Business owners, old hats and newly minted ones, you’re here because you want to make sales!
The competition on the Internet is fierce. Only the smart and resourceful will make it out on the other end. You’re not alone in trying to figure out how to grow your business and improve your visibility online. The pandemic has changed people’s perspective not just on life, but on their jobs. Many have chosen to self-employ and create businesses.
The influx of new businesses, however, comes with an increased difficulty in reaching your target audience. It can be quite the shouting match. Sure some will not survive, because they’re too new for customers to trust, but there is a risk of being drowned out no matter how experienced you are.
Why is growing your business online important?
Do we need to spell it out? If you are not online, then you do not exist.
COVID-19 only speeded up and completed a process that’s been in the making for about a decade now. Discovery happened more and more online whether that’s through search, social media or retailers like Amazon. With nowhere to go for the past two years (sure the life outside our homes has more or less restarted), people are handling all of their affairs online. Specifically shopping.
To get to your target audience, you need to come up first, promise the best and deliver fast. That’s the key to success and all of it hinges on your online presence.
5 ways to improve your online presence
1. Check your competitors’ activity
I’m starting with competitors, because they’re your blueprint for everything that you do. Up-and-comers should learn the ropes by studying what the biggest brand in their niche does. The highs and the lows. Each PR move they make signals what works and what doesn’t. After all, you share some of the core audience otherwise you wouldn’t be competitors in the first place.
There’s no limits to what competitor analysis can include – messaging, sales copy, campaigns and communication style online. Now, I’m not saying that you should copy them. On the contrary, see how you can differentiate yourself enough to stand out while resting on the established foundation competitors provide.
2. Monitor keywords
Keyword monitoring is the single most important building block of digital marketing. Whether you are performing industry research or engage in brand monitoring, you can’t do it without the right keywords. I advise you to really look into the keyword mix you need – both unbranded and branded words.
As to how you can monitor them, there are social media management tools or you can simply go for an RSS feed reader. RSS readers are a lot more affordable and just as flexible. Inoreader has one of the best discovery tools out there and a database of high-quality feeds. There’s also a good mix of features to help you optimize your monitoring – deep filtration, a Chrome extension and support for multiple social media platforms.
3. Know what your customers talk about online
Ultimately, you monitor keywords because you want to know what people think about your brand. It’s that simple. Not everyone will tag you on their socials when they discuss you or your product. In fact, the majority won’t. That’s why you should keep an eye out at all times. Take in the good and learn from the bad.
Raw customer feedback is the best way to understand whether you’re actually doing something right or not. These online conversations spark ideas about future products or new features or new services.
On one last note, be sure to jump into some of these conversations to either offer to help customers solve problems, rectify a mistake or thank them for their praise.
4. Improve your website
I would argue that before you do anything else to boost your brand visibility, you should take a good long look at your website. Site performance and appeal are integral to your company’s very ability to convert sales leads. Would people give you the time of day, if your website looks like a bargain-bin project? How about if it’s frustrating to use? Or slow to load?
I definitely don’t stick around. Not many would-be customers will either. That’s the harsh truth. If your site underperforms at regular tasks, then you really have a problem at your hands. The very first thing to look into is loading time and user interface. Is the theme and design of your site the reason why it’s lagging? Can users effectively find their way across the menus? Does your design work on mobile devices?
Mobile search and use has mostly outpaced search done on desktop computers and laptops. To not take that into consideration is a grave mistake.
5. Be active on social media
Social media rather than organic web search leads customers to a brand’s site. I’ve certainly clicked the links on Instagram adverts far more often than I’d sit down and search for an actual product. More often than not the advert has to create the need for the product. For an ad to be effective, you need to find the target customer where they hang out online – catch them in their natural habitat as it were and broadcast your message.
Aside from adverts, which demand a budget, another way to inspire organic growth and popularity is to just be active on social media. Find the platforms your customers use and generate valuable content that either creates values or is eye-grabbing entertainment. One way to bring in more eyes on your products is to go viral, but not everyone can engineer a viral sensation. At best, be honest and interact frequently with your customer base. Share their content and hope for the best.
Word of mouth is a powerful, powerful tool to sell. Look at TikTok’s meteoric rise in influence as a platform for promoting products. If you manage to make it on one of those ‘I bought it so you don’t have to’ videos, then you can breathe easy.