Why Your Online Presence is ImportantLaura Ostrowski
While most businesses recognize the importance of having an online presence in this technological age, new studies are showing how important it actually is, especially for small businesses. A recent survey asked internet users in the US how having an online presence can impact a small business. Over a third (36.7%) of them said they learn about small businesses first through online research. Translation: no online presence (or a bad online presence) equals no new customers.
Coming in at a close second is word-of-mouth; 35% of those surveyed said they learn about small business from other people. But those people have to learn about it from somewhere – why not online? Having a solid online presence will allow your small business to reach potential consumers and hopefully convert them, which can then lead to them telling all of their friends about how awesome you are (because you are – you’re awesome. And now more people know it).
If you are relying solely (or mostly) on passersby to come in for a visits to discover your awesomeness, maybe don’t. According to this same survey, only 8.4% said they discover a new business by walking into the store. Seems to me like those are pretty slim odds.
Of this same group, only 7.2% said they never look up a local business online before going to it. That means 92.8% of people at least sometimes check online – 22.8% said they always check – before they decide to venture out into the real world and into a store or business. So even if they hear about you from a friend, they’ll most likely still look for you online. Make sure they can find you.
Having a business website plus social media accounts seems to be the best chance at success according to the 2016 Small Business Technology Impact Study. 36% of the people in this survey said that it’s possible they would not do business with a small business if it did not have a website. A website makes you legit, and social media makes you relatable (my opinion, not from the survey).
Having a social media account is not enough though –only about 2% of your Facebook audience will actually see your posts organically and “increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach is zero.”
The best way to increase your reach is through social media advertising. If you combine a strong social presence with appropriately targeted ads to reach the people you know may be interested in your product or service, when people see your ad and click back to your page, they’ll be able to learn more about your business. If you have a strong social page, they may be interested enough to migrate to your website. And if you have a strong website, they (and their wallets) may just migrate into your store. It’s like the story “If you give a mouse a cookie…” only it goes more like “If you show a consumer a well targeted ad…”
Keep in mind: if you give consumers that cookie, make sure it leads somewhere that will provide them with the information they’re looking for about your business and will encourage them to convert.