How an Online Presence Makes a Difference to Any Business
It’s easy to see why an online presence is important in business today when you consider examples from your own life. For instance, what do you do when you want to find a business near you? You google it right? Probably on your smartphone, right?
Just that one example is enough to tell you that if you want customers to find your business you need to feature online, and your online presence must be mobile-friendly too. Aside from common sense, there are plenty of statistics to highlight the benefits of an online presence for business today.
US studies show the following:
- 91% of customers have supported a business because of an online experience
- 37% of customers use the Internet to locate a business at least once per month
- 68% of consumers who do local searches on their smartphone and find a business visit that business within 24 hours, and nearly 50% of them make a purchase that same day
Now while Africa is generally a little slower to adopt than most places, there were already 464 million Internet users in Africa as at December 2018. You can rest assured that the trend will catch on and when it does, you’ll be ready and waiting if you get started now.
How to Create a Professional Online Presence
To get started on your digital journey you need a few raw materials and they all need to be search engine optimized for best results.
According to Search Engine Journal, 93% of users begin an online interaction with a search engine query. When the results page comes up, 47% of them click on one of the top three results. They do this because they know that Google has algorithms in place to ensure that they get what they’re looking for first.
The only way to convince Google to place you in the holy grail of the top three is by means of SEO (or cold hard cash, but more on that later). Very briefly. this is what you need to do.
Set Up an Amazing Website
When you’re designing your website think of it from a user’s perspective. They want information and they want it fast. The main things to remember when designing a user-friendly website are:
- Speed – You only have 3 seconds before they click away from a slow-loading website.
- Easy Navigation – Use buttons or headings to guide the user to the information they want e.g. different products and services.
- Informative Content – explain your products in detail. People need plenty of information if they are going to make a buying decision.
- Easily Digestible – Nothing is more intimidating online than a huge wall of text. Break things up with headings. Keep sentences as short as possible.
- Use Color Carefully – web design trends come and go but whatever design you choose make sure the text is legible and images are clear and appealing.
Your website must be responsive i.e. compatible with both desktop and mobile devices.
Optimize Your Website
It doesn’t help having a gorgeous, informative and fast website if nobody can find it. Get expert help to determine which phrases people are using to find products and services like your own. Paying a professional to determine your keywords at this stage will stand you in good stead for your digital journey.
By using these terms in your copy, you’re indicating to Google that you have the goods they want.
It’s important to use these keywords at least once per every 100 words of copy. They must appear in H1 headers and in your meta descriptions. Again, expert help pays off in this arena.
Content is King
Google doesn’t want to direct its customers to old, inactive websites, so update your content regularly. The easiest and most effective way to do this is by means of blogs and articles on your site. Not only does this content indicate to Google that your site is alive and well, it’s another way to attract people looking for information by using keywords.
If you aren’t confident about your copywriting abilities, there are many agencies that specialize in content creation at affordable prices. Videos, infographics and customer reviews also count as content in the eyes of Google. There is so much you can do to keep your website current and engaging.
Display positive reviews prominently on your website, prospective customers trust the opinions of their peers.
Don’t forget local search, Google is big on showing customers companies that are near them first. Ensuring that your address details are current and optimizing your content with the name of your town or area makes it easy for the search engine to figure it out.
Thanks to satellite technology, Google can pinpoint the exact location of internet searchers and send them in the right direction.
Social media profiles are imperative for any business. They are an excellent way to interact with customers, market your brand identity and drive traffic to your website. When you successfully resolve a customer query on a social platform, it shows other clients that you are trustworthy.
Facebook is the best-known of the social websites, while LinkedIn is better known as a business to business platform, but Twitter and Instagram are also hugely popular. All of these platforms are geared towards audience-targeting and paid advertising too.
Pay per click (PPC) advertising is an easy and affordable way to get your website in front of prospective customers. The way it works is that you basically pay a search engine for the privilege of placing your website at the top of their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The good bit is that you only pay when a customer clicks through to your website. The rate is set up according to complex formulas surrounding the popularity of your chosen keywords. Very popular search terms like “SEO Marketing” will cost more than less popular ones like “How to do SEO marketing”. PPC advertising can bring huge returns if your clicks are resulting in sales.
There is a lot of work involved in PPC campaigns and again, you’d be well advised to get expert help in setting them up. The best part about PPC is that your company name is going to appear in a prominent position on the web, even without anyone clicking through, so you’ll be getting your name out there.
Design an App for Your Business
Apps are a convenient (and popular) way for customers to interact with your business. The most important thing about designing an app is to make it useful.
If clients can order, query or find information they want easily by means of your app, you’re in business. They will much rather interact directly at the push of a touchscreen icon on their mobile phone, than look up your website. On your side, it’s easy and convenient to design and manage an app from your website. Once it’s set up, any changes you make to your website automatically update on the app.
From a marketing perspective, an app allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. You can notify users of upcoming special offers or reach out regarding exciting new in-store items or services by means of push-notifications. This tactic far beats waiting for customers to chance upon your latest deals on their own.
An app keeps your business close at hand wherever your customers (and you) are.
Accept Online Payments
Not only is a digital presence excellent for marketing, but it helps to iron out the sales process too. Customers can order goods and services online and pay from them upfront too.
In this way you your business benefits from impulse purchases, and your customers will love the convenience of having everything at their fingertips.
The Main Benefits of an Online Presence
While there are many intricacies involved in honing the perfect digital presence, the benefits make it all worthwhile. To recap, these are the main benefits of a strong, professional online presence:
- Enhanced accessibility for potential and existing customers.
- Being able to promote your business to a huge audience anywhere in the world.
- You can use information gleaned from the way your customers use your online channels to help build better relationships with them.
- Online marketing is scalable according to your budget. You can spend as little or as much as you want to.
- Measurable – you can determine exactly what your ROI is thanks to web analytics.
- The convenience of online purchases and payments.
Perhaps the best thing about an online presence is its flexibility. If you find an error, you can fix it quickly. If one tactic isn’t working, you can change course in a heartbeat. Try doing that with an expensive roadside billboard, television ad or display ad.