The world is changing, and “normal” is changing with it. Now is the time for small businesses to take advantage of the digital tools that help them thrive. Having an online presence allows businesses to address your customers' needs directly while setting themselves up for success in our increasingly online world.
With so many of us stuck at home, potential customers are logging hours on social media, looking to shop for the holidays safely, and researching how their local businesses are operating and the new ways they're keeping their shoppers healthy.
Time isvaluable and convenience is necessary. Customers want to find your website orsoal media accounts. Make it easy for them to learn about you, and you’llgain a fan. Put your best foot forward, and follow these tips for bringing yourbusiness online.
Setting up a website is much easier and cheaper than it was even a few years ago. Getting online will take a little time, but you do not need any special web design skills. Beautiful and customizable templates help businesses build a digital storefront, and there are many website builders that let you do it yourself.
In just a few easy steps, you'll be able to create your account, select a template, add and edit page content, edit your design, and select a hosting plan that fits your budget. Also, some website builders offer optional marketing features and eCommerce tools for those who need more robust options. It is now possible for business owners to create a beautiful website within hours, which can showcase your offerings and be updated with ease.
Do you have social media accounts for your businesses? If not, there’s no time like the present. There are options galore, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, TripAdvisor, Reddit, Pinterest, and Yelp, but it is often best to start simple and expand as needed. If you're confused about which to choose, follow this guide for selecting the platforms that would work well for your industry based on benefits and customer demographics.
If you already have social media accounts, but you don’t really use them, start sharing! Potential customers are looking at business pages on social media long before they walk in the door. Impress them with pictures, promotions, and stories about your company.
The best place to start is with a plan:
Managing and monitoring a social media presence is a great way to get to know your potential customers. Create a plan for how to use your social media accounts. Make it a regular part of your business, and you’ll soon be interacting with customers and growing your customer base.
Your social media plan should include:
If you have a website, you’re halfway there! But can customers use your site to actually make a purchase? Online shopping will continue to increase, especially among younger audiences. Incorporating eCommerce (the tools that let your customers buy online) will benefit your business now and pay dividends down the road.
In this guide, there are several steps you can take to set up online ordering, including:
Consumers today rely on local business directories like Yelp to help them make decisions, and customer reviews with text, photos, and videos go a long way. If your business isn't listed, create one yourself with this step-by-step guide for Yelp or right here on TripAdvisor.
Because anyone can create a business listing on Yelp, your business may already be listed, and you may not even know it. Don't worry! Business owners can claim their profiles on most online business directories that were user-generated, enabling you to manage and correct any information displayed about your business.
Not every customer is a happy customer. Visitors to sites that feature user-generated reviews can be turned off by the bad experience of others, but with a thoughtful, considerate, customer-focused response, you can help win them over by responsive and showing your dedication to them.
When faced with a decision like ordering takeout, customers are more likely to go with one of the top-rated businesses with complete listings. Google and Bing by Microsoft are two of the most popular search engines, and each let you list your business so it appears in the search results of potential shoppers. They also allow your listing to feature customer reviews that potential shoppers want to see.
For Google My Business, this how-to guide will take you through every thing you need to know, from setting up and verifying your free listing; to adding photos, products, and services; to the importance of reviews and how to get them now from your existing loyal customers. For Bing, refer to this how-to guide to learn about the easy setup process behind Bing’s Places for Business.
If you've ever thought about creating or expanding an online presence for your business, now is the time to do so. An online presence is an investment that will retain its value long after we return to our new version of “business as usual.”