You’re a new small business owner that wants to build a brand and web presence on the internet — but you’re overwhelmed with all of the information that’s scattered across sites online. I get it! That’s why I’ve decided to create this practical guide that covers the basics that you will need to get started with building an impactful digital presence for your small business that makes it easy for customers to find you + access information about your business.
What Is An Online Presence?
An online presence is essentially made up of all of the platforms + brand that you establish online (ie., via a website, blog, or social media networks). These platforms are used to help you get your business out there to the marketplace and make your business more accessible to customers via the web.
Why Building A Small Business Web Presence Matters
Well for starters, 85% of consumers (aka your clients and prospects) are online looking for products and services that you offer. So there’s no better time like the present to establish a “Digi Home” for your business as quoted by one of my favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs, Nikki Elledge Brown.
Here are some additional interesting stats that you should consider:
- The 2012 Digital Influence Index Shows Internet as Leading Influence in Consumer Purchasing Choices (Fleishman-Hillard)
- 89 percent of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions (Fleishman-Hillard)
- 94% of smartphone owners look for local information on their phone (Televox)
- 79 percent of consumers said they Like or follow brands on social networks to get more information about the company and its products and service (Fleishman-Hillard)
A Little Bit of My Backstory
I got started with building a digi presence about 2 years ago…and man was I like a fish out of water. Like many of you new to the online world, I was overwhelmed, frustrated and confused with trying to establish a home on the web. I won’t lie…this process was pretty painful and very expensive. I spent a lotttt of money on stuff that (frankly I didn’t need) and on programs that didn’t deliver on their promises, worthless tech tools and etc.
The short of the story is this: It took me two years to really understand how all of this stuff works. But here’s the thing: everything that I’ve experienced has been worthwhile. It has brought me to a place where I can share information with you all that will help you easily get your small business setup online — faster than I was able to.
How To Create A Web Presence For Your Small Business
- Establish clear goals for getting setup online.
Before you start setting up shop online you will need to establish some clear goals for your business. You will need to make sure that your online activity aligns with your business goals. Some of the things that you should consider include:
- Who are you targeting and serving.
- What are you offering?
- What communication channels + platforms will you use to attract target customers and prospects to your business via the web?
- Purchase a memorable domain
This is one of the first steps that you need to take to get things rolling with building a digital home for your business. You ever hear someone say to you, “check me out on the web at “theirsitename.com”? Welp, this is exactly what a domain is. It’s the name that points to their site. The domain name that you use for your website or blog address, should be easy to remember. It should also be unique to your business, short and easy to spell. GoDaddy has a free domain name checker that you can use to search for available domain names for your biz.
- Setup A Website Or Blog
Setting up a website or blog is a super essential requirement for creating an impactful online presence for your small business. A website is a 24/7 shop that showcases your products or services to the world. It is one of the best investments that you can make in your small biz that will make your business accessible online to customers.A blog is an additional digital platform that you can use to showcase your services and get your business in front of more people online. In fact, more people are using blogs to establish a business presence via the web. Blogs can be started in a matter of minutes and offer an easy way to communicate with the audience that you want to reach. The biggest thing that you need to remember when starting your blog is to keep your blog content fresh and updated regularly.
- Sign Up
A web hosting provider is the company that you will use to host your website or blog — and make it accessible to the world online.
- Invest In A Professional Theme For Your Blog Or Website
Design matters peeps! I cannot stress this enough. Think about it this way, when you visit a site that looks a tad bit sketchy what do you do? Probably navigate away from the site right…
- Create A Memorable Brand Statement And Message
Your brand statement should identify who you serve and what you help them do. Your brands message is essential in the online marketplace. A core message will helps your prospects identify with you and if they are in the right place once they land on your website or blog. Twitter is an excellent resource that you can use to look at examples of brand statements from different brands in your industry and also get ideas on how to craft a brand statement and message for your small business.
- Use Social Media Platforms To Reach More Prospects + Get The Message Out About Your Business
Social media is a powerful communications channel for getting your business in front of more prospects and customers via the web easily and at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertisement services. Twitter and Facebook are the two of the main social media platforms that I am using to promote this brand.If you’re just starting out, you should consider the following:
- Which platform has the greatest percentage of your ideal audience active on there?
- What kind of content you will need to create to attract them to your business/brand?
- Are there tools available that you can use to manage the social media account easier?
- Get A Professional Photo/Headshot Taken
Add it to your site, blog, social media profiles, email signature and etc. I didn’t realize how BIG of a difference this can make but it does. A professional photo makes for a positive impression online and inspires trust from the folks that come across your biz via the web.If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer don’t worry. Smartphone apps like Camera Zoom FX for Android smartphones and Camera+ for iPhones will help you take great photos on a budget. I used my iPhone to take the pic below.
- Promote Content From Your Blog Or Site To Your Social Media Accounts Regularly
To build your audience, it’s great to get in the habit of posting content to your social media accounts. Posting content will attract new visitors to your business and will keep your fans engaged. To save time, use Buffer and Hootsuite to pre-schedule + automate content so that you don’t have to manually go back and forth between accounts posting content.
- Create Share-Worthy Content
Let’s face it… content is king. Writing great content, then marketing it online is one of the best ways to attract the right people to you. The key is to write posts that speak to your target audience, solves a problem for them and compels them to take action.
Quick Recap of What We’ve Covered + Your Action Plan
Okay so here is a quick rundown and action plan for you to follow to build a presence online for your small biz:
- Establish clear goals for setting up shop online
- Purchase a memorable domain
- Setup a blog or website
- Sign up for a Web Hosting Account
- Invest in a professional theme (aka template) for your digital home
- Create a memorable brand statement and message.
- Setup accounts on social media platforms
- Get a professional photo taken
- Create share worthy blog posts (not me too content)
- Publish your content to your social media accounts regularly.
Alrighty… over to you good people. What are you doing to build an online presence for your small business? Leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter to let me know what’s working for you. As they say, sharing is caring.
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