Statistics released by Google confirm that 97% of consumers now use online search to find local businesses. So what does this mean for you?
If you want to reach potential customers, you absolutely must have an established online presence. This has two main benefits:
1) Outbound Marketing: A functional website will reinforce your brand, explain your products and services, and communicate how you can solve your customer’s problems.
2) Inbound Marketing: Establishing a portal of high-quality online content will help you to establish your brand as an authority and will attract new customers.
There are three simple steps involved in creating a functional and effective online presence.
Step One: Create a website
It doesn’t matter how small your business is, every business needs a website. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complex; you just need a basic online shop front that provides your potential and existing customers with the information they may need about your business.
Creating a website may seem daunting. However, in reality, setting up a basic site can be very easy. There are even free online tools available, such as WordPress, that you can use to create a website quickly and easily with no cash outlay. A premium version of WordPress is also available, if you want to add additional functionality, such as online shopping.
Step Two: Search Engine Optimization
You will need to do a bit of work to make sure your website can be found by search engines, such as Google. This involves something that is known as search engine optimization (SEO), which involves creating a website that is search engine friendly so that it appears in the top search engine rankings. When customers search for a keyword related to your business, your website should appear at the top of the results.
SEO is important because the higher your website ranks in the search results, the more people will visit it, and the more sales you will make.
SEO is an ongoing process. You need to continually invest in new content and monitor how your website is performing in the search engine rankings for your target keywords.
Step Three: Establish a Social Media Presence
Social media connects you with your customers and allow you to interact with them. Establishing relationships on social media channels helps to build loyalty, increase revenue, and engage with your customer base.
There are many different social media channels available, the most popular of which are Facebook and Twitter. However, the platform that is most suitable for your business will vary according to what you do. For example, if you sell visual products or services, such as handbags, food items, or interior design, photo-sharing networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest, will be of most use. Alternatively, if you want to top the rankings in local search, a thriving Google+ account can help.