For a company, no matter what size, to be successful in the market today, you need to be online. Some small businesses that have been around for years think the internet is not for them, and they can survive without it, but their future is looking quite bleak. The Covid-19 pandemic at the start of 2020 shows us that businesses that do not adapt to new technology proactively will struggle. A lack of digital channels means they cannot meet consumer demands, leading to a lack of opportunities to continue business growth.
One of the most notable cases in recent years is Blockbuster. The video rental giant enjoyed massive success during the 1990s as consumers could visit the store to rent movies and video games. However, as the new Millennium hit, the company believed people would continue to prefer store visits over the mail order and later streaming service that competitors like Netflix could offer.
The reluctance of Blockbuster to create a digital presence let Netflix source past them and start their demise. While you may not believe a digital presence is essential today, think about what your industry and competition might be doing. Being available digitally is the future and a necessity for business success.
In this post, we look at ways to boost your digital presence.
What is a digital or online presence?
The term “online presence” is a little ambiguous. Once upon a time, it meant just getting a website created and crossing your fingers until it appeared on Google. That has changed dramatically in the last decade. As the digital ecosystem has grown exponentially, we’ve seen a mass of social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), blogging sites (WordPress, Blogger), video streaming networks (YouTube, TikTok), business listings (Google My Business) and mobile apps and Internet of Things (IoT) devices like Alexa and Google Home.
Being part of all of these is having a digital presence. In a competitive world with billions of websites, businesses need to be where their customers are.
What you should already be doing
Although the focus is on ways to boost your digital presence, let’s have a quick look at things that should already form part of every digital marketing plan.
First and foremost, everybody needs to have a website. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are; a website is a space that gives you a sense of credibility and trust. According to Blue Corona, 30% of consumers won’t even consider buying from a business that doesn’t have a website, and 75% judge a company based on their website design.
We will also assume that you have a search engine optimization strategy in place. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. The results people get when searching for products are services are based on algorithms that check attributes like the relevance of the content, how well the site displays on mobile and if other people are posting links to that site.
An SEO strategy ensures you are visible on search engines and has to be a primary focus when building a digital presence.
Of course, everyone should be available on social media today if they want to speak to their customers. Social media is great for businesses to communicate with their customers. As early as 18th March 2020, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had witnessed twice their usual level of volume via WhatsApp and Messenger than before the pandemic. Social media use increased across every age demographic, creating larger target audiences for businesses.
Knowing your customers
The first step in boosting your digital presence is to understand who your customers are. It is quite common for businesses to take a broad approach, such as targeting a specific age group or gender. In principle, this is not a problem, but how do you engage with those customers? What type of content do they like to watch, and how do they consume it?
For example, you might have an award-winning product for gardeners. To promote the product, you post ads all over Instagram, with great graphics and interactive visuals. However, what if people who like gardening tend to be on Facebook and prefer written information over visual guides? The work you have done to promote the product doesn’t get seen by the right audience.
A digital presence is crucial, but it needs to be in the right places. Gather data from surveys, testing, and usability tests to get valuable insights into your target customers.
Expand your social profile
Once you determine who your customers are and where they spend their time, it may require you to expand your social media platform use. Faceback tends to be the go-to for businesses, but younger generations are migrating to other social channels. Each platform also has it’s own unique selling points, which will be more relevant depending on your product and service.
Using visuals like video and infographics is key to social media success in the 21st century. The rapid growth of the TikTok app at the start of 2020 tells us just about everything we need to know regarding short-form video content.
A Tweet containing a video has six times more of a chance of being retweeted than a photo or text. Adding the right content can quickly amplify your social media efforts and accelerate your digital presence.
Brand equity and authority
Brand equity is a concept that refers to the value of being a name that customers trust. As a brand becomes more well-known, they can generate more revenue from audience recognition, without the need for expensive advertising campaigns. For example, if Amazon were to launch a new product that is precisely the same as My Company Ltd as double the price, the reputation of Amazon would still be able to outsell the unknown business.
Building equity and authority takes many years. The Lego Group sits at the top of the reputation pile right now, with Amazon back in fifth after being top previously. The reason for those that rank well tends to be a portrayal of excellent brand culture, social responsibility, and engaging product range.
As a brand, you need to think about whether audiences can connect and relate to you. You can achieve this by delivering high-quality content, regularly, in places that those customers want to see you.
The founder of Grow and Convert, Benji Hyam, talks about how the CloudPeeps Facebook Group, which aims itself at marketing freelancers is one where he promotes his agency’s blog. The group has given him great success as it is full of people that appreciate the content where is engages with their profession. Benji consistently talks to the right target audience, and with that has developed a brand authority.
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Be ready for voice
Voice search is changing how users consume media and purchase goods. The way we speak to devices to different from written text. For example, if you are looking for hotels in Barcelona, a written search may say “Barcelona hotels,” whereas, with voice, you would say, “Can you show me the best hotels in Barcelona.”
It is time to adapt your content to fit these long-tail keywords and phrases. Tools such as Answer The Public can tell you the type of questions people are asking within your industry or niche. The phrases the platform provides can act as an excellent guide for your blog and social content. When somebody asks those questions via a voice search, it will enable you to continue appearing within results pages.
Over 22% of voice searches made are looking for local content e.g. “places near me.” Optimize your listings like Google My Business to ensure it includes enough information about you. The average voice search result is around 29 words longs, so create summary answers and FAQs on your page that can closely match what people are trying to say.
Staying visible with voice search is crucial with over 50% of searches being driven in that way.
A robust digital presence is pivotal for customers to know who you are, what you do, where you are, when you open, and why you do what you do. A positive online presence will be able to answer all of these questions without much effort for the customer. The tips in this article provide an overview of things you can do to help accelerate digital growth, but in an ever-changing world, it is vital to monitor and improve your strategy continually.
A digital presence is a long-term initiative, not a quick fix. Think about where you want to be in five years, and starting acting now before the competition beats you to it.