The Importance of Local Businesses Having A Web Presence
If you own a local business, it’s important for your business to have an online presence. In this period of change it doesn’t matter whether you operate a mom and pop store or an enterprise, online visibility is a must.
Two simple reasons: your customers are all online and your competitors are also there. Therefore your local business needs to be online too.
Some interesting data from the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) states that there are about 30.7 million small businesses in the US. This translates into 99.9 percent of all businesses being classified as small businesses.
If you’re reading this, more than likely your business likely falls in the “small business” category.
However, that same report shows that less than 64 percent of small businesses have a website. This means that many businesses do not have an online presence at all.
Is your local business one of those businesses without a website?
According to Euromonitor International, the pandemic sped up the shift toward e-commerce and many consumers were forced to take advantage of digital channels because of social distancing. The same report stated, “ In 2020, goods bought online globally grew by 24% while stored-based sales declined by 7%.”
Stats provided by: Euromonitor International
Consumer buying habits have changed dramatically since the pandemic. And so business owners need to change their mindset to keep up with the shift. It’s now super important to make consumer convenience a priority.
Because the online shopping trend is not likely to shift anytime soon, it’s time for local business owners to shift focus to serving their customers online.
But how do you make the shift to focusing on the convenience of your consumers?.
Start Improving Your Business' Digital Presence
It’s important to start making some changes right now in the way you do business. Begin by implementing features such as delivery and curbside pickup up services. Depending on what you sell you could also adjust business hours to accommodate customers in store comfort.
If you are a service provider, consider giving customers the option to pay ahead of time for services.
You may need to use a cloud based accounting software to manage your invoicing and payments to save yourself some time.
If you plan to sell products from your website, you should be displaying the items in a way that customers can shop and pay for their purchase in one shot.
Of course, you will need to add a payment gateway to the check out process. It’s all pretty easy to do by installing the right software.
Truth is it’s easier than ever to build an online presence for your local business.
How to Build An Online Presence For Your Local Business
You will need a few things to start building your local business web presence. The first one you need is a domain name.
A domain name is what people will type in when they search for your business on the internet. Of course it would be ideal for your domain name to be the same as your business name.
However, sometimes the name is already taken. In that case you have two alternatives.
- Settle for the name that’s closest.
- Ask the current owner if they would be willing to sell you the name.
The latter will definitely be more expensive, but you may be willing to go that route if the name is important to you.
How to Buy Your Business Domain Name
Visit a Domain Registrar such as Namecheap, GoDaddy or Domain.Com and search for and purchase the name you want to register.
Domain names have extensions such as .Com, .Net, .Org, and a host of other popular ones. Of course, the most common extension is the .Com extension. My advice would be to try to go with a .Com extension if at all possible.
Another tip to keep in mind when you choose a domain name is you want to make it easy for your customers to remember the name. Shorter names are easier to remember.
Register Your Local Business Domain Name
Even before you build your website, you can register a domain name. You have the option to register your Domain name for a year or more.
Generally the cost for registering a new domain is about $14 or $15. Even though there are a number of addons that are offered by domain name registrars it is unlikely that you will need them. That decision is up to you whether you want to buy any of these addons or not.
(tip-keep your registration information secure, along with other information relating to your online business).
You'll Need Web Hosting to Build Your Online Presence
Website hosting is where your website lives on the internet. They are called servers and they store all the data and files relating to your website.
Hosting services come in a number of different packages at varying prices. Because web hosting is so critical to your online business, you should not allow the price to determine the hosting service you choose.
There are three important items to look for when choosing hosting for your website. They are:
- Speed- Google recommendation is that your website is mobile friendly and it loads under 200 milliseconds .
- Security– The hosting provider you choose should have enhanced security measures in place to protect their servers and your website.
- Support- It’s extremely important that when you have issues your hosting provider is available to offer the support you need.
So before you decide on what web hosting service to purchase you should spend some time doing research. Learn what types of hosting plans are available and how they differ.
Ensure the one you pick is suitable for your business.
You should also pay close attention to what users are saying about hosting providers. Read reviews from customers on independent platforms, not just those on the hosting sites.
Build A Strong Presence With Your Website
The next thing you’ll need-if you don’t already have one-is a website.
Your website is the digital version of your brick and mortar store. It is where you serve your online customers from. Some things you website allows you to do are:
- Easily stay connected with customers you have already
- Expand your reach to new customers
- Remove marketing limitations such as locations and time zones
- Build brand awareness and recognition
- Grow your business without additional physical infrastructure
What’s great is does not cost a great deal of money to build a website today. In fact you could build your own site in a few hours if you wanted to.
Must Have Software to Item Grow Your Internet Presence
You must have some customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) otherwise all your work will be for nothing.
These pieces of software are called CRMs for short. Here are some of the things you can do with customer relationship management software:
- Collect and store subscribers information (always get permission)
- Monitor website users behavior
- Launch super targeted email campaigns
- Automate campaigns
- Perform split tests and track campaign performance
Now that you have all the pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting your business.
Craft And Optimize Social Media Pages For Your Local Business
Now you need to start building out your business social media profile. Choose platforms that are relevant to your business type. Ensure that you include platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Now create business pages to begin. In the profile section give a brief description of your business. Include important keywords. However do not stuff keywords into these profiles.
Finally link all your social media profiles back to your website.
Promote Your Local Business to Grow Its Online Presence
Even if you already have a customer base, you may want to kick start your online marketing using some paid advertisements.
Use channels such as email marketing, social media marketing, blogging and search engine marketing to launch your business promotions.
If you do not yet have a marketing team, you should look into hiring an experienced digital marketing agency or freelancer to help you.
There are also freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork where you can hire talent on a per gig basis at hourly rates. The caution here is to thoroughly research these providers before you order a gig on the platforms.
So why does your business need an online presence now more than ever before?
Because online shopping has become a way of life. And in cases where consumers are shopping in brick and mortar stores, most are making their buying decisions even before they leave home.
Those trends are only expected to continue to grow.
Also online presence is great from building brand awareness and long term customer loyalty.
Being online has other benefits for local businesses too. It allows your business to shed growth restraints. That is because the business is no longer hindered by things such as location and time zones to find and attract new customers.
Finally it is now extremely easy and cheap to take you business to the internet.
Once you’ve established your local business online, it’s time to start scaling your web presence to be able to attract more customers.