The reality is that both approaches are necessary to grow your business and taking your business online can be a great place to start. Sure, you may already have a website and you may have updated your listing on Google, but there are so many things you can do to improve your online presence and build rapport with your customers before they even walk through the door.
With so many options, it can be hard to know where to begin. Start by exploring these five categories, and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong digital presence for your business.
Getting setup on social media
When selecting a username for your account, try to use your business name. If it is already taken by another user, try to pick something as close to your business name as possible to ensure that it will be easily identifiable by your customers.
You may also want to post business-related content from your personal account. As the business owner, you have plenty of value to add as a specialist in your area. Before you get started, be sure to establish the type of content that you will post from each account so that your followers know what to expect from each channel.
For example, you may create an account for small business on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. On those channels, you may post details about opening hours, unique features of your business or links to any media mentions you’ve had lately.
In contrast, you may want to use your personal accounts on those platforms to post articles about your personal experience as the business owner. What have you learned in the process of growing your business? Is there anything you’d like to share with other business owners going through the same thing? Do you have any industry-specific expertise that you could share, in order to position yourself as a thought-leader?
When deciding what content to publish on these platforms, think about what each platform is designed to do. Facebook is designed to help users share content with their network, and their algorithm gives preference to content that sits natively within it. Their goal is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible, so try to upload videos and images to Facebook, rather than linking to Youtube.
Instagram is for all your visual updates. Perhaps you want to post an image of a meal you serve at your cafe, a happy customer or a staff member on-the-job, or even an update about a product or service you’re introducing.
Building an email database
Email is still one of the most effective (and cheapest) channels available to small businesses, but it can take time to build up a database. There are also a number of privacy considerations you’ll need to take into account, because you’ll be collecting your customers’ personal contact details. However, if you collect and use the data carefully and respectfully - and refrain from ‘spamming’ your customers - your email database will quickly become a great tool for nurturing a loyal base of customers. Check out the Australian Privacy Principles for more information.
Create digital content
You’ve probably heard about content marketing, but what’s it all about?
Start to think about yourself as an expert in your space. By writing blog posts and articles about a subject you specialise in, you’re positioning yourself as an expert who can deliver a lot of value to customers. Customers are doing more research online than ever before, so carving out a niche for yourself online is really important.
Plan out the first five articles you’ll write, or videos you want to record. You could start by doing a series with each of the articles further developing a single theme. Alternatively, you could do five unique articles on different aspects of your industry. When you’re deciding, think about what your customers would want to read because there’s no point writing or recording material that your audience won’t engage with. If possible, ask your customers what they want and incorporate their feedback into your plan.
Don’t spend too long planning - you’ll be able to look at the results and optimise your content once it’s live. The main thing you’ll want to avoid is posting anything that negatively impacts the reputation of your business or misrepresents the products or services you provide. If you’re looking good on that front, don’t be afraid to post your content and keep moving. The sooner you get started the better, and you’ll improve your content with practice.
Nathalie is the Communications Manager at Valiant Finance. She has a double degree in Journalism and Law, and a background in the fintech space, hailing from Asia's largest fintech hub, Stone & Chalk.