Small Business Online: Start-up Tips

It may be a daunting task; getting your business online but it is simply a must in our day and age. Here are a few tips to get you started on your online business journey.

Make sure you get your business website online as soon as possible

You may see it as an unnecessary expense, you may be slowly building a fan base on Facebook, sharing small bits of content on Twitter and posting images to Pinterest but without an online home, you’re scattering your efforts and missing an opportunity to engage & connect with your customers and potential customers through a dedicated website.

Keep it simple, clean and neat; make sure that it loads quickly because (let’s face it) people are impatient and won’t stick around waiting for your website to load.

Ensure you have a blog and ensure it is part of your website and not on another platform

A blog allows your business to publish content that is useful to your audience. If this content is formatted for search engines (SEO) and people access your blog through organic searches, the authority of your website will increase. This helps improve the authority and trust of your domain which means that you will have a better rank and even more visits to your website.

More visits to your website means more potential customers connecting with you. It is also a great place to connect with your customers in a slightly less formal manner, making you appear more personable.

Use Responsive Design

Mobile devices are accounting for a higher percentage of web traffic. In fact, some businesses, like Facebook, have more people accessing their sites via a mobile device than a desktop computer. This trend has been going up for years and will continue in 2014. (Update: still relevant, even today!)

Responsive web design is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices.

Make sure you are on at least one Social Media Platform.

“If your small business isn’t using social media, it’s time to start,” says Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot, who specialises in inbound marketing. “Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing or direct mail.”

Because social media can be (or seem) overwhelming, “choose one social media platform that your customers, prospects, and industry leaders engage with the most – be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ – and start building a presence there,” Volpe says. “Once you’ve set up an account, start connecting sharing your original content, joining discussions and engaging with the community. Keep your social efforts frequent, but above all, relevant and helpful to your audience.”

(Update: Make sure you always link back to your website. This is a tool, not your complete online presence!!)

Relate to Your Target Audience

Some small business owners are very passionate about the work they do. This is a good thing, but it is not good to try and communicate with online customers using industry jargon and highly technical terms that are likely to be confusing to them.

Content on your site should be crafted to speak the language your customers use. Make it easy for them to understand the message you want to relay.

Don’t be scared to add a “Call-to-Action”

The call-to-action is very important, but some small business owners shy away from it, afraid to close the sale. This fear is common and has something to do with people’s dislike of pushy salesmen and spam. However, having a clear call-to-action actually guides the customers on what to do next and is received gracefully, compelling more people to do business with you. The key is to make it both strong and tasteful.

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