8 Ways a Small Business Benefits from an Online Presence
So you've launched your small business, and you've been told you need an online presence - a website, social media profiles, the whole she'bang. But why? Well, when you want to find out more about a product, service or business, do you reach for your phone and Google it? I know I do. And your customers probably do too!
But, if you're not online, potential customers can't find your business. So, it's really not difficult to see why you need to have an online presence - you're missing a heap of opportunities if you have zero or minimal presence online for your business. So to make sure you're not missing out, we've highlighted the top 8 benefits you'll see from building a digital presence for your small business.
LET'S DEFINE THIS FIRST
Ok, so when we say "online presence" we don't mean just your website. The online presence (or footprint) of your business is anything digital about your business - your website, your social media profiles, your local search listings, mobile apps, videos on Youtube, your blog, online advertising or your e-commerce shop. It's all of these things combined that make up your online presence, and all of them present your business with the following opportunities.
#1. BE FOUND
If you have a website, a Facebook page, and a blog, you have three different opportunities for customers to find you online. The days of leafing through the Yellow Pages to find an electrician or hairdresser are long gone - these days, a customer's first port of call is the internet. And if you're not there, they won't be able to find you and they'll land up going to a business they did find online.
#2. REACH MORE PEOPLE
With the internet, you're not just limited to reaching people that see your ad in the local paper, or maybe walk past your shop once a week. Instead, your business is suddenly available to people all over the city, state, country or even the world if that's what you want! By having an online presence, you can potentially reach thousands of people your business would otherwise not have been exposed to.
#3. BUILD A STRONGER BRAND
Any interaction a potential customer has with your brand online is a chance for you to put your businesses' best foot forward, to build your brand and tell people who you are and what you do.
#4. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
When you can be found online, you can reach people, and if you can reach people, you can build relationships with them. And there are so many ways you can build relationships with your customers through your digital footprint.
Your website can offer them helpful information - FAQs, blog posts, product information - so your customers know they can come to you for the answers they need. You can tell a story through your social profiles that keep your customers entertained and informed. You can use your social channels to listen to what your customers' questions and concerns are, and then take steps to address these. You can use analytics to find out what your customers like and don't like, and use this data to give your customers more of what they do want. You can use emails to let your customers know about your latest offers, competitions or news. The relationship-building opportunities are endless in the digital world.
#5. INCREASE YOUR CREDIBILITY
Customers these days are incredibly savvy and they do a lot of research before making a purchase decision. They read reviews, look at your About page, ask for recommendations online - and if you don't have any of this available for them, your business loses credibility in their eyes. Taking the time and putting in the effort to build your online presence shows customers that you are serious about your business and your customers, and it increases your credibility as a business worthwhile of their time and money.
#6. REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
Even if you aren't online, your customers likely are. And they could be talking about you - but you'll not know if what they're saying is good or bad, or be able to manage it accordingly if you aren't online yourself. We hear about a lot of small businesses that are afraid of having a social media profile because they're afraid of getting customer complaints - unfortunately, your customers can complain online whether you're there or not. But if you're not there, you miss the opportunity to respond, to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one, to thank customers for feedback, and to generally manage the reputation of your business.
#7. IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Having an online presence is almost like having your business open 24-7, 7 days a week, working for you, selling for you, growing your business while you sleep. That's because if someone is searching for a local beauty salon at 10 pm, they can still find you and see what time you'll be open tomorrow. Or if that new mum is up with their baby - again - at 4 am, they can do some online shopping while they're trying to stay awake. Your website can meet your customer's needs without you needing to be awake, answering phone calls or emails.
You can answer customer questions online with a FAQs section, let people know how to find you with your Google map listing, or put an enquiry form on your website so customers can contact you while they're online, rather than waiting for you to open the next day.
#8. COST-EFFECTIVE MARKETING
Your website, your social media profiles, your email marketing list - these are all powerful marketing tools that can drive tremendous growth for your business, at a fraction of the cost of TV advertising, outdoor billboards or newspaper ads. And when you're a small business, with a small marketing budget, we love all things cost-efficient don't we? (we have a blog post about just this topic if you're interested!
Hopefully, we haven't sent you into panic mode thinking you need a website, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn and a blog, and you need them all yesterday! You don't need to have all of these things ready to go when you launch your business - we recommend starting off with the basics, like a simple website and a Facebook page, and working your way up from there.
The important part is knowing that these opportunities are out there and they can help you grow your business. The even better part is knowing that we can help you with all of this! It's our jam and we love it, and we'd love to help you! So if you need a website, help with a social media strategy, or just don't know where to start at all - we're your gals! Just get in touch, say hello, and let's set up a meeting to chat about what you need!