It pretty much goes without saying, if you want to call yourself a successful business in 2015, you should have an established online presence that spreads across as many platforms as possible. Not only should you have a shiny, pretty and functional website, but you should also be as visible as possible on other platforms as well. Then once you’re on those platforms you have to keep people (Millennials) entertained, avoid being too pushy (just because you’re trying to sell doesn’t mean your Twitter feed can consist of "Buy this! Buy that! You need this!"), and worry about what links are more clickable and what keywords will get you on the first page of Google results.
The reason for going through all this trouble is because that’s how your business becomes successful. The only way to make your business well-loved is by getting people to know your brand. In order to do that, first you have to get noticed, and to get noticed you need to have a strong online presence. The following how to guide will offer insight on how to get noticed online as a business.
1. Be Opinionated
Which do you think is more likely to get people’s attention? Being the hundredth person to share something, or the first to voice an unpopular position? There’s an abundant number of things online waiting to be shared, however whether you are sharing something you’ve seen somewhere else or sharing something of your own you need to do it in a unique way. So you need to be creative, you need your posts to be interesting and fun so that they’ll get retweeted. If you have to voice a controversial opinion to do that, so be it.
That doesn’t mean being controversial for the sake of being controversial: only disagree with something if you truly do and you can back it up with facts. You don’t want to start an argument with someone and have nothing prepared as a comeback, or else your attempt at engagement will simply become an embarrassing incident.
Get yourself noticed by writing comments on other people’s content, your own blog posts, or your own social media; statements more eloquent and noticeable than "LOL". Not only will you be more memorable, but you will be using every comment as an opportunity to get your ideas across and help people see exactly what you stand for and the ideals behind your brand.
2. Reach Out
No man is an island and this has never been truer than in the digital era.
Advertisements and high Google rankings are great, but another way to increase your visibility is by attaching yourself to other established and reputable sites. If they’ve already mentioned you, then ask them to include a link back to your site, or ask to contribute to their website in some way, perhaps with a guest post on their blog. Their audience will be intrigued to know who you are and if you set up a referral program so people actually benefit from telling others, it will work even better.
Do your research to find out who the influencers and bloggers are in your industry and have them write reviews or advertise a product sampling campaign in which you offer free samples to anyone willing to write an honest review or testimonial. People love free things - and potential customers love testimonials that convince them to buy. There is a risk that not all the reviews will be glowing, but see them as an opportunity to improve yourself rather than fear them, and let people see you comment that you’re going to fix the problem so they know you care.
Co-market with another brand to create a limited-range combined product. Greetabl, a company that creates greeting boxes for your cards and gifts partnered with popular donut company Strange Donuts for a promotion that saw each box also include a free donut hole. They recognized that people love donuts and joined forces. The more imaginative your "new" product, the more their loyal followers will be willing to join you.
3. Establish Your Expertise
You don’t want to be yet another business that offers what your competition offers: you want to be THE business that offers the best service by the most qualified staff in the best possible way. This is another way testimonials can help you, as the more new customers see that you’re being praised for being the best, the more they will choose you over other businesses.
Make sure that your website and social media don’t just tell people who you are, but that they tell people why you’re the best at doing what you do. Prove to them that you are the most passionate in the field, the most experienced, and that you offer the most impeccable service with your one-of-a-kind customer service, your prompt replies and your impressive About page that shows off your history and your ability.
Anyone can start a business or a website. What’s harder is to make yourself stand out as someone with an intimate understanding of how to make your customers happy and how to provide the best possible service or product to get them to come back again and again. Have a referral program that compels current customers to spread the word, but also ensure that they’re doing it because they love you and not just for the perks.
4. Be Visible
Having a website isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re high in Google results, and in order to make yourself as visible as possible consider the following:
- How Can People Find You?
Do a Google search of yourself and see where you’re coming up in the results. If you’re low, what are you not doing? Get yourself a specialist who can help with backlinks, SEO, keywords and all the other things you didn’t realize were involved in having a successful website. Additionally, make sure you’re on sites like Yelp and Foursquare so you can be found through people checking in as well as through searches.
It isn’t that advertising isn’t still around, it’s just changed: billboards and bench banners are now banner ads on Facebook and affiliate programs. Instead of just choosing a strategic location for your advertisement, you have to go behind the scenes and see what links people are interacting with the most.
- What Do They Find When They Find You?
As well as being a high ranking result, you also want to be an attractive one; is it obvious what you do? Is there a picture so they can recognize your store? Most importantly, are you listed on Google Places so that a map comes up as part of the result? You need to be easy to find and tempting to click. Once they click the website needs to be a great one, with great visuals and one that doesn’t slow them down.
- Are You on the Social Media Your Clients Use?
See which social media platforms are preferred by your target customers, and make sure you’re on it so it’s even easier for them to spread the word. Customers who love Twitter will also love it if you have an account that they can interact with without having to go anywhere. Word of mouth is still a very effective marketing tool, it’s just that now it’s done online, but that’s great because it can expose you to even more people.
- What Do They Care About?
If you have the money or resources, why not link yourself to a charitable cause that your customers care about? You could have sponsored events to raise money for it, or promise that a portion of your profits go to that charity. Once you’ve become an established sponsor, the charity site will mention you, and then customers will be attracted to you due to your mutual interests.
Getting noticed online isn’t really any different to how companies used to have to try and get noticed before the internet; it’s all about being in as many places as possible and drawing people in with brilliant content. The good news is that most of the world is on the internet; the bad news is that the quicker the internet runs, the shorter attention spans get and you have literally seconds to get your message across. If someone has to choose between looking at what could be their next new favourite cat picture or you, it’s going to take a lot of work to make sure it’s you.
How did you get your online business noticed? Which platform do you think is the best, and on which one do you hate seeing sales pitches? Let us know in the comments section below.