Expand your online presence

By Paul Routledge

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Over the past few years, the way businesses promote their brand and get eyes on to their company has changed drastically. In the past, a small newspaper ad and a small sign outside the shop were usually enough to bring a few more people in to see what you can provide as a company. This can still work on a small scale, for businesses looking to attract local clients and customers, but businesses can have access to a much larger pool of potential business if they just reach out a little further.

With the sheer scale of the World Wide Web here in 2014/15, companies can reach out and interact with literally billions of people. A slight increase on the amount of potential custom companies can expect from their doorstep that’s for sure.

The sky is near enough the only limit for companies that take that "one small step" into the world of the World Wide Web. While it is true that "one small step" can turn into "one giant leap" when companies begin to look into ways they can expand online, there are several simple steps you can take to make the most of how effective your business can be online…

Build a website

When looking to adapt your business in order to begin reaching out to those over the Internet, the first port of call for many will be the creation of a Website. As obvious as it may sound, getting a web site is one of the best ways to start building your web presence.

The only issue for new adopters is that most companies these days will have a web site set up. This means most of your competition will also likely be online. This means it’s no longer enough to have a Website: you need an EFFECTIVE one.

Once you have that effective Website you can branch out into many different aspects of web promotion. As stated, most companies in this day and age have the Website. What will set you apart will be what you do on top of that.

Create a mailing list

Engaging a user when they visit your site is one thing. They have visited you for a service or information and then left again. Once you get the hits, it then becomes a question of how do you retain that interest? The simple answer can be found in creating a mailing list.

Mailing lists are not a new technique by any means. For years, companies have retained email addresses of their customers and sent them periodical emails in order to give them a little reminder that they are there and may still have something to offer them. How many times have you received an email from a shop you have not bought anything from in months, read a deal they were promoting and became interested enough to visit their store? If you had not received the email you may never have gone back.

Most people at this point have email functionality on their phones. That means people are within viewing distance of their incoming emails 24/7. This is a very powerful statistic that you can use to your advantage. The idea of being able to reach anyone at any time can only be a plus for your company’s reach.

Utilising social media

In the same vein as reaching out to people you have gained interested from in the past, social media presents a modern-take on the mailing list method of keeping people up to date with your goings on and/or any promotions you may be looking to run.

Social media has taken the world by storm as a way for people to keep in contact with people or businesses they may know. It has become second nature for many people to check their social media at various points throughout the day. This means it is another excellent platform to use when looking to get as many eyes on to your business as possible.

Keeping a client/customer base is vital into growing your reach as a business. You need to be able to lay solid foundation of loyal consumers that you can keep building on well into the future. Social media can help turn one-time viewers into a multiple-time viewer that is constantly connected to what you are doing, something that is vital when looking to expand your reach as a company.

Create a blog

Blogs are an aspect of web promotion that can be overlooked. A blog is a Website or page that is being regularly updated and constantly added to. You’re reading one right now!

Blogs are a chance for you to communicate with viewers in a way that is more current and conversational in tone. While the content on your homepage is generally written in such a way that it will not need to be changed very often, blogs can be as current and as topical as you choose. They can also be a way of showing readers that you as a company have your finger on the pulse of your chosen field and are up to date with current happenings and news within the sector.

Arguably, the most important reason to run a blog is that it is a constant reason for users to come back to your site. If the majority of your site does not change month to month, where is the incentive for visitors to come back to you?

This is especially important with non e-commerce sites. Without the hook of an updating product list, blogs can be a great way to get people coming back for more.

Take control of your content

Why stop with just the blog? If you can get a content management system (CMS) for your site set up, why not take control of all your site’s content?

A CMS allows you an easy and quick way to update the content that appears on your site. As web developers and designers here at Jump, we can do what we can to give you the best possible platform for you to build your web business or project. At the end of the day, though, if the Website looks and works amazing but the content leaves a lot to be desired, the purpose of the site is lost.

You know your own business, and you know how to best describe your service or your company. That is why it is advisable that you take control of the actual content on your site. With a CMS you can make additions or changes to the text content on your site with minimum effort expended. This means you can always keep your site’s content current and make sure you are always in control of the message you want to project.

Going responsive

While there is a tendency to use the term "responsive" as a bit of a buzz-word within the industry, there is no denying that if you want your web reach to be as large as it could be, your site needs to be responsive.

There is no escaping that mobile devices are slowly becoming the device of choice when it comes to web browsing. If your site is not tailored to mobiles and tablets, you run the risk of losing interest from a vast chunk of your potential customer base.

How people use the web is constantly changing, the screens they use to explore the web have never been more varied. Users are now expecting a good mobile experience if they are viewing your site on a phone or tablet. Present them with a full scale Website shrunk down to the size of their screen, and they will likely get frustrated and leave before even reading anything.

Do yourself a favour, stay ahead of the curve and get a responsive Website now and you’ll be set for any future devices that may be around the corner.

SEO

The majority of businesses will want SEO considered when they look at implementing a new Website. With good reason too, if a user does not know your company URL or does not know of your company at all, embracing SEO will be what gives you the edge over your direct competitors.

SEO is a selection of techniques that can be used to get your Website higher up the rankings on various search engines (the most popular of which, being Google). To show the importance of search engine rankings, imagine you are buying a DVD online. If you type a search for that into Google, for example, what makes you go to Amazon for it rather than, say, "David’s Discount DVDs"?

The majority of people only consider the first page of search results relevant when searching for something. If they do not find what they are looking for on that first page, a sizeable section of them will try a different search term.

75% of all online transactions start with a query through a search engine. Even if your prices are low, your products/services are of high quality and your content is top notch, if you don’t place high enough on Google you essentially have a tree falling in woods with no-one there to hear it. And no one wants that.

Taking the time to embrace SEO will very quickly reflect in your page views and, ultimately, your profits. The more eyes you can get on your brand the better.

Following other companies

Taking all these solutions into consideration and learning from them will give you a great start at expanding your company online. Having said that, the most you may be able to learn about what you need to do to branch out further may be from your direct competition.

It really pays to take the time out to have a look at what your competitors are doing. In theory, you are not aiming to have the reach of an Amazon or a BBC.co.uk, you need to aim to be able to outreach your closest competitors. When all is said and done, you are both competing for the same type of customer or client. So identifying what is working for your rivals and what isn’t is very important.

Each of the 7 previous stages can be approached in this manner. Before building the Website, before working on the social media, before selecting your SEO targets: spend the time to see what your competition is doing right and adapt it to work with what your goals are for your company or business. Look at the areas that are being neglected or approached poorly by them and capitalise on that.

Taking the plunge

The majority of people who will be coming into contact with you or your business over the next 5 years will be doing it online. There is no getting away from that, so you need to be prepared. Expanding online can be a daunting prospect at first, but little steps such as setting up your social media correctly and researching how your competitors are using the Web as a promotional platform can work wonders.

While the road to fully embracing the Internet can be a long process, it is definitely worth doing. With so many different avenues to go down, and many different techniques you can employ, the time have never been more right to begin expanding your web presence.

Here at JUMP we’ve had tons of experience in helping businesses expand online and make more of a mark in their own sectors. See anything above that you feel could work for you? Give us a shout and we’ll do everything we can to get your web presence to where it can and should be.

 

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