Few established businesses today have no online presence, despite the fact that the internet is a relatively new phenomenon. In this article, I am going to discuss some of the ways businesses can support their brand and identity online, and stand out amongst the swarms of other websites providing similar services. 

Whilst is it undoubtedly important to keep an eye on social media and other third-party websites, the first step for any businesses looking to build a greater online presence is to focus on their own website. Imagine that you are opening a café in a busy location. Before advertising in the local area, it is first logical to make your café presentable and attractive to potential customers. The same principle applies to your online presence; make sure your website is first presentable and functional before focussing on third parties.

Your website

The door to your house, a gate to your garden or the wardrobe to Narnia - Call it what you will (but perhaps not the latter), your website is the digital entrance of your business. It is, therefore, important that your website serves its purpose and provides all the information your potential customers need to know (or the means of procuring it). A good test to try with someone who has never seen your website before is to give them 5 seconds to look at the main page of your website. If they can, in that time, ascertain what the purpose of your website is, then you have passed. This test reflects the short attention span of web surfers, who generally don't have the patience to search your website for the information. It follows that keeping slogans and short phrases to describe the purpose of your business at the top of the main page, easy to read and attention-grabbing. Once read, the user can then be naturally channelled to the main body of the page to obtain further information.

Marketing

If you held a gun to my head and asked me to name the best way of marketing your business, I would probably ask why you were holding a gun to my head. But after that, I would just give a short and simple answer; it isn't your business you are trying to market, but rather your products, services and other USPs. Unless your business is also your USP (such as a family business), then most people don't really care who you are or where you've come from (sorry). What they do care about is what products or services you can provide them with and what sort of experience they can expect. As such your marketing campaigns should be focussed on that. Consistency is also key when developing your marketing campaign, as you are also developing your brand. If for example, a visitor to a third party website notices your advert and later hears your radio advertisement, they are much more likely to make the connection between the two if you use the same keywords and phrases. It is very important they do make that connection, as the more positive references to your business mean the stronger your brand will appear, and therefore the more trust your potential customers will have with your brand. Creating a unified marketing strategy takes time, but is vital for long-term success. 

Social media

Once you have decided on your social media strategy, the next step is to create a consistent brand and incorporate your existing marketing material. All content on social media should flow harmoniously with your website and drive your key message(s) across to your target market. Try and link back to your website where it is appropriate to, as your conversions will mainly come from there rather than social media. You should also be wary of over-posting duplicate material, as this can lead to the disengagement of your followers (you probably have emails that arrive in your inbox you automatically ignore because you get so many of them).

Final points

The key things to remember when building your online presence are to keep it relevant, interesting and functional. All three together go a long way to ensuring your business will have a strong foothold and provide a solid foundation to build upon.