Build Your Marketing Foundation: Your Online Presence (Website and Digital Marketing)

Any marketing foundation starts with an understanding of your overarching business goals. Once those are well understood, they will help you shape your company’s marketing goals and start addressing your marketing foundation, beginning with your audience. Defining your audience will help you determine the right messaging to help you reach your goals as well as ensure you are building a strong brand identity. Your next step would be to ensure your online presence is easy to find and active.

For most people, building an online presence is a matter of executing certain tactics: Building (or refreshing) a website, getting more social media likes, running an SEO audit. Sure, those things are important, but they make sense only as part of an overall customer journey for your potential clients/customers.

Think of your potential clients as window shoppers. They’re looking for something and it’s up to you to pique their interest. Your online presence should turn a window shopper into a loyal client by stopping them from just browsing and enticing them to take a deeper look. Compare your website and other digital assets to what a storefront used to be: It’s an invitation for your audience to see what you can offer them. When you place your online presence as a top priority in building your marketing foundation, you will grow your audience and watch your business thrive.

Why Having an Online Presence is Essential for Your Business?

Embracing online platforms and strategies will help your business thrive and remain competitive in the marketplace. One of the best ways to reach your audience is digitally, through websites, social media, paid online advertising, and email marketing, because doing so is faster and more convenient and does not require some of the more expensive traditional marketing and advertising options. Digital marketing makes building and reaching an audience more accessible to all businesses no matter the budget. When done well, a strong digital presence should:

  1. Provide Convenience and Easy Access. An online presence is a fast, easy way for potential clients to learn more about your business, around the clock, anywhere in the world. With a website or an online store, people can browse your products or services, make purchases, and contact you at their convenience. This accessibility enhances the user experience and expands your reach beyond physical locations or availability.
  2. Further Your Reach and Visibility. Through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, social media marketing, and advertising, you can improve your website’s ranking in search engine results and attract more visitors. In other words, with the right strategy and execution your business will pop up on the first page when someone searches for the type of services or goods you offer. This exposure can lead to increased brand awareness and generate more leads.
  3. Build Credibility and Trust. A well-designed website with informative content, customer testimonials, and positive reviews establishes your business as reliable and trustworthy with your target audience. Providing valuable and easy-to-follow information through blogs, videos, or social media platforms positions your brand as an industry expert, strengthening your reputation.
  4. Promote Your Brand. Online platforms offer opportunities to showcase your brand’s identity and unique selling proposition. This gets your audience to see why they want what you have to offer. Consistent branding across your website, social media, and other online marketing platforms helps create a memorable and consistent brand image. By effectively communicating your brand’s values, mission, and story, you can differentiate your business from competitors and attract clients who resonate with your brand.
  5. Engage Your Audience. Do you have direct and immediate interaction with your potential clients? Interactive website features, social media platforms and email marketing allow you to engage with your audience, answer questions, and provide client support. Building strong relationships with your clients through online channels will foster loyalty, garner repeat business, and encourage positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  6. Collect Market Research for Data Analysis. You can gather valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences through analytics tools. With these tools you can track website traffic, monitor client engagement, and gather data on demographics and user preferences. This valuable information can guide your marketing strategies, allowing you to adjust your messaging and even your products or services based on the needs of your audience.
  7. Provide Cost-Effective Marketing. Compared to traditional marketing methods, online marketing can offer a cost-effective way to promote your business. Social media advertising, email marketing campaigns, and content development can be tailored to your budget and provide measurable results you can use to grow your business.

What Digital Components Does Your Business Need to Build a Strong Online Presence?

First and foremost, you’ll want a website, one that provides relevant and engaging information about your products or services. On top of that, it should be easy to navigate and enjoyable to use. In today’s digital environment the website experience isn’t just a “nice to have”—more and more, search engines are taking the users’ experience into account when ranking pages.

Once your website is in place, you can build out the digital assets you will own, starting with email marketing. With an email marketing program, you build a list of active subscribers that you own because they agreed to receive the communications from your business and can unsubscribe at any time. Building that list of subscribers will be one of your most valuable marketing assets. Consider how nice it would be to send a communication to a list of clients and prospects whenever you want. Sounds nice, right?

Developing a blog is also a great way to attract more people to your website and to provide valuable education for your audience. This would be content that you create that helps you provide tremendous value to your target audience while highlighting your expertise. Your blog will get noticed online when it has the appropriate search engine optimization (SEO), which includes not only using the right keywords, but also providing relevant information and keeping users glued to your page with interesting and relevant content and tools. Better SEO means you are providing a better experience for users, and the reward is a prime ranking that will draw additional web traffic to your site.

Other digital platforms you should consider establishing are the relevant social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Threads, etc. Engaging and active social media profiles have the power to foster client interaction. Remember that to stay relevant to your target audience, your posts should align with your messaging, resonate with your existing clients and attract new clients to learn more about your brand.

As important as SEO and social media activity are, don’t forget how powerful customer reviews can be. Positive online reviews and ratings will help you build a good reputation and solidify trust with your audience.

Remember to be consistent across all channels. The point is to leave a clear path for clients so they move from being merely curious to making an informed choice to purchase from your company.

Putting the Components Together Into a Customer Journey

Again, when setting up your online presence, don’t think of each asset (website, social media page, reviews, etc.) as a standalone marketing asset. Each interaction the audience has is a step along a path your clients take, ultimately leading to their decision to make a purchase or not make a purchase.

Start by researching and understanding how your clients found you. Did they see a relevant post on Facebook? Were they Googling a specific problem or question? Did they see a review on Yelp? Make it a habit to ask your clients how they heard about you—that will give you invaluable intel about your customers’ journey.

If your clients are not finding you online (for example, if you don’t currently have a digital presence), you can make a few educated guesses on where to start by looking at what the competition is doing online. For example, if you are a local restaurant, you’d be crazy not to pay attention to review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. If, however, you are a small accounting firm, you will want to pay attention to your Google business profile, tap into the power of LinkedIn and ensure your website is optimized for keyword phrases such as “small business accountant.”

Once you gather the data on which marketing platforms are ideal for your audience, and which are simply nice-to-have, you can begin thinking through the customer journey. Where can you build brand awareness? Where will you capture their attention? Where would they naturally go for more information? How can they be reminded of your offer? Where and how do they make a purchase or close a deal?

And most importantly, how do you move them from one stage to another, building trust with your ideal client each step of the way? 

Tips for Establishing an Online Presence that Generates Leads and Sales

Once you have a basic map of your customer journey, it’s time to get to work. Here’s a rough guide to help you get started:

1) Develop a Great Website

  • Develop a user-friendly and visually appealing website that represents your brand.
  • Register a domain name that reflects your brand and choose a reliable web-hosting service.
  • Design your website with simple navigation, relevant content, and effective calls-to-action.
  • Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices (more than 50% of consumers are accessing sites via their phones) and follow SEO best practices for better visibility in search engine results.

2) Set Up an Email Marketing Platform

  • There are a lot of email marketing platforms to choose from for your business – find one that fits your list size, the features you need and your budget.
  • Create an email marketing strategy that fits the needs of your business and aligns with your audience, brand messaging and business goals.
  • Determine how you will build and grow your list – promote list signup through your social media accounts, add a signup form to your website and automate connections between your email platform and CRM.
  • Be consistent! Determine, as part of your strategy, how often you will communicate with your list and stick to your schedule with relevant, valuable content.

3) Establish Social Media Profiles

  • Determine the social media platforms that align with your audience and business goals. Create profiles on platforms such as Google Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or others that are relevant to your industry.
  • Optimize your profiles with consistent branding and links to your website.
  • Regularly update your social media accounts with new and engaging content, interact with your followers, and respond to comments and messages to continue building those relationships.
  • Don’t overdo it! Set up the platforms you and your team can reasonably manage. Think quality over quantity.

4) Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

  • Create valuable and relevant content, such as blog posts and videos, that resonate with your audience.
  • Share this content on your website, social media platforms, and other relevant online channels. Regularly update your blog or create a content calendar to maintain consistency and customer engagement.
  • Think of ways to repurpose the content you create so you can get the most from it – take long form content like blogs or webinars and break them into smaller pieces like social media posts, smaller videos and email blurbs.

5) Engage with Your Audience

  • Actively engage with your audience through social media, email marketing, and other online channels. Respond to comments, messages, and reviews promptly and professionally.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and testimonials.
  • Consider implementing website live chat, chatbot features or texting for real-time customer support.

6) Implement Online Advertising

  • Utilize online advertising platforms, such as Google Ads or social media advertising, to reach your target audience effectively.
  • Develop targeted ad campaigns based on demographics, interests, or keyword searches.
  • Monitor the performance of your ads to optimize your marketing budget and achieve better results.

7) Gather Metrics and Analyze 

  • Review your company goals and marketing goals you are trying to achieve in light of your customer journey. Ask: Which metrics can effectively measure progress toward those goals? Is it website traffic, user behavior, engagement metrics, or conversion rates?
  • Set up tools for monitoring your online presence, such as Google Analytics, social media reports, or other analytics platforms. Use this data to understand what strategies are working, make data-driven decisions, and continually improve your customer experience by refining your online presence. 

Final Thoughts

Building and maintaining an effective online presence is an ongoing process that requires you to stay updated with emerging trends, adapt to changes in the digital landscape, and consistently evaluate and improve your online strategies to ensure your business remains relevant and competitive online.

But let’s be honest: Setting up an online presence for your business can feel like a lot. Before getting overwhelmed, it helps to see where you are currently, and what will most likely move the needle when it comes to gaining and retaining clients. To get started with that assessment, we highly recommend our Marketing Physical to take the guesswork out of your marketing and begin implementing a solid marketing plan.

We live in an age where there will always be multiple components to any successful marketing program. Don’t only become enamored with all of the shiny new tools at your disposal. Remember: Your online presence is a part of your marketing foundation, and it pays to look at that presence with a strategic eye.

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