Today’s ultra-technological society has made creating an online presence for your business a necessity rather than a luxury. The process can be intimidating, especially for those who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the Internet. Fortunately, it is possible to create the presence you need without being a technology expert.
There was a time when businesses were judged by physical means, but those days are long gone. Companies today are judged as much, if not more, via their online presence. Those that have not embraced the technological revolution are missing a plethora of potential clients. Creating a professional and attractive online presence is vital if you want to succeed in today’s business world.
Where Do I Begin?
The first place to start is with your web site. Consumers make split second decisions about a business based on their website. Those that are not user friendly, welcoming, and attractive are quickly passed by. Once a customer leaves your site with a less than impressive perception, it is highly unlikely that they will return.
When it comes to web sites, the old adage, “You get what you pay for” is a good rule of thumb. Your web site is a very sound investment because it quickly becomes your online identity. Companies that scrimp when it comes to hiring professional design services will end up with a website that looks as amateur as the price paid. As mentioned above, your website is the first impression many potential customers will have. Do you want them to be impressed or let down?
All websites need to be associated with a .com address. The importance of a .com extension cannot be overstated. One of the biggest assets of securing a .com name is that customers know and trust the extension. Because .com is the most used extension in the world, it is also the most valuable. Customers stay close to what they recognize and have already grown comfortable with.
Another benefit of securing a .com extension is that such addresses are easy to remember. Customers instinctively add a .com to the end of web addresses, regardless of whether or not it is correct. Giving your company a .com address will allow customers to create brand recognition connections from the very start.
At a minimum, your website should include:
- A professional and attractive “Home” page: Your home page is your customers’ first impression of your company. It should clearly answer the questions, “What do we do?” and “Why you should do business with us?” As discussed above, a consumer will make a decision about your website in just a few seconds. The goal of the home page is to capture the reader and motivate them to engage with your site.
- An “About Us” page: Your About Us page is your chance to expand on who you are and what you stand for. It should provide the reader with an in-depth look into your company and all of its members.
- A “Contact Us” page: You should provide readers with several means of contacting you. At a minimum, you should include your physical address, phone number, and email address. Many website also provide a comment section for users to interact instantaneously with the site.
- Links to available resources: This section may include links to articles and blog posts related to your business, company newsletters, announcements, etc. The more information you provide to a potential customers, the easier it is to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. You can also include links to your social media profiles.
Much of today’s personal interaction is done online. Social networking sites that can be utilized to connect to customers include:
- Online communities/forums
It is not necessary to create profiles on all sites. In fact, it is not even recommended. Instead, pick two or three sites and put all of your time and energy into engaging people and creating contacts. Utilizing social media sites also lets you track the progress of your efforts by monitoring things such as “likes” and “views.”
Joining online communities is a great way to get involved in your industry. Introducing yourself to others, networking, and monitoring what others are doing can be a great use of online communities. Comment on blogs; build relationships. You can never make too many contacts.
Before commencing with any strategy to improve your online presence, take a few minutes to determine your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you know if you are progressing towards that goal? What does completion look like? Implementing any business plan will be more productive if your goals are clearly defined. Understanding how you will monitor your progress will also prevent your limited time and resources from being misused.
Creating your online presence is not a one-and-done type of process. Businesses that use the internet productively are those that are constantly striving to improve. Monitor your site as well as those of your competition. Implement any best practices you find. Your online presence is a living feature of your company and should be treated as such. Work to provide customers and potential customers with consistent and quality content. Keep your sites updated so consumers know that you are up to date in the industry and committed to progress and innovation. A site that has not been updated in a year will give customers the impression that you are yesterday’s news.
Creating a solid online presence does not need to be as difficult as some people fear. You do not need to be an internet expert or technology professional. All it takes is consistent effort and commitment. The benefits of having a strong online presence cannot be overstated. Today’s tech-savvy society demands it. You will not be able to successfully launch your company or achieve sustained success without an internet presence.