When I started writing this blog on growing your business online, I had to keep reminding myself that it is 2016. And, I admit, I work at a digital marketing agency, so I am a little more plugged into digital trends than most. So, I was a little surprised when I read a recent article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that stated only 51% of small businesses have a website. And, of those that have a website, 82% are not using social media, 70% have no calls-to-action to encourage spending and 93% are not compatible with mobile devices. Plus, 27% have no phone number on their site to reach the business. With that in mind, I thought a primer on some basics for growing your business online was called for.
Today, 97 percent of consumers are searching for products and services online. So, if you are part of the 49 percent of small businesses without a website, you are now, theoretically speaking, missing the front door of your business. If you don’t have a site, start with the basics and showcase your work, bio, customer testimonials, contact information and a blog. The blog is very important, as that will be where you demonstrate expertise and actively get your audience sharing your information. Plus, ongoing content greatly helps your customers find you through an online search. Also, make sure your site is mobile friendly, loads quickly and has a call-to-action (or a click-to-call button). The mobile-friendly part is very important, as online search is now conducted more via a mobile device than traditional desktops. And, mobile users are unwilling to wait for sites to load, so if the site is not optimized for smartphones, they will simply move on.
Social media is still the best way to help grow your online audience, engagement and build influencers. Let’s face it, almost everyone is on social media. In fact, 71 percent of the U.S. population is on Facebook alone. So, when starting out on social media, focus your efforts on Facebook and perhaps a couple of others. You do not need to do all of them at once. Perhaps only the big three, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, will be all you need. But, depending on your audience and your business, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat may make better sense. When starting out, use the old 80/20 rule where 80 percent of your content is offering valuable info that includes info from other sources and 20 percent is content that is specific to your business.
Once you have a site and you set up social media, you will need ongoing content, often in the form of a blog. This ongoing content will help support your site for search engines. And, with a little know-how, you can optimize blog content around some focused keywords that support your key services pages on your website. But, in addition to blog content, you should also consider content that is more visual and engaging:
Remember, quality content will always be shared and passed along.
The old fishbowl for business cards or collecting email addresses at the cash register are great ways to build your internal marketing list. Use that list to send emails about special offers and leverage it for a monthly eNewsletters that highlight your blog content. This will create an audience that you already know and are more likely to be repeat customers. So, staying in front of them with relevant content and special offers is very important. Plus, you can encourage them to share your information, enabling them to be your advocates. Also, as you find other content out there that you share, it can open opportunities for you to have guest bloggers post a blog on your website and vice versa. This will open up your site and content to a wider audience of online readers, as well as enable your content to be more widely distributed.
Getting your business up and running online can be intimidating. It can be intimidating even if you already have a website and just need additional help growing your business online. We can help make sense of it for you and come up with solutions to help grow your business. Call us at 303-300-2640.
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