our business means everything to you. You’re dedicated, determined and have put in the hard work you need to be a success. But all that passion needs a platform where it can be shared with your customers. This guide will get you on the right track to putting your passion online.
The internet has helped level the busine ss playing field for companies, enabling people all over the world to get information on products and services and to use that information to their advantage.
Getting online should be one of your highest priorities, but you need to know what your business needs before you start planning. In order to take advantage of the benefits of your own online presence, you should first ask yourself some important preliminary questions:
What do I need to get my company onto the internet?
- You need a domain name
- A website or a link to your social media page
- And, somewhere to host it
Do I really need a website or is it enough if visitors are forwarded to a social media profile?
While you can link your domain name with your social media profile, it’s important to remember that technically, you don’t own your social media business page; the social media provider does.
If you build a website and pay for hosting, you own and control that website and can do with it as you like.
Not ready to take the plunge?
If you’re still thinking about the possibilities of your online presence, remember that you don’t need to build a sophisticated site immediately. Creative use of your domain name can help you get a head start on building your brand online before you tip your toes into web design.
- A small, simple site that contains your contact details and basic information are a great place to start
- Your domain name can be used as part of your company email address; firstname.lastname@example.org is more professional than email@example.com
- Use your domain to redirect customers to your social media platforms if you are already active online
What can I do on my own and where do I need help?
You do not need to be very technically minded to launch a website; it can be really simple. Of course, you can pay developers to create and build your website, but this can cost you quite a bit. Many hosting providers offer easy-to-use templates to help build your web pages and make them visually appealing. And they don’t cost the earth.
Now that you’ve made a start you need to put together a plan to create your company’s website. Discover what you need to consider when you start plotting out your online presence. The key to answering any questions you might have is preparation.
Your website should be unique to your business, but there are a few things that all good business websites should have:
- A simple, relevant web address: It should be easy for a user to type your address into a browser
- A secure hosting platform: You need a trustworthy hosting company to keep your content up and running
- A simple, clear design: While design trends come and go, keeping things simple stops your site from becoming cluttered and confusing
- A clear description of who you are: Someone who discovers your website should know exactly who you are and what you do
- Contact information: Don’t lose a customer just because you made it difficult for them to get in touch with you. You should also be sure to include several ways for them to contact you, for example, phone, email, social media and a standard contact form
A call to action
Be very clear on how customers can purchase your products or services. Even if your site doesn’t have a store, it should be easy for customers to know what they should do.
Do I need more than one domain?
It’s smart to register variations or misspellings or pluralization of your primary domain. For little additional cost register additional addresses, so customers who don‘t have the name quite right can still find you.
Once you have a plan and are ready to move forward, you need to ensure that you’re able to put that plan into action. One of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to your web presence is who will manage your content?
Is it up to me?
You should ask yourself who will be responsible for procuring and generating your content aside from yourself. This content should be transferred to your website as smoothly as possible without you having to become a programmer.
What is a CMS?
A content management system, or CMS for short, is software for generating, editing and organising content – that is to say, texts, photos, videos or graphics – on websites. Thanks to the graphic design of the user surface, you can upload your content to your website without needing any programming expertise.
Are you thinking about an online store?
Introducing an online payment system to your website is a great way to open a new revenue stream. However, security should always remain top of mind for both business and customer, no matter how small the payments are. To ensure your business and customers remain safe when trading online, it’s best to find the right solution for payments you will be conducting
Now that you’ve put your plan into action and your site is online, it’s important to promote it. The most beautifully designed website won’t attract customers if they don’t know that it exists. The right promotion can help you increase your exposure and let your customers know that you’re online.
From affiliate marketing to online classifieds, there are many ways to build your presence online.
The tricky part is developing a strategy that is both smart for your type of business and engaging for your target audience. Online marketing can help you build enough brand awareness to reach millions of people, but it takes good planning and a strong, consistent message in order to be effective.
As a small business, you may not have the advantage of a huge media budget, but you can edge out the competition by doing these things extremely well.
Search engine marketing
If you run an ecommerce site, being displayed at the top of the results means you will get more sales or if you run a content-based site like a blog, you will get a larger audience. Search engine marketing (SEM) is, therefore, important to the success of your website. The good news is that SEM is very simple; all you need to do is follow a few simple guidelines.
If you’ve followed all the steps outlined above, your domain name should be registered, your website should be up and running and have a steady stream of new visitors. The next step is to keep them coming back. There are many ways you can use your site and its content to build loyalty. One of which is being open and personal.
Consistency and commitment are the keys in building strong customer relationships
Give customers an insight into how your business works and make them feel a part of it in order to encourage them to trust you more.
Have your contact details on your website and offer visitors the chance to sign up for regular information. The more you speak to customers, the stronger your relationship becomes.
Build loyalty with content marketing
Content marketing focuses on content. Instead of, or in addition to, common advertising, the company posts articles, images, video or any online content it deems of interest to a target audience. It does not talk about the company, or push its products and services. Instead, engaging content is designed to attract attention.
Engage your audience
You must consider the accessibility of content for your audience. Social media has changed how fast and far content flows so you need to make use of the different communications channels available to you. Each channel can be used in a different way to leverage your content and drive traffic back to your website. Things to remember when building strategic content:
- Is your content story-driven?
- Is it going to be useful for your audience?
- Can your audience easily access it?
- Is it current?
- Is it engaging for your audience?
- Can your content be shared easily?