How to establish an online presence for your small business
We are currently living in the digital age, in which it is essential that your business has an active online presence.
There are numerous reasons as to why this is important. For starters, having an online presence allows potential customers to easily find you. It also allows you to interact with your consumers and build relationships with them, which in turn will increase their loyalty to your business. Furthermore, an online presence provides great opportunities for marketing your business.
On top of all that, we are now also living in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed many aspects of our lives online. If you haven’t already, read our article on why the coronavirus crisis has made it more important ever that you have an online presence.
In short, your business needs to be online. Here are some tips to help you get started on building an online presence for your business.
Develop a unique brand identity
Brand identity consists of the visual elements of a brand, such as logo, color palette and font, that allow consumers to recognize and distinguish it from amongst the competition. It is important to have a unique and cohesive brand identity so that your consumers can identify your brand across all social platforms. Here are four steps to help you get started in establishing your brand identity:
1. Conduct an audit of your brand and audience.
What is your current brand identity? In other words, how are you currently viewed by consumers? Assess your current logo, use of different colors and fonts, use of different graphics or photos, and your tone and word choice both online (i.e. your website and social media profiles) and offline (i.e. your packaging), and take note of any inconsistencies that need to be fixed. Additionally, be sure that you know who you are marketing to and what they are looking for. You should be able to show that you understand your audience’s needs and wants.
2. Define your brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Your USP should summarize what makes you different from your competitors in one statement. This is the foundation of your brand that you will be communicating with your brand identity. Your USP should convey why people should pick you over your competitors. In other words, what do you have to offer that none of your competitors do? Some famous USP examples are:
Avis: “We’re number two. We try harder.”
M&M’s: “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.”
3. Create your brand’s design and messaging.
Your brand identity should convey your USP both visually and verbally. Your brand should be distinctive by its logo, colors, fonts, and tone. Develop guidelines for the following elements of your brand identity:
Tone and word choice
Photos and/or graphics
4. Implement your brand identity cohesively.
The last step is apply your new brand identity across all marketing channels, both online and offline. It is crucial that your brand identity is consistent so that consumers can always recognize you.
Have an active presence on social media
There are multiple social media platforms that you should be utilizing for your business, each with their own benefits and methods of helping you to connect with your consumers.
How to use Facebook as a small business
While you may think Facebook is getting old, it continues to dominate as the social media platform with the highest number of users. Facebook is great connecting with your consumers and keeping them up to date. Use Facebook to inform your consumers about new products or offers, sales, events, and any other news regarding your business and industry. Additionally, you should be using Facebook to engage with and form relationships with your consumers. You can do this by asking questions in your posts to start conversations, as well as by responding to any comments left by consumers. As for how often you should post, once a day is usually optimal for businesses.
How to use LinkedIn as a small business
LinkedIn is the highest ranked channel for business-to-business marketing. People use LinkedIn for professional purposes, so you should use it to share helpful information regarding your industry and news regarding your business. It is recommended that you post on LinkedIn on a weekly basis.
How to use Instagram as a small business
Instagram is a fairly new and highly popular social platform. It is a visual platform, making it perfect for sharing photos, graphics and videos. Use Instagram to share engaging and entertaining content that relates to your industry, as well as some promotional content. If you need ideas for engaging content, read our article on the 80/20 rule for social media.
For Instagram, find a consistent posting schedule. This can be a few times a week or a few times a day, depending on your business and the amount of engagement you get. Experiment and see what works best for you. Additionally, Instagram stories give you the opportunity to post more casual and interactive content. Stories can be posted frequently, even multiple times a day, and they will last for 24 hours.
How to use Pinterest as a small business
Pinterest is an immensely visual platform with an active user base of 335 million people. Rather than a social network, Pinterest is more of a visual search engine, and one of the top priorities of Pinterest users is shopping. Take advantage of the high purchase intent of Pinterest users and show them what you have to offer. Showcase your product or service through photos and videos. Pins that show a product or service in action increase the likelihood of sales by 67%. You can also use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website or blog by sharing links. Remember that Pinterest is heavily visual, so anything you post should contain an eye-catching visual element.
Improve your website’s SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of increasing the visibility of your website on a search engine’s results pages. Having good SEO will make you more discoverable to search engine users, and therefore it will drive more traffic to your web page.
There are two types of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO consists of tactics taken within your website that will increase its visibility to search engine users. This includes optimizing your content with keywords, meta descriptions, image alt text, title tags, and internal links to related pages on your site, as well as optimizing your website’s performance such as by making it mobile-friendly, enabling SSL, and reducing image file sizes and minimizing redirects to increase your website’s loading speed.
Off-page SEO takes place away from your website. It consists of building backlinks, which are links on other websites that refer users back to your own page. The more backlinks to your site you have, the higher your SEO ranking.
Here are a few strategies for building backlinks:
Create engaging and shareable content (e.g. infographics, videos, quizzes, slideshows, etc.)
Mention industry experts or influencers in your content
Reach out to publications and blogs in your industry about sharing a link of yours
See if you can find any broken links on an industry website, and offer to fix them with relevant links to your own content
Run a backlink audit using a tool such as SEMrush
Collect emails and utilize email marketing
Email marketing might sound old-fashioned, and it is easy to overlook it when faced with the many newer digital marketing channels that exist today. However, the truth is that email marketing continues to remain a relevant and important industry. In fact, 59% of marketers report that email marketing generates the highest ROI.
In order to get started with email marketing, you will need to build an email list of prospective consumers. There are two tactics that can help you do this: lead magnets and opt-in forms.
A lead magnet is a free offer that is given away in exchange for an email address. Your lead magnet should be relevant, as well as valuable enough that people will be willing to give you their email address for it. For an effective lead magnet, ensure that your offer is easy to consume, is actionable and creates noticeable improvement for consumers, and is immediately available.
Here are some examples of lead magnets you could offer:
A free trial or sample
A quiz or assessment
A free consultation
A list of resources
An opt-in form on your website invites people to subscribe to your emails.
There are a few things you can do to create an enticing opt-in form.
Have an intriguing headline. Your headline should communicate the benefit of subscribing.
Have a brief and clear description that further explains what your prospective consumer will be getting upon subscribing.
Your opt-in form should be visually appealing. It should stand out on the page and grab your readers’ attention.
Make sure to keep the form simple. Do not ask for more than a name and email address. An overly complicated form will drive people away.
The subscribe button should be inviting. Be sure that it stands out visually and contains enticing copy (e.g. “Send me the free trial!”).
Lastly, take yourself through the opt-in process to ensure that everything works as needed. The last thing you want is to make a bad impression on potential new customers by having a broken opt-in form.
Your business needs to be online
In the digital age, fluidity is important. Trends and technologies are constantly changing, and so are the needs and wants of consumers. As a small business, you must be able to keep up, and that means always being ready to adapt. At the present moment, much of the world has gone online, and you need to follow.
Start by developing a strong and consistent brand identity. Apply this across all marketing channels. Then, establish an active presence on various social media platforms. For this, you may need to experiment to see what works best for you. Additionally, touch up your website and improve its SEO by using on-page and off-page tactics. Finally, don’t neglect email marketing. Use a lead magnet and/or an opt-in form to collect emails from your consumers.
Begin maintaining an active online presence, and you will find that the digital world has numerous opportunities for you as a business owner to reach your consumers where they are and to connect and communicate with them.