How to strengthen your online presence

improving online presenceTaking your business online is probably one of the smartest moves you can make to increase your brand awareness, grow your audience of potential clients and customers and ultimately boost your sales. However, just creating website won’t do. The competition is huge, so you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has created a range of self-assessment tools to help you identify areas of improvement to ensure you’re using all available online platforms to your advantage to maximise potential profits. The following tips and strategies will prompt you to take a closer look at your status quo.

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Tool 1 – Your business website

This is where it all starts. If you want to significantly grow your audience and increase your sales, you need to have your business represented online. Recent studies in New Zealand have shown that businesses with a website make more money. However, first impressions matter and can easily determine whether your website will simply be overlooked or efficiently promote your business and drive sales.

Build trust

It all comes down to credibility. The majority of internet users will take one look at your website and decide how trustworthy you are by judging its presentation, user-friendliness and of course its content. You can sell the most amazing and beneficial products or services, but if your website doesn’t look the part, nobody will ever find out. As well as the design, consider how much text to put on your website and make it more attractive by adding audio-visual elements such as pictures, graphics or videos.

Increase engagement

Consider loading times and check out how accessible your website is from different devices. According to Google, the majority of search requests nowadays comes from smartphones. Don’t forget to provide a range of ways for potential clients or customers to engage with you. On top of your standard contact details, offer newsletter subscriptions, polls and get users to connect with you on social media. Allowing your audience to make purchases or appointments online also helps to maximise your profits.

Strengthen your brand

Your website is the best way to increase brand awareness if it actually reflects your business. How recognisable is your URL? Will people remember it? Having your business name as part of your URL as well as your email domain can significantly increase users’ trust in you and strengthen your brand. The more likely potential customers link your website to the industry you’re working in, the better.

Ways to ensure you’re always first in mind is for your website to appear on page 1 in Google search results. To find out where your business is ranked, undertake a few searches yourself that are relevant to your business, your industry and the products or services you supply. If you’re not among the Top 10 results, it’s time to boost your SEO strategy.

Check how up to date your website is and evaluate how often you review it, add new content, provide features or ways to engage with your business. Consider how much input you still have or whether you have outsourced the content production. Do you have a blog that provides regular high-quality content relevant to your readers? Do you present yourself as a leader in your field or do you simply copy what others do?

Tool 2 – Digital marketing

Apart from maintaining a successful website, using other social media platforms is also an essential part of your digital marketing strategy. Which social media accounts is your business linked to, how often do you use them and how well are they interconnected? Every day, more than 3 billion users actively engage on social media. What easier way to find new potential customers and clients and increase word of mouth about your brand?

Strategic planning

Using social media accounts can either be a huge waste of time and resources – or actually help strengthen your brand and turn your audience into clients or customers. What you need is a purpose-driven strategy for each account. Think about how often you post and what you post about, whether you include links to relevant pages on your website or feature products and services. Consider investing in paid advertising on social media, boosting posts or creating sponsored content for your relevant audience to attract new clients. Other avenues to keep in mind are online advertisements such as Google Adwords, ad banners or promotions on relevant external websites.

If your budget doesn’t allow for big ads, start engaging with your audience via email. Having an email marketing strategy in place is not only free, it also helps build and maintain an ongoing relationship with existing and potential customers. Using a customer relationship management software will help you stay on top of your client base as it’s growing.

Tool 3 – Digital tools

The future lies in cloud-based computing. It helps you save time and money, increases productivity and security. Ask yourself which digital tools you are currently using, whether you are getting the best deals with your online services such as provider, email and website host and how open you are to home office. Many businesses lose valuable time if colleagues are sick or on holiday. However, if all employees can access your systems from anywhere and anytime, jobs will get done no matter what.

Increased productivity

Cloud-based file management systems can help connect your team, simplify access for everyone and decrease your workload, making it easier to work on bigger projects. Incorporating work chats or video conferencing can further enhance your productivity, allowing people to work from home if necessary. Stress levels are reduced because nobody needs to worry anymore about kids being sick or if it’s impossible to physically get to work due to flooding or road closures. Being more flexible and able to work remotely can significantly increase everyone’s work-life-balance which in turn produces happier employees.

Reduced costs

Rather than investing in expensive external software for accounting or human resources, you can now use cloud-based services for almost anything. It reduces costs while increasing efficiency. There’s no need to wait for the IT guy to come and maintain software or servers. If everything is stored in the cloud, you can access it from anywhere. Wiped your computer hard drive and lost all your data? That won’t happen anymore, either, as you can back everything up in the cloud as well to avoid filling up your servers. After all, how well prepared are you for a crisis if your servers collapses today?

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