Technology in this day and age is full of opportunities for small businesses. Allowing you to connect with anyone around the world is a huge advantage when setting up a shop or service. See our last blog post about marketing on the web. There are so many tools available for free that it is remarkable what can be achieved with some time and a little know-how. In this blog post I will be talking about some of the steps you can take to set up your business online and a few tricks to make the most out of them. Setting up a website, social media presence and shop and how to utilise all of them together.
Your website is your flagship. It is the shop-front of your online presence. You can control the look, feel and content so it is important to get it as good as it can be. It is a refined sales pitch to your potential audience and has a few seconds to make a good impression before a potential customer is off to their next click.
There are many ways to set up your own website, most popular these days is using a CMS (Content Management System) see one of our previous blog posts for more details on what a CMS is and how it can be used. Once you have your website it needs to be hosted on the internet so other people can view it. There are also many options for hosting (including us here at Brass Comet see here for pricing) check back soon for a future blog post on hosting options.
Your website can contain custom functionality or what’s called a web-app (an online application) that can fulfil any purpose you require. Examples of these include car insurance calculators, travel booking systems or a build your own cake app. These features have to developed by someone and can be unique to you. This is the kind of bespoke functionality that is not available on other online platforms (such as Facebook) but can be hosted on your own website. This kind of content can make your business skyrocket by providing an easy and user friendly way of connecting your audience to products or services you provide. Often replacing more laborious processes offline that may not be appropriate for some people (due to access or location constraints) and could turn people away.
Social media pages can be tailored to suit your business and provide many useful tools for connecting with people. There are many marketing and advertising opportunities through these sites which may allow you to speak to people you may never have connected with through other means. As many of us use the popular social media sites creating a business page can be easy to set up as the platform is very familiar.
Your presence on these sites is also dependent on the underlying platform though so adaptability is key to keeping a steady footing in the digital world. Ensure you keep up-to-date on what the latest platforms can offer and be mindful that companies can change their software or policies that you may rely on to keep your business going. It is important to get as much information yourself about your customers as you can. Having a mailing list or sign-up form on your website can be a great way of building a customer portfolio that you can keep yourself and use to do direct marketing.
There are many online shop platforms each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Most online shop platforms take a cut of what you sell as commission in exchange for marketing the products through their website or providing the tools to sell (examples include Etsy and Not On The Highstreet). These are good for a seller who is building an audience and needs more exposure in exchange for a price per item sold.
However there are now more alternatives and it is possible to host a shop on your own website using CMS systems and a suite of free plugins. This may take longer initially to set up but provides a way of selling online that will not incur a commission cost. Using social media platforms to find a bigger audience you can then drive traffic to your own shop.
Once you have your business set up online it’s time to start the wheel turning. The key to greater exposure on the web is regular engaging content updates. Fortunately you can track and analyse the engagement of your content with more free online tools (some of this is also covered in our last blog post). Picture and video content may be easier for people to engage with and can help you get your message across.
Boost engagement with new and potential customers through social media, drive the traffic to your website and/or shop, build a store of customer information then use that information to directly connect with people rewarding them with exclusive offers. Engagement in social media can be enhanced with paid marketing campaigns, this will allow you to connect with new people and can be refined to target people specifically based on their interest getting the right people for you viewing your content. Your content should contain links to your website or shop generating and driving traffic to your site. Analytics software is great to see how people react when visiting your site (including what pages they visit, using what device and some demographic information such as age or gender) you can then use this to refine the user’s journey on the site ensuring they see the content you want them to.
- Create interest and followers with regular content updates and media
- Boost interest with social media marketing
- Drive traffic to your website or shop with good links
- Use website journey to guide audience to your products/services
- Build your own list of customers and reward them with direct offers
- Track and analyse traffic and performance with analytics
If you need any help getting your business up and running online or you feel you aren’t getting the most out of it please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or sending us a message through social media.
Thanks for reading,