In this digital age we live in, it is vital that your business has an online presence. It doesn't matter what industry you are in, your business will have an online presence. However, it is best that you do it nowadays. Simple steps like tracking and monitoring can help improve your online presence.
If you are a startup or SME, you may have a preconceived idea that online presence is important to you. But it is imperative to understand that having an online presence is fundamental to starting your startup or SME business. According to search engine Google, 97% of consumers use the web to find local businesses and the services they offer. If you're a beginner, having an online presence is a quick way to create credibility in your audience.
If you still don't have a clue, here's everything you need to know about online presence for your business and how it works for you.
What does online presence mean?
It is important to understand that people simply misinterpret 'website' and 'social media profiles' as an online presence, so it is more than that and distributed across multiple channels and platforms.
Online presence encompasses all the activities that a business has in its name on the Internet. It includes accounts, assets, communications and pieces of information created by or about the business. With the current trend of having a cool social media profile, startups often get caught up in the pursuit of "cool" marketing and SEO strategies and take their online presence simply by creating a Facebook account. It is imperative to understand that your proprietary online presence has control over you.
Aside from ownership, an online presence is also earned, which you have to tell others about your business. The earned media includes tweets, Quora answers, video reviews or online directories.
To cut a long story short, your online presence is something you can't fully control and you have to constantly monitor it. Although the purpose of online presence is found on the Internet, it is not sufficient for business. In fact, not even monitoring an online presence can prove dangerous to your business.
The relevance of online presence today?
Remember how often your purchase decision was based on Google search or your visit to a restaurant was based on online reviews? If it doesn't have the power of online presence and perform well, it can be a deal-breaker.
Your customers are more likely to trust and try you if they seem to be presenting on the web. There is often the misconception that offline businesses do not need an online presence but it does not matter what kind of business you have - your presence and behaviour on the web is important to your customers.
Online presence makes your business more accessible
As mentioned earlier, a positive online presence can help you sell more offline, even if your business is not online. If you are not active online your customers will go to your competitors quickly, which is an unbearable risk to you.
It will do the marketing and branding for you
Online presence is a passive marketing stream for your business, and customer reviews and engagement enable sales. A website or social media profile helps your customers establish a visual identity that you can recognize and trust.
This will help you understand your audience better
An online presence helps you to interact with your target audience by collecting insights or reviews. Additionally, it will also help you better understand who your potential customers are and what they want. For example, through surveys on the Facebook page, a restaurant can identify which offers or products resonate best with their customers.
Now that you know the importance of online presence, here are three steps you can take to track and improve how your business looks to your customers online:
1. Monitor your business referrals
Monitoring your business referrals can help you stay up to date on what's being said about you and control damage in the event of a negative referral. Google Alerts can be used to monitor your business referrals on the Internet.
2. Analyze your website traffic (even social!)
Knowing where your traffic comes from helps you determine your overall online presence. Having less traffic is a signal to increase your online efforts beyond your website. Detecting your website traffic through Google Analytics helps identify the main traffic sources and hidden sources you missed in your Google search.
3. Assess your social media engagement
Your social media presence helps your online reputation. Activity on your social media channels, especially with engaged customers, can establish trust and credibility for your business. An active social media profile looks trustworthy and most importantly, it feels human and real.