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At the beginning of the year, no one would have fully understood how important it would be to have an online presence as a small business in 2020.

However much planning you did you for your business at the start of the year, nobody could ever have predicted the pandemic and its impact on people’s businesses.

Nobody has felt the pinch more than small businesses who rely on their local customers to keep their businesses going.

We work with a lot of small businesses and during COVID-19, we have helped a lot of businesses with their own online presence. This has varied from a new website development to help with social and general advice.

It’s important to consider all the opportunities for building your online presence so that you start with a plan in mind and something to follow. It doesn’t have to be detailed but at least having something written down can give you focus.

To help with your planning we have put together our top 10 reasons why you should build your online presence. Hopefully it can give you some useful ideas of areas to consider!

There has never been a better time than to start building your online presence.

1. Helps you Market your Brand

As a small business, it is often the case you have a loyal base of customers. However, they often come through your own connections and know you more than they do your actual business.

This is always a great place to start getting initial work but moving online gives you a great opportunity to push your business as a brand. By using social media and setting up your own company pages, you can start publishing content as your brand. People can start to recognise it which will help it grow for the longer term and isn’t so reliant on you being the main driving force.

2. Builds Trust in Your Company Image

Having an online presence helps build trust in your company image and is something people have come to expect these days. When someone can’t find you on social media it looks like you aren’t up to date. This will most likely end up with them finding a competitor and losing them as a customer.

Social media business pages are free and easy to set up. Whether you take the next step and go for a website is something that depends on your business and your budget. Taking the first steps into social pages is a positive step that everyone should take.

3. Are Your Competitors Online?

If you aren’t online and your competitors are, you can lose customers very quickly.

You don’t want to be seen as behind the times, especially if you are targeting a more youthful market. Keep an eye on your competitors and take note of where they are online and then use this to help your own decisions.

Don’t just copy them; make your online presence your own, show your values and your offering and differentiate yourself!

4. Easy Access to New Customers

There will always be a limit to how many people you can reach through a brick and mortar business, especially now as people move more and more online. Gone are the days when someone picks up the Yellow Pages to find a local business. Now they will look for something online, whether on Google or on social media.

So, to attract new customers it’s important they can find you as easy as possible. This could be via social pages or even a Google My Business Listing (this is also free and essential). The easier you make it for people to find you, the more likely you have of attracting new customers.

5. Selling Products Online to a Wider Market

For those of you who have a shop, you have your regular and local footfall. As soon as you start selling online you quickly get access to a wider market, that is not restricted by location.

Would you like a website where you can sell your products? Our Evolve Store package is designed to do just that, and at an excellent price.

Find out more here

If you are able to send your products via a courier, you have no real limits on where you can find your customers. That being said, as you go wider afield it can be harder to grow those customers. However, with a good use of social media and using your connections you can make a great start.

6. Better Customer Support 24/7

People expect things fast in the digital age, from Amazon’s next day delivery to the raft of information on sites like gov.uk. People don’t like to wait and from a customer service perspective, there is more pressure than ever to give people the answers they need whenever they need them.

There are no set times for your website and social pages where people will look to buy your products. It is important to make sure you make it clear how to get in touch with you but also providing enough information to help people with their own queries. The easiest way to handle this is often an FAQ page on your website. You can grow and expand upon to answer any recent questions so that people can find their own answers.

Setting expectations is also a key part to this. If you don’t open weekends, let people know with your auto reply on Facebook. People are happy to wait as long as they know, it is if people think they are being ignored that they will look elsewhere.

7. Ability to Educate your Audience

For people who sell more bespoke or complicated products and services, it can be difficult to educate people about what you do in order for them to make informed decisions.

For example, people who were used to going to a garden centre are used to having the expert advice of the people who work there in order to make the right decisions.

You can’t be there online to answer these questions all the time. However, you have the opportunity for your website and your social to do this for you.

Start thinking about what people normally ask and start answering these questions as part of your social media. Similar to the FAQs page, the more people understand about your offering the better chance of converting this into a sale.

This applies to everything you do online. You can you educate people about your offering, tell them why you are the right people to help them, show your expertise and your values in everything you do.

8. Expand into New Product Ideas and Services

Once you start to build your own online following, such as followers on Facebook or an email list of existing customers, you instantly have access to potential return sales. This could be for existing products or for new ones that you are about to release.

Talk to your audience and engage with them. They can help you make informed decisions on what you may offer next by listening to their needs. You also have a readily available market to push it out to; those that already trust your business and are an easy source of recurring income.

When people buy from you multiple times, you also have a better chance of them passing your information on to their own network. This can allow your connections and potential customers to grow exponentially.

9. Work From Anywhere

Lockdown has changed the world; people quickly have to find new ways of working in order to survive but with it has come new advantages. Remote working went from an occasional thing to most of the workforce across the country. It doesn’t work for everyone but if you embrace remote working, you can work from anywhere. You don’t need a physical location to work from which saves both time and money. You can also be more flexible, as you aren’t tied to a location. Your business is with you wherever you go.

10. Ability to Track Results and Progress

There is nothing we like more than good data to make decisions; it forms every aspect of what we do for our clients. Being online makes everything easier to track, whether that’s likes and engagement on your social activities or being able to tell where recent sales came from.

Start with the basics of online data and metrics and start looking at how your actions change your progress online. To make a start, look at which kind of posts you put on social get the most interaction, what days of the week work better for your posts? Start small and learn the data and then you can really start to grow.

On our sister site, drumBEAT Marketing, we have put together some blogs on metrics. To track your results on your website and social, give them a read:

Monitoring Your Social: Using Metrics to Make Decisions

Monitoring Your Website: Using Metrics to Make Decisions

To Conclude 10 Reasons to Build your Online Presence

The world is now a digital world, access to the internet is so widespread having an online presence has never been more important. This become even more important over night with the recent pandemic.

We hope this article can give you some good ideas to consider your online presence and how you want to start online.

It can often be a daunting situation when looking at starting your online presence as there are lots of options, especially if you’re not much of a technical person, but keep it simple and start small.

It’s better to take some small initial steps than none at all and we will be more than happy to offer any advice to help you take those first important steps in the right direction.