consistent basis to make sure you’re keeping your customers informed and engaged.
Don’t worry if you’ve never built a website, set up social media for a business, or launched an email marketing program. We have you covered with four easy steps — from strategy all the way down to the details — as part of a comprehensive guide to help you launch your business.
Step 1: Develop Your Strategy with Best Practices
Having an effective online presence is a key differentiator between the small businesses that succeed and those that don’t, regardless of your industry, size, or customer base. To launch your business online, first you need to take a step back and consider your purpose for building your digital presence.
If you’re new and just launching your business, we recommend focusing your strategy on awareness and reaching potential customers as your top two priorities.
If you’re an existing business, you may want to work on more advanced strategies. This could include increasing the amount of form fills on your website, accumulating recent positive reviews, or becoming a thought leader by sharing industry information of value to your customers.
Ultimately, your goal is to develop life-long, invested, and loyal customers.
To do that, you’ll want to determine who your audiences are, and ensure your online marketing reaches and appeals to their needs. By referring to trusted, current resources, you can be sure your strategy is rooted in best practices proven to achieve this goal.
Step 2: Build Your Website
A recent survey revealed that among entrepreneurs who have a business website, 79% expect to grow 25% in the next three to five years. That’s compared to just 64% of those who don’t have a website.
When establishing your online presence, your website should top your priorities list.
Whether or not you run an eCommerce business, your website will provide your customers with the information they need to know prior to purchase, including:
- Your basic business information — A website works for you 24/7 to answer your customers’ questions about who you are, where you’re located, when you’re open, and what you can provide them.
- That you’re a credible business — A website establishes your business as legitimate and helps build long-term trust.
- Your promotional opportunities for customers — A website makes current updates accessible to new and existing customers about products, sales, and deals.
Your website is a reflection of who you are, otherwise known as your brand. It has an impact on how people perceive your business’ credibility and quality.
An investment in a good website is worth its weight in gold.
Follow a checklist when setting up your website to know you’re doing it right. We’ve put together a guide for that here based on today’s best practices for business websites.
Step 3: Set Up Your Social Media
With 3.5 billion daily active users, social media is a powerful tool for small businesses to reach customers.
But knowing where, what, and when to post and share content can be overwhelming.
While you don’t need to have a presence on every platform, you can’t ignore social media altogether. You’ll want to prioritize the platforms that overlap with your target customers the most.
According to a recent study, here’s a breakdown of active social media users by generation:
- 90.4% – Millennials
- 77.5% – Generation X
- 48.2% – Baby Boomers
But no matter who your customers are, 54% of people use social media to research before making a purchase decision.
Having social media basics down is important.
These channels help bring in new customers, and remind existing customers to consider your business when it’s time to make a purchase. You’ll want to use your social media presence to drive traffic to your website, store, or both.
You can follow this guide to understand the audiences and purpose of each major platform, with instructions for how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Step 4: Establish Your Email Marketing
Setting up email marketing is the final step to launching your business.
Pay close attention, because it’s crucial to get this piece right. Email is approximately 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.
First, you’ll want to research and select the best tools available.
We recommend three that offer features and convenience at a low-to-no cost.
Next, you’ll want to read up about content and design best practices. Determine the types of emails you should be sending to your customers. From there, it’s all about growing your list of contacts, tracking progress, and making efforts to optimize your email campaign performance.
For example, you should be tracking your open rates and click rates for every batch of emails you send. While average rates vary, you’ll want to strive for a 21% open rate and a 7.8% click rate. If you’re coming in higher, well done and keep it up.
If you’re coming in lower, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and make improvements to drive better results.
Getting Started with Launching Your Business
As you work through these steps, remember your purpose for creating your business’ online presence. Your goal is to build lasting, loyal relationships with your customers.
Keep that in mind as you continue your efforts and build a plan you can be proud of.
While these four steps are approachable for any beginner, you might find yourself wanting some help with executing day-to-day tasks. That’s where Eastern Kentucky marketing experts can step in to help. They can help you launch your business effectively by executing your plan, providing advice on best practices, and keeping your customers coming back for more.
Get started today by downloading our free guide to launching your business, which contains even more detailed information on building an effective, well thought-out online presence.