“Nearly one-third of the world uses social networks regularly.”1
In a world where a third of us are online regularly, did you know that over half of small businesses don’t have a website?2 What a missed opportunity!
If you only have minimal visibility online or don’t yet have a website – the benefits to your business are potentially huge! In case you’re not convinced, here are 6 very good reasons why increasing your business’ online presence should be part of your strategy this year…
1) Help your customers to find you
“71% of Business-to-Business (B2B) researchers start their research with a generic search.”1
Where do you look first when you’re trying to find a product or service? Hairdresser? Garage? French lessons? A new supplier? For 81% of you1 the answer is the internet. The days of leafing through your Yellow Pages have gone. Your customers are online and if you’re not there too, then they’ll find someone else who is.
2) Reach more people
“B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month.”1
Do you want to go global? Get online. Suddenly, you’re no longer limited by the number of people who will see your ad in the local paper – you can reach people all over the world. Online, you have access to powerful marketing tools such as Google and social media. Nothing offline can compete. More traditional forms of advertising just aren’t cutting it anymore. People fast forward through the ads on TV, they’ve grown immune to the flashy bill boards and clever taglines. Now it’s all about reaching people where they hang out and talking to them about things that interest them. To do that, you need to be online.
3) Build a stronger brand
“Potential B2B buyers who feel a ‘high brand connection’ are 60% more likely to consider, purchase and even pay a premium than ‘low brand connection’ competitors.”3
Your brand is often what will differentiate you from your competitors. Customers may be drawn to your company because of the way you present yourself, the language you use, the beliefs and principles you stand for. Creating a strong brand is therefore a key part of marketing your business and standing out from the crowd.
The online space provides a wonderful platform for small businesses to strengthen their brands. Social Media allows you to show some personality, blogging lets you talk about what’s important to you and your website itself is the hub; the place where your customers can explore and learn everything about your business and brand.
4) Increase your credibility
“81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.”1
Most customers are pretty savvy these days. They do their research – and they do it online. If you don’t have a website, then immediately, you come across as less credible and your potential customers are much more likely to look elsewhere.
On the flipside, a simple, but professional looking website can actually level the playing field between your business and other much larger ones.
5) Reputation management
“86% of people would pay more for services from a company with higher ratings and reviews”4
Even if your business isn’t online, your customers are and chances are, they talk about you! This can impact your business positively or negatively, depending on what they’re saying of course, but if you don’t know what they’re saying then you’re powerless to maximise the opportunity – or to implement some damage control.
6) Cost efficient marketing
“Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers ‘excellent’ to ‘good’ ROI.”1
We’ve already talked a little bit about the power of social media and of course it’s an incredible tool for any business. But did you know that email is even more so when it comes to return on investment? Email marketing sees an average ROI of $44 for every $1 – 3 times that of social media.5
How to build an effective presence online
Now we’ve convinced you of the importance of building your online presence, it’s only fair to give you a few pointers to get you started!
Create a website
This is your online ‘home’. Your website is how people will find you. It will be the first place they look to check your business. Make sure it looks clean and professional. Include information about your business, your products and services – and how to contact you.
Start a blog
Blogging is one of the key forms of content marketing. By providing free, valuable content to your audience, you will build trust and set your business up as a thought leader.
Build an email list
Your email list will be an important tool in driving sales. By building relationships with potential customers through your emails, you will create an audience of warm leads who are much more likely to buy from you.
For more information on email lists, our Guide to B2B Email Marketing covers key considerations for ensuring data quality.
Be active on social media
Smart use of social will allow you to extend your reach, provide great service to your customers and potential customers, strengthen your brand and make your business seem more human.
Manage your reputation
Increasing your presence online will also increase the online chatter about your brand. Make sure you stay on top of what people are saying about your business so that you can capitalise on the good and manage the bad.
If you’d like more information, take a look at our article about How to Improve Your Online Reputation.