Before discussing the how, let’s discuss the why first. It’s very common for entrepreneurs to not bother with anything that they think isn’t necessary. Why build a website when you already have business cards and an existing marketing campaign that organically brings in customers? Why do you need to be promoting on social media when you can focus your time and effort on other seemingly more important tasks, such as product development?
Reasons for Establishing a Web Presence
For starters, having a digital footprint for your brand means you get 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year worth of exposure for your brand. Even as you power down your computers and close up shop, your brand is still visible and accessible through the web, effectively improving your brand exposure.
Another reason for establishing a presence online is to build a trustworthy reputation. Brand integrity is valued by consumers when making a decision of where to purchase from. Not having any kind of digital footprint today could make your brand look shady and not trustworthy. Make sure that customers can find you online when they search for your brand name. Even as you power down your computers and close up shop, your brand is still visible and accessible through the web, effectively improving your brand exposure.
Now to the how part. Here’s five methods on how you can establish a solid and positive online presence:
Create a Website
This should be numero uno on the list of things you need to build your brand online. Regardless of how small your business is or how uncommon your market niche is, you need a website. It doesn’t even have to appear sophisticated or flashy. A basic website can work wonders for your brand, given that you include all the key data points that existing and future customers will need.
You can get a website either by hiring a contractor or an agency to build it for you or you can use website builder software to simplify the process. Hiring a web design agency can give you the flexibility that builder software cannot while freeing up your time and energy to run the company. Using the services of a web design agency also yields the benefit of not having to worry about domain name registry or web hosting. Most firms already have the right contacts and tools to get your site up and running asap.
Before going out and finding a web design agency, plan your website’s layout and the features you want to include. Draft a model on a piece of paper including the landing page design, what navigation menu options you should have, what information can signed and unsigned users have, etc.
Optimize Your Content For Search Engines
Your website won’t matter unless it is optimized for search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Statistics show that almost 90 percent of consumers browse search engines to research a product prior making a purchase. But since there is only so much space in each search engine results page, you have to make sure that it is your brand that gets displayed in the first page. The majority of consumers don’t bother to go beyond the first page when doing a keyword search. Keep in mind that search engine optimization does not refer to just one method or technology, but rather a set of practices that improve your ranking and visibility online. For starters, choose a good keyword to target. The more specific the keyword or key phrase is, the better. For instance, instead of choosing “toys” as your keyword for marketing your line of dog toys, “small dog toys” might be more appropriate.
Participate on Social Media
Get this – over half the world’s population is active on one or more social networking sites these days. That’s 3.6 billion plus potential customers you can reach just by signing up on social media, which you’re probably using already. It’s no secret that these platforms have become an increasingly vital marketing platform for both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce stores.
Create an account for each of the big three social networking sites – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When posting content, make sure to only post high-quality, engaging, and informative content. Posting spam content can be a turnoff to your customers and cause them to unfollow and unfriend you. Instead, post about new product line launches, sales reports, useful tidbits about your market or the problem that your business is trying to solve. A simple YouTube walk through video that showcases your product line and how to use it, can be very effective. Create an account for each of the big three social networking sites – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To increase the potency of social media branding, link between your accounts. For instance, your Facebook posts should have hyperlinks that redirect users to your website where they can purchase your products/services.
Help Others Online
Building your online presence doesn’t need the implementation of sophisticated methods or costly campaigns. The simple yet powerful gesture of helping someone out on social media, forums, message boards, and chatrooms can help establish your brand as an expert in your industry, not to mention a helpful one, which could bolster positive PR for you.
Allot a few minutes of your time per day to browse online and look at comments section of relevant blog posts. Address questions and help people solve issues. Ultimately, try to do some brand marketing in the end by inserting a link to your website somewhere in the middle of the conversation.
Spread Your Brand Through Word of Mouth
Who says you can’t use offline marketing techniques to establish your online brand? Spread your website through word of mouth or with a card. Go out and meet people in your industry and discuss with them what your brand does in brief summary. Afterwards, mention your website and encourage them to check it out. Basically, the more you mention your brand to people you meet, the more chances it’ll be picked up and inserted into conversations.
Establishing a strong presence online can make all the difference between your brand’s future success and failure. While it costs time, effort, and money to perform the methods listed above, the long-term benefits easily and significantly outweigh these initial costs.