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Online vs. Digital Presence: What You Need to Know

An online presence is precisely that…when someone finds your business website online. And the numbers tell us that just about everyone looking for products and services today begins that search online. 

So if online presence is your website, what’s digital presence? It is, in fact, a combination of the following: 

  1. Your business website
  2. The social media sites you are using
  3. An online business profile (Google My Business)
  4. Online reviews about your business
  5. Digital ads (Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.)

One study found that more than half of potential customers looking for a product or service will search online for reviews and recommendations before making a purchase. About 47% of those customers visit the company website compared to 26% checking out the physical store. Just 23% of the people in the study talked with family or friends. 

Your online presence (your website) may be completely under your control. But as you can see, your digital presence really is not. 

And yet, what you do online can and will affect the quality of the digital presence of your small or midsize business.

Optimize your business website

It should go without saying that the place to start improving your digital presence is to ensure that your website is as up-to-date and as professional as possible.

Make sure your site works well on mobile devices. Also ensure it’s easy to navigate are the most basic things you can do to give your users a good experience. As we’ve discussed before, making sure your site is optimized for search engines is also an important step to take.

Create a business blog and post regularly

Having new and relevant content will greatly improve your chances of being found in search engines if you are writing the type of content that your customers (and prospective customers) are looking for.

On top of this, you can post your new blog posts on your social media site, which brings people in from those channels as well.

Solidify your Social Media

There are many types of social media channels, but that doesn’t mean you need to be on all of those channels. Do some research and find out where your customers are…and then focus on only one or two channels at most. 

Social media can be effective but it can also be very time-consuming. There is nothing sadder than a Facebook page that hasn’t had a new post for two years! 

The lesson here is that unless you are going to commit to working your social media channels, either hire someone else to do them or stay away until you are ready to consistently tackle that job.

Get a Google My Business Account

Building a business profile on Google is not hard, yet many small businesses overlook this easy (and free) step. 

Especially if you have customers who search for you locally, having a business profile set up in Google ensures you will show up in relevant searches. No matter what business you are in, almost every search begins online.

The information you have provided, such as your address, hours, website and other information will come up through your Google business account when customers are searching for your product or service. 

One thing that many small businesses don’t think about is making sure that the correct information about their business. Think address or phone number that shows up in a Google search.  Make sure the customers find legitimate information that comes directly from you.

Interestingly, 70% of people are more likely to visit your business website when they find you through a Google My Business listing.

Pay Attention to Online Reviews

This fact should not surprise anyone who purchases online: Research with Think by Google found that almost 9 out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.

You don’t have control over online reviews. But you can (and should) encourage your happy customers to leave feedback about your business. Seeing a number of highly ranked reviews can encourage online searchers to check out your business right away.

If you do find you have negative reviews, it’s important to address those right away. Search Engine Journal suggests reaching out to unhappy customers and apologizing and empathizing. Even a prospective customer who reads that negative review knows you care about the opinion of your customers.

In addition to online reviews, people can and do leave comments on your social media sites. It’s important to stay on top of those. Do respond to people as quickly as possible. Anyone who follows you on social media will see what is said about you…and by you!

Digital advertising

Some entrepreneurs used digital advertising as a way to boost their brand and support their organic search (SEO) efforts. 

Digital advertising, whether it is on Facebook, Google, Instagram or others, can help you boost your brand to those in your networks. Or, depending on your goals, you can expose your business to new or prospective customers.

One benefit of digital advertising is that you will gain metrics relatively quickly. This feedback allows business owners to make changes in their strategy if they find the original effort is not successful.

On the other side of the coin, paying for digital advertising can be quite costly. 

The goal of digital advertising?  To get more revenue from running the ad than you are putting into it. While that sounds simple, it is vital to understand which channel and strategy will bring you the best results. 

In fact, HubSpot has an excellent guide to understanding the different types of digital advertising and how they can be used to enhance your digital presence.

 Setting the Foundation for an Outstanding Digital Presence

What you say about yourself—as well as what others say about you—will affect your customers’ decisions. And that is all probably long before that customer ever talks to anyone in your actual business.

The key to understanding and enhancing your digital presence begins with having the right marketing foundational tools to achieve success. Having a strong online presence is key, yet there are other factors that will contribute to your success.

If you are curious about how strong your marketing foundation is, check out our free 10 question quiz that will give you immediate feedback. And if you need a bit of help getting started in the right direction, book a quick call and we’ll talk!

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.