Why have a website? Why is a digital presence important?
Here are a few reasons why you should have a website and a good overall web presence, including a website, but not just a website on its own.
Plus a few tips on how to manage your overall web presence to get the best from it. It constantly needs attention.
The times they are a changin’. Everybody Googles everything, including you. It would have been a good idea to establish a really good web presence ten years ago. But failing that, now is the next best time to address this. This is the foundation for your Marketing activity.
We all go online looking for news, recipes, suppliers, restaurants, gifts or when researching information. It used to be important to be in the Yellow or Golden Pages, but that is passé now. We all need to be able to be found online when someone is Googling or looking online for us, our service or our products. People do a search and want answers immediately 24/7/365, so we have to offer that service. How we appear will define what people think of us and dictate their next click or action. That web presence is our shop window, so it needs to be dressed well, to showcase our company, business, products or services. We do need to optimise our web presence, so that we get found by the people we want to reach. We can also use the web to offer Customer Support, to answer questions, provide FAQs or Guides. Or you can offer Live Chat or email response. This allows people ask a question when it suits them. We just have to be open to getting these queries via Live Chat, eMail, Snaps, Facebook Messenger, Whats App etc.
This is a huge opportunity for all of us. Now we can market to a wider audience. We can make widgets in Ireland and sell them in Iowa. Design houses in Dublin and sell them to builders in Dubai. Catch crab in Donegal and sell them to fishmongers in Osaka. We can sell online, we can communicate online. And we can use any marketing medium to send people to our web presence where they can engage with us.
Compete on the online High Street
As ever the big retailers and brands are prolific online. Why? They realise that they need to turn up and they will advertise online to get found. The glossy magazines get less and less advertising spend, as it goes online now to Google Adwords and Facebook advertising etc. But, there is a wonderful opportunity for smaller, niche suppliers to compete with the big guns.The web can be a great equaliser. The big spenders may get found, but the smaller guys can also get found by optimising their presence. This way you can be found organically, avoiding any big spend on Google Adwords or Facebook.
Building a web presence
People often think that a website is your web presence, but it is only a part of it. It is a very important part and is like a big digital business card and a shop window. It can be considered your land, a foundation, where you build a presence and manage it. Just like with a bricks and mortar store, you can continually add to it. Unlike Facebook where they change the rules and it is more like building on shifting sands. Put a stake in the ground and build a website that reflects who you are and showcases your products and services. Design something that makes you proud. This is not simply a box ticking exercise.You would not appear in public looking shabby or unkempt, so make sure your website wows you. Then find out if it wows your potential clients.
It is always a good start to ask existing clients what they want to see on your website. Then add these items to the design and development plan.Remember, it is an ever evolving thing, so it is never finished, much like that bricks and mortar store.
Just to complicate things a bit or rather, to offer more opportunities, remember that your website is not your total web presence. If you Google your company name,(use an ‘incognito’ window) you will see where you appear and how you look to ‘searchers’. Any instance of your appearing needs to be curated, so that it reflects well on you. You can create an entity in Facebook with a Company page. Do the same in Linkedin. Create a Google My Business entry in Google. Appear in Googles map stack. Ask for positive reviews in Google or Facebook.
Then Google your competitors and see where they are appearing. Can you pick up a few tips from them? You want to get ahead of them in search, to be found at the top of page one in search. And you want to look like the best option for visitors.
Manage that digital presence
Keep curating your website content and your Facebook, Linkedin and Google pages. Create a great digital ‘you’, wherever your audience looks for the products or services you offer. You may have to write blog posts or do some guest blogging. You may want to join Facebook Groups which have taken over from Forums. Be in there to answer questions, be helpful and show domain authority or expertise.
ROI – Return on Investment
Gone are the days where you spend money on advertising and think that half of it should work. Nowadays, you can see what is working and which advertising spend gets results. This is brilliant, however it does take some work to get your head around how to make it work for you. Try everything on a small scale initially, find out what works and then drill down by investing more in what works well. Keep testing, because the audience will move around, using new apps and visiting news sites etc.
There are tools to manage your spend and show results. Both Google and Facebook provide their own free tools for you to use. It is important to understand how the tools work, otherwise Google and Facebook will happily take loads of money and advertise to the wrong audience. They do want you to get it right, but you need to understand the tools.
Marketing in 2020
Managing your overall web presence, including your website is how you do your Marketing in the 2020’s. Will you do it well or will you avoid this as an option. There is huge opportunity for the businesses who use the tools or engage someone to do it for them, by outsourcing. And likewise the businesses who avoid the challenge are losing out every single day.
Why have a website? It is simply a must, as well as being a wonderful opportunity – what are you making of yours?.