For many small business owners, the idea of having an online presence might seem a little superfluous.
Certain business owners are content with having a small, local market. And while this is fine, not looking for ways to expand can cause issues along the way. It is not wise to be shortsighted when it comes to business opportunity. For instance, having an online presence and expanding on the World Wide Web can bring in profit like no other.
But why is it so important to your business, and how can you effectively create an online persona for your company?
1. Improves Your Accessibility
Even if you don't have an online presence for your company, you can bet that your competitors will. This is one of the single biggest reasons why you need to have some kind of information online. If, for example, one of your competitors has a website and is on social media, then they are far more likely to be found in local search results online then you are.
It might sound odd, but even though you might be only down the road from your competitors, they will be more visible to customers than you are. However, simply having a website or social media accounts isn't going to be enough to get you to the top of the search results. You also need to think about SEO and other factors that can help you attract customers. You can read more about how the design of your website and it's optimization can help your business online.
2. Attracts a Wider Audience
One of the great things about being online is that your business can work for you even when you aren't working yourself. That means that even when your store is closed, people can still find you and still interact with your website. If you have an online store, customers can even buy things from you, so you're still earning money even out of hours. It also means that you can attract customers from other areas of your country and even other countries. By having more people available to see your company you're also increasing the possibility of positive word of mouth spreading your business to other customers.
3. Builds Relationships and Trust
It's fair to say that many customers like to know that businesses have some kind of online presence. For many customers, it's a great way of assessing a company before they make the first contact with them or do shopping online. If your company doesn't have anything like this, then it could mean your customers will feel a little detached from you and may not want to make the effort of visiting your store in person. If you have social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook, then these can also help to build trust and a relationship with your customers. By replying to comments that your customers put on your news feed or commenting on other people’s posts, you are building a relationship that many customers value highly.
4. Easy Marketing
Marketing your products and your business has never been easier since the Internet became more popular. Now, customers from anywhere in the world can see your products and can decide whether they want to purchase or not. All you need to do as a business owner is know where to put these products, so they can be seen by the customers you want to attract. For example, by placing your products as posts on Twitter and Facebook, you are enabling your followers to see them in their timeline. This makes marketing effortless for you, and it also makes it easy for your customers because they don't have to search for what they want.
You also have the option of paying for marketing online which involves placing a featured ad on social media or one of the search engines. The good thing about doing this is that you can tailor your ad to meet specific requirements. It might mean that you only want those between a specific age group or other demographic to see it.
5. Encourages Growth
If you're looking to grow your small business, then it can be hard to do if you are only marketing to people in the same town as you. Even if you look to marketing in other towns, there's no guarantee that anyone will see them. However, with marketing online, you are encouraging a wide audience to see your products and therefore growing your business in return. After a while of posting about your products and using your market strategy, you'll find that you start getting more organic sales as a result. This means your business will be growing even with you doing very little to encourage it.
6. Creates New Opportunities
Another way that online presence can help you is when it comes to new opportunities. For example, other companies who see you online may want to approach you about a partnership or sharing of marketing strategies. You might find some other retailers who want to stock your products as part of their range, or you may find suppliers who want you to sell their products. These types of opportunities don't come around very often and are more likely to be seen by those who are online. It also means if you want to offer something to other companies such as a franchise opportunity, it's easier for you to find these people by using a search engine and doing research to make sure they are suitable.
Any type of online presence can be beneficial to your company regardless of how large or small it might be. Even if you want to only focus on having a website initially, this can have a dramatic effect on your business and on those who want to find you. Even if you don't think you are knowledgeable enough about websites and social media, there are many people online who can help you and advise you on the best strategy. You will soon start to see the benefits of having a strong online presence.