A couple of years ago, BIA/Kelsey conducted a survey of over 100 sample consumers. A subsequent data analysis revealed that 97% of modern consumers use the Internet when researching local products and services. The percentage is probably the same today, but seeing how the number of both Internet (according to ITU data, it grew from 2.1 to 3.4 billion today) and mobile users (according to Cisco research, the number quintupled since 2000) grew immensely since then, you only now have a lot of more potential customers online. The bottom line is, for most people in the 21st century, their first introduction to your business and your brand is by discovering it online.
A strong online presence will not only increase your brand’s reputation, but it will also establish you as an authority figure in your particular niche. So the biggest question is this: How can you exactly stand apart from every other business that is trying to reach new customers online? According to last year’s findings from the Kauffman Foundation, there are over 530,000 new business in the US every month, so if you really want to differentiate yourself from the competition, you will have to use certain branding and marketing methods to increase your online presence.
Properly Optimizing Your Site
At this point, there is no valid reason why you should not have a business website. But surprisingly, according to the findings from the US Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses in America do not have an official website. When you consider how many people are searching for products online, this fact is troublesome, to say the least. Nevertheless, assuming that you already have a website, you have to make sure that it is properly optimized. It has to be mobile-friendly and it needs to have frequent information updates.
Going Beyond Blogging
Regularly updating your blog will build trust and help you define your brand’s voice, but you should not limit yourself to blog posts alone when creating new content. Instead, you should develop multiple forms of content such as infographics, eBooks or short, online videos. Dr. James L. McQuivey of Forrester Research argues that the only one minute of video is worth around 1.8 million words– that is an equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages. So just ask yourself do you really have the energy to write almost 2 million words? And even you are a quick writer, and write let us say, two pages an hour, it would take you two and a half month of writing to achieve the impact of 60 seconds of video.
Increasing Visibility through Email
And while many people today are quick to dismiss email, the fact is, email marketing is still ridiculously effective. A recent McKinsey & Company study found that email is still a more effective way of acquiring customers than social media. The researchers explain that the main reason for this is that more than 90% of consumers still use email on a daily basis. According to their report, email is 40 times more effective than Twitter and Facebook combined. This is one of the reasons why companies in the highly-competitive travel industry depend on email to boost their visibility and increase conversions. Therefore, if you are not sure where to start with building your online presence, maybe it would be a good idea to start with the most “primitive” tool you have at your disposal.
Conclusion – Staying on Your Toes
For instance, while we mentioned that you should definitely try some other forms of content rather than sticking to blogging, you have to keep in mind that guest blogging is powerful tool. While guest blogging is primarily used for link building purposes, it can also help you earn credibility and drive your site’s traffic. Simply put, if the audience of an established website (think Forbes or Entrepreneur) enjoys your posts, they will surely visit your site and possibly follow you on social media.
Finally, if you are not convinced that investing in your online visibility is essential to the success of your company, one fact will undoubtedly convince you – your competitors are already doing it. And if your business falls too far behind, it may become irrelevant in just a few years time. For that reason, you need to build your online presence, and increase the “findability” of your website, products, and services, if you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors both.
Oscar is a writer from Sydney and one of the editors at Bizzmarkblog. He enjoys conducting research in the vast fields of business and marketing and writing about the useful insights he gathers on a daily basis. Follow Oscar on Twitter.to stay updated with his latest posts.