February 13, 2017
You’ve heard about it for years, but it’s never been easier, or more important, to take advantage of growing your business’s online presence. For years, “going digital” was taboo, as it meant you needed an advanced skillset or a pile of cash to pay a developer to make your digital dreams come true. That’s no longer the case with several options to get your foot in the so-called “digital door” and make it easier for customers to find out online what your business is all about.
The emergence of social media over the past decade has been tremendous. There are numerous social networks in existence, but the most prominent among businesses today are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
With that said, you can’t be everything to everyone. It’s important to focus on one or two social networks you can do well and, most importantly, your customers are active on. Facebook has over 1.8 billion active users, so it’s a great place to start with a business page.
Regardless of what social networks you land on, it’s important you’re active on a regular basis. Whether that’s a weekly “what we’re up to” update or daily insights, regular, professional posts will help your business stand out from the rest.
This is usually one of the digital areas that scares people, but it certainly doesn’t have to. There are a few different ways to put together an easy-to-use, templated website with little-to-no web development knowledge. Companies like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress are well-known options for putting together drag-and-drop websites.
While these are great options for the do-it-yourselfer, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional on a website. There’s a lot of planning and assets that need to go into a website. Things such as the information, photos, layout, branding and search engine optimization are important factors to consider.
Whether you tackle the job yourself or work with a professional, it’s important your website represents your business with professionalism. According to comScore, more users are using the internet on a mobile device than on desktop now, so you must make sure your site works well across all platforms and conveys your message coherently.
Google+ Business Page and SEO
Going hand-in-hand with a website is search engine optimization. In short, search engine optimization helps people who use search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) find your business when they’re looking for a general service. Let’s say someone searches, “plumbers in Houston, Texas,” the best search engine optimized businesses will show up first. That’s where you want to be.
A quick and easy way to get your business on the search engine map, beside website optimization, is to create a Google Business page. This will put you on the local map as a business in your particular industry. It’s up to you to put the relevant professional information, logos and contact information that will help your business stand out and rise up the business listings.
Other search engine optimization strategies should be handled on you website, and there are numerous “best practices” and tutorials you can find online.
Gaining steam in recent years is the use of personal email as a tool to reach customers right on their computers and mobile devices. This can be another intimidating option, as far as digital communication goes. Luckily, services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact have made it both easy and affordable to communicate with prospective customers through email.
With templates and reporting mechanisms built into the aforementioned services, the hard part will be coming up with your email lists and content. If you’re serious about email communications, it requires a change in philosophy to treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to collect email addresses. During the quote process, it’ll be important to ask for email address right alongside things like phone number and address. Not only that, it’s important you collect and document their consent to send them promotional emails.
Whether that quote turned into a customer or not, you’ll be able to stay in front of both prospective and former customers with promotions, new services, and updates.
You’ve probably seen them numerous times yourself, and possibly had no idea. If you’ve ever been on a website reading news, checking the score of the game or any number of things and thought, “that advertisement is awfully convenient,” you’ve probably experienced display advertising.
Display advertising is a way that end users are served an advertisement based on their interests and browsing behavior on the internet. As a business, you can identify the characteristics and interests that best identify your customers and serve them ads across a number of websites through ad networks.
There’s also a possibility of “retargeting” using display advertising. Re-targeted advertisements are served to prospective customers that have visited your website and moved on to other sites. According to CMO by Adobe, a retargeted advertisement’s click-through rate is 10 times higher than a standard display ad.
What’s great about digital advertising options is you should be able to see where every dollar goes through regular reporting. It’s important to understand those metrics if you’re going with digital advertising.
Online blogs are somewhat ancillary parts of websites or social media pages. It’s a tool that gives you the opportunity to craft your own message about your business, services and knowledge of your industry.
Blogs make great content not only for your website, but also as landing pages for many of the aforementioned digital communication tools. You can send users of your emails, social media pages, advertisements and more to your blog content.
By creating engaging blog content, you’re creating value for your digital constituents and positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This is value that will hopefully keep customers coming back for more information and services in the future.
Digital Words of Wisdom
Digital communication and advertising is great. I mean, it’s great. The outreach, communication and data possibilities are expansive and continually growing.
With that said, there’s a great deal of responsibility that comes with these digital channels. Things like social media, Google business pages and websites open your business up to online reviews, which can sometimes be critical. It’s important to avoid situations that might lead to a negative online review in the first place, but that’s not always possible. In the event of a disgruntled online interaction, it’s important to take the high road and find a resolution for everyone. Remember, the world is watching!