By Anita Solomon
The presence of smartphones, laptops, and other devices have revolutionized business interactions and customers perception of a particular business/service. Because of this, it is a lot easier to promote your website, advertise, and connect with customers from around the globe, and make more profit.
For instance, in Nigeria we have tons of small businesses getting it right and utilizing the benefits provided by the internet and social media to reach a wider audience. There are also a couple of “supposed multinationals” who didn’t get on the internet bandwagon on time because they were already household names. However, they did eventually, because they needed to maintain their place in their industries.
The truth of the matter is, as of today, you cannot be a “household name” or attain that level of success in your business if you do not have a reputable and fast growing online presence. A lot of people reach a conclusion on their opinion of certain products/services based on the information they find online (social media, search engine, websites, etc). Even the recent Google #knowyourhustle campaign has successfully increased the populaces’ dependency on the internet for ideas, opinions, learning, and of course, business.
Now the question is, what happens when you are nowhere to be found online where your potential customers, business partners, and maybe distributors are constantly searching? I am not talking about opening a social media page or website for the sake of it and not doing anything to grow/build your business. Brand awareness, advertising, consistent content distribution, quality customer service, effective utilization of your website/social media, are all geared towards building a reputable presence online, which is absolutely essential for every business. Now, let’s talk about three reasons why your business needs an online presence.
• Reasons Why Your Business Needs An Online Presence
1. Reach Larger Audiences and Keep Your Customers Informed
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but customers actually expect your business to be online. People enjoy increased accessibility and will gladly lean towards where they’re getting it.
For instance, what do you do when you hear about a new product or service? Do you start running to the nearest available shops/malls/offices in search for them? Absolutely not! I for one will immediately go online and research for more information about it. Who is selling or offering the product or service, the price, what customers are saying about the product, etc. Now, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a better offer, if you are not readily accessible, your conversions will be lower.
Reaching larger audiences offering the same product/service is one of the perks of building your brand online. The fact that your target audience expects you to be more accessible is reason enough for you to indulge them. The internet is global. Think about it, how far will newspaper ads, billboards and handbills take you? But you have the capacity to reach millions of people around the world from the comfort of your home/office.
Why would any right thinking business person want to be laid back in this era of globalization? This point cannot be overemphasized!
Information can be easily disseminated on the internet so if keeping your customers up-to-date with your product/service is a priority (which should be), then your best bet would be to stay online.
• Brand Building is Easier
In this case, brand building goes beyond increasing your reach/client base, it also involves building consumer trust. Your availability online will give your potential customers or target audience the opportunity to get to know your brand, utilize your services, and eventually tag your business as “trustworthy’. The more people interact with your company and enjoy quality customer service/feedback, the more you build your brand. The internet is the easiest and most convenient way to rank up customer interactions and build confidence in your brand.
Basically, your online presence allows your customers to interact with you constantly, and not just your brand, but also with other people who love or use your product/service. Growing a community around your brand is one of the surest ways to becoming an authority in your niche and dominating your space. You would agree that this is a lot easier to accomplish on the internet than you would physically. However, these things will not just happen because you created a website or signed up on Instagram. The key to maximizing the internet for brand success lies in principles such as; authenticity, value, customer service, advertising, and consistency. You can only get what you put in!
• Utilize Market Research/ Feedback Surveys to Grow your Brand
One of the proven ways to build a strong brand is by meeting your consumer needs effectively and efficiently. How do you know how well you’re doing and what you ought to be doing without customer feedback? The good news is that you can know how your products and services are faring on the market through simple tools online. Your websites or social media accounts can utilize features such as opinion polls, and statistical tools to generate feedback.
If you are growing a community around your brand, feedback is one of the things you should look out for in order to adjust your drawing board by putting consumer needs first. This way, you build trust and confidence, while expanding your reach, improving on your services and building business relationships. So, if you want to know what people are saying about your brand? Go online, and while you’re there utilize all of the tools and features at your disposal on how you can improve your online marketing strategies. A lot of successful multinationals do this, and if you have any intentions of succeeding in business, you should too.
Having an online presence is important for all businesses especially in this era. A well designed and easy-to-use website on its own, can strengthen your corporate image and increase your credibility on all levels. With your contact information easily accessible and your business being opened round the clock with quality customer service, you can increase brand confidence and build trust. This for me, is stage one; thereafter you can begin to double your efforts while maintaining integrity, giving value, and have a substantial online advertising budget to boost your visibility.
Anita Solomon is a digital marketing consultant and online business coach, connect with her on Instagram and Facebook @anitasolonline and learn how to build your online presence, and grow your business using online marketing strategies.