If your friend tells you about an exciting new hobby of theirs, let’s say going to Zumba class once a week, chances are that if you’re curious (and somehow don’t know what Zumba is yet…) the web and search engines are going to be your first port of call for investigating further; where can I do it? how much does it cost? why has it got such a weird name? and so on.
In the current digital age, the internet is the river in which our information flows, and there’s no denying that having an online presence is essential, as an individual or as a business owner.
The reasons are myriad, but if you’re interested in the world of marketing and selling (and if you’re reading this I can only assume that you are) let’s stick to them only as they pertain to success in these areas. Don’t forget though that even if your business is primarily based in real-world goods, the importance of being visible online still can’t be overstated.
Most of all, if you can be found online by using a properly implemented marketing strategy (SEO and so forth) your pool of potential customers will be vastly increased, probably by several orders of magnitude. Not only that, but it will be the right kind of customers coming to your site, which is to say, people who are actively hunting for services like yours. You can’t say the same about a billboard on the motorway, or any physical advertising for that matter, where the overwhelming majority of viewers won’t be the target audience.
Having an online presence can also mean a tonne of free advertising in the form of blogs, social media and similar web content. If you have a website, and someone used and enjoyed your services, they can link back to your website on their page generating more traffic from similar people, who are much more likely to be interested in what your business has to offer than the average joe. There are many more networking opportunities, perhaps you could enter a partnership with a complimentary business by linking to each others sites (like a copywriter and web designer might do), or be mentioned on a popular blog. They may sound relatively small, but these things really can take your business to the next level.
There’s no doubt that it also lends credibility and accessibility that can’t be matched by other methods. Any costumer can hop online and learn all they need to know about your services in just a few minutes with the right website. Needless to say, that’s infinitely easier than ringing someone up (but only when the lines are open!) to ask about prices, opening times, discounts, and so on and on….you get the picture.
Additionally, you can get a serious boost through customer reviews. If you’re like most people, a few thought out reviews can make the difference in deciding whether a not a service is for you. Customer satisfaction is likely to increase as well, the more you can tell them about your product online, through FAQs and simple troubleshooting guides, the less time they’ll spend waiting on the phone.
The flipside of all these benefits is that if the content is lacking or your web design is shoddy, then it will be tremendously off-putting to anyone who cares to visit, and will be damaging to your overall image. But with the right professional design, high-quality copy and an effective marketing strategy, a great website and online presence is the ultimate portfolio for your business.