Madonna might have sung about living in a material world once upon a time, but things have most certainly changed since then. That truth has been dismantled, disassembled and disregarded.
We’re all living in a digital world. The currency is likes and shares. Celebrities have stepped down from their roles as brand endorsements in favor of Internet-native influencers.
Existing in virtual spaces is a given and for businesses their online presence is a valuable resource.
Why is building an online presence important?
What does anybody do, when they need to buy something new? Unless they’re already a fan of a specific company, they turn to Google for answers. They note down the options that pop up on the first page of results and that’s that. Mission accomplished. It’s definitely not a unique customer journey and with the rise of mobile search, this is the most important way to get discovered.
Yes, word of mouth still counts for something, but even that takes place online and leads to people searching for the company in question. If you don’t have a good website, haven’t worked on your SEO, don’t have your location and working hours on maps apps, then you can’t be found. If you can’t be found, do you even exist in the first place?
That’s what having an online presence ensures – visibility at the very least.
A strong presence? That’s a different beast altogether – improved sales numbers, name recognition and stronger loyalty from existing customers.
How can your business do it?
Follow competitors and their customers’ reactions
Starting with a clean slate can be terrifying. Without a point of reference, it’s tough to know what the best approach to a digital presence is. That point of reference is your immediate competition. Even when you know the rules, but want to adopt a new direction, it’s helpful to use competitors as the blueprint.
Both in the positive and negative aspects!
What are their freshest, most successful ideas? What are their successes? What are their failures? How does their audience react to their content? What engages them and in what way? It’s quite important to know why something has gone viral… Virality can often mean being eaten alive by the Internet’s fiercest users and today’s climate can certainly feel trigger happy, so extra care and deliberation needs to go into making digital marketing decisions.
Understand your customers with the help of an RSS feed reader
Don’t make assumptions on who your customer is, but ask. That’s why you’re online, right? To form a bond with your ideal customer. In the early stages, you might not have enough customers and social engagement levels to ask directly or send out surveys.
Another way that gets the job done is by conducting a keyword research and monitoring these keywords using an RSS feed reader. Why an RSS reader? They offer an entire spectrum of tricks and features to help you research and discover information. Inoreader has multimedia support as well as a whole area dedicated to discovery, powerful filtering and a versatile browser extension.
RSS pulls in content from all corners of the Internet and structures them in any way you want.
Write content that is useful for your customers
Useful content exists in two dimensions. The ideal is to have content that creates a strong synergy between the two:
Is the content useful to get your customers to do an action for you? That’s one way to generate useful content, because social engagement with it will showcase its utility or not.
Or does the content solve a particular issue for the client and fulfil a need? That’s content that is geared towards bringing value to the customer.
For instance, Hubspot is famously regarded as the most reliable resource for all things SEO and digital marketing. I’m sure many don’t even realize that the prolific blog is only an add-on to the actual business of developing and marketing software products for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service.
Be active daily
This point has more to do with social media than anything else. You should be posting daily – a higher activity rate corresponds to greater visibility among your audience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should post fresh content every day (unless it makes sense for your brand and your industry).
It means engage with the medium you’re inhabiting. Make it a point to respond to mentions quickly and even comment on posts that tag you in other ways. Social interactions bring you closer to your audience, plus it improves overall customer service. If a customer knows a brand will respond in a short time span, then they’ll stick to the products and services. That’s what breeds loyalty in the end.
Plus, you’ll actually to know your customers, which is the real goal with developing a presence online. Ask for insights directly. Learn what they want from you.
Follow a schedule
Timing means everything. Search anywhere on the Internet and you’ll see experts break down the science of when you should best post to the last seconds. Month, day of the week, time of day and proximity to a holiday – all these play an intricate role into how many eyes will discover your post online. Again this has a lot to do with social media and not so much announcements of websites, though the former influences the latter considerably. You’ll also learn when posting actively is too much and does more to harm your brand than assist it.
A content calendar is the best thing any company can have in order to strengthen their online presence. Honestly, if you don’t have one, then you’re probably not using your time and resources to their fullest potential. Content calendars impose a structure and enable the creation of a smooth overarching story and theme to what you publish and promote.