Whether you’re a brick and mortar, service-based or ecommerce business, having a strong online presence is essential to winning at marketing.
What is online presence?
When we talk about online presence, we generally refer to the collective existence of a business that can be found online.
This can of course include websites and social media accounts, but also publications on third-party websites, email lists, organic visibility and so on.
In a nutshell, anything that allows a business to share information on its products and services is part of its online presence.
What are the benefits of having an online presence?
Setting up a website and creating a few social media profiles is no longer enough. As markets become more competitive, having a strong online presence is essential to the success of any brand, regardless of size or industry.
Investing in improving your online presence will allow you to cut through the noise and it will allow potential customers to find you, get to know you, interact with you and most importantly, learn to trust you.
Our top strategies to build, boost and manage your online presence
Let’s dive in and discuss the top strategies you can use to build, boost and manage your online presence today. Our main picks are:
- Create a user-centric website
- Create relevant content
- Know your audience, then select your channels
- Drive traffic to your website with SEO
- Make the most of social media
- Build an email list
- Don’t forget local marketing
1. Create a user-centric website
When building a new website or improving an existing one, “designing for the user experience” should be your mantra. Forget about fancy features, personal preferences and internal politics – your users need to be your priority. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at how many businesses fail on this front.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits all design that checks off the user-centric box, a research phase, whether that’s market research or SEO keyword research, ahead of design and build will guarantee that your customers’ needs are brought to the forefront.
Use a balance between qualitative and quantitative research to build a holistic picture and create a website that’s easy for visitors to navigate, is enjoyable to read, and most importantly addresses their preferences and pain points.
2. Create relevant content
Great user experience and relevant content go hand in hand.
One way to look at content is the distinction between owned, earned and paid media. If you really want to improve your online presence, all three types need to be an integral part of your content strategy.
- Owned content is what you’re completely in control of, such as your website, blog posts, social media posts and YouTube channel. It’s through owned content that, as a brand, you have the opportunity to show off what makes you a great company and build trust with prospective customers.
- Earned content refers to information shared by the public and the press. This includes reviews, social media mentions, endorsements and articles about you on third party sites. While you don’t have full control over earned content, there are ways in which you can influence the conversations.
- Paid content is when you pay in order to be featured on another website, whether it’s in the form of an advertorial on an industry publication or a sponsored post on Facebook.
What do all these types of content have in common? They have to be created with your users in mind and if you focus your attention on reaching people that need you, you can’t go wrong.
3. Know your audience, then select your channels
Establishing your online presence means very little if, as a brand, you’re showing up in all the wrong places.
The easiest way to get a good understanding of how to best reach your audience is to carry out customer research. Speaking directly to customers about their habits and preferences will enable you to put together a plan that uses the channels they frequent the most.
Once you’ve strategically selected your channels, you can then match them to your customer needs.
As well as showing up on the right channels with the right message, ensure that you have a good understanding of how your audience wants to interact with you. It could be by phone, social media, email or live chat. Whichever your audience prefers, make sure it’s as easy as possible for them to do so.
4. Drive traffic to your website with SEO
Did you know that 75% of internet users don’t click past the first page of search results and 68% of all online activities start with a search engine? These two statistics really show how essential SEO is to a business of any size.
SEO is all about making it easy for prospective customers to find you, particularly when they don’t know your business even exists.
The easiest way to get started is to carry out keyword research to shortlist those all-important keywords that best represent what you sell as a business.
Once you have your keyword set, you can then create helpful, unique and comprehensive content on your site that includes said keywords and enables customers to get to know you and your products.
Combine accurate keyword targeting with a reliable technical setup, great backlinks from authority websites and expert user experience to start climbing Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and produce the results you want.
With SEO you’re never “done”, but the sooner you start incorporating this stream of work into your marketing strategy, the sooner you’ll see your online presence take off.
5. Make the most of social media
While social media platforms are ever-evolving, they still remain a free and easy tool that businesses of all sizes can use to grow their online presence and connect directly with existing and prospective customers.
Making the most of social media greatly depends on how much time and resource you have available within the business and on whether you are willing to invest into paid advertising on these platforms.
We always recommend starting small by focusing your efforts on the social media platform most relevant to your business and where your customers are most active.
Generally speaking, B2B brands will tend to choose LinkedIn and/or Twitter, whilst B2C brands will expand their reach more effectively using Facebook, Instagram and/or TikTok.
As part of a social media strategy, optimise your profiles, post consistently and with purpose, and actively engage with your audience to encourage new followers and strengthen your presence.
If budget allows, brands with a more proficient social media team can also use paid social advertising to build a highly engaged audience. Strive to always provide value while showing off your personality and you can’t go wrong.
6. Build an email list
As we face the loss of third-party cookies, leading to challenges when trying to track and understand customer behaviour, having a successful first-party data strategy has become essential to any business wanting to boost their online presence. Building an email list is a fantastic place to start.
An email marketing campaign is one of the oldest digital marketing strategies and yet, when done right, it remains extremely effective.
Begin by choosing a reliable email provider and create a high converting landing page which makes it easier for your customers to sign up and highlights the benefits of being part of the list. At this point, an enticing incentive such as a welcome discount can work really well to help you seal the deal.
The type of email communication to send to customers will depend on your objectives.
Newsletters are great to share information and to keep them up to date with what’s going on with your brand, while sales-focused emails work very well to raise brand awareness of your products and services.
No matter the email type, always make sure that every piece of email communication includes a clear call to action to make it easy for customers to understand what you want them to do next.
Without a doubt, there is a lot of truth in the saying “the money is in the list”.
7. Don’t forget local marketing
Local marketing refers to any strategy used to target an audience in a specific geographical space.
This is extremely effective for local businesses that are tied to a physical location, such as professional services, hospitality businesses and retail stores.
The easiest and most cost effective way to boost your local online presence is to work on your local SEO, with the ultimate goal of improving your visibility online for location-specific searches, such as ‘solicitors in Nottingham’.
With almost half of all searches having a local intent and the vast majority of local searches translating into in-person visits to a business, it’s easy to see why local SEO is a must.
From sharing your contact information and keeping opening hours up to date, to posting updates and responding to customer reviews, Google My Business is another tool that will help you boost your online presence locally in no time at all.
When done right, local marketing can be a goldmine for your business – take a look at our local SEO checklist to get started.
While we have focused on online presence in this post, remember that customers these days expect to access your brand across every accessible medium, which very often includes offline.
Every business is unique and how you implement the strategies above should reflect your product, service and industry. Growing your online presence is a long-term game and the only way to keep improving is by constantly measuring and tweaking activity through data-driven decisions.
If you need help to cut through the noise and focus on what really matters, don’t hesitate to get in touch.