Going Online!

By Maria Rivera

Standing out in the deep thicket of the digital landscape can be a ferocious task for any website owner. After all, users have millions of options to swipe through, to click on, to engage with and to decide to follow. However, by building a strong foundation you’re able to establish your online presence and take the proper steps to promote it. You’ll soon notice potential customers flocking to you because your business’ digital entities will speak for themselves. Here are five different ways you can build a more effective online presence for your ecommerce store.

1. Knowing your customer

Any compelling marketing campaign begins with an ideal customer. Take some time to really think about your product offerings. Who’s most likely to purchase them? What do they care about? What are their likes and dislikes? In the marketing world, we call this building personas. Most businesses have multiple ideal customer personas and yours probably does too. By understanding what your current and potential customers value, you’re able to better hone in on how to market to them. You’ll use this data to form an online presence that resonates with the people that matter most – your customers.

Not sure where to start? Spend some time evaluating why you decided to venture into your particular market. What need did you see for your product line? What motivated you to launch this new exciting venture? Talk to friends and those who you hope will purchase what you’re selling. Take a look at your competitors and check out their social media comments and website reviews. How are people interacting with them?

Doing some “detective” work will prove quite valuable whether you’re a fledgling business or you’ve been running it for over 10 years. People’s values change constantly and even though you may think you have the right idea, it’s always more productive to have one’s ear to the ground.

2. Your online store

The easiest and smartest place to start building out your online marketing efforts is with your website. It’s important to think of your website as your homebase. No matter what the press coverage you manage to stir up or how many followers on Instagram you amass, your website will always be the face of your business. This is why you should take special care in:

  • Choosing a color story you can use throughout your website and extend to your blog and social media channels
  • Taking high-quality images of your products
  • Installing Google Analytics so you can begin tracking valuable site data like visitors, traffic channels, conversion rates and more
  • Placing great effort into SEO or search engine optimization of your site with unique content in the URLS, title tags, meta descriptions and on-page copy of your category and product pages

3. Content creation

Now that you have your website optimized and nicely designed, it’s also important to think about creating content on a regular basis. Whether you choose to create blog posts, YouTube videos or an FAQ thread on Reddit, creating content allows you to provide value to your customers. In doing so, you’re positioning yourself as an authority in your industry which search engines love. Make search engines love you and you have a greater chance at rapidly expanding your online presence. Not only does this create valuable backlinks which only help to improve your SEO but it gives you a better opportunity for optimal online growth by placing your content in front of that many more eyes. How can you do that while you wait for search engines to index, or read, your content? Use your social channels!

4. Your social channels

Love them or hate them, social media channels are here to stay and if you don’t currently have social accounts for your business, you should start. Now, you don’t have to be on every single social channel, but you should definitely be on Facebook since it boasts the highest number of users and its built-in ads manager makes it easy to create highly-targeted ad campaigns. If you’re in the home goods, fashion, lifestyle or any other market that relies heavily on visual appeal, then Instagram would be a great option to add. If you have a business with a lot of customer service questions or sell sports-related products, Twitter is also an option since it gives you the opportunity to respond quickly or to participate in conversations during major events.

There’s also YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more, but don’t feel pressure to be on every single channel. Instead, pick two if you’re just starting out. Make an effort to regularly post three to four times a week on each channel. You can repurpose the content you’ve previously created. For example, create a much shorter (less than 60 seconds) video snippet for Instagram of a longer one you’ve posted on YouTube. Create a nice graphic showcasing your newest product launch and host a giveaway on Facebook. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create engaging content for your social media channels. Do set yourself a weekly schedule, though. Posting regularly will expand the digital footprint of your business by showcasing your expertise to search engines and customers.

5. Community engagement

Another reason why social channels are so important is because it humanizes your brand. Social channels allow for potential customers to understand your business and decide whether they’d like to continue a relationship with you beyond the checkout page. This is why the next step in building your online presence is community building.

You may not think that’s too important but statistics show that it’s exponentially more difficult (and expensive) to convert first-time website visitors than those who’ve previously interacted with your site or social channels. By being active on social media or on forums, you’re building a recognition in the minds of those who come across these interactions. Because they’ve seen your brand somewhere, it gives you more authority and trustability. Engage when a potential customer asks a question and also check to see which influencers are relevant in your industry. Is there a particular trend you can capitalize on? There’s plenty to learn simply by being part of the conversation.

Remember that as fast as the digital sphere turns, it still takes time to grow your business’ online presence. Be patient but be consistent. Utilize the same tenacity that helped you launch your business in the first place! By investing your time and effort into a website and creating valuable content, you can build a community of potential customers whose values align with your products.

Maria Rivera, is the SEO Team Lead at Volusion, the ecommerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Online stock photo by Tashatuvango/Shutterstock