Mr. Rakesh is a distributor of industrial pumps since past couple of years. Recently, he met a potential customer at one exhibition and after explaining about the products he sent a quotation to that customer. After receiving that quote, first thing that customer did was to google Mr. Rakesh’s company name on Google! He was hoping to find more about the company, its product range and details of existing customers. Guess what, he found nothing.
That customer just couldn’t build enough confidence to do business with Mr. Rakesh and eventually stopped responding to calls.
If this story sounds familiar to you, probably you do not have web presence and for your potential customers, your company does not exist!
Why its important to have a web presence?
Well, its very obvious. Nowadays, every customer turns up to Google before making any purchase decision. If you send a casual introductory mail to a recently met person, chances are – he will try to find more information about you on Linkedin or search for your company on his favorite search engine.
People do this because they want to get comfortable with you before doing any business and to do that they will try to find as much information as possible from various sources.
When done right, online presence can help you establish a credible brand image, spread awareness about the products/services you are selling and get you more leads and customers.
How to build a strong web presence of your business?
The process of building a web presence does not happen overnight and it requires a well thought strategy and investment in terms of time. Ready for it? Lets see how you can create online presence for your business with minimum efforts.
Step 1- Setup Goals
We can’t start working on building online presence just because somebody told us to do so. There has to be some well defined goals. Our goals can and should change with the time but first its required to set measurable goals and a time frame. Ask yourself why you want to do this. Below are some of the goals you can start with:
Provide information about the product or services
Increase brand awareness
Generate leads for the business
Another way to find a right goal is to research about your competitor. Just google them and see how they are managing their web presence. Once you achieve your first goal, you can move on to the next one.
Step 2- Get your company website right
Consider company website as the most important part of this project. For most of your potential customers, it will be the starting point where they can learn more about what you have to offer, know about the work you have done so far and contact you for further discussion.
You can hire a web design company to work on your website but if you have limited budget, you can do it on your own without having technical skills.
A good company website should have a clear information about the products or services and contact details. Avoid using flash and large images that might slow down the site and affect visitor’s experience.
Next step is to ensure that the company website is discoverable on Google. You can read this guide to search engine optimization which might sound like a too much of work for a non-technical person. However, its really worth it once you grasp the basic concepts. Objective here is to optimize pages for your company name and the names of your products or services which visitors might enter in search engines.
It might take a while for your website to appear in search results. So, have some patience and work on other aspects of web presence.
Step 3 – Effectively Use Social Media
This is an easy part. You can get overwhelmed with the number of social media sites available today but to keep it simple, lets start with the big 3. Most of us already have a profile on Facebook. It takes less than 5 minutes to create a page on facebook for your business. Check out this presentation below.
Next, create accounts on Twitter and Linkedin. I won’t recommend to go and create profile on every social network out there. It won’t work if you can’t post regularly on these networks.
Here are some useful tips to build a brand on social media:
Project a professional image of your company by using beautiful photos/background
Decide the posting frequency and stick to it. Normally, you should post thrice a week on Facebook, twice a week on Linkedin and thrice a day on Twitter
Do not post only about your products. You should provide value by talking about your industry or by providing useful tips
Respond to comments and engage your audience.
Pro Tip – Use Hootsuit to manage upto 3 social profiles at one place. You can also schedule the future posts.
Step 4 – Build Relationships
No matter which industry your business belongs to, I’m sure that there will be few online communities related to that industry. It will be worth finding out the communities where individuals or thought leaders from similar industry share their views. By participating in the relevant discussions and being an active member, you can start building relationships.
Why is this so important? Well, chances are these people are better connected than you are and they might be able to help introduce you to others who are in your industry. New connections can be customers or partners who can help you grow your business.
Next question is, where to start from? Google groups and Linkedin Groups are the best places to start. Quora is another great question-answer platform where users help each other on various topics. Important thing to note here is, you should participate in the discussion with an intention to add value, avoid advertising your products or services directly as community might ban you for that.
Also never forget the good old networking that we do at events or in business expos. When more and more people start recognising you offline, they will start looking for you on search engines and social networks online.
Step 5 – Keep improving using analytics
Like we track the performance of our business using a good accounting software, we should also track how we are doing online on regular basis. Once you start building online presence for your business, its important to know if the efforts are paying off well. We should track the progress from day 1 and keep improving it till we reach our goals.
Start by tracking website visitors. Google Analytics is great free tool to track website performance. It gives you detailed statistics about the users visiting your homepage like their location, browser or device they from where they accessed the site, their age, source they came from and how they browsed through the pages.
Social media performance can be tracked by recording the growth of followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook Page.
Over the period of time, you will start recognising the trend. There could be spike or dip in the website traffic based on certain events. For example, you might see a surge in traffic after your participation in a business expo. Once you have this data, you can take better decision for your business.
By now, you must have realised the importance of building online presence for your business. It has a huge potential to build a good brand image, spread awareness and attract new customers.
You don’t have to be everywhere but the business should be discoverable through search engines. You can build meaningful relationships online and open channels for customer acquisition.
The process is time consuming and it might take a while for results to show up. Have patience and keep improving. If you have a nice tip to share with other reader, please post it in comments below.
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