Posted June 15, 2021

Build your Business: 20 ways to up your online game

Drive more sales and revenue with an increased online presence.

For many, establishing a web presence is as mysterious as it is daunting. Where does one begin and how can a rental center improve upon its presence?

WebFX, a company that helps small to medium-sized business build their online presence, offers 20 tips for upping your online game:

1. Have a website
Many small-to mid-sized businesses have a very poorly designed web site. A web site is an online reflection of your brick-and-mortar store.

Without a web site, it’s extremely difficult for people to do business with your company. WebFX research shows that more than 70 percent of people research companies online before they or buy from a company.

Generally, it’s best to have a professional web designer and web developer create your website. Certain design decisions can influence conversion rates, which impact its ability to drive revenue.

Adhere to a style guide so your web site matches your brand, from its colors to its tone of voice. It should meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards so everyone can use your site. se a responsive design allows it to be viewed on a computer screen or a smart phone.

Make sure the site loads fast; it should have a consistent layout for different page types such as product pages vs. blog pages. Add calls to action (CTAs) so users know what to do next.

2. Optimize your website for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to increase your visibility in search results on Google, Bing and other sites. Earning a top spot in search results is critical because most people stick to the first page of search results, with the first three results earning 75 percent of traffic.

There are three  three critical areas of SEO:
Off-page SEO: Focuses on your website’s presence across the web via its backlink profile.
On-page SEO: Focuses on the web site, such as product page content.
Technical SEO: Focuses on your website’s backend, including its page speed and architecture.

To optimize these three areas requires auditing the web site to determine its current SEO status. It also requires researching keywords or search terms related to your business, products or services and incorporating them.

Build relationships with industry bloggers, journalists and publishers to assist in producing new content regularly. This is slow work, and most find it necessary to get professional help.

3. Build an online experience that’s accessible to everyone
Have you ever used the zoom feature on your browser to make reading an article or viewing a site easier? That’s just one example of an accessibility feature that good web sites offer.

Americans with Disability Act (ADA) regulations makes accessibility a priority, especially if you’re looking to improve your web presence.

4. Schedule time for managing your online presence
Increasing your online presence doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. Strategies such as SEO take a few months to drive results.

SEO is also an ongoing strategy. Competitors are in the same search for online rankings and mentions in social media, so set aside time to write a new blog post, respond to Facebook reviews or to develop a new ad campaign to run on Google. Spend time on your web presence every week.

Many businesses either hire someone in-house to help or partner with a digital marketing agency that specializes in improving online presence. WebFX, for instance, offers a full-service agency that can focus on increasing your web presence to generate more revenue.

5. Establish a budget
In most cases, businesses don’t have the time or the resources to invest in upping their online presence. Evaluate each strategy and its potential impact to focus on areas that matter most, then establish a budget based on the average price or investment for different tactics.

6. Claim your profile on local directories
Even if your company’s operations go beyond the local area, claim profiles on local directories. Local directories allow people to access information about your business without visiting your web site.

Someone researching a new place to eat, for instance, is much more likely to use Google My Business, a local directory, to compare their options because it’s easier than switching between each restaurant’s site.

Visitors can also visit your web site via a local directory, which many do when nearing the end of their search.

There are dozens of local directory sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and Google My Business. Use the same best practices to create or claim a profile on these directories. Always provide your business name, address,  phone number, open/closed hours and web address. Upload photos or videos of your location, services or products. Finally, respond to any reviews, comments or questions that visitors post on the site.

7. Investigate competitors’ strategies
Research the competitions’ search result rankings, social media, paid ads, local directory profiles and email marketing campaigns.

For uncovering a competitor’s email marketing campaigns, you’ll get the best results by signing up for their campaigns. Visit your competitor’s social media profiles to research their activity and user interactions. Consider going incognito and use an account that’s not associated with you or your brand.

8. Develop interactive content and tools
From quizzes to calculators, interactive content and tools get people talking about your brand, visiting your web site and purchasing your products.

Smart businesses create interactive content for different stages of the buying funnel. For example, the first quiz can help shoppers in the middle and bottom of the buying funnel narrow their choices. In comparison, the second quiz is for more top-of-the funnel users who are interested in your products and services but aren’t actively in the purchase/rent mode.

This strategy requires some brainstorming and some help from a web developer, but it’s often worth the investment. Interactive content can go viral, helping you reach a massive audience while also building your backlink profile for SEO.

9. Promote with online ads
With online ads on places such as Google, Facebook and YouTube, your business can drive brand awareness, web site traffic and revenue. The catch, however, is that you will need to pay for these results.

With online advertising, you have complete control of your ad budget. For example, if you advertise on Google, you may set a top bid amount of $0.50 for someone to click on your ad. That means, at maximum, you pay $0.50 for someone who clicks on your ad, which gets deducted from your monthly ad budget that you have set.

You can advertise in multiple formats, including text, video and images. You can also target users by age, location, interests, behavior and other parameters.

10. Create profiles on the top social media networks
More than 50 percent of people using social media use it to research their next purchase. Your business needs a social media presence. You don’t have to create a profile on every platform, its a good idea to have one on the networks your audience uses the most. In most cases, you will want an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

11. Engage and respond
It’s not enough to write a blog post, share it on social media and then ask your followers to read it. Instead, engage your audience. Ask their opinion on the post or their experiences with the blog post’s topic.

If someone leaves a review, respond to them. Thank satisfied customers and offer solutions to those not satisfied.

12. Run A/B tests
Your organization’s online presence can also benefit from conversion rate optimization (CRO). Testing different versions can help you discover better ones. If you’re looking to increase product sales, for instance, a CRO test may reveal a more compelling call to action, which could lead to more purchases.

In most cases, A/B tests can be accomplished with free online tools such as Google Optimize. With an A/B experiment, you’re changing a single page element. For example, you may test “Buy Now” against “Add to Cart.” .

13. Produce helpful content regularly
Every company wants to make money. That’s why businesses often focus on reaching bottom-of-the-funnel users, or people who are ready to contact buy your product. However, this approach cuts out a significant part of the market.

That’s why companies should also attract top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel users. These users, while not ready to buy, have the potential to become clients.

Some interesting statistics on content marketing:

  • 80 percent of company decision-makers want articles, not ads, to help them make a decision.
  • 70 percent of users prefer getting to know a company through articles instead of ads.
  • 60 percent of users credit company-created content for improving their purchase decision.

14. Build a qualified email list
Since email marketing delivers an unmatched ROI of $44 for every $1 invested, it’s a go-to recommendation when people ask about how to improve online presence. Getting that kind of ROI, however, depends on your qualified email list.

While you can purchase email lists, this approach often fails because you’re sending emails to people who didn’t subscribe or opt-in to receive emails from your company. It also leads people to mark your email as spam and in turn, unsubscribe from your email campaign. So, you need to develop a strategy that motivates people within your target market to subscribe.

Tactics that businesses use to build qualified email lists include offering a downloadable guide or ebook; providing a free tool that requires a user to supply his or her email; or promoting exclusive offers and discounts to email subscribers.

You want quality over quantity. Invest in the subscribers that have the best chance of becoming clients.

15. Track your online channels
You can use various tactics to increase online presence, but you need to measure those strategies’ performance to find which ones work. Tools that can track performance include Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console, MarketingCloudFX, Ahrefs and SEMrush.

16. Nurture shoppers with email marketing
Qualified email marketing lists need to be nurtured. Start with email marketing that segments subscribers based on their behavior or demographics; personalizing emails based on a subscriber’s name and actions; and creating automated journeys based on a subscriber’s behavior and interests.

17. Analyze your digital marketing performance
Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console can monitor online performance. Evaluating and analyzing data should be done every month or quarter.

For example, if your business runs pay-per-click (PPC) ads, ask questions such as: Do our keywords reaching the best audience? What can we do to improve conversion rates? Should we refine our audience with additional targeting settings, such as location and device?

18. Recognize when you need help
If you or your staff doesn’t have the experience to deliver the expected results or doesn’t have the resources to track and evaluate the strategy, it may be time to bring in outside experts.

That’s what Greg Roth from the Wheeler Machinery discovered. “We didn’t have a third-party partner that we relied on, and it was just overwhelming. We couldn’t keep up with the work.” Wheeler Machinery partnered with WebFX, and Roth immediately found that things got more manageable and more cost-effective.

“We were getting more traffic and spending less money. We have more time to manage our business. I’m not worried about SEO, PPC, AdWords…we can just tell them what we want, and they take care of it.”

19. Join online marketplaces
Businesses in the ecommerce sector can also improve their online presence with top marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart Marketplace and Target Plus.These marketplaces can help your company expand its reach and connect with a vast audience of shoppers while also leveraging the trust that shoppers associate with those brands.

20. Encourage clients to post reviews online
People love reviews. Reviews help you earn your target audience’s trust and business. Encourage people to post reviews online by offering a discount; including a call-to-action to leave a review in your product’s packaging or paperwork; or by sending post-purchase emails.

This article was produced by WebFX, a marketing firm that can assist with small- to medium-sized companies achieve higher rankings on the internet. It also appeared in the July-August 2021 isssue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine.