Why Does Your Business Need a Strong Online Presence?
There are a lot of things to think about when starting a business.
And creating an online presence sometimes seems like too much, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
We’re firm believers that your business needs a web presence to succeed. So much so that we created this list of seven reasons.
Read why you need a web presence below.
In the age of the internet, having information at our fingertips is the new normal. You want nothing less than that for your business.
If someone is looking for a business like yours in their area, they’re more likely to search “____ business” than ask a friend for a recommendation.
Forget about a phone book listing! Almost no one has those anymore.
An online presence is your main client acquisition unless you have an intensive word-of-mouth program.
Even if you have current clients you’re happy with, you need a presence to be competitive.
You have competition in your area and when choosing a business to work with, customers look online. They’ll search your sites for things like hours, price, service availability and reviews.
If there were two identical companies and one had a stronger presence, it would win more clients. This presence can mean things like reviews, a current social media page, or a strong Google My Business profile.
If you’re an established business, you may think you don’t need to spend time networking. But you’d be wrong.
In today’s world of constant competition and market saturation, there’s never enough human contact.
If you’re a B2B business, you want to create strong relationships with current clients. Then they can build your new client list for you, through word of mouth or good reviews.
If you’re B2C, the same thing applies. Go out of your way to provide value for your customers. If you move them to action (writing a review, telling a friend) it’ll impress potential clients.
But you’ll want a strong web presence so that anyone they tell about your amazing services will be able to find you online, if they want to.
People are more likely to go to a business with good reviews.
Remember how we said people don’t ask friends for recommendations anymore? That’s because 84% of people trust online reviews the way they’d trust a friends opinion.
To make sure your business is well represented, many establishments send follow-ups for reviews.
This could mean sending a client an email with a quick and easy, “How was your experience” prompt.
If you take the time to ask customers for reviews, you’ll likely get them. Some businesses offer employees bonuses per review or if they get up to a certain # per month.
An added benefit of having employees encourage customer reviews? The customer will name drop that employee. Having names in your reviews looks better since it’s more personalized.
It’s like reading a review that says, “They did a nice job with my tires” and “David explained the process to me and I love the quality of work he did on my tires!”
Giving names and faces to your business creates a sense of intimacy.
While you want to encourage reviews, we warn against giving customers rewards. Word will get out that you essentially pay for reviews and trust in your business will decrease.
Along with networking to build client lists, you can use an online presence to get advice or advisors. Think about big names in your industry.
Before the internet, you’d have no idea how to get a hold of them. You’d have to find someone who knew their number or sort through a corporate phone system.
Now those same people have their contact information listed online. Whether or not they’re the ones that answer their inquiries, contacting them is easy.
In fact, many of them want you to contact them. Even if they’re corporate giants, they’re people too. They appreciate when people value them and most like to help.
On the other side of things, you could be that big business to someone. Even if you don’t consider yourself an industry leader or a big-shot, someone thinks you are.
Maybe you have a superior product or they identify with your values. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone starting out looking to you for advice?
Don’t make them go through that corporate phone tree to get it. Starting a business is hard and if you have a decent handle on it, why not help a newbie out?
5. Reputation Management
Let’s talk about your online reputation. It’s related but different than the one you have verbally around town.
An online reputation differs in that it takes more things into consideration. Do you have low-quality content? What about a professional looking web page?
You don’t want clients to take any more steps than necessary to contact you. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to find you.
When you start a business, claim your social media profiles as soon as you register your name. Once you get that approval, snap those babies up.
Make them as obvious as you can. This is harder for some businesses than others. For example, @Starbucks is a unique name, it was easy to snap up.
But something like @EyewearHeadquarters could have more competition. To help you figure out how you can combat this, there are sites that tell you what names are available for which domains.
If you can help it, stray away from adding anything crazy like numbers instead of letters. It may take you a few days to figure out, but there is a straightforward way to display your business.
Other than making it easy for your clients to find you, you want to make sure no one is spreading false information. Imagine someone grabs your username and tweets hurtful things.
People who don’t know better will believe that’s your business. Don’t give anyone a reason to think you’re not as great as you are!
If you get a bad review and you’re not online to see it, you’re out of control of your reputation. Instead of letting that angry review sit there and push potential customers away, you want to respond to it.
Responding to negative reviews is an article of its own, but showing you’re willing to improve is good for business.
For example, a restaurant could receive a review saying their waiter was rude. The business owner could then go back and apologize and ask for clarification.
Knowing that someone’s willing to right a bad experience isn’t magic, but it will make customers re-consider bad reviews.
Right now, the marketing world is upside down because of GDPR and Facebook changes. The Cambridge Analytica case threw a lot of what we knew about marketing under the bus.
That doesn’t mean online marketing is kaput though. Google has tons of options for marketing your business.
They offer everything from pay-per-click ad campaigns to Google My Business. Using their products is a great way to gather data on your customers and get good rankings.
Once you set up your Google marketing campaign, there are little perks you get for free. Like having your business’s name and location show up as a dot on Google Maps.
7. Easy Tracking
Like we discussed with Google above, the more you know about your customers the better. Knowing what they like, what they don’t like, and general buying habits helps your marketing team.
You can use this information to shape everything from how much you spend on ads to the times you run them.
For this, it’s worth hiring a professional marketing company. They’ll be more efficient at analyzing data and it’ll save you a big headache!
You can work with these professionals on a regular basis or a few times a year. Even if you have them analyze your customer base once a quarter, your marketing dollars will be better spent!
This was a lot of information about why you need an online presence. Don’t let it overwhelm you.
Start by setting up a website and social media profiles, and keep growing from there.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, make sure to search your business name ideas for free with our Free NUANS Preliminary Search.