10 Ways to attract people to your business online

Any business – no matter its sector, market area or customer base – needs to be findable online. Worldwide, more than 2 billion people are online, including 21 million households (80 per cent) in Great Britain. They’re researching products and services, learning about people they’re about to meet or have just met, seeking directions to business locations, checking out reviews and ratings, and – perhaps most importantly – forming opinions that affect how they think and what they buy. This section covers the least you need to know – and do – to draw some of those potential online customers to your business.

Related: Get your website noticed

Commit to Becoming Findable Online

Your business reputation isn’t what you think it is. It’s what your customers and those who advise your customers think and believe. More often than not, people form first impressions from what they discover about you online, which is why you need to commit to becoming findable online and to developing search results that consistently lead to accurate, trustworthy information about you and your business.

Set a Goal for Your Online Activity

Start by evaluating the current state of your online presence, and then decide what changes you want to achieve:

  • If web searches don’t deliver results for your business – whether people are searching for your business in particular or for businesses of your type in your market area in general – set a goal to develop an online presence so that you appear prominently in future search results.
  • If your business has a strong online presence, but search results lead to outdated, irrelevant or inaccurate information, set a goal to boost credibility by creating a website and online profiles that you control.
  • If you’ve a good online presence with credible results, set a goal to deepen relationships with those in your target audience by increasing online participation and interaction.
  • No matter what goal you’re reaching for, don’t make sales your primary aim online. Selling repels people rather than attracting them to your business, especially on social media sites.

Decide on Your Online Identity

Just as you present your business using a single name in the physical world, you want to present it using the same name online.

But if others have already claimed your business name as a domain name or on social networks, or if your name is too long to work as a social network name (for example, Twitter limits names to 15 characters), you need a strategy for claiming an online alias that’s tightly linked to your business name. That way, a search for either name leads to results for both names – and maximum exposure for your business.

If you can’t use the same name everywhere, take these steps:

1. Decide on no more than two names under which you’ll present your business.

These names are likely to include the name under which your business was established and has long been marketed and a second name that you can use when your longstanding name isn’t available or appropriate because the name is too long or too difficult to spell.

2. Claim one name or the other as your domain name, and across all social media channels you may ever want to use.

3. Develop a strategy that links your names together.

Use your longstanding name as a prominent keyword in all descriptions for your online name, and use your online name as a prominent keyword in all descriptions for your longstanding name.

Establish Your Online Introduction

Online, you have about 20 words (160 characters on Twitter) to introduce your business and make others want to find out more. Follow this advice for getting the most from your brief introduction:

  • Pack your introduction with keywords that people searching for businesses or products like yours are likely to use.
  • Describe what your business does and for whom, along with what makes it trustworthy, distinct and likeable. Especially on social media, people want to connect with people and businesses with which they sense a personal connection.
  • Deliver a sense of the kind of information people can count on you to deliver, as well as the tone – whether humorous, serious, controversial, authoritative, whatever – your messages convey.
  • If you’re the primary player in your business, help people locate you by your personal or business name by incorporating both into your description.
  • Introduce yourself consistently across online channels, so people on any site get a similar sense of your business and its brand image even though the length, tone and wording of your introduction need to vary to fit the requirements of each online channel. It should be highly professional on LinkedIn, relaxed and informal on Facebook and short and punchy on Twitter.

Any business – no matter its sector, market area or customer base – needs to be findable online. Worldwide, more than 2 billion people are online, including 21 million households (80 per cent) in Great Britain. They’re researching products and services, learning about people they’re about to meet or have just met, seeking directions to business locations, checking out reviews and ratings, and – perhaps most importantly – forming opinions that affect how they think and what they buy. This section covers the least you need to know – and do – to draw some of those potential online customers to your business.

This is an edited extract from Small Business Marketing For Dummies, by Paul Lancaster, published by Wiley, RRP £16.99

 

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