4. Website optimization
A bright, modern site with legible typefaces can signal to consumers that you have a credible brand. But a visually well-designed site is only one factor of success in building an online presence. Website speed, mobile responsiveness and link-building are among the other factors that contribute to a highly optimized site. Consider website builders like Shopify that include analytics and provide free customized optimization tips based on your site’s performance.
5. Paid advertisements
Digital advertising can be an effective marketing strategy toward building your online presence. Social media ads, in particular, can yield a high ROI with a limited budget.
Ads should be approached as a continual investment, with the goal being to build awareness of your product or service over time. Consider allocating a marketing line item in your annual budget to ensure continuity of your online presence. You may find that paid ads lead to higher website traffic, higher prospect engagement or sales conversions.
6. Thought-leadership content
Producing original content about your business can help you build trust among consumers over time. It’s not enough to focus solely on selling your product or service; customers need to understand its uses and value.
Depending on the brand, thought-leadership content can be video tutorials, blog posts or public speaking. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider the different scenarios in which your product or service solves a problem, then create content to tell your story while presenting solutions.
Best practices for maintaining an online presence
When running a business, building your online presence can often fall last on the priority list. Supply chains, manufacturing and compliance can often dominate the workday for a small-business owner, especially those in early-stage ventures.
Given the time and resource constraints of entrepreneurship, building an online presence should be streamlined to ensure continuity. Here are some options to consider.
- Scheduling posts: Social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Later, allow users to schedule posts on a variety of platforms. Try to build your content calendar at the beginning or end of each month. This approach allows you to build systems to maintain an online presence while protecting your time to focus on critical business operations.
- Engaging with prospects online: Streamlining your content calendar frees up time for you to react to comments, shares and product reviews on social media and other online platforms. Respond to questions, comments and concerns to signal to prospects that your brand stands for credibility and accountability. In addition to social media, you might include a function on your website that allows customers to leave reviews and display clear contact information for future inquiries.
- Embedding a social media feed on your site: Daily website updates can be time-consuming, even for the veteran marketing professional. Building an online presence is about working smarter, not necessarily harder. Embedding a social media feed on your site can ensure a steady flow of new content relevant to your brand. Flockler cites increased time on site, larger social media following, stronger engagement and more sales as the four key benefits of a website-embedded social media feed.
- Reviewing analytics: Assess the performance of your website on a monthly or quarterly basis. You may be able to determine which products, videos and blog posts are the top performers. Consider whether your time on site has increased or decreased since the last quarter. Downloads and abandoned-cart metrics are also good indicators of performance. For example, a high-performing content piece could be refreshed to maintain momentum. If a product is continually added to a cart but abandoned, consider sending checkout reminders and creating urgency with a countdown timer. Use analytics to make smarter decisions and to adjust your strategy.
The goal in building an online presence is to build trust and brand credibility, which takes patience, consistency and perseverance. There is no standard approach that will work for every small-business owner. But with the guidance of analytics and customer feedback, entrepreneurs can adjust their strategy and narrow their focus in a way that builds awareness of their business.
Ashley Powdar is employer content lead for AARP’s Financial Resilience team. She works with participants in the organization’s Employer Pledge Program to promote the value of a multigenerational workforce. She also assists and reports on issues that affect small-business owners.