For most small businesses, the Web is a realm full of opportunities, a place where they can connect with existing customers as well as make it easier for the world at large to discover their products and services. Even tiny local businesses can benefit from being online, since the Web itself drives the ‘shop local’ trend, by enabling Web users to quickly discover shops and other businesses next to them. But if you want to survive online as a small business in today’s tough online environment, you have to do a few things.
Invest in professional web design
Forget about free services for building websites or free themes – you need a unique identity, not a borrowed one. Depending on your budget and intent, you can use web design services to either build a website from scratch, or to customize a high-quality, preferably premium WordPress or Joomla theme to give it the spirit of your business – and its logo, too. Web design is not as expensive as it used to be.
Run a blog and update it at least once a week
If your blog is not hosted on the same domain as your site, it can be hard to find. You don’t have to write all the content yourself – you can always outsource it. Nevertheless, you must make sure it’s consistent with your mission and preferably includes links and references to your products and services – good for subtle marketing.
Place your physical address and contact number on your homepage
These are proof that you’re a real business and not some scam. Make people trust you even more by adding a photo of your shop. Other elements that help establish trust include Visa/MasterCard Approved Badges (if you accept online payments), virus-free badges available from Norton or other major antivirus software, and any Verified or Trusted Brand badges available in your region.
Use social media marketing consistently
It’s best to start only with Facebook and Twitter social media platforms and regularly post on them content about promotions, discounts, special offers, as well as news about your market, the business milestones you reach, and the events you host. Don’t expect social media to boost your sales right away though – look at it mostly as a way to interact with existing customers and reminding them of your existence, building familiarity which can convert into more sales, as well as reaching out to new audiences without having to pay the high costs of traditional advertising.
Invest in professional SEO
Continual use of SEO services considerably increases your online visibility by boosting your search engine ranking, which in itself is regarded by many online users as proof of a business’ quality, popularity, and trustiness. In the long run, SEO is cheaper than conventional advertising and promotion while bringing better results.