Business owners tend to focus on areas that are currently generating sales. After all, that’s one of the primary attributes of any modern business – to be sufficiently in tune with the marketplace to be able to both identify and optimise current income streams. The company website might be yielding dozens of enquiries suddenly, or a post on Instagram might have spurred huge interest in a particular product. In the flurry of the moment, it’s important to remember that overall image consistency is your main asset for long-term business success.
In 2019, is it even necessary to explain why your business should be out there? There are many companies that can justifiably express disinterest in ecommerce, but no company today has a good reason not to have an online presence. It helps to think of your various online portals – the company website, blog, and social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – as branches. In the same way as consumers saw a network of nationwide branches as being extremely credible in the last century, so does a consistent, professional online presence across platforms generate the same feeling of your company being professional, safe and secure.
Make no mistake: your clients – especially your potential clients – expect you to be online. It’s become exceptionally rare to be in conversation with any business and be told “We don’t have a website, no.” These online “branches” of your business – the various profiles you have built on various platforms – give your business credibility. That’s a priceless commodity, perhaps even more so than ever before.
Don’t Plug Funnels With Differing Details
If you’re feeling that your company’s online presence is too scattered or that individual platform presence is incomplete, many others do, too. While it may be obvious that life happens online nowadays, fewer businesses are wholly satisfied with all aspects of their online presence than statistics show. Of course, if you have an exceptional small business IT support company in your corner, you won’t be one of them. It might have been enough to have a basic website 20 years ago – that was positively proactive then. Today, online consumers are much wiser, more circumspect, and less tolerant of bad copy, missing or inconsistent details, and poor presentation.
There are several reasons why any business’ online presence has become so vital. Tying into customers’ expectations, the company website makes it easier for clients to find you, as well as reassures them that this really is who you are and what you do. Poor quality websites are (fortunately) mostly a thing of the past, but don’t think a DIY website using one of the free builders out there will do anything but tarnish you. Because it’s a remote, silent transaction – the one where a customer comes across you by chance or dedicated search – your online presence is a double-edged sword in a manner no former marketing tool has been.
A professional build says: “We care. We’re competent. How can we help you?” A dinky slap-up site says even more, but it’s all bad. Avoid that mistake. Invest in your online presence. It’s the cheapest – and most successful – marketing tool ever. In a nutshell, your online presence is all about opportunity. The opportunity for you to make sales through an impressive presentation of the company.
Another important point on web presence is the fact that it’s a lot easier to market your brand online. This ties right into the point above, but it’s also a valid standalone. Never has it been easier to fly your colours as it is online. It’s also never been easier to showcase your goods or services, with accompanying current specials and testimonials from existing clients. You can do it 24/7, another huge leap forward for opportunity in business. Finally, a professional and consistent online presence makes it easier than ever to start building a relationship with a client or customer. Particularly, social media platforms are all about building relationships.
Online Presence Checklist
- If you want to see what the world sees of you – search yourself! Have a look at what comes up from a Google search of your company, the website, the varying snippets, the social media accounts. The journey to a great, welcoming and reassuringly consistent online presence begins with looking at yourself from a client’s perspective. Apply whatever metrics you use when vetting businesses online yourself, and a great many things will fall into place.
- List the platforms you’re on and spend time on all of them to ensure consistency! If your company name is Big Biz Whizz, don’t let the Facebook account say “Big Biz Whizzos” or “Big Biz Inc.” That kind of small detail differing across platforms completely throws customers, who are then left “pretty sure” they’re dealing with the same company, but not completely sure. Even if the logo is consistent, one different word about the name, location or focus of the business can lead a client to believe they’re dealing with a subsidiary or competing business. They might think “this” company is offshore or only speaking to a local demographic, and most won’t bother going back to the original source where they saw your name to find out.
- If there are necessary differences with such details – clarify them! Read from a customer’s perspective, explain fully why some details might differ, and make sure you spell it out as needs be for clients. Don’t lose that “branch” effect and allow it to dissolve into lost sales because you forgot that new customers have no idea who you are.
- Unless you’re a blue stand-up comic, make sure there are no religiously insensitive or other possibly offensive details on your online platforms. Being zany or funny is fine, but take a cosmopolitan viewpoint, realise that anyone in the world might be looking at you online and about to spend money with you, and make sure your copy is engaging, informative, and polite to all.
- Be copious and consistent with contact details. Make sure they’re current and correct on your website. For example, fill in the About section on your Facebook profile as much as possible. Larger concerns with more staff might want to dedicate a particular address to a particular platform, thus knowing from whence their custom came as soon as a mail lands in an inbox. This is data or metric analysis that can be fed into the marketing wisdom, making it easier to optimise platforms more relevant for your business.
Once you start looking for discrepancies, it often proves to be a lengthy and complicated task to ensure consistency of your voice and company details across platforms. Keep at it! It’s a defining attribute. Much as getting online was imperative 20 years ago, today it’s imperative that you’re online consistently (read: familiar and frequent), and that no tiny details corrupt the Inbound experience.