While the Internet offers a world of opportunity for any business, the way that the modern Internet is organised can be rather daunting for small businesses. With a raft of massive corporations dominating Internet traffic and even the way that the worldwide web is structured today, it can be an intimidating prospect for small enterprises to attempt to develop a significant web presence. Many give up without even trying.
Although this may be to some extent an understandable attitude, the fact is that small businesses can drum up a significant amount of business from the Internet. While this requires a diligent approach, following some of the following tips and strategies will help your small business make the most of its online presence.
Many businesses make the mistake of attempting to plough ahead with a digital strategy without taking stock first. This is an elementary mistake; it’s extremely valuable for any business to understand their current situation, what their priorities are in both the short and long-term, and the actions that can best mesh with these components of the business.
While there are a vast amount of digital tools available, and this represents a massive opportunity, by the same token it is easy to either utilise ones that are not particularly suited to the needs of your business, or spread yourself too thinly across many platforms. Planning will help you forge a strategy, and take advantage of which of the following tips are most likely to benefit your company.
One of the best ways to drum up support for your business is to be prominent on the hugely popular Google Maps. This is a virtual must for any business which hopes to attract visitors and clientele; for example, a restaurant or cafe. But other businesses can benefit too, particularly from the increasingly heavily utilised Google Places for Business. You can even pay to be pushed to the top of the listings locally, which could turn out to be a wise investment.
Every discerning business should have a Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn page at the very least. If you haven’t set these up, you really ought to do so as soon as possible, as social media marketing is one of the best ways to attract people to your business. Consumers are also increasingly using social media as a customer service channel, and having all of your social media tied together and accessible via mobile phone will enable you to respond more rapidly to customer service issues. Your online branding is crucial to who you are as a business.
Another aspect of the Internet which is of critical importance is garnering positive feedback. Every product under the sun, from holidays to consumer electronics, is rated nowadays, and the feedback that you receive from customers can really make or break a business. Make sure you go the extra mile to deliver a great service, and then make it easy for customers to leave positive feedback. This can really go a million miles towards attracting new clients to your company.
This would only really be relevant for businesses that have a physical premises, but for those that do offering free Wi-Fi can be an excellent way to improve customer satisfaction and provide access to the information your customers need to make a purchase. Nowadays, mobile devices are a fundamental part of people’s lives and even identity, and enabling them to use smartphones, tablets and laptops on the go, and even to access important information about the products they intend to purchase while in your store can really earn you some much needed brownie points.
Don’t stand still. Constantly analyse your online presence; use the tools available to you such as Google Analytics. Write new content regularly. Update your keywords and SEO strategy. Hire freelancers to assist you with this, if necessary. I repeat; don’t stand still. Your competitors will not be doing so.
While companies need to be careful with regard to privacy and data protection, the visitors that they receive to their website and the customers who purchase stock from them offer an incredibly important footprint of information. The cloud is even offering Big Data to small businesses, and this is something that you should consider tapping into as well. But at the very least, work out who buys from your company, who visits your website, and work out how you can take advantage of this information.
Rather an obvious point this…but if it is at all logistically possible, sell to people online. It’s getting easier and easier to set up an online store, and with the popularity of such payment systems as Paypal and Escrow, it’s not even necessary to offer credit card payments if you’re a small operation. By all means use your web presence to draw people to your ‘real world’ store, but never forget that your ultimate aim is to sell, sell, sell!
If you provide an online page on sites such as Facebook, and then provide incentives for your customers – for example, vouchers or other promotional information – you may find that your customers will begin to sell your site for you. This requires some skill to pull off properly, but can help make you money for minimal effort.