How Your Business Can Increase Online Presence — and Why it Matters
By Carl Baumeister
Barely a generation ago, Madison Avenue employed a familiar box of tried-and-true tools to reach buyers, imparting targeted campaigns through a calculated mix of print, outdoor, point-of-sale, and broadcast ads. New means of communications were invented at a snail’s pace.
Print advertising was the mainstay for centuries, until a revolutionary form of communications was introduced: Radio. In 1922, radio sold its first ad.
The next big buzz took another two decades: In 1941, the first television ad was broadcast.
While minor marketing ideas came, such as cereal box ads, true innovations were relatively stagnant for a half century, until the advent of the internet in the mid-1990s, which introduced a communications floodgate that widens daily!
Most businesses get the website part. But is that enough? Perhaps for companies that aren’t looking to grow, a website could suffice. But for businesses that want to increase product awareness, connect better with customers, and increase market share, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
And despite the fact that forums such as Facebook and Twitter, which seem to proliferate like rabbits, are viewed as vital tools, many marketers neglect their impact.
Aside from the forums, are the vehicles utilized to communicate to buyers. The principle vehicle of the nascent 1990s internet was a bulky desktop computer. Now, even wristwatches routinely deliver the goods. While a 75 year-old grandma might still cut coupons from the Sunday paper, the snowboarding dude looks for bargains via social media and text alerts.
Social media evolves so quickly that many businesses hire firms such as Utah-based Boostability, consistently ranked as one of the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms in the world. In addition to helping clients’ online and social media viability, Boostability is typically more cost effective than its competitors.
Why it Really Matters
According to Boostability’s VP of Marketing, Kelly Shelton, the internet is indispensable. He says, “that’s where many consumers are” — which is not to discount conventional advertising.
“Traditional and digital advertising really work great together,” says Shelton. “To reach consumers, small businesses today need to have an online strategy that meshes well with traditional advertising.”
For GreenGeeks.com, Anna Gargioni writes, “approximately three-quarters of shoppers today will research a company online before making a purchase. More and more consumers are abandoning the traditional phone book because it doesn’t tell them anything about the company.”
Shelton adds, “Today’s consumers are empowered. They want options. Data clearly shows more and more people are searching online to find businesses.”
Mass migration away from tradition has flung many businesses into tailspin mode, and many companies easily become lost in the maze. However, there are measures companies can take on their own to rise higher upon the online landscape.
Luckily, there are doable measures for a stronger online profile, and many can be initiated with little experience. Shelton cites five basics, but prefaces: “When starting, ask yourself, ‘What makes you unique? What stands out from competition?’”
1. Get listed everywhere online.
Shelton indicates “the four main places you need to list your business. [They cover] Google My Business to Yellow Pages to Yelp to Mobile Maps”:
- Infogroup: https://www.expressupdate.com/search
- Neurstar Localeze: https://www.neustarlocaleze.biz/directory/index.aspx
- Acxiom: https://www.myacxiom.com/
- Factual: https://www.factual.com/
He adds, “Yext is a great company that will do all of this for you and will ensure that you don’t have duplicate listings. We partner with them and use their tool.”
Shelton says, “Google is the most important place to be,” and points out that what makes a business most relevant on Google are more listings, even on their competition, such as Bing.
“Make sure your name, address, and phone are accurate and consistent,” he cautions.
2. Have a good website.
“Make sure your site is responsive, mobile friendly, and adjusts to the screen, so users have a good experience.”
Shelton emphasizes a good website must be coded properly, and he counsels to “make sure your website is search friendly and speaks the language of Google.” If in doubt as to how to do that, he says to “Google that question,” which he says “will lead to plenty of DIY sites or analysis tools.”
He adds that “WordPress has a plugin called Yoast, an easy, SEO-specific step-by-step tool you can use to optimize your site.”
Companies can learn more about a website’s relevance by requesting a technical audit from an SEO firm, as well as a search audit. Boostability offers one for free: https://www.boostability.com/free-seo-tools/website-analysis
Shelton says to include an FAQ of the most common questions your customers ask, with answers worded “very clearly, very transparently, and user friendly.”
3. Social media!
Gargioni says, “Currently, one in every ten online purchases around the world originates from social media channels.” Trends dictate this number will grow significantly.
Shelton thinks, generally, “Facebook is the most important,” but for some industries, others reign. “If your business is image related, Instagram and Pinterest are important. If your audience is young, Snapchat can be very important.”
Shelton warns against setting up a Facebook page without interaction. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time, but get the basics down. Make it so customers can follow you, [and can] ‘like’ you. It builds presence.”
Even businesses that hire outside services still need to engage their social media audience. “Boostability has a great social media product. We will help create content and post it for our clients,” he says. “I call it a ‘do-with-me’ service. Together we’ll build you a strong social media presence. But you still have to participate. You still have to to respond to customers’ questions.”
4. Have a blog on your website.
“It’s a) “a great [way to convey] useful information to potential clients”; b) “relevant for search engines”; c) “good for your brand”; and d) “you can push it through your social media channels.”
“People are not looking for ads. They’re looking for information.” If pressed for time, “even a blog a month is worth doing.” Shelton points out that if your company is short on writing talent, there are “so many freelance writers out there.” If budget is an item, he suggests to “go to a university.”
Shelton divides the basic blog types by shelf life:
- Evergreen: generally, useful topics that don’t change with time. For instance, a plumbing company might have a piece on how to unclog a bathroom drain.
- Timely: topics pertinent to a particular time frame. For example, that same plumbing outfit might have an article on how to winterize a sprinkler system.
5. Community Outreach.
Shelton says to “find organizations where you can be interviewed or can contribute something. Talk to them and let them know you’re here.” Further, he says, “Maybe become a member. Typically they can link back to your website.”
Gargioni writes that “it’s estimated that eCommerce will surpass the $1 trillion mark by 2019.”
Although it’s never too late to become more relevant online, 2019 and beyond is right around the corner. And 2017 is already here — it’s the future.
Now get crackin’, online warrior!
Boostability, headquartered in Utah, is also growing rapidly in Europe, with satellite offices in Germany and The Netherlands. Boostability is one of the strong companies forging Utah’s reputation as a world-class center of technological innovation.
For more information on how Boostability helps companies become excellent in SEO and social media marketing, visit https://www.boostability.com, or call 1-800-261-1537.