In the past, an online presence was a luxury – but as society’s focus and attention has shifted to the digital arena, it has become an absolute necessity. A carefully crafted website and fully-operational social media profiles can lay the framework for business success, whereas disorder and dysfunction can lead to outright failure.
Cautionary tales abound of businesses that merely established an Internet-identity, but failed to capitalize on their foray into the online market. Your website and social media outlets should serve as the technological extension of your face-to-face efforts. If the goods and services you provide are the award-winning entrée, your digital persona is the host that greets your patrons — and many a dining experience has been ruined by a poor first impression.
The continuously evolving nature of the online world may appear daunting at first, but the good news is that today’s technology makes it easier than ever for a business to create and maintain a stout Internet presence. While getting up and running seems simple enough, there’s still a lot of work that goes into creating an appealing and engaging personal brand online. There are five key components to building and maintaining a powerful online presence. How are you doing with each of these?
1. Your website should be branded, interactive and engaging.
It’s not enough for a business website today to simply contain a list of information, a description of goods and services and contact information. An effective website must be engaging and compelling, and maintain the viewer’s attention to the point that they want to pick up the phone and find out more. That means understanding your target market enough to “hook” them – and it means creating a site that echoes your expertise and the brand you are creating.
When designing a top-flight company website – or consulting with a third-party that will handle the technical design aspects – you should make sure you’re keenly in-tune with your desired audience and customers. Your target market will greatly influence your projected online branding: from the site’s individualized layout and color scheme to functionality. If there is disparity between your business goals and objectives and what you’re hoping to promote, it will glaringly be reflected on your website.
2. Demonstrate value.
“Value” is the magic word. If your website, blogs, articles, and social media outlets don’t provide tangible value to your audience, they will be ignored. Use these platforms to share breaking news, analyze recent developments, and provide informational and practical tips to your audience. Update on a regular and consistent basis with new and exciting content that proves beneficial to your online-readership.
3. Leverage email marketing.
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Social media is one great way to engage your audience – but it only works when they’re online and using social media themselves. Email marketing, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to consistently interact with your customers and your market as long as they are checking their email inbox (And these days, who isn’t?) Remember to focus on providing value in order to keep your readers engaged. However, if email marketing is overused it will be treated as spam. Keep your newsletters and e-updates to a monthly basis to maintain your maximum open-rate and subscriber base.
4. Want subscribers? Toss in a ‘freebie’.
Your email marketing campaigns are a great way to stay top-of-mind with your customers and to keep your market aware of what you are offering. But if you don’t have any email addresses to send to, what does it matter? One of the most effective ways to build a targeted email list is by offering free content, such as e-books, special reports, video seminars, and so forth. Simply require that the user give you their email address in order to access the content. Promote these freebies on your website and through social media, and you will see your email list start to grow steadily.
5. Use pictures and video to tell your story.
You know the saying – a picture is worth 1,000 words. A video is even more powerful. The simple truth is that pictures and video are far more engaging than pages and pages of text. So embrace it! Create a video introducing yourself and welcoming people to your site. Share pictures and video of your team at work. Testimonial videos are powerful persuaders. Take advantage of visual media to keep your audience engaged and actively involved in your business.
Your online presence is one of the cornerstones of your business – and it should be treated as such. Guarantee that your body of Internet outlets – from your website to your social media platforms and email lists – are vibrant, highly-functional and continually updated with the latest information that is tailored to your target-audience. These sites do not exist simply as advertising boards: they are an integral part of the 21st century marketplace and are becoming the differentiator between a successful business or a failing organization.