How to establish an online presence for your small business

Published: 21/07/2020

It’s a common misconception that only businesses who operate solely online need a strong web presence. The truth is, any and all businesses can benefit from putting the time into their online image.

Why is it important?

According to the stats, as many as two million small businesses don’t have an online presence, and the figures show this could be costing them a collective £343 billion a year, yes you read that right, billion.

So, if all two million organisations in question jumped on the web, they could benefit from an average uplift in revenue of £173,769 per year. Furthermore, the experts suggest the smallest businesses, as a whole, would reap the benefits most with a surge in revenue of £106 billion per anum.

Obviously, these numbers are based on averages and estimates, but nonetheless, they highlight what businesses stand to gain by developing a strong web presence. So, where do you start?

How to do it - a 5-step guide

1. Create a website

Developing a top-notch website requires time, effort, and money, and that’s the reason often quoted by business owners as to why they stick to social media, which is free.

But think about it, what’s the first thing you do when you’re in the market for a new product or service? Chances are you hop on Google (other search engines are available) to see what’s out there, and so does everyone else.

The average person conducts three or four searches a day, equating to a mind-blowing 70,000 searches per second, and if you don’t have a website, you’ve got zero chance of being found.

On top of that, a good website showcases your brand and acts as the first port of call for consumers to reach out and get in touch with your business. It shows your business as an established, professional entity, and bolsters the customer’s experience with you.

So, how do you create a top-quality website? Here are our top tips:

  • Have a consistent brand image - think about tone of voice, imagery, and typography.
  • Make sure your website is HTTPS - this means it’s secure.
  • Make it easy to navigate - users should be able to find that they want in three clicks.
  • Use bullet points to break up text - so as not to overwhelm users.
  • Have plenty of whitespace on each page.
  • Find the right website host for you. 
  • Remember SEO - head here to find out all about it.

Top tip: check out our guide to creating a website for your business for more help.

2. Build an email list

This article is not designed to bash social media, it’s a great way to market, but emails boast a six times higher click-through rate than tweets and research shows they’re a 40 times more effective method of obtaining new customers than the likes of Facebook and Twitter. 

Why? For a couple of reasons. Firstly, by handing over their email address and subscribing to your business, consumers are proactively showing an interest in what you’ve got to offer, meaning they’re much more likely to be engaged in what you send.

Secondly, compared to social, emails are much more personal. If you’re scrolling through your social feeds you’re regularly bombarded with ads and promotions making it harder for businesses to pique consumers’ attention. 

Emails, on the other hand, land directly in your customers’ personal mailbox, a much calmer spot, meaning what you’re showcasing is less likely to get buried or drowned out.

3. Use social media

The key to nailing social media for your business starts with identifying which platform is the best fit for your business, as they each have particular strengths. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered with our guide to which social media platform is best for your business

In 2020 there are 45 million active social media users in the UK, so it’s a great way to engage with consumers and earn fresh exposure. When users land on your social page they really get a feel for your brand, so like with your website, consistency is key. Here are our other top tips for nailing social:

  • Post regularly - peak times are 9am-12noon Monday-Wednesday
  • Use hashtags to reach relevant groups
  • Take great pictures
  • Respond quickly to customers
  • Make use of targeting tools
  • Run promotions.

4. Directories

Business listing sites are another important element of your online presence, and the good news is they’re free. 

The likes of Google my Business (GMB) and Yell cost you nothing to join and could work wonders for your discoverability in organic searches.

If you’re a hairdresser in Stockport, for example, and you add your business to GMB with information on your location, contact details, a synopsis of your services, your business hours, and more, the next time a consumer in Stockport’s in the market for a trim and searches for ‘hairdresser near me’ in their browser your business should pop up. 

Modern business listing sites let you include all of the above, as well as your logo, giving you another opportunity to work on branding, plus, they allow happy clients to leave reviews which are more important than ever to prospective customers. 

5. Be consistent

One of the most important things you need to do when establishing your online presence is remain consistent. Setting up your website or socials and then just leaving them to fester is totally counterintuitive, and to be blunt, a waste of time.

Consumers want fresh content, so if you’re able to develop a blog on your site and regularly post new articles, that’s great. On social, post at least a couple of times a week to keep your followers engaged and aware of your business.

It goes without saying you need to make sure the information on your pages is still correct, such as your address and contact details. 

Lastly, keep on top of the ever-changing algorithms on social platforms so all your effort isn’t in vain. Regular maintenance will keep your online presence thriving, and that will ultimately benefit your business’ bottom line. 

Top tip: check out our guide on the benefits of blogging for your online business for heaps more tips and tricks. 

Here at takepayments, we’re all about helping businesses thrive, so for help on anything to do with online payments reach out to our friendly experts today, or find heaps more useful resources on our choc-a-bloc blog

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