Despite the huge benefits, many small businesses still don’t have a website. Dan Martin explains why entrepreneurs need to be online.
A survey of millions of customers by Weekly revealed that 56% do not trust a business without a website, while a study by Forester Research said sales influenced by the web will reach £trillion in 2014. But despite that, it is estimated that half of UK small companies don’t have a website.
The days of people picking up the phone or flicking through a printed directory are over; nowadays, the first thing most customers do when looking for a particular product or service is go online. If your business isn’t there, you’ll miss out on a potential sale.
No business is too small to be on the internet. In fact, the rise of social media has made it even easier for small companies to compete online. Registering on Twitter and Facebook means entrepreneurs can reach an audience worldwide. Of course, it’s not easy but put it in the work and the internet can help you go global.
At the heart of your internet presence is a website. There’s no point in registering with as many social networks as you can find without having a website to link to. It’s your website where you can fully establish your brand, gather customer contact details and directly sell your product or service.
Key to achieving success online is a strong brand that’s consistent across all customer touch points. Whether they are visiting you on your website, through your Twitter account or via your Facebook page, customers need to recognize that it’s your business. Your choice of website domain name is also important as it’s a key part of your brand as Create A Business.
Design and user-experience
Research says that it takes less than a second for internet users to form an opinion about a website. That’s why design is crucial. If visitors can’t instantly recognize what you do and what you’re offering, they will leave. Equally, they need to be able to easily navigate around the website and get to the information they’re looking for quickly.
Search engine optimization
The internet is awash with advice about search engine optimisation and for many, it’s a dark art. However, there are things you can do yourself to ensure potential customers find your website. To get your website ranking highly in search engines, you need to do your research and work out which keywords are for you using services like Google Adwords and jaaxy.com. Content is also king when it comes to SEO so spending time crafting useful posts for your customers will bring rewards. We’ll provide more in-depth advice about SEO in the dedicated article.
As I’ve explained, social media has exploded over recent years and most customers will assume that all businesses have some sort of social media presence. But you shouldn’t register for all platforms and spam your followers with sales content; you need to think more strategically. You have to work out where your customers already hang out and focus your efforts there. You also need to see social media as an extension of your brand and make sure your profiles reflect that.
Customer service, retention, and loyalty
Create A Business It’s easier to keep retaining customers than get a new one so it’s important you have a strategy for serving your customers well and keeping them interested so they keep coming back for me. A strong internet presence is a key to this. You can use your website or social media channels to answer customer queries and deal with complaints. You can also use them to stay in touch by posting useful content and promotional offers. Read the final article in the series for more in-depth advice.