The Net, World Wide Web, Facebook, Websites, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram – does this digital era make you dizzy with choice?
Is your head planted firmly in the sand when it comes to the thought of trying to create a robust online presence for your business? And why would you bother if your bricks and mortar business has historically been solid? Until covid-19 arrived.
The fact is……if you don’t have a professional content-rich website that is set up correctly and communicating through all available social platforms, you may as well tell the world that you don’t need new customers or clients! Solely relying on traditional referrals and word of mouth is a risky strategy that will now more than ever hinder your business’s ability to grow and thrive. You are missing out on a number of huge platforms on which you can shout about your product or service and connect with your target customers.
Here’s why you need to set up and create an online version of your business today.
● Accessibility / Visibility
The online world is not a Monday to Friday 9-5 place – online customers will want to purchase your product, check out your offering, and research your company at any hour of the day. Basically, anytime the urge takes them!! The internet never sleeps – which means your online store or service business is always open and giving customers the option to buy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – wherever and whenever the desire to buy happens! By building an online site and creating online visibility, your business can reach a far greater audience and customer base (in certain cases quite possibly a global audience) than word of mouth and the odd referral ever could.
● Marketing and Selling Opportunities
In a traditional brick and mortar shop, sometimes your only chance of selling something is having a decent salesperson willing to go that extra mile. Online – your product or service must speak for itself. Create an eye-catching website with plenty of attractive visuals. Include photographs, instructional videos, or just informative detail related to your product or service. Write a short, cohesive and informative copy of your product or service giving as much relevant detail as you can, and give clear, precise instructions to your customer on how to buy online and what to expect after purchase.
Marketing has become digital and is now much easier with the power of the internet. Digital footprints can be followed and information gathered so that you know you are speaking to the right audience that has a level of interest in your product or services. This could also come under the heading ‘ low-budget advertising’ as it’s easy to send out ‘reminder’ prompts via Facebook and other social media platforms or an email marketing campaign through the like of Mailchimp or Sendinblue.
- Build your brand
Having a well-designed website allows a customer or potential clients to ‘check out’ and research your business reputation, the products you offer, the presentation of your business online, and your relationship with existing clients allow them to form a positive image of your company and build trust. Your website should be the ‘ nerve center’ of your business with all other forms of social media used to consistently promote and remind customers of who you are, how your products or service solve their problems, promotions, and events. You are essentially building a customer’s trust in your company and creating a club that they may be interested in joining.
Although primarily your website is there to assist, promote sales, and drive traffic, a large part should be about your brand and the customer service that you offer to your target market. Anything ‘extra’ or ‘above and beyond’ the average will induce customer loyalty and help build trust and loyalty amongst your customers and clients.
- Credibility & Loyalty
After developing a fully functioning, professional-looking website and built your reputation online it should begin to give your online business a certain level of credibility that will help to create a positive image of your company and brand. Always try to differentiate your business from your competitors and offer the customer something unique. Returning customers are what you are aiming for as an existing or returning customers will appreciate a discount voucher or free gift to keep them coming back for more. Regular ezine’s or blogs will keep your customer’s interested and informed about your product or service and what’s coming soon.
Many business owners are terrified of negative customer reviews as there will always be one negative one and you generally can’t please everybody all the time! However bad reviews should be few and far between, dealt with quickly and efficiently, and allow your business to correct mistakes and grow and learn from the experience. Plenty of good reviews from satisfied customers will overshadow the odd bad review, so always encourage customers to leave a review and send prompts after the purchase to remind them to do so. Never be afraid to ask.
● Reduce your Costs & save cash
It requires a lot of cash to start up bricks and mortar stores & service businesses but the opposite is true for an online store. There are many cost-saving reasons for your business to be online. You’re not paying large rents, service charges, lots of staff as you would be with a bricks and mortar store. An online store is easily run from home, especially if you do not handle stock directly! Important documents are stored online and there is less room for error with online transactions. Try to streamline your process – you can reduce your supply chain by working online. Instead of sending out flyers, letters, and offers and the costs associated with printing and mailing them – sending by email makes a more cost-effective alternative. The possibilities are endless.
Getting your business online is simple….
There was an age when building a website was expensive and time-consuming – you would require designers, hosters, programmers, developers, and writers. The expense and time associated with this was a risky proposition. But with today’s easy ‘ pre-designed eCommerce website templates’ led designs, a business owner can have a fully functional website up and running in days for a fraction of the cost. Professional sites will include shopping baskets, payment gateways, and product catalogs. It’s just up to you to provide important information.
In fact, having an online store could be more important than a physical one. The advantages offered to your customers and the reach you will be able to provide is truly mind-blowing. However, an e-commerce business is only really successful because of the online shopping experience that is offered alongside it. If you can only advertise on your website but still have to travel to a physical store to buy, many potential customers will be put off by this. Offer the full suite of services to guarantee a happy returning customer!
With the advances in technology and ease of use, it’s hard to understand why you wouldn’t want your business to have an online presence. As for local businesses and the support of ‘Google My Business’, the opportunity to attract new customers is extremely exciting and should be fully taken advantage of.
In my next article, I will cover all you need to know about smashing the competition in the fight to rank your business on the top of Google without paying for ads.
To find out how you can improve your businesses online presence contact [email protected] or call 089-4393836
Eamon Downey Jr
Founder: Virtu Digital