The World is Changing from homeworking and home schooling to socializing and meeting family and friends in the virtual world. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to live more of our lives online in new and unprecedented ways. Here at WebFutureSolutions.com , we lead and support our customer’s Online Presence.
The Online World is changing and is evolving, pre-pandemic having an online presence was key to promoting your business and connecting with your customers, but now, for many businesses that is evolved into creating digital spaces and virtual connections that work alongside the physical world. Online is more essential than ever when it comes to building your brand, increasing your credibility, and managing your reputation.
Being able to adapt and make the most of the opportunities presented by the changing digital world has already seen many small businesses not only survive but thrive. Crucially, at a time when finances are tight and UK SMEs have seen a 28% decline in revenue during lockdown, digital marketing offers a cost-efficient way to promote your products and services and talk to your customers, with many free and low-cost platforms and apps on offer.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Learning to adapt to a rapidly changing and unpredictable world will have already made many small businesses more resilient and innovative than ever. From fitness studios live-streaming classes online and restaurants switching to click-and-collect and deliveries, to estate agents using virtual tours to sell properties. Now is the time for SMEs to build on the changes they have made from necessity to sustain and grow their longer-term futures. Creating digital spaces and virtual connections with your customers can mean something as simple as using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube or TikTok. The trick is to use the platforms most relevant to your customers and the nature of your business.
For example, many business owners have used e-learning platforms like Teachable and Udemy to share their knowledge, not only to replace physical events, but to create new services and revenue streams.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and what McKinsey refers to as the Next Normal emerges, the digital world will continue to exist alongside the physical world, with people seamlessly switching from one to the other.
For the small business and professionals is crucial to have a presence online and everything is starting with a website tailored to your needs.
For example, In the retail sector, research suggests that 27.5% of total retail sales this year will be made online, with that figure reaching a third of sales by 2024. COVID-19 has encouraged more consumers to embrace digital shopping, but it is likely that the long-term picture will be more nuanced. As with the workplace, customers are looking for a blended experience featuring both ‘clicks and bricks. That will mean offering customers a choice of ways to browse, buy and return products, and connect and communicate with your brand – blending e-commerce, mobile commerce, and social channels, alongside a physical store experience.
The Future Is “Digital “
Most opportunities, no matter how good they might sound, end up being a complete money-sucking nightmare due to expensive overhead, slow scalability, and low margins. Online businesses, however, can be very appealing because they do not have the traditional hurdles that most new ventures face.
Here is why online businesses are the best investment entrepreneurs can make:
1. Offers incredible scalability
Not every single online business is going to automatically morph into a huge success with rapid exponential growth. Many entrepreneurs start an online business thinking customers are automatically going to find them and sales will pour in because they have a small footprint on the Internet. They think that a few tweets and some Facebook posts are all it will take to snowball an online business into a virtual ATM machine.
2. Provides limitless freedom
Many entrepreneurs are drawn to online businesses because of the freedom they offer. Modern technology, laptops, tablets, business apps and VOIP communication systems are just some of the tools that allow businesses to be operated from any location. Next time you are in a Starbucks look around — I guarantee someone is working on their online business or start-up while connected to Wi-Fi and sipping their favourite coffee.
Not being tied to a particular location or desk from nine to five can be very empowering. Some entrepreneurs do not know how to balance the freedom and fail miserably, while others use the freedom as motivation to work even harder. Do not mistake freedom for time to slack off. True entrepreneurs respect the freedom and understand that the hard work is well worth the ability to spend more time with their families and partake in activities that most miss out on because they are part of the nine to five grinds.
3. Low overhead and high margins
An online business will often allow you to eliminate some of the huge costs associated with an offline business. Not only can you eliminate things such as pricey office or retail space and long-term lease commitments, but you can also eliminate having to tie up your money in stocking inventory. A drop-shipping agreement with the manufacturer or a manufacture-to-order arrangement can greatly reduce your financial-risk and will allow you to maintain more consistent margins with less upfront cost.
4. Access to a worldwide market
The beautiful thing about an online business is the ability to run it 24/7 without boundaries. There are no geographical boundaries and there are no specific hours of operation — an online business can produce revenue around the clock, even while you sleep.
With a well-thought-out social media plan, search-engine optimization and paid media strategies, an online business can thrive. You have access to the entire world right at your fingertips. The luxury of being able to target specific states, regions and countries gives an upper hand to online-based businesses.
The online world has changed, and we need to adapt. Here are a few ways to strength your online presence:
1.Help your customers to find you – optimize your website for mobile
2.Reach more people – develop your content marketing strategy
3.Build a stronger brand – focus on brand purpose
4.Increase your credibility – keep your online reviews up to date
5.Reputation management – you cannot afford not to be online
6.Cost efficient marketing – measure ROI by setting clear objectives
Now let us get to details, shall we?
1. Help your customers to find you – optimize your website for mobile
“81% of people search online for a product or service.”
While most businesses understand the importance of having a website these days, it is vital to make sure it is optimised for mobile.
It is essential for user experience, but as people increasingly search for products and services on smartphones, rather than desktops, it is also key to making sure potential customers can find you. Mobile searchers are more likely to look at the top three results only and 30% of pages that show on the first page of desktop search results do not appear in the top 10 results on mobile.
2. Reach more people – develop your content marketing strategy
“Most B2B buyers consume branded content through a business’s website and consume 13 pieces of branded content a month.”
There are more ways than ever to reach people online and COVID-19 has accelerated the rise of digital spaces and virtual connections, from virtual tours to Zoom events. Whichever approach is right for your business, finding out where your audience is and talking to them about things that interest them is key. The experience you create for your customers online is just as important as it is in your physical environment.
Content marketing will help you share your brand story and purpose in a way that is relevant to your customers and provide value beyond your products and services. For example, you could blog about the issues pertinent to your different audiences or provide support with video tutorials and online toolkits. This could also be a way to monetise your expertise and enhance your core product or service offering, as many SMEs have done during lockdown.
If you are a B2B business, remember that 65% of B2B buyers see your website as one of the most important content channels. Using the insights provided by your website and social media analytics will help you keep track of how your content is performing so you can make sure it is tailored to your audiences.
3. Build a stronger brand – focus on brand purpose
“78% of consumers want brands to use social to help people connect with each other.”
With brand purpose growing in importance, now is the time to make sure your brand values shine through with 76% of people surveyed saying they would buy from a brand they felt connected to over their competitors, while 57% would increase their spending. Sharing a clear, consistent, compelling brand story across your content and the online channels you use is vital, with social media being a key platform.
4. Increase your credibility – keep your online reviews up to date
“82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.”
Word of mouth has always been one of the best ways to attract customers, and online reviews have taken that to new heights. For a Small Business, online reviews can also be a quick and cost-effective way to boost your online presence. Featuring reviews on your website, as well as encouraging your customers to review you on Google and social media like Facebook, is a great way to develop trust in your brand. It is important to note that consumers read an average of 10 online reviews to see whether they can trust a local business, with almost half discounting reviews written over two weeks ago.
5. Reputation management – you cannot afford not to be online
“In 2019, 87% of UK households had internet access, with 82% of people using home broadband and 70% using a 4G mobile service.”
It is important to remember, that even if your business is not online, your customers are. So, if e-commerce and mobile commerce are not for you, it is still important to build your brand and connect with your customers online. By being proactive rather than reactive and encouraging customers to leave online reviews and feedback, you can manage your reputation by actively taking part in the online conversation.
6. Cost efficient marketing – measure ROI by setting clear objectives
Using a range of online marketing channels is recommended for good ROI including pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and social media.
Online is cost-effective in several ways. With so many free and low-cost tools on offer, you can blend an online element into everything you do. From using ecommerce and mobile commerce to sell your products and services, to developing your website and social media, to creating virtual spaces and connections.
Secondly, online provides a wealth of data and analytics to help you understand your customers, their behaviour, and preferences, and how they experience your business at every stage of the customer journey. Alongside this, you can define which online approaches work best for your business, enabling you to target budgets and resources in a much more focused way.
Here at WebFutureSolutions we offer you all the tools to build your Online presence at affordable prices tailored to your needs. So, what are you waiting for? Start your Website and build Your future today with us.