No matter your type of business, having an online presence is one of the most important factors in the 21st century. A survey done by Statistics Canada showed that as of 2018 88% of people in Canada owned a smartphone. Of those, 45% of people checked their phones at least every 30 minutes (Statistics Canada, 2018). The age of technology means that every business, no matter the size, has a chance to set up an online front in addition to their brick and mortar store. Here are 5 tips to setting up an effective online presence to capture that 88% of people.
Build a good website
In order to have any substantial online presence, you must have a website. No ifs ands or buts. This is how customers will find you when they search for businesses like yours. Even just a little bit of search engine optimization can help. Having a website is also how they will access the list of services you provide, and how they can verify that your business is credible so they decide if they want to visit or not. The benefit of creating a website in this day and age is that there are multiple free alternatives. There’s no need to make costly investments. Online page builders like Wix and Squarespace provide business owners with premade templates that simply need information. Use these to your advantage and make sure to keep your information updated.
Use social media to interact
Though some industries rely on social media a lot more than others, it is important to at least have a Facebook page for your business. Building a credible online presence requires more than just a listing on Google. Customers want to make sure that the business they’re looking at is real. Most users will take a look at a businesses’ Facebook page when there isn’t enough information on their website or Google listing. That’s why it’s so important to set up at least some information on there. Having multiple social media platforms provides not only legitimacy, but more search results when people search for things like ‘gas station near me’. Expanding across multiple platforms will improve your visibility for multiple demographics.
Ask your current customers what social media platforms they use most often and build your online presence from those suggestions. Different generations use varied social media platforms so you have to know which ones will actually be worth the effort for your business. For example, in 2019 the main social media sites used by the Baby Boomer generation were YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Produce engaging content (automate this if you can)
The most difficult aspect of maintaining a good online presence is the content. In order for your business to look legitimate and credible in your customers’ eyes you have to post content. Content will differ across your pages but you must make sure you are posting something to show up in searches. Creating a backlog of content before you launch your platforms and scheduling posts for a certain time every week or month is a great way to minimize the amount of time you have to spend creating posts every day. Another thing to watch out for is that your content is relevant and interesting to your customers. You want to create some engagement and interest in your business.
Be active and reply to customers
Customers don’t call businesses to ask questions anymore, instead they look to social media or website chats to interact. This means that having an open channel of communication between yourself and your customers through any online platform is almost necessary. Whether you engage with your customers in the comments section under your content or they come to you in the direct messaging of whatever platform you’re on, you have to reply and be active. Having these mediums of communication without actually monitoring them will leave a terrible impression of your business with your customers. Being active and replying quickly will build up your reputation and give your business even more credibility for online consumers.
Use analytics to see where you should focus your attention
This was not all to say that you should set up every social media platform under the sun. Focus on the platforms your customer base uses the most. You can find this information through some market research based on the demographics you target. Since usage will differ based on demographic preferences, make sure you know which mediums are most effective.
Once you have these set up, you should also keep track of where your traffic is coming from, how long they spend on your page, and what posts or pages are the most popular. Adding Google Analytics is as easy as adding a line of text to your website coding. Most free page builders will come with the option pre-installed. When you have you site up and running, use the data Google provides to weed out pages that are under-performing.