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Take Your Small Business Online, Then to the Top

Can a small business survive in 2018 without being online? It’s possible. But the odds of survival without some sort of web presence are exceedingly thin, and growing slimmer by the day. That’s because in the U.S. and across the world, more people are looking past brick-and-mortar options and increasingly spending their money online.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently released retail information from 2017, and their data shows that e-commerce purchases (on items that typically can be bought in store and online) grew 16% year-over-year – the fastest pace of expansion since 2011. All told, e-commerce represented nearly half of retail sales’ growth last year.

That’s just a snapshot of the retail world, and doesn’t even include the increased importance of e-commerce sales for people who provide services, from dog walkers to insurance salesmen to even lawyers and architects.

An online presence is especially vital for small businesses, as it can help you level the playing field and gain visibility without spending big money on billboards or print and TV ads. The following are some tips on how to create (or improve) your web presence.

4 Tips to Make Your Small Business’ Online Presence Strong

1. Focus on Design: There’s a reason why large businesses spend millions of dollars trying to perfect their corporate logos: branding matters. Design is an important part of making your brand visually appealing. It also conveys a clear message to everyone your marketing materials make contact with.

This infiltrates every layer of your business, online or not. Logos and colors must be well-thought-out to give would-be customers the appropriate impression of your business. Even your website’s design must be carefully considered to make sure you’re maximizing every visit – that means clear navigation, easy-to-read text and inherent call-to-action buttons.

2. Mind SEO: Search engine optimization is a set of rules and guidelines that, when followed, are meant to give a website or web page a better chance of getting noticed by search engines such as Google or Bing. This is important as it’s one of the cheapest ways to get people to find you. All it takes is someone searching for what it is you do online.

You can put up a website filled with enticing content and eye-catching visuals. However, if you don’t build your website and posts with SEO best practices in mind, it’s much less likely that potential customers will find you. For instance, if you provide plumbing services, it’s important that you optimize your site for likely search topics related to your business – “local plumber,” “plumber in (location),” “what do I do if my toilet overflows,” etc. If your site is properly optimized, it become much more likely that someone searching for these terms will find the answer: you!

3. Get Social: Another inexpensive (and sometimes free) way to get exposure for your website and business is social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and more.

Setting up an account is free, and you can use social posts to entertain and inform your customers – and, of course, occasionally let them know about the products or services you provide. Better yet, social posts done right can result in your followers doing some of the legwork for you, sharing your posts with their friends and family. Translation: More free marketing.

If you want to supercharge the social effect, many social media networks also offer paid advertising options that allow your small business to target certain demographics, giving you a better chance of success.

4. Use Data: Social media networks, as well as search engines such as Google, can also help small businesses collect data on their customers – what kind of people are seeing your posts and website, who’s actually clicking through, and what people are interacting with. This data can be invaluable in helping shape your efforts going forward.

Is one area of your website going completely ignored? If you know that’s the case, you can work on tweaks to either attract more people to that area, or somehow use the space in a more effective manner. Not sure which marketing message will resonate better with potential customers? Try small test campaigns using two messages and let Facebook tell you what enjoyed the better run.

While we’re not website experts, McManamon & Co. does offer a range of services for small businesses, including tax assistance, business consulting services and paperless office support. Contact us at 440.892.9088 or online to learn more!


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