When you're searching for a product or service — whether it's a clothing item, an interior decorator, a doctor, or a local restaurant to dine at — there's a good chance that you head to the is the internet. Statistics show that 97% of consumers go online to look for local businesses.
In other words, businesses need to be online to successfully draw in traffic and customers. However, it’s not enough to exist in cyberspace. It’s a vast universe, making it incredibly easy for you to get lost in it. To be successful, brick-and-mortar organizations and companies that operate solely on the web need to develop an online presence.
What Is Online Presence?
When the internet was new, it may have been possible to exist on the internet and still have customers find you. However, society is much more digital now. That’s where your online presence (also called a digital presence) comes in.
Your online presence is about more than having a website. While it can play an essential role (more on that down below), your presence goes beyond and paints a broader picture of your business. It takes into account your actions and where you stand in the eyes of search engine algorithms. It also includes what people say about you and how they interact with you.
In essence, your online presence is how you appear online. It’s connected directly to your company’s reputation and credibility. Building and maintaining a solid presence online is vital for setting yourself apart, finding and converting customers, and growing your business.
Online Presence Examples
There are many types of online presence, and each one has several components. They include:
- Your website: Landing pages, user experience, branding
- Content: Blog posts, videos or vlogs, white papers, ebooks, case studies
- Email: Welcome messages, lead nurturing, newsletters
- Directory listings: Google My Business, Maps, local directories, online business directories
- Social media: Accounts on relevant platforms, posts, engagement
- Paid ads: Search engine ads (such as Google), social media ads
- Online reviews: Feedback from satisfied (and unsatisfied) customers, how you respond
Your website is only one piece of your online presence puzzle. Devoting time and effort to each aspect can help you develop, grow, and manage your presence more effectively.
The Importance of Online Presence for Your Business
There are several benefits of establishing and growing a solid, positive online presence:
There are currently around 1.18 billion websites worldwide. While only 17% of them are active, you’re likely to face a lot of competition with such a large number. You want potential customers to find and choose you over your competitors. Without an online presence, the opposite will happen — you’ll get lost in the void, making it much more difficult for consumers in your target market to find you. And with 96% of consumers shopping online, that’s one of the last things you want.
Web searches aren’t the only way to find businesses. According to Sprout Social, 55% of consumers discover new brands on social media. They may have read a post from a friend, a blog post someone shared, or a recommendation from an influential person they follow.
Making yourself more visible means prospective customers spend less time searching. That could also mean you’re more likely to convert them (and do so more quickly).
Extend Your Reach Farther
While traditional marketing tactics have their place for many businesses, they’re all pretty limited when it comes to your reach. Cold calls, flyers, print ads, and even billboards go so far. However, some of these efforts also tend to cast a net blindly. Putting yourself in front of everyone in a given area aims to get noticed by prospective customers within it, but it can be challenging to target your ideal market.
A solid online presence allows you to reach farther. You can extend that reach across the country and even around the globe. What’s more, you can target your audiences, which enables you to show up in front of those who need your products or services when they need them.
A more significant reach doesn’t only pertain to large organizations either. A well-cultivated online presence for small businesses can get their names into target markets they might never have been able to tap into otherwise.
Build Trust and Establish Credibility
Not only does a lack of online presence make your business almost impossible to find, but it also makes it harder for consumers to trust you. To gain new customers and grow your business, you want that trust.
Online presence enables you to establish a consistent brand across various digital platforms. Along with showcasing your products or services, those platforms also allow you to share your brand’s message and highlight customer testimonials or reviews. When all of this information is easily accessible, it becomes easier to establish credibility and gain the trust of prospective customers.
Improve the Customer Experience
Satisfied customers are essential for your business. They’re more likely to recommend you to others, and they’re more likely to come back themselves.
Your online presence can make the customer experience better. For one thing, your website allows them to shop with you whenever they want, no matter where they are. Some customers like to shop online first and confirm inventory before they visit a physical storefront, too.
Another way your online presence can improve your customers’ experiences is by allowing you to build a direct relationship with them.
Positive interactions that can help convert prospects into leads (and eventually to actual customers) can include:
- Leaving a phone number and email address on your website so they can contact you
- Incorporating a chatbot to answer questions
- Responding to comments and questions on social media
9 Ways to Increase Your Online Presence
Now you know why your online presence matters so much. The next question becomes: What can you do to increase it? Here are a few things you can do to grow a positive presence on the internet:
1. Create a Modern, User-Friendly Website
Your website is often the first interaction your prospective customers have with you. It forms their first impression of your business, and you want it to be a good one.
To make a positive and lasting impression, you need a flawless website. It should showcase your brand on every page through:
Everything should be consistent, aligned, and visually appealing. Your website should also be user-friendly.
A user-friendly site is one that customers can navigate with ease. You organize it so that visitors can find the information they need with little effort. If they have to dig too deep, there’s a good chance they’ll leave. And, with mobile shopping on the rise, you’ll also want to ensure a seamless experience on both desktop computers and mobile devices.
2. Craft Valuable Content
Well-crafted content can be an invaluable asset for increasing your presence online. It can demonstrate your expertise in your industry and build your brand authority. It can also provide your current and prospective customers with relevant information.
[tip] From keyword research to SEO briefs, our team can help you build an effective SEO content strategy through our content writing and SEO services. [/tip]
One of the most common forms of online content is a blog, but it’s not the only option. For a diverse content marketing strategy, you can produce content such as:
- Videos: More people are engaging with video content. From YouTube to TikTok, there are various places to connect with a large audience through videos.
- Infographics: Infographics can cover a wide range of topics and engage your audience through a single image. They can be a great addition to blog or guest posts for readability and sharability.
- eBooks: eBooks are a way of creating valuable gated content for your users. Identify what your ideal customers would want and create an eBook or guide that they'd find useful.
As you create more compelling content, you get more opportunities to appear in front of a wider audience and develop your online presence. Keep in mind that no matter what piece of content you create, it should provide value to your target audience.
3. Optimize for Search Engines
The first stop for many consumers looking for solutions for their needs is Google (or a similar search engine). Most people don’t usually scroll down past the first half of the search results page — or go on to the second one — so you want to be at or near the top of it. Building your online presence through search engine optimization (SEO) can help.
SEO involves using various tactics to boost your SERPs rank and increase your visibility. Some of the most common include:
- Incorporating keywords throughout your website copy
- Creating consistent, valuable content (in which you can incorporate more keywords)
- Link building (internal and external links)
- Improving the user experience of your website
- Ensuring mobile-friendliness
- Optimizing for voice search (which involves using long-tail, conversational keywords)
4. Encourage Reviews
Almost 90% of consumers read reviews before buying something, and 79% say they trust reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know. Approximately 55% say they read at least one to four before they decide to buy.
Online reviews are a sort of digital “word of mouth” advertising, and they can have a substantial impact on the actions of prospective customers. They can boost your reputation, increase trust, and expand the conversation about your brand.
Review tip: Believe it or not, dissatisfied customers provide you with an excellent opportunity. Instead of ignoring poor reviews, respond to them. Offer to help make the issue right. Those actions show that you care about your customers, which can help you maintain your positive reputation.
5. Build Your Email List
Email marketing makes it possible to engage with your current and prospective customers from their inboxes. You can share information about your business, product or service launches, sales, and more. Your periodic messages also help to keep you at the top of your email recipients’ minds.
To build your email list, you can do something as simple as adding a place for people to sign up. You can also promote your newsletter and encourage sign-ups on your social media pages. Providing access to gated content in exchange for an email address can provide an additional incentive for consumers.
6. Get On Social Media Platforms
There are nearly 4.5 billion people on social media worldwide, and on average, users spend almost 2.5 hours a day on it. It offers an excellent opportunity to engage with both potential customers and loyal ones.
To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to be on social media sites where your target customers are. Then create engaging social media posts. Similar to your website, it won’t do you any good to only create profiles on one or more platforms. Developing an effective social media presence requires regular activity and engagement.
In addition to posting snippets of your blog, interesting facts, and the occasional promotional piece, make time to interact with your followers:
- Answer questions and respond to comments.
- Create polls or ask questions to gather input.
- Do live videos to engage with your followers in real-time.
7. Develop Relationships with Influencers
Influencers have become increasingly popular in recent years. An influencer is someone in your industry or niche that has influence over people in your target market. Those people regard them as experts and trust their opinions. By creating a strong relationship with an influencer, you can generate more leads for your business and improve your online reputation.
While social media influencers are the most well-known type, they’re not your only option. Bloggers, video content creators on YouTube, celebrities, and even your own customers can be influencers. Building mutually beneficial relationships with relevant influencers can help you tap into additional markets and expand your presence further.
8. Invest in Paid Advertising
Paid ads offer a faster option for growing your online presence. On search engines, ads put you above the first organic search result. That can help drive traffic to your website. On social media, you’re able to appear in the feeds of your target audience members. They can help to boost engagement and increase your follower counts. In either case, you increase your visibility.
Paid ad tip: Determining what you want to promote and the best platforms for your campaign will help you get the best results.
9. Analyze and Adjust
Taking steps to increase your online presence is an excellent way to gain new customers and grow your business. However, your efforts won’t mean much if they aren’t producing results. To make sure what you’re doing is working, you need to monitor your progress, analyze the information, and adjust where necessary.
Decide what metrics you want to measure.
- To monitor the effectiveness of your content, you might look at your blog page or video views.
- You may also keep an eye on the time spent on the content page.
- If you want to track the success of your social media strategy, keep an eye on your likes, shares, and engagement.
It can also be helpful to set goals so you know if you’re making progress or not. If not, you can see what isn’t working and make adjustments. Or, if it isn’t working at all, you might consider trying something else.
Analytics tip: Some efforts can be more difficult to track, such as brand awareness. That doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t working or that they aren’t worth tracking. Additionally, looking at metrics like your social media engagement, mentions, and branded search volume can offer some (but not necessarily complete) insights.
Boost Your Online Presence and Grow Your Business
An online presence is a must for businesses in our digital world. It helps you stand out from your competition and get noticed. It helps you establish your credibility as a company. You’re able to reach more people and tap into markets you might never have been able to otherwise.
However, growing your presence online isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s not as simple as throwing together a website and creating accounts on Facebook and Instagram. You have to put in the effort. Things like building an eye-catching user-friendly website, constantly improving your SEO, creating valuable content, and engaging with consumers on social media will all boost your efforts. In time, you’ll see your hard work pay off as you grow your online presence and grow your business.