In order to succeed in today's climate, it is critical your business has a solid online footprint.
Having top quality goods and services backed by a team of skilled and devoted specialists is a great foundation for a successful business. But unless your target audience is aware of your brand's existence, all the money and time you spent perfecting your product and training your team will be in vain. Without a well-thought-out marketing strategy, your brand will go unnoticed and you will struggle to gain the success and recognition you desire.
No matter the size of your business or the industry of your brand, it is vital to become and remain visible to your prospects, engage them in an ongoing dialogue, share valuable information and news about your company, ask and answer questions, collect and analyze feedback, and adjust your marketing approach as needed.
In order to have the type of customer relationship you are looking for, it is critical to have a solid online presence. An online presence is your brand's visibility on the web. It is the culmination of your exposure on whatever channels you use to promote your company online, including your website, social media, niche directories, email, contributor platforms, forums, Q/A resources and other channels.
Having a strong online presence means that when prospects search for the products or services you offer, not only your website but also your promotional channels will float to the top of the search. A strong web presence increases your chances of being noticed by customers and chosen over your competitors.
In addition to providing accessibility, a strong online presence promotes trust. Customers tend to prefer brands that appear open and responsive. They want to feel cared for, and confident that their needs will be respected and met.
A strong online presence demonstrates that your brand has gone to great efforts to build its reputation, brick-by-brick. A more prominent brand is unlikely to risk its good reputation by deceiving customers or ignoring their complaints. They are more likely to value customer feedback and provide outstanding customer service.
Of course, building a strong online image across multiple popular channels takes time and effort. You have to analyze each channel to understand its characteristics and purpose, and also study and leverage the best practices used by your competitors. Once you do the footwork, you can add your own original and innovative ideas and create something unique to your brand.
Despite challenges, the energy, time and money you devote to establishing your online presence will eventually pay off with increased customer loyalty, respect from your competitors and recognition of your brand as a niche leader.
Once your presence and brand image are established, you need to make ongoing efforts to maintain it on multiple platforms. Continually thinking about your online image and working to improve it should become a routine part of your business lifestyle. Building your brand in a systematic way will dramatically improve your engagement, traffic and conversion indicators.
Follow these eight tips to begin building a greater online presence, and watch your brand grow and flourish.
1. Provide a great user experience
When designing your website, look at it from the standpoint of a user.
- Make sure the site structure is straightforward and logically links all your categories, subcategories, and pages.
- Create an appealing design with a stylish color scheme, readable fonts and engaging visuals.
- Make sure all the forms and buttons on your site work as intended.
- Monitor page loading time and shut down unnecessary plug-ins to speed things up.
2. Think mobile-first
More and more prospects are becoming active mobile users, so it is important to deliver information about your products and services in a convenient mobile format. Pages that are not optimized for smartphones and tablets have long loading times and are difficult to view, alienating mobile users.
To hang onto your loyal customers and reach new prospects, always think mobile-first, especially since mobile-friendly content also enhances your search rankings.
Use helpful analytical tools like Mobile-Friendly Test to detect and fix usability issues on your website's mobile version.
3. Make your website 100% secure
If your website enables customers to pay online and requires them to provide personal data, it is important to establish trust by collaborating with a reputable security service and using reliable encryption algorithms to protect sensitive data. Be sure to prominently display security labels and certificates on your homepage.
4. Share valuable information on your blog
Use your blog to provide information about the high-quality products or services your brand offers, highlight their benefits, answer commonly asked questions, foresee challenges customers may face and provide simple solutions. Use brilliant customer-oriented content to show your prospects that you are always there to offer support and address their concerns.
Your blog provides a perfect forum for building strong and lasting relationships with your customers. Use it to create a community of like-minded followers and educate them about your brand. Share your knowledge as an expert on your products, and avoid coming off as a merchant only interested in making money.
Embed links to your landing pages in your blog articles, to unobtrusively lead potential customers to the buy button. Also, insert strong keywords in your text to push your website higher in search rankings.
It is important to publish content consistently. Two or three pieces per week is an ideal frequency. Juggle different content types to keep your brand fresh and interesting to readers. Alternate how-to guides, interviews, product use tips, case studies, infographics and other content.
5. Demonstrate your expertise through guest posting
Once you become comfortable with blogging, extend your reach to other websites. Conquer the web by posting articles on reputable contributor platforms. This will build your reputation in your niche, and also provide a good backlink profile.
Choose publications to write for that have a large pool of readers who may potentially migrate to your site. Do not waste time sharing content on a platform weaker than your own site.
Carefully study contributor guidelines prior to pitching an article. They vary from publication to publication, so fine-tune your article to each to avoid being rejected. Analyze the content of other contributors to get an idea of the style and length preferred by editors.
6. Leverage the most effective social media channels
There are countless social media channels available to help keep you in touch with your target audience, but only a handful have a broad enough outreach to make them worth your time and money. Select the top three platforms that will yield the highest returns and focus your marketing campaign on them.
Which platforms you choose depends on the specifics of your business. Certain brands are unlikely to find an audience on Instagram or YouTube. If you are unsure where you fit in, begin your social media campaign on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This trio is suitable for almost any company.
As with blogging, regularly feed your social media audience with engaging content to maintain their interest and attention. Post daily short messages, take polls, organize contests and ask your followers questions. If creating new content every day is challenging, you can repost content from other profiles and niche groups who share your philosophy. The main thing is that your brand's name regularly pops up in the newsfeed of your target audience.
7. Use email to reach prospects
In comparison with social media, email may seem somewhat obsolete, but it is still an effective channel of communication. So, don't completely write it off. Most web users have an email account that they check regularly.
Some brands steer clear of email marketing for fear that their promotional letters will end up in the spam folder. But that is less likely to happen if you customize your messages to include only relevant and useful information aimed at addressing customers' problems and satisfying their needs.
To get the most from email marketing, categorize your subscribers by repeat customers, recent subscribers and former customers you lost touch with. Customize your messages to each group, selecting words that resonate with each to drive active buyer behavior. Pay attention to the timing and frequency of your emails to avoid being too intrusive and to make sure your prospects see and read your messages.
8. Register in business directories
Online directories are designed to simplify consumers' search for reliable companies in certain niches and locations. For example, to find a reliable cleaning company in New York, consult listings in a business directory under the categories "Cleaning" and "NYC."
People tend to trust directories since they are usually verified and reduce the risk of hiring a subpar service provider. Creating a profile on popular platforms like Bing Places, Google My Business, Yelp and Yellow Pages can boost your website rankings, especially in local search.
Systematically practice these eight key approaches for building an impressive online presence to gain a large base of loyal customers, boost revenue and elevate your website's search rankings.