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The Benefits of a Strong Online Presence
Building and maintaining a strong online presence is an essential part of marketing in the information age. Whether you have a service-based business with digital goods or a brick-and-mortar store where you sell physical items, having a strong online presence is no longer optional for success: it’s mandatory.
There are many steps in order to create an online presence that will generate loyalty for your brand. If you’re not seeing the results you want from your online marketing efforts, consider the following:
Got a Useful Website? Customers Will Come to You
The biggest benefit of creating and maintaining a strong online presence is that your visitors will come to you.
You can accomplish this through a process called inbound marketing: you provide content and other information that visitors actively search for and want to see, and you engage them — hopefully resulting in a conversion such as a newsletter sign up, phone call, or immediate purchase.
This also means you can create relevant, evergreen content one time, but it works for you constantly. While you might need to update it here and there (depending on your industry and changes), you generally set it and forget it.
This happens due to search engine ranking. Let’s say you own a custom doll-making business in Chicago, and you have a little shop but also ship worldwide. What do people do before they find you? Likely, they open Google and look up the type of doll they want using the following search strings:
- Custom dolls
- Dollmakers near me
- Toy stores Chicago
- Dolls that look like their child
Once you know what people look up to find your store, you can create content all around that. You can generate content that will garner interest from doll enthusiasts, perhaps even focusing on relevant topics to people in Chicago. This will improve your rank on Google as the search engine’s goal is to provide useful, original information to the user.
Google wants search engine users to find what they’re looking for. If you provide that, they’ll keep sending people your way, and the more often people discover you, the more they’ll recognize the feelings and colors your brand has established online.
Your website is your inbound marketing hub. Before you even think about blogging, consider the main pages on your website. What are people going to look up? “How much do custom dolls cost?” might be one query. You could write a pricing page that includes your prices with a brief explanation of costs; later, you can blog more about that topic in detail and link back to your pricing page.
A quality web design company will take inbound marketing into heavy consideration. They will focus on:
Search engine optimization (SEO): This includes analyzing keyword ranking and creating websites with structures search engines can understand. A company that knows SEO will also rank in search results.
Referrals: Who do other business owners recommend?
Communication: A high-quality website designer will have a conversation with you about your needs, and they’ll provide a custom solution and a clear price with payment arrangements.
Information about physical location: You can visit your designer or at least know a bit about where they are from (city, state/province, country).
Know Who Your Visitors Are
If you achieve a strong online presence, you’ll also be able to figure out some more information about your visitors.
Web designers use Google Analytics to capture information about those visiting your website (and becoming customers). You’ll want to make sure that your website visitor demographics match the type of people who actually buy your products and consider that information carefully.
Google Analytics also reveals affinities — that is, hobbies and other sources of interest for your visitors. You can use that to better engage with them and determine what types of products you might sell in the future, as well as what kind of content you should produce.
Having an online presence also allows you to collect emails for newsletters and ask your subscribers to tell you a bit about themselves. Many business owners offer 10% off coupons in exchange for completing a survey.
Even the questions you ask should reflect the tone and purpose of your brand.
Monitor and Manage Your Reputation Online
Personally and professionally, it’s important that people are able to find the real you online — and read the correct information about you.
In reputation management, you need to keep an eye on:
- Social media mentions: When people mention you in social media, what do they say? Who mentions you? Consumers, other media or the press?
- Social media responses: How do people respond to your posts? How do you engage them if they have a complaint and resolve it in a way that others can see and feel good about?
- Your business listings: On Google and Facebook, users can rate your business. What are they saying, and how do you get notified?
- Any other material published about your business: From blogs to directories to press coverage, it’s important to stay on top of all mentions of your name and business (positive or negative) and respond to them accordingly.
Reputation management is about framing a message, responding to criticism and praise and making sure you rank for your name and branded keywords (that goes back to the SEO and inbound marketing portion of web design).
Remember: your responses say a lot about your brand, especially on social media. This is an opportunity to be authentic. If you’re worried that you’ll make mistakes on social media, remember that practically everybody does. What matters is how you manage the situation after a PR blunder.
Armed with knowledge about your visitors, a handle on your reputation management and a competitive, user-friendly website, you’ll have a fantastic start to maintaining a healthy online presence. As you can surmise, these components are interwoven and crucial to your overall success.
About the Author
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.