Newsflash! Your Customers Are Online ALL THE TIME. Does Your Online Presence Measure Up?

Did you know that as of July 2018, the worldwide digital population grew to over 4.1 billion active internet users?

Let that soak in for a second.

4.1 billion people are actively using the internet every. single. day.

That’s a lot of people… pretty much everyone!

And 3.3 billion of those people are social media users.

26% of Americans say that they go online “almost constantly.” The statistics are similar for Canadians. That’s one-quarter of the entire American population that is constantly online, particularly on mobile devices. 43% of Americans are online “several times a day”. In fact, only 11% of Americans don’t use the internet at all.

And by the way, we’re not just talking about teenagers who are online all the time. Those aged 30 to 49 are also online “almost constantly.” Even the amount of time spent online by people over the age of 50 is on the rise.

The point?

Your customers are online. All the time in fact! They are expecting to see you there. Your digital presence matters more than ever and if you’re not online you could be missing out on the chance to enlarge your customer base and grow your reach. Having a strong online presence is an integral part of your marketing strategy, even if you’re a small business and this applies to any industry.

So how does your online presence measure up? Are you missing out on opportunities because your digital assets are out of date? The good news is that if you up your digital game, you can absolutely get ahead of the curve and grow your business exponentially.

Here are 3 components of your online presence to audit immediately so that you can raise your digital game right away and grow your business.

1. You Need a Killer, Responsive Website ASAP!

The sad fact is that half of small businesses don’t even have a website, and unfortunately, of the businesses that do have websites many of them are… kind of crappy.

Even if your business is small it still needs a website. Even a basic website is much, much better than no website at all but a great website is far more cost effective than it used to be and can raise your brand visibility a million times over!

Back in 1999, all websites had to be custom built, which was complicated and pricey. Now, there are excellent solutions like WordPress and SquareSpace, which offers gorgeous templates that can be customized to capture your brand essence.

The user experience when someone arrives at your website is key. It absolutely must be mobile-responsive and with recent internet rules, we highly recommend that you upgrade to an SSL certificate so that your URL has “https” so that your site is listed as secure. (Now all “http” websites without the “s” for security will be marked as NOT SECURE in the search bar.)

You want the website to be inviting and to clearly convey your business offerings.  Make sure that customers who view your site can find all the important information related to your business. For example, a clear idea of what your business offers, all contact information like phone number, physical address etc., and don’t forget clear calls to action so that the people who visit your site understand what they should do while visiting you. Your calls to action might be around having your visitor:

  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Make a reservation
  • Book a free consultation
  • etc.

A professional website that’s mobile-optimized is one of the best investments you can make, and as the saying goes, sometimes you need to spend money to make money! And luckily now, that doesn’t have to break the bank.

2. Raise the Bar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Why build a great website if no one can find it when they Google it? According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses and of those 97% 89 percent are using search engines to research a product or service before deciding to buy it. So to benefit from all these potential customers, you need to make sure that your website is search engine optimized (SEO).

It’s kind of like the old yellow pages. (And by the way, forget an online yellow pages subscription and invest that money in proper SEO instead!)

SEO is all about ensuring that your target customers can find you. It’s a big, often complex job that’s probably best left to professionals. But don’t worry! I gotta guy. So, if you’re looking for a superstar SEO expert to help you develop and implement a strategy let me know and I’ll be happy to share my contact.

In the meantime here is a quick breakdown of what SEO means, how it works, and why it’s important:

SEO is focused on making it simple for search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find your website and list it as part of their ‘organic’ (instead of ‘paid’) results. With Google, Yahoo, and Bing being the most popular search engines they often tend to be the most trusted too. That means the websites that appear on the first page are more likely to get clicked on. SEO also uses algorithms that scan for things like keywords and relevant, up to date content. The more of this you use the more your website will rank higher on the list of pages. That’s why SEO is an ongoing process. You need to keep track of the information on your website so that it stays current and accurate. Search engines also love new content, which is why starting a business blog can do wonders for your SEO. Essentially, if you have information that people want to find on the internet you need to use SEO techniques.

3. Get in Front of More Eyeballs with Social Media

Having a killer website that people can easily find using Google is absolutely key. You can drive even more people to your website by also leveraging the power of social media.

When people predicted the future, they always imagined things like flying cars and hoverboards. What no one anticipated was the incredible power of social networks. While there’s a natural ebb and flow to the popularity of each social platform, the fact of the matter is that social media is here to stay and you can absolutely use it to your brand’s advantage to get in front of more people, build relationships, and ultimately make more sales.

Taking advantage of social media improves your chances of growing your business’ revenue and building customer loyalty. It lets customers, potential customers, and other interested parties engage with your business and brand in easy, accessible ways. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, social media now plays an important role in most people’s everyday lives.

However, not every social network is applicable to your business so it’s important to look into your options. For example, Instagram will serve a purpose for very visual brands, especially those related to entertainment, food, and personality-driven businesses. As of the summer of 2018, it’s really the hottest network. Professional services, however, are better suited for LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook can be useful for almost any business, though the algorithms can be pretty fierce and it usually takes at least a small boosting budget to really get in front of your target audience.

Another key factor to think about is your target demographic. Instagram has about 130–150 million users, more than two-thirds of which are women between the ages of 18 and 35. Is this your target market? If not, maybe it’s better to look at another option like LinkedIn that’s oriented toward professionals.

Once you’ve selected which social media channels to use for your business, you’ll need a good idea of the type of content you can share. The more captivating and inviting your content, the more likely your followers will like, comment, and share your posts. Engagement is essential to promoting your brand. Why? Because it will make you more attractive to your existing customers and the more positive social activity that goes on, the more chances you have of their friends being exposed to your brand and becoming more interested in what you have to offer.

Why Does My Online Presence Matter?

There are so many reasons why having an online presence matters, especially in the world of small business. Most importantly, your customers are almost certainly online, probably all the time, so you need to be there! Also, don’t forget that your competition is probably building an online presence and you definitely don’t want to fall behind.  

If a consumer is Googling the products or services that you offer but you’re nowhere to be found, well, they surely won’t be doing business with you, now will they? Plus, it’s likely they’ll come across your competition and take a look at them online instead of putting in the effort to find other options.

In short, having a great online presence is an effortless way for your clients to consider doing business with you. And making their lives easy is ideal for your own business interests!

And that effortlessness applies to you as well! Being online is a great way to secure new clients without lifting a finger. Even when you’re closed, customers will be able to browse your online storefront (that’s what a website is, if you think about it) and maybe even purchase goods and services online, even when you’re not working yourself!

But that’s not all! An online presence also builds relationships and consumer trust. Clients can share reviews of your business and you can engage with your audience, answering questions and building your reputation as an expert in your niche.  

Finally, an online presence allows you to see the effects of all these efforts. It’s so different than back in the days of traditional marketing. Now, you can easily see your return on investment by tracking the metrics of your website (don’t forget to set up Google Analytics) and your social media accounts. You’ll be able to see numerical proof of what works and what doesn’t.

The Takeaway

It’s 2018! Whether you like it or not we’re living in the digital age and an online presence isn’t just beneficial to growing a small business—it’s absolutely essential.

So how does your online presence measure up? Let us know your favourite tips and tricks to growing your business using websites, social media, and/or SEO. We’d love to hear from you.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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