The Internet - Your Presence is Required

Research shows that, even in 2015, small businesses are consistently still missing the boat when it comes to their online presence. Building an online presence takes more than just creating a website with your business address and phone number and a list of products that you sell.  Think of it as a virtual version of your business. A 24-hour digital showroom. What kind of impression is your digital doppelganger creating?

There are many reasons why having a strong Internet presence is important for small businesses, but let’s just take it slow and focus on the top 5 factors that should be considered.

1. The Internet has forever changed the way that people shop:

  • 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. You read that right. 97%. This includes local businesses such as tire and service shops.
  • 81% of consumers research online before making a purchase. If they don’t find you online, they will choose another business.
  • 55% of purchase-related conversions occur within one hour of an initial mobile search. Having a mobile-friendly site is a must.

If you are a business owner, these numbers should be enough to convince you. Bottom line- your customers are online, and you should be too.

2. You Want Your Customers to Find You: Let’s face it. When you are going to buy something, anything, do you ever pick up the phone book and call around? Do you get in your car and drive from store to store? I didn’t think so. The first thing anyone does is look online to see who has the product they need. If you don’t have a website, or you don’t show up in their search results, you better believe you won’t be getting their sale. We are not going to get into SEO, PPC, or any other acronyms in this article, but you should understand that once you have the website, you should also look into these things to optimize the performance of that website.

3. The Internet Provides Opportunities for Brand Building: Your website and social media presence should contribute to your overall branding efforts. There should be a consistent look and feel to all of your marketing materials and, believe it or not, your website is one of them. Today, just about everything on your website can be custom designed to reflect your brand. You have the opportunity to create an impression every time someone visits your website or social media page. Do not make the mistake of settling for a generic internet appearance, or you will get lost in cyberspace.

4. Social Media is Not Just for Personal Use: Social media has opened a new door for marketers in terms of needs discovery. You can gain some very useful insight into what your customers think, feel, and need, and who they really are. You can ask questions, conduct polls, and communicate directly with them.  You also have the ability to see what they are interested in, and even ask them to refer their friends to your business.

At the same time, you have the opportunity to show your customers a more personal side of your business. Social media posts should create a personal touch but still reflect your business; content should be relevant to your industry and meaningful for your customers. The key to social media for business purposes is value creation. Repeat after me, value creation. You have to give them a reason to keep coming back. Do you consider yourself an expert in your industry? Try providing daily tips and advice, or holding a Q&A session.

5. Relationship Building: The Internet provides a unique opportunity to build lasting relationships with your customers and potential customers. Think about it, how many Internet users are on social media? Something like 1.5 Billion between Facebook and Twitter alone. What are they looking for? They are looking for a personal connection….BUT…. just because you are a business does not mean that they can’t have a personal connection with you. They can, and they should. Creating personal connections with customers online can strengthen their sense of brand loyalty and increase customer retention.

Today, even the smallest of businesses cannot survive without a strong Internet presence. You may be used to most of your customers being acquired though “word-of-mouth” advertising. In the past, this was sufficient, but today, word-of-mouth does not even hold the same meaning that it did just 10-15 years ago. A father may tell his children to take their vehicle to the shop that he recommends, but what happens next is a game changer. His children will first go to the Internet and perform a search for this business. Word-of-mouth just took a digital turn.

Finally, if you are just getting started with your business website (better late than never), there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  1. Your website should include as much information as possible. This includes all of your business and contact information, types of products and services you provide and detailed descriptions of those products and services.
  2. The appearance and usability of your website are crucial. You want to make sure you have a well-designed, branded site. Your site should also be easy to navigate and provide clear, prominent calls-to-action.
  3. Make sure that your website is optimized for search engines, or no matter how much content you have or how well it’s laid out, no one will be able to find it.
  4. Analytics are your friend. You should monitor your websites performance to find out how many people are visiting your site, how long they are staying on it, how many pages they are viewing, and how many people are submitting contact forms or requesting quotes. These numbers will tell you what is working and what is not.

About Net Driven®:

Founded in 2007, Net Driven® is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company headquartered in Scranton, PA with satellite offices in Duluth, MN, Milford, NH, and New York, NY. As the most trusted provider of digital marketing strategies designed exclusively for the automotive industry, Net Driven® delivers the highest return on investment by helping dealers compete and succeed against the competition. The company’s proprietary three-step solution combines high-performing websites to drive more leads, industry-proven Internet marketing tactics to drive more visitors, and consulting, support, and analytics to drive more sales.

Learn more about Net Driven® at www.netdriven.com.