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A business owner manages her small business online using her laptop

Your Online Presence Can Make or Break Your Small Business

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You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into your small business. You’ve finally gotten it off the ground, and things are starting to look up. But there’s just one problem: your online presence is nonexistent, or worse—it’s actively driving customers away.

In today’s digital age, that simply won’t cut it. Your online presence is now one of the most important factors in whether or not your small business succeeds.

Most Customers Start Their Journey Online

According to a study by Google, 83% of consumers start their journey online when looking for a local shop—and that number is only increasing. This means that if your small business doesn’t have an online presence, you’re losing out on a huge chunk of potential customers from the very beginning. For this reason, you should consider making and updating your business’ social media accounts and your website.

Try to stay active on the Internet, too. Not only is this a good opportunity to attract new customers, but it’s also a way for you to interact with your existing customers and foster a sense of community. If you have a supportive community, they will likely attract other customers by word-of-mouth, as well.

Your Website Is Your First Impression

Your website is the first thing potential customers will see when they start their journey to find your small business. That makes it your first—and possibly only—chance to make a good impression. It makes the difference between convincing them to do business with you or letting them go.

If your website looks like it was made in the early 2000s, or worse, if it doesn’t exist at all, customers will likely assume that your business is outdated and move on to one of your competitors. On the other hand, if you have a modern, well-designed website that’s easy to use, you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the competition and give yourself a leg up in winning over new customers.

For one, you have to make sure that your website represents your brand identity well. The splash page, landing page, or homepage, is what your customers will first see on your website—it has to make them want to stay and look through your website. To make a big splash, contract a web designer for your landing page. You can enlist the help of a creative agency to make videos for your website. Interactive and dynamic splash pages make your customers want to browse more, but make sure that these pages load quickly, too.

Your website should also have everything they’ll want to look at—a catalog of products and services, how to contact you, any certifications your industry might require, and what your address is. This way, they’ll know you have what they need, and they’ll contact you for more information.

A customer smiles while reading reviews on her phone before she uses a credit card to buy

Your Online Reviews Matter—A Lot

These days, potential customers are far more likely to trust an online review than they are a traditional advertisement. In fact, 77% of consumers say they look at reviews before contacting a business, with 89% more likely to interact with a business if the business responds to online reviews. 9 out of 10 people would say that genuine online reviews are as good as personal recommendations. That means that if you don’t have any reviews—or worse, if you have negative reviews—you could be turning away customers without even realizing it.

Conversely, if you have positive reviews, you could be giving yourself a major advantage over other businesses in your industry with little to no effort required on your part. However, do take note that your reviews have to be organic. Many users believe that there are many fake reviews online, and fake reviews can actually hamstring your business. Don’t get fake reviews, but instead, try your best to deliver the best products and services.

If ever you get bad reviews, make sure you respond in a good way, and try to use it for improvement. As your customers, they have an unbiased view of your products and services, and they can help you improve user experience. In addition, the way you respond to your customers’ complaints and feedback has a huge effect on whether they come back for more.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this: if you want your small business to succeed in today’s digital age, you need to focus on building a strong online presence. That starts with having a modern website that makes a good first impression and continues with maintaining positive reviews from happy customers. If you can do those things, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new customers and growing your business for years to come.

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