Whether you’re just starting out with your new business, or you’re a well-established hub who’s looking to expand, creating an online presence is essential to success today. With current trends focused so heavily on the web (online shopping, reviews, networking, etc.), creating a captivating virtual business can truly make or break your brand.
“Whether you are a local restaurant with ten years of industry experience or a startup that hopes to revolutionize commercial-grade cookware, taking your brand online can positively impact your company.” – Forbes.com
So, you know you need to have a successful online presence, but how? I mean, how many of us are truly web-design gurus here? Even if you’re fairly handy with technology and can fumble your way around web design templates, you’re still not likely to be a closet design genius.
Creating an online presence that works for your company can be a stressful and frustrating time – but it doesn’t have to be. By equipping yourself with the right tools, you can ease some of the tension and confusion around designing your virtual business. Let’s take a look at how to simplify the process one step at a time.
1 – Take Stock of Your Brand for Your Virtual Business
The first step you need to take when expanding your virtual business, is to take stock of your brand. What do we mean by this? Look at what you have developed on site so far and take note of your key items. Do you have items that are top sellers, or products and services that are popular locally? Look at your business or brand strengths and incorporate them into a plan. Be sure to note all things you wish to achieve with your online business. This will give you a basic outline for building your business on the web.
2 – Familiarize Yourself with Web Lingo
It may seem daunting, but one of the best ways to ensure online success is to do a little research on what’s out there. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics to help you build a solid platform that’s ripe for virtual traffic. Understanding the basics of virtual marketing techniques can help you decipher what avenues will be best to represent your individual business needs online.
3 – Be Consistently Present
Once you have decided which online presence is best for your virtual business (social media, web pages, blogging, etc.), you need to get to work. By that we mean, you need to be consistently present online. If you’re blogging, make sure you’re producing pieces daily. If you’re on social media, share relevant information frequently (at least once a day) to get your brand out there. Staying consistently present is key to developing an online presence.
4 – Drum Up Traffic
A successful virtual business requires a steady flow of traffic to your site or interactions with your posts. How do you do this? You build a following. And how do you do that? Well, in addition to being consistently present as we noted above, you need to drum up some interest in your virtual business. This can be done in a number of ways, depending upon your specific business, but some of the easiest and most common ways include:
- Running promotions or contests (“Like and share this post for a chance to win!”)
- “Online Only” sales and promo codes
- Offer referral discounts for friends and family of current clients
- Interacting with your customers/clients frequently and personally online
5 – Track Your Progress
Lastly, as with anything in business, it’s always important to track your virtual business progress. Keep logs of what type of promotions worked best or what posts generated the greatest attention. Doing so will help you see how your target audience is reacting to your online presence and will give you the tools to tweak your approach as you go.
Keep in mind that all businesses are unique to their own existence, so no one single approach will work for everyone. The best advice? Do your research, keep track of what works (and what doesn’t), and stay at it!