Getting Your Business Online: The Basics
It’s always been true that businesses should have a robust online presence. But now with physical stores closed down for the foreseeable future, it’s the only way to keep your business going and keep reaching your customers.
As with all things, you need to make sure you have the right foundation by getting all the basics of taking your business online right.
Here’s a guide to what you need to do next.
Review Your Website
If people are buying your products or services online, then they are buying them through your website, which means you need to make sure it has the same polish and cohesion as any physical storefront.
There’s no use in having a website that looks outdated or that is confusingly written, as if you do there’s a good chance you’re losing potential customers.
To start, here are some questions you should be asking about your website:
- Does its design feel modern and contemporary?
- Do the content and visuals reflect your brand?
- Is it easy for customers to understand what you’re offering?
- Are the steps your customers need to take easily signposted?
If you don’t have a website, you can use WordPress.org or WordPress.com to create one. Yes there are differences, this article breaks it down. If you are going to do everything yourself, a platform that is a bit easier to use is SquareSpace. You can choose templates and drag and drop as needed. And it’s only a monthly cost, which can include the domain name.
There is a lot that goes into a website, and it’s not easy to do it all yourself, and there are lots of components that no one person can do, but it is a good base to have, and if this is all that can be done for now, then it is better than nothing 🙂
Business directories are a great resource for people looking for a specific industry, but who don’t want to trawl through websites and searches.
This makes them an ideal avenue for reaching customers. To take advantage of this, you should make sure you claim any relevant directories, and that your current listings are up to date.
Search for your industry online and see what comes up. Yelp and TripAdvisor are two main ones for hospitality industries, but there are plenty of others. See what the process is to claim it, and then make sure that all the content is relevant and up to date.
Google My Business
When someone searches for your business online, the first thing people will see will be a Google My Business listing. This means it is vital that yours is filled out with up to date information, including :
- Opening hours (Even if your business is closed)
- Link To Your Website
- Services Offered
If you don’t have a physical location, or aren’t comfortable with putting your home address, you don’t need to have it listed. You can have no geographical area, or, you can have it as vague as just “Edinburgh”. You do however need to give Google your location, in order to claim the listing. They will send a postcard to you, to verify the location. But again, that information will not be made it public if you don’t want it to be.
To claim your listing, go to business.google.com and follow the instructions from there.
Basically if there is the option to put information down, do it. List your services, products, fill out the description, add pictures – the more information the better!
Note: Google needs to verify some of the information, so it is best to claim it, ask for the verification code, then wait until you have the postcard with the code. Then continue filling out all the information, and some elements will take a few days as Google confirms it.
Review/Claim Your Social Media
To reach as much of your audience as possible, your business should ideally be on all four of the major social media channels for businesses: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Create an account on each of these platforms, and make sure your social media channels have the right messaging and content for your brand. You never know where a potential client can be, so make it easy for them and have at least a profile created.
This doesn’t mean you have to be active on all of them. In fact, I suggest not being active on all of them. Focus just on one, the one your target audience is using the most.
Things to keep in mind:
- Your visuals: logo, colour scheme, and design elements are consistent across all platforms
- Respond to messages and mentions
- Post interesting and relevant content across at least some of the platforms, and that the others have all your contact information and details about your business
- Make sure all of your social media pages are linked to on your website
- You need a personal profile firstly to create a Facebook Page. And it’s a lot like a Google My Business Listing – if there is a blank space, fill it with information.
- All about pictures, post at least a picture of your logo and fill out the description.
- A LinkedIn profile can be a “do-it-and-leave-it” thing. If someone Googles your name, your profile can come up in the search results. So make sure information is accurate, and that your contact details are easily available. A LinkedIn profile is a way for people to see what you’re about, a bit more background. You don’t have to be active on it, but just a profile does a lot.
- You can also create a Company Page for your business. This means that in your profile instead of saying “works at Self-Employed” you can link it to the business. It’s just a smooth detail that makes everything a bit more cohesive.
By this point, you will have made sure that anyone searching for your business will find you, and that no matter where they find it, they will know it is you because of the consistency of branding.
Devise A Strategy
Once you have the core foundation of your online presence set out, you need to be figuring out the best ways to use that presence to reach and communicate with your customers.
There are two key components to this, the type of content you’re creating, and the platform you’re broadcasting it from.
Types Of Content
- Written Content
- Despite what some may think, people are voracious readers online, and written content can be a great way of engaging your audience.
- Infographics will help to build a visual language for your brand and provide you with Instagram posts that can go beyond just photos. A free design app such as Canva is a perfect way to produce infographics for your business
- Thanks to digital technology, video production is now more accessible than ever and done right it can have a huge impact on your audience. More on taking classes online with video in a future blog.
Your content should always be optimized for the platform it’s on, so it’s important to consider which social media channels are the best for your brand, and what content options are available to you.
It Will Be Okay
Email marketing also offers a tremendous platform for your business, with options such as MailerLite that allow you to send out automated emails. More on that in future blogs, but this is just a way to to connect with your clients and potential clients. And if you’re just starting a list, then it is really easy to be GDPR compliant, so that should not be a concern or hesistation for you.
Take things slow and don’t get overwhelmed. If you don’t do “everything right” it is still ok. Lots of businesses don’t do it all right and they still thrive. There is no cookie cutter magic solution that will ensure clients and consistency, but these are just some tools that can help achieve it.
- Review/Start a Website
- Claim Google My Business
- Check Business Directories
- Review/Claim Social Media
- Decide how you want to share information.
Do what is comfortable for you, and ask for help when you need it. There is a lot that can be done online, but it doesn’t have to be scary. And yes, when it comes to getting your business online it can require a full-time effort. But, this is why virtual assistants exist! If you want a free one-hour consultation just get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a text on 07951 757566 to arrange a call.