When you search for a new product or service, where do you begin? Maybe you ask friends and family for a referral. Word of mouth recommendations are popular and effective because there is an inherent level of trust and reliability behind them. But what if you turn to Google or another search engine to find what you’re looking for? Online search results are seemingly infinite, and it can be difficult to decipher which business to use. If a business doesn’t have a strong online presence, they won’t even be in the running for your consideration. If your small business doesn’t have an online presence, you could be missing out on new customers every day.
Professional, user-friendly websites that are search engine optimized allow potential customers to read about your business’s offerings, request information and even book an appointment easily without any previous knowledge of your existence. Social media profiles and review generation are a must-have part of online presence as well. Customers want to know that your business is trustworthy and that you care about their interests.
If you still have questions, here are 5 reasons your business must have an online presence:
1. Accessibility for Customers
So, your website is lacking or non-existent… that means your customers will be searching for products or services you provide, but they will only find your competitors online. There is an extremely limited chance that customers will seek you out offline in 2018, especially if you don’t populate in their search results. You need a clear, concise, well-maintained website and a strong SEO strategy to be able to compete.
When it is easy for your customers to find your website, it makes their buying decisions that much clearer. Their entire experience on your website (referred to as UX) from load speed to ease of navigation and clarity of information will make your offerings more understandable and more accessible.
2. Attract a Broader Audience
While your physical shop, office, or storefront may only be open 10-15 hours a day, your website is available 24/7. This allows the customers more opportunities to come to you. It also offers a way to connect with customers that cannot travel to your physical location due to certain restrictions including their distant location, transportation availability, or disabilities.
Having a professional, up-to-date website and active social media accounts will demonstrate your business’s professionalism and competency to those who are unable to visit your location and interact with you in person. A strong online presence will also allow customers to easily share your business with others.
3. Building Trust and Relationships
Blogs, websites, and social media accounts compile reviews and feedback from customers. You can address inquiries and issues directly and quickly to prove that you are reliable, and reviews will let others know that your business is legitimate and reputable.
Review responses are a great way to nurture relationships with customers. You can use feedback to improve, start a narrative about the quality of your offerings, and handle issues when clients have a negative experience. You likely won’t make 100% of your clients happy, but future customers consider the way you handle negative situations to see if you care about your customers’ satisfaction.
4. Automatic Marketing
The digital age has been a dream for people who want to freely explore their options. People may browse your offerings and learn about your business online without being pressured by a sales person or having time-consuming and unnecessary interactions. Since your online presence and reputation speak volumes about your products and services, you no longer need to hinder customers with the elevator pitch which saves everyone time, including you!
You can also digitally market by sending or posting coupons, flyers, specials, announcements, etc. online, which can be shared at the click of a button. Link your products to posts on your blog or social media as a form of free advertising. And don’t forget, SEO is your best friend when you don’t have a large advertising budget.
5. Tracking Results
Not only does a strong online presence help you reach more customers, it will also be a valuable learning tool. Your website and social media can track the behavior of your customers. Did your new blog post cause a spike in web traffic? Is your new product getting a lot of views? How much time do your customers spend on your website? By tracking the behavior and demographics of your current customers, you can improve your online presence and business offerings to better attract new customers.
Not only is online presence beneficial, it is necessary for the growth and success of your small business. When was the last time you blindly bought services or products from a business without a quick Google search? How often do poorly designed websites and negative reviews deter you from a business? Don’t get left behind, build your presence online!