How to Create an Online Identity for Your Business: Part 2

Date posted: February 20, 2013

In Part 1 of this three-part series on how to create an online identity for your business, Verisign’s Scott Schnell explained how to choose a domain name. Today, he discusses best practices in setting up and managing a website.

By Scott Schnell

There’s a common misconception that buying a domain name requires one to set up a website. But once a business selects and registers a domain name, or several, there are many ways they can be used to establish a Web presence. From free and low cost channels that require little to no investment or technical expertise, to a full featured customized website, the control that having a domain name provides is critical because it allows businesses to scale their Web presence as they grow without the risk of losing customers.

The simplest way a business can establish an online presence is to take advantage of the prevalence and popularity of social media and resolve their domain name to their social site of choice. This means that when anyone types in the company’s domain name, they will be directed to the company’s page on social sites like Facebook or Pinterest. This technique is a great way for small businesses to get their feet wet online because it requires little to no investment or technical expertise and enables them to see the immediate benefits that an online presence can deliver. Similarly, for many companies looking to expand their sales to the online market, services exist today, like www.bigcommerce.com, www.etsy.com, www.ebay.com and others, which make it easy to establish an Internet storefront without investing in a full blown ecommerce website.

One thing to consider with both of these techniques is that by subscribing to these types of free and low cost services to support an online presence, businesses give up control and are beholden to the rules and any changes these platforms may make. This means that a business’ relationship with its customers is moderated by someone else. It is also why it’s important for businesses to make a domain name their central online marketing destination. In the instance that a new social or e-commerce channel becomes more desirable, or a business decides to switch its online presence to a custom website, a domain name can be easily redirected to the new site without the risk of losing customers or the need to invest in new letterhead and business cards.

As I mentioned earlier, if a business has decided that it wants its own website, many registrars and hosting companies make it very easy to develop a website through templates that include most of the same features as custom websites, like ecommerce support, branded email, search engine optimization, and interactive tools. The interface for maintaining these types of sites is generally very user friendly and requires very little technical expertise. Many small businesses subscribe to this practice because it is inexpensive, low effort, and allows for more control over the user’s experience, and therefore more control over their brand.

Scott Schnell is SVP of Marketing, Strategy and Business Development at Verisign. For more information on how to build and grow an online presence, including how to purchase a domain name, visit www.GetA.com or www.VerisignInc.com/smallbiz.
 

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