There are currently over two billion internet users spanning the globe. And we’re all just as accessible as the people are in your real life. The internet is truly amazing for communication and it can be just as amazing for businesses. However, many SMB are still stuck in the traditional way of thinking. The internet is no longer a “new way of marketing,” it’s the norm by now. Odds are, you have either tried marketing your small business online in the past or are new to the idea completely. Either way, if you feel that it is important, you’re on the right track.
With internet access (and let’s not forget mobile browsing) constantly expanding, the majority of consumers are using the internet to find new businesses and products instead of turning to the phone book or traditional brick-and-mortar stores for services. Do you realize that Amazon is successfully competing with Walmart without ever having a local storefront? That is a very good example of the times we live in!
As the world becomes increasingly internet-driven (and convenience-driven) your business must adapt to the changing business landscape by shifting your focus from traditional marketing methods to modern online business models. Not to say you should stop traditional methods that are working, but rather to better assess your marketing picture as a whole and to definitely include the power of the internet.
This may seem intimidating, but instead of letting the internet break your small business, it is time to adjust your approach, and harness the power of the internet to grow your brand. By focusing on the following three elements of doing business online, you will ensure the internet makes (and doesn’t break) your business.
Does your website reflect the same quality of the services or products your small business provides?
Your company website is mostly likely the first impression that potential customers will have of your brand. In fact, according to research from Missouri University of Science & Technology, it takes users only two-tenths of a second to form an opinion about your company as they peruse your website. Does your website even load that fast? Even more importantly, this first impression is reinforced within 2.6 seconds.
According to this same study, which used eye-tracking as a form of determining results, the main elements of the website that participants focused on included:
- Website navigation
- Company logo
- Social media links
- A search bar
If your company is not getting the kind of website traffic you would like, you may want to sit down and take a hard look at your company website to see what kind of impression if is giving first-time visitors. Put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience and see what they think.Your appearance must match your quality of service. Otherwise, you may not get the chance to show them. Click To Tweet
You may not think your website appearance matters, as long as your services are top-notch. However, the statistics above are hard to argue with. Yes, you know your brand is awesome, but potential customers have no way of knowing that without a professional and well-designed web page to key them into how amazing your business is. Your appearance must match your quality of service. Otherwise, you may not get the chance to show them. This is, essentially, exactly what marketing your small business online is all about. Putting yourself in the best position to prove your services.
Are you interacting and listening to the social community around your small business?
According to a 2016 study from Statista, there are over 2.34 billion social media users worldwide, with 78% of the U.S. population having a social media profile.
Social media is no joke, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. People love to feel connected, even if their connections are people they don’t even know! Serisouly, who keeps in touch with 500 people on Facebook? This said, using the popularity of social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest to your advantage is an easy (and free) way to grow your brand in the internet-driven economy.
A few of the benefits of engaging with your customers through social media channels include:
- An increased flow of customers to your website
- Improved customer service for your brand
- A chance to engage customers and build your brand
- A FREE method to market your small business online that gets results
Depending on your brand, the best platform may vary. It’s important to focus your time and resources on the social media platforms that will benefit your business the most. Just remember not to bite off more than you can chew when starting social media accounts, as having inactive, seldom-updated pages can be even worse for your brand than not having them at all!
Are you actively marketing your small business online by asking for, and receiving positive online reviews?
As we have previously discussed, 88% of internet users trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. The internet has really placed the ball in the court of BUYERS in their buying process. Buyers educate themselves and no longer rely on salesmen to do that for them (like in times past). Marketing your small business online effectively will depend on how people react to, and talk about, your services.
With the advent of consumer-oriented review sites, your potential customers are likely to start their search for a local service on one of the below websites, using reviews and ratings to choose (or ignore) your brand.
- Angie’s List
- Yahoo! Local
- Trip Advisor
- Google+ Local
You can obviously turn to friends and family to help build up your online review reputation and market your small business online more effectively, but setting up a system of following up with previous customers and asking for their feedback is also an excellent way to build up a solid online image for your brand.
Focusing on your online image in order to gain business can sound overwhelming and time-consuming, but by focusing on your website design, engaging customers on social media and building your online image through reviews you will be surprised by how quickly your business will grow!
What internet-based methods for growing your brand have worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments below!