In 2021, ignoring your online presence is like having a business and not bothering to tell anyone about it.
97% of customers use the web to search for local businesses
What will a customer find when they search for your business in the digital space? Does what they find look appealing or off-putting, does it give your business credibility, or does it destroy its reputation?
What does online presence mean?
Essentially your business’s online presence boils down to what comes up when a customer searches for your business online.
Your online presence falls into to two categories:
Your claimed online presence: these are the pieces of your online presence that you have control over, the spaces that you create like your website or claim, like your free listing on Tripadvisor, Facebook or TWISPER.
Your earned online presence: this is the part of your online presence that others dictate. It’s made up of what people/customers/competition/fake users etc. say about you. It can be in any format, on any platform e.g. in the form of tweets, online directories, UberEats reviews, Quora answers and Instagram comments. For many small businesses, a significant part of your online presence will be earned, especially when you’re new: e.g. potential customers asking questions.
In this article we will take a deeper dive into how getting your online presence right is crucial. We will look at how when done effectively your online presence:
Increases your business’s accessibility.
Builds your business’s credibility.
Boosts your business’s sales.
Creates community around your business.
Informs you of the results of your hard work.
By being present online, you increase your business’s accessibility to potential customers
The worldwide web, is just that: global. Naturally, it follows that by being present on the web will make your business more accessible to those that are looking for your kind of business e.g. “Cosy hotels in London” or “Fancy cocktail bars near me”.
Last summer I went to a lovely bar in a town about an hour from me. It was just a small place that I stumbled across while walking around with a couple of friends. Their espresso martinis were the best I’ve ever had, but when I returned a month later, and tried searching the web for the precise location, I couldn’t find any results.
What an effective online presence achieves, is that any individual can type in the name of your business and get information about your place. The web gives you access to a much larger audience that includes anyone locally and beyond.
Therefore, the key to being found online is showing up where potential customers search. Expand the net of where you can be found by:
Creating your business on Google My Business: whether we like it or not, we are living in Google’s world. Taking your presence on Google seriously starts with setting up your business on Google My Business. This also gives you access to very useful tools such as Google Analytics, to get an idea of how many visitors your website is receiving (traffic) and where they are coming from.
Keeping your listings up to date to make sure that they are showing the most accurate information about your place.
The first goal of your online presence is to make your business accessible and give your potential customers an easy way to find out more about what you have to offer.
Online presence helps to build credibility and improve the reputation of your business
By solidifying your online presence, you will make sure that people take your business seriously. Nowadays, it’s hard for us to trust a company if we can’t find any information about it on the internet.
7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on social platforms.
Put yourself in your customers shoes and Google your business. Go in Private or Incognito mode to get the most unbiased results. What comes up?
Look for the key information:
Your phone number or email address(es)
Does what appears make your business look accurate? Is it consistent? What is missing?
For example, a properly designed and informative website with well written content and good visuals will enable customers to make informed purchasing choices. The online space is a marketing platform that gives you a cost-effective way to reach a wider audience than conventional marketing techniques. Even more powerful is the word-of-mouth marketing that comes from what your customers say about you. Recommendations heavily impact your credibility and on TWISPER the first platform with only positive recommendations, a recommendation from a customer is automatically shared with their entire network of friends. This is free marketing.
Not having your business listing claimed on platforms like TWISPER negatively impacts your business’s credibility. Make sure that you are meeting your customers where they are searching for you.
Taking the time to make sure your online presence is complete and consistent plays a crucial role in how potential customers perceive your business. A strong online presence allows you to build your brand and gain the credibility that you need to attract more customers.
Effectively representing your business online will directly increase your sales
Your business’s online presence is clearly important for accessibility and credibility. Both of these elements lead directly to sales. If you have a positive and visible presence on multiple online platforms, then people can easily see what you are about, and they will be more easily drawn to what you’re selling,
Make sure that you are implementing direct booking strategies and providing links to booking via your website on all your social platforms. TWISPER has a 0% commission Booking Button, that you can add easily to your profile.
Offer the best price on your website. This will ensure that customers are motivated to book or order directly with you, rather than through third parties, reducing your commission costs.
Having a solid presence online will allow you to create community with your loyal and potential customers
It will also make it easier to connect with people, by closing that distance felt by the lack of interaction in the physical space that we are currently faced with.
You can inform customers about upcoming promotions, engage them with back-and-forth communications, find out about their interests and provide special offers and incentives for those following you on social media platforms or those who have recommended you online. Don’t forget to customize the TWISPER automated Thank You Message to those customers who “Favorite” or recommend your place to their network of friends. You can add a reduction code to this message very easily: e.g.
“Thank you so much for recommending us. We really appreciate you supporting our business in this way. As a little gift for spreading the love, we’ve given you a special code “HAPPY10” that you can use with your next purchase.”
Sharing on social platforms are one of the best ways to extend your brand, get recommendations and strengthen your online presence.
A positive online presence will lead to a boost in sales
Interacting with your customers through replying to their comments on social platforms or regularly updating your online posts will create a positive image for your business. Your customers want to feel that you care about them and are interested in their recommendations and what they share about your business. If you see a customer upload a cool photo of the view from your hotel room, why not repost it on your social media or simply reply and thank them for sharing about you.
This type of positive interaction polishes your online image and therefore increases the likelihood of prospective customers doing business with you and boosting your sales.
Taking ownership of your online presence allows you to track the results of your marketing campaigns, communications, effectiveness of your website and more.
Tracking, monitoring and improving your online presence can positively impact how customers and potential customers perceive your business, and subsequently grow your sales.
Tracking metrics of your site and social platforms helps you gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t work for customers:
What interests them?
How much time are they spending on the pages of your website?
How many recommendations are you getting on TWISPER?
How many likes and shares are your posts getting on social platforms?
Do people use your special discount code found only on your website when they order food or book a room?
Being able to see to see the numeric proof of what works and what doesn’t gives you insight on where to make improvements in every aspect of your business.
What can you take away from this?
The world has moved online. Amongst the incredible challenges of the last year, are opportunities and ways to engage customers and build community around your business.
Be accessible, be credible, and be interactive, and these things will lead to securing sales. Plus, you don’t need to do this blindly. You can get direct understanding of what is working to reach your customers and get sales and what isn’t.
Having an effective online presence is essential for your business community and precisely the way to engage customers at this time when meeting in physical spaces is restricted. It is also an important area to focus on for businesses as we look towards to the future of marketing and business growth.
This month we have been tackling the topic of online presence. We will look at why it’s important for customer engagement, the essential elements that it involves in order to nurture your business’s community, how you can leverage it to expand your community, what you can improve to engage your community and ideas that you can implement to impress your community.