MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR BUSINESS PRESENCE ONLINE
Recently we presented a seminar for the members of the Sale & Business Tourism Association that was such a winner, we think we should share it with you all!
Whether your business is just you or you have many staff - whether you are new or old - whether you have a website or not - there will be at least a dozen a-ha and action moments for sure in here! And as we're always on the scout out for new ways to help our customers grow, not only would we love to hear which of these were a path to gold, but we'd also love a heads up on some we havent yet discovered ourselves. Please get in touch and let us know - as we are a business that wants to keep growing too!
HERE'S OUR BEST TIPS FOR FREE & AFFORDABLE WAYS TO BE A SMALL BUSINESS WITH A BIG ONLINE FOOTPRINT
Google My Business
Outside of your own website and an active Facebook presence this is hands down one of the best free resources for a small business, and will ensure that not only will you rank higher in a search result, but has you appearing on Google Maps and provides a platform for customer reviews (which can rank you higher in search results even more!)
Google Ad Words is paid advertising within Google and is incredibly powerful when done correctly. You only pay when a user clicks on your ad, so at least you can be sure you’re not paying to capture the attention of people not interested in your goods or services. https://www.google.com.au/adwords/
Having a business domain and email makes your business seem far more professional than a generic Hotmail or Bigpond email address. You can register a domain and have your email hosted without having a live website, but given its far simpler than you could imagine, it is super easy to create a simple single page “about us” style webpage to start with.
Start by registering your domain. ie. www.azcomputers.com.au There are many companies that can do that for you, but despite my aim of helping you keep costs low, I definitely suggest dealing with a professional on this one – and stick with an Australian business to be sure of ongoing support.
Check availability of your preferred domain name somewhere like https://www.crazydomains.com.au/domain-names/ but for peace of mind local support, try someone local like Powered Solutions (0409214926) who can get you set up, hosted and live very quickly.
Then get cracking on the website!
For a simple drag n drop website created by you (yes, truly!) try:
To create an online store with minimal creative an administrative fuss, try www.neto.com.au or www.shopify.com There is a monthly fee for hosting, but can far outweigh the costs of professional website development – plus it is securely hosted 24/7. Some time, product info and a PayPal account is really all you need to get started and you’ll be selling online in no time.
If you don’t have the time or patience to get your site up & running there are many web developers out there that you can pay to get it done without the stress, and we can help point you in the right direction. Bear in mind though that you will still need to have a clear idea of content and images that you want to include, and will need to write some copy for the site yourself. This is often the hardest bit of the process and once you’ve got that nailed for your developer, making the site yourself is the easy part!
There are currently over 15 million active Facebook users in Australia, and for a small business, Facebook is a powerful platform to reach a very specific and targeted customer base that are open and ready to purchase your goods or services.
The big advantage of Facebook over other forms of social media is the ability to target customers geographically and encourage customers into your physical store - so if you have yet to get a website or online store up and running you can still benefit from sales triggered from your online presence.
If your business was a person, Facebook is the voice and style of that person so your individual personality needs to come through with your style of writing, choice of posts and third party topics you share. Keep it casual and light – this is definitely not the place for heavy and droll business speak.
Once you’ve got an active page, think about what it is that your customers find interesting, funny or helpful that will encourage them to engage with you – either by commenting, contacting you or sharing your content to what could be other potential customers. Just like people lose interest when we rabbit on about ourselves, people will desert your Facebook presence if you are me, me, me or buy, buy, buy – so be sure to alternate your interesting content with messages on products, services and sales.
Posts with pictures tend to bring more engagement than text only, and it’s a simple process to create eye catching and personalised images or videos yourself – all for free. See the Creative Resources section below for some handy tools
After you have 25 likes on your page, you have an opportunity to create a unique Facebook URL (eg www.facebook.com/azcomputerservices ) which will make it even easier for customers to find your business and for you to promote it in other areas online.
The Blog section further down can give you loads more helpful tips on content and topics for your Facebook posts.
The link above takes you to the Facebook business resource to allow you to create a page, get started on Facebook Ads (a low cost way to really target your ideal customer) and learn a few more tricks of the trade.
Content is king, and YouTube has more than 1 billion unique visitors each month all searching for information or entertainment. These days videos are super easy to make either with your mobile phone or with screen capture software and a microphone. (See the ink to SnagIt in the Creative Resources section below) Upload, link back to your website and potentially tap into thousands of people interested in what you have to say, share or teach.
Think about what your customers are interested in. Show them videos on how to use your product, or how it’s made. What about a behind the scenes tour of your premises and people, or how to fix problems they may encounter in your industry or with your product. Best ways to accessories your product, or create with it. There really are unlimited possibilities.
Also given that Google own YouTube, the more videos you create on a regular basis will also help raise your search engine ranking. Win!
If your business is creative or product rich, Instagram is a fabulous platform to share photos and short video of your products to your followers. There are 500 million monthly active users looking for visual inspiration and you can use your profile to share pictures of your products, services, staff, before/after results etc. To reach more followers, Instagram also has paid advertising.
Facebook owns Instagram and it is an easy process to post an image to both sites simultaneously to take advantage to two separate audiences.
Similar to Instagram, Pinterest is a platform for businesses to share images to followers and embed links within those posts to go back to your website or blog – encouraging interested people to buy from you or explore a bit more of your business.
Aside from new career opportunities outside of your business life, small business owners could benefit from having a LinkedIn profile. Not only to connect with other industry professionals, but it is a very powerful form of marketing if your customers are other small businesses.
Many smaller industry focussed groups operate within the bigger structure of LinkedIn which is great for ongoing learning and other resources or promoting yourself as an expert within a particular field.
Aside from an individual profile, you can also create a company profile, perfect for your branding, blogging and marketing activities https://smallbusiness.linkedin.com/small-business-marketing
Twitter is essentially a mini blog site, allowing small businesses to post short (140 characters or less) conversations, updates and comments (with or without images, video or links) to followers and influencers. Like most other social media used by business, there is an option for paid ads.
Simply put a directory website includes a database of members or users, not only relevant to the site they appear on, but serves to assist others to find you online within a particular supplier/industry or location based search for a specific product or service.
Links on these sites back to your own website greatly assist your rankings within search engines.
Many of them also provide a platform for customer reviews, also helping keep your content current and searchable in the eyes of most search engine robots, and while free to list, most of them offer paid advertising to reach even more potential customers.
Popular Australia wide directory sites include:
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au (an absolute must to join if you are in the hospitality industry)
https://www.sensis.com.au/sensis-free-listing Let’s not forget the modern way to be listed for free in the White & Yellow Pages!
Local directory sites include:
Be the Authority
If the internet says you’re the best, well then of course you must be! You can use many resources on the net to position yourself as the authority in your field. Here’s a few for starters.
If you give away free advice or generally just provide outstanding service, ask your customers to leave a review for you on one (or all) of the online portals mentioned above – True Local, Yelp, Trip Adviser, Hot Frog, Start Local, Google My Business, Facebook etc The more potential customers that read how good you are at what you do, then the more likely they are to come to you over a competitor that has no comparable online presence.
Looking for some free media exposure? Subscribe to the email newsletter from www.sourcebottle.com which is a free online service connecting journalists to sources. Your comment on a topic, or product you donate to be used as a prize may may well appear in a major national publication.
If something new or exciting has happened in your business, or if something has happened within your industry that you can put a sales spin on, consider writing a press release and put it out there. You never know where it could end up! Approach your publication directly or submit your press release through a distribution site such as:
Enter awards. Winning an award, or even being a finalist, generally gets you exposure on various sites & media publications that you wouldn’t expect. Why not put your hand up and enter one of the local business awards, or a national award specific to your industry.
Prime7 Wellington People’s Choice Awards (www.tourismwellington.vic.gov.au)
Create a PodCast and publish it to iTunes
Write a book and publish it to Apple iBooks
http://www.apple.com/au/education/create-with-ibooks-author/ (You’ll need a Mac for this one!)
Don’t underestimate the power of a group you join in Facebook for driving business to your business based on the power of your expertise and influence in that inner circle.
Nothing can make you more of an expert in your field than by having a regular blog (on your website or Facebook page or the free blogging site https://www.tumblr.com/) where you share your knowledge, personality and skill set with your interested followers.
Ideally you should write a blog post every day. They can really be anything that’s of interest to your customers – just like YouTube – how to use your product, issues in your industry etc. So many possibilities! How can you come up with inspiration? Here’s a few for starters
Spend a week writing down the questions you’re asked when customers call you or come into store. What’s logical to you isn’t always logical to a customer and not only will answering these questions blog style create a higher search engine ranking, but will give your potential customers more information and reassurance when researching your business.
Based on questions actually typed into search engines, this is such a brilliant way to come up with blog topics for the whole year! Type in your keyword and rejoice at the topic starters.
Highlights breaking news and what is working in your industry / field / competitors right now, by showing what users on social media are liking and sharing.
Breaking news relevant to your customers
Love this resource. Start by selecting topics that relate to your business or customer interests and find all articles being published online and across social media right now. Perfect if you’re wanting to post something to your tribe but are out of time or creative spark but still want to get them excited about your industry
What are people googling RIGHT NOW? If its something relevant to you, then you have a higher chance of being discovered – or take the chance o post something just as relevant to capture that interest.
Your email signature would be one of the easiest, cheapest and hard working form of advertising there is. Every email you send should feature a footer that has your name, business, website and phone number. Go a step further and add photos, quotes, and icons that connect to your social media accounts/images of awards & qualifications etc
Use your email signature automatically on every email you send and you never know when an email you send might lead to a new customer visiting your website out of interest or curiosity!
Use online services & other technology quirks to draw people into your physical location
This amazing resource of an Apple Maps listing is often overlooked, but given the number of iPhone users out there (and now the integration of Apple technology in your car sat nav system) you’ll need to make sure you’re listed here to be sure to be found on these devices.
Get your Google Maps entry as part of your Google My Business listing (above)
The recent phenomena of Pokemon Go was a boon for small businesses at the sites of gyms or Pokestops, and many used it to a very lucrative advantage placing lures out and pulling in huge customer numbers as a result. While the initial Pokemon Go craze has died down a little , there are still millions of active users worldwide and there should soon be the ability to create a Pokestop at your premises.
Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt using a mobile app or GPS to find caches (treasures) hidden by other people. Businesses are not allowed to advertise in caches, but there is nothing to stop you from placing one outside your business premises!
Foursquare is a mobile app that lets users search for restaurants, shops, attractions etc in their surrounding area at that moment in time, assisted by the location services on their mobile device. Business can use this app to promote themselves to users when they are nearby – you’ll only pay when they click on your ad to read more about you.
Creating and publishing a mobile app for your business was once a very complicated and daunting process. There are now many ways to create a free “drag & drop” style app to target your customers on demand on their own device! AppsMe lets you create a free app with loyalty program, location based messaging, pricelist and much more for free with distribution up to you. An extra fee can get it published into the iTunes or Google Play App Stores.
It’s a known fact that if a customer has dealt with you once, they are 80% likely to deal with you again. If you have been gradually gathering the email addresses of your customers, then the easiest thing you can do to get them back in the door and keep them up to date with your business is to send them a newsletter on a regular basis. Mailchimp is a free, very easy to use service and gives you come great tools to track and monitor our newsletter campaigns.
As a self confessed non creative person, I have found the following resources invaluable when creating content for social media, website, newsletter and print advertising.
As the name would suggest it cost $5 USD to harness the skills of a huge variety of talented people. Need a logo, jingle, copywriting, brochure, website animation? There’s bound to be some one on here that can deliver that to you.
Canva currently has 12.5 million users and is the absolute go to resource when creating images for Facebook posts, newsletters and blogs. Thousand of layouts, fonts and images makes for a free and easy way to create professional content.
Similar to Canva, Adobe Spark is a free resource to create a variety of social media content, but with the added bonus of animation and movement!
If you need music to accompany a You Tube or Adobe Spark clip, then you can access a ton of free tunes from this site
If your business could benefit from showing others how to do stuff on their computers, then Snag It is the tool for you. Combining screen capture and audio recording, with on screen comments and animations, you can create simple and professional how-to’s in just a few minutes.
These are all sites containing free professional stock images to use in your digital & print publications for free.
If you want to create your own stock photos with an individual twist, dunnnk allows you to insert your photo/product shot/web screen shot into an overlay of computers or mobile devices, ready for instant publication.
If you want to share a weblink with your customers but it’s about 1km long then bit.ly and create a customised short link to that same site. Makes it easy to remember and even easier to publish.
1300 CALL ME
Not quite part of the web presence you have, but is a great one for making it easy for customers to get in touch with you. You can get a customised 1300 number through The Australian Communications & Media Authority https://www.thenumberingsystem.com.au/#/smartnumbers-login Cost starts from $250 to buy the number, then there is an ongoing cost with your preferred telecommunications provider to host the number and route the calls through to your everyday local number We use www.telcoworks.com.au
No matter how you get your goods & services online, make it easy for customers to pay you.
Or jump on board with BPay http://www.bpay.com.au/Business/Small-Medium-Business/Becoming-a-BPAY-biller.aspx
Some businesses may qualify for their customers to purchase on interest free terms where you get paid immediately, and they can pay over terms. Some of these include:
Search Engine Optimisaton (SEO)
Basically the point of SEO is that you are easy to find online and appear on the first page of Google rather than several pages deep.
The web is essentially built around key words and key phrases used by people when searching for information, products or services. When you type a search into Google, the search engine robots will search their databases looking for web pages that include that word or phrase. The results are then ranked by the perceived quality of the site, the relevance of the page overall for the chosen search term (ie does the phrase appear in the domain name, name of age, headings on page, content on page), the number of back links and general popularity of the site (number of visits, number of back links, traffic from social media), how fresh or current the content is, the age of the domain name and where its hosted.
When you create your website you get to choose those key words or phrases that are featured predominately through the site. There is no point using keywords that people aren’t searching for, so how do find out what people are really searching for, and tailor your site to contain those words?
At https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/Home you can use this site to find out how many people search each month for particular keywords, the number of sites (competition) for those same keywords driving people to their site. Powerful and quite insightful when looking at our business from a an external view!
Link building is the process of having your details on other websites that create a link back to your website and other online presences.
Reputable rewarded sites that help contribute to increasing your link building catalogue include:
Your blog, Google My Business, Pinterest, Twitter, Industry Associations, Tourism Websites, Industry Forums, FaceBook, Linked In, You Tube, Instagram, Directory Listings, Maps, Links, Interest Groups, Podcasts
Help to Make it Happen
Need funds to get yourself set up? Not sure how to take the next big step? Try approaching your suppliers to check if they have a pool of marketing funds to assist you in promoting their products or services.
There are hundreds of government grants available to help in many areas of small business, check what might be relevant to you at www.grantready.com.au
What in the www? The Sensis Social Media Report is a comprehensive (ie. long) report but gives you some great statistic on what Aussies are dong online as well as when, where and how they are utilising social media. If you’re serious about branching your business into the online webisphere then this is essential reading.
Beyond creating a fabulous place for your own informative page, Facebook is home to a gazillion groups where people with common interests and goals come together. A couple of popular groups I have come across that are both informative, inspirational and helpful while encouraging you to fly your business flag are:
And Check out some great online resources:
And of course…
Naturally it goes without saying that us super clever folk at A-Z Computers can also get your digital footprint firmly cemented and are happy to chat further about a custom solution for your business, budget and outcomes. Find us at:
435 Raymond St, Sale
1300 292 667
The Nuts & Bolts
Start by buying yourself a book to record all usernames and passwords. Trust me, after you’ve been through this process of getting your business out to the web, there will be hundreds of logins to remember!
Then brainstorm and prepare the following so that it is easy to upload your information and fill in the blanks to all the different sites you’ll be visiting.
What do you do?
- In one sentence
- In one or two sentences
- In one paragraph
- In 3 paragraphs, highlighting 3 unique parts of your business
List 4-7 unique selling points about your business – your business at a glance what makes you different?
Where are you located?
What are your store hours?
What accreditations or awards, qualifications, certifications, licenses, registrations, endorsements memberships, operating licences do you have for your business
Who is your ideal customer, what do they want from you, where are they located, what are they interested in, what pains and frustrations are you fixing for them
Do you have slogan
What questions are you asked on a regular basis that could form a FAQ section?
What do you take for granted about your business that makes you unique
Pictures of store front, internals, products, people, interesting things about your business
Logos for your accreditations or awards, qualifications, certifications, licenses, registrations, endorsements memberships, operating licences etc
PDF files of interest eg menus, flyer, instruction manuals, price lists, how tos