In the last decade, how we find businesses, products and services has changed dramatically. Instantly, we google "Hairdresser near me" and "Jollof rice near me" or even head to Instagram, Twitter or TikTok ( We have an article on getting your business started on TikTok, you should check it out) to find what we want. Even when a friend or family member refers a small business to you, you head online to see if they have a website, what their social media is like and the reviews from other customers.
If your small business is not online you are missing out on an opportunity to build trust, gain new customers and expand your reach. In this article, we explore the importance of taking your business online and guide you through the process of establishing a strong online presence. Stay with us!
Why Your Business Should Be Online
Reach a Wider Audience: Going online enables you to expand your customer base and tap into a global market. If your business will reach the revenue and customer growth goals you desire, you will need to increase the number of people who can access your products or service.
Enhance Brand Visibility: A strong online presence increases your brand visibility and makes it easier for potential customers to find and engage with your business.
Build Customer Trust: Having an online presence, including a professional website and active social media profiles, instils confidence and trust in your target audience. With customers wary of scam businesses, an active online presence with reviews from other customers instantly builds trust.
Active engagement on social media: promptly responding to inquiries and reviews, further demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction. An online presence provides transparency and establishes your business as a trustworthy and reliable option.
Increase Sales and Revenue: By reaching more customers, showcasing your products or services effectively, and providing a seamless online shopping experience, you can boost sales and revenue.
Adapt to Changing Consumer Behavior: Consumer behaviour has shifted dramatically in recent years, with a significant portion of the population relying on the Internet for product research, online reviews, and purchasing decisions. consumer preferences. Being online allows you to meet your customers where they are, engage with them effectively, and cater to their needs in the digital realm.
Gain Competitive Advantage: Establishing a strong web presence enables small businesses to compete with larger enterprises. It levels the playing field by providing equal opportunities for exposure, customer engagement, and brand promotion. With effective online marketing strategies, you can carve out a niche, differentiate your business, and create a unique value proposition. A well-executed online presence can give your small business a competitive advantage and position you as a leader in your industry.
How to Get Your Small Business Online- What Channels Are Important?
Taking your small business online might seem like a challenging task. But the most important step is realising what your options are in terms of channels and what channels are most important to establishing your small business's online presence. Here are a couple of channels to explore if you are thinking of taking your business online.
Website: A dedicated website provides comprehensive information about your business, products, and services. It also serves as a central hub for your online presence because it can direct potential customers to your social media, blog and partners. If you have the capacity, a website can also have e-commerce capability which means your customers can order products from your website. while it is a big-budget activity, it definitely has a long-lasting impact on your business.
E-commerce Platforms: These platforms take away the stress of creating and maintaining an e-commerce website while providing the same experience. You can sell your products online easily through these platforms. Most of them also come with payment features making it easy for you to collect payments from your customers easily.
They include Flutterwave Store, Pocket, Paystack Storefront and Shopify
Social Media: Utilising popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn can help you connect with your target audience, build brand awareness, and engage in meaningful conversations.
To ensure that you do not spread yourself too thin, focus on one or two platforms where you will get exposure to your target audience instead of struggling to maintain an active presence across every channel.
Google My Business: Google My Business is a free online tool provided by Google that helps businesses manage their online presence across Google's platforms, including search results and Google Maps. It allows businesses to create a listing that appears when users search for their products or services.
Here's a step-by-step guide to setting up Google My Business:
Step 1: Sign in or Create a Google Account
If you don't already have a Google Account, you'll need to create one. Visit accounts.google.com/signup to create a new account or sign in with your existing account.
Step 2: Go to Google My Business
Once you're signed in to your Google Account, go to the Google My Business website at https://www.google.com/business/. Click on the "Manage now" button to get started.
Step 3: Enter Your Business Name
Enter the name of your business in the provided field. Make sure to enter your official business name accurately.
Step 4: Choose Your Business Category
Select the category that best describes your business. This will help Google understand what your business offers.
Step 5: Add Your Business Address
Enter the address where your business is located. If you don't have a physical storefront, you can provide your service area instead.
Step 6: Specify Service Areas (if applicable)
If your business serves customers within a specific service area rather than at a physical location, you can specify those areas.
Step 7: Add Contact Details
Enter your business phone number and website URL. This will allow customers to contact you directly and visit your website for more information.
Step 8: Verify Your Business
Google will need to verify that you are the owner of the business. You'll have the option to choose from various verification methods, such as receiving a postcard by mail or verifying by phone or email.
Step 9: Optimize Your Listing
After verification, you can optimize your Google My Business listing by adding additional information, such as business hours, photos, a business description, and customer reviews. The more complete and accurate your listing, the better it will perform in search results.
Step 10: Manage and Update Your Listing
Once your listing is set up, you can log in to your Google My Business account to manage and update your listing regularly. This includes responding to customer reviews, adding new photos, updating business information, and posting updates or offers.
How to Get Your Small Business Online- What To Consider Before Choosing A Channel.
Not all online channels may be suitable for your specific business. In this section, we'll discuss factors to consider when choosing the right online channels, such as your target audience, industry, and business goals. It's important to focus on channels that align with your target audience's preferences and have the potential to reach them effectively.
Target Audience: Identify your target audience and understand their online preferences and behaviours. Consider their interests, age range and online platforms they frequent. Choose an online channel where your target audience is most likely to engage and interact with your business.
Channel Relevance to Your Industry: Research the online channels that are relevant to your industry. Different industries may have specific channels that are more effective for reaching and engaging their target audience. This is closely tied to doing an analysis of the online activities of your competitors.
Competitive Analysis: Analyze your competitors' online presence and the channels they are utilizing. Identify the channels where your competitors are successful and examine their strategies. This can provide insights into which channels are effective within your industry and help you differentiate your business.
Channel Features and Capabilities: Evaluate the features and capabilities of each online channel. Consider the types of content you want to share and the platform's compatibility with your content strategy. Look for features such as e-commerce functionality, multimedia support, audience targeting options, or integration with other marketing tools.
Communication and Engagement Style: Assess the communication and engagement style that resonates with your target audience. Different online channels have varying communication styles and engagement patterns. Some channels like Instagram emphasize visual content, while others may focus on written or interactive content like Twitter. Choose channels that allow you to effectively communicate your brand message and engage with your audience.
Resource Investment: Evaluate the time, effort, and resources required to establish and maintain your presence on each online channel. Consider factors such as content creation, community management, customer support, technical maintenance, and analytics tracking. Choose channels that you would be able to maintain without it taking too much of your time away from your core business.
Analytics and Insights: Explore the analytics and insights provided by each online channel. Consider the data and metrics you need to track your online performance effectively. Look for channels that offer robust analytics tools to measure your reach, engagement, conversions, and other key performance indicators.
Growth Potential: Think about the long-term growth potential of each online channel. Consider whether the channel can accommodate your future business needs, expansion plans, and changing customer demands. Choose channels that offer flexibility and scalability as your business evolves.
How to Get Your Small Business Online- Strategies For Establishing A Strong Online Presence
Consistent and Engaging Content Creation: Regularly create and share valuable content that aligns with your brand or expertise. This can include blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, or social media updates. For example, if you're a fitness trainer, you can create workout videos, share nutrition tips, or write blog posts about fitness-related topics.
Active Social Media Participation: Engage with your audience on social media platforms relevant to your target demographic. Respond to comments, answer questions, and participate in discussions. For instance, if you're a fashion blogger, you can actively post outfit inspirations on Instagram and respond to comments and direct messages promptly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website and online content to improve its visibility in search engine results. Use relevant keywords, create descriptive meta tags, and build quality backlinks. As an example, if you're a web design agency, you can optimize your website with keywords like "professional web design services" or "affordable website development."
Influencer and Collaborative Partnerships: Collaborate with influencers, other businesses, or industry experts to expand your reach and tap into their existing audience. This can involve guest posting, hosting joint webinars, or featuring each other's products or services. For instance, if you're a travel blogger, you can collaborate with a hotel chain for sponsored stays and share your experiences with your audience.
Online Reputation Management: Monitor and manage your online reputation by promptly responding to reviews, comments, or feedback. Address any negative feedback professionally and seek opportunities to turn negative experiences into positive ones. As an example, if you're a restaurant owner, you can regularly check review platforms and respond to customer reviews, thanking positive feedback and addressing any negative comments.
Thought Leadership and Expertise Sharing: Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry by sharing your expertise, insights, and valuable knowledge. This can be done through writing guest articles for reputable publications, participating in industry forums or online communities, or hosting webinars or workshops. For example, if you're a marketing consultant, you can write articles about the latest marketing trends or speak at industry conferences to showcase your expertise.
Online Advertising and Paid Promotions: Utilize online advertising platforms and paid promotions to increase your visibility and reach a broader audience. This can include running targeted ads on social media platforms, and search engines, or sponsoring content on relevant websites. As an example, if you have an e-commerce store selling handmade jewellery, you can run Facebook ads targeting individuals interested in fashion or jewellery.
Remember, establishing an online presence is an ongoing process. Continuously assess and adapt your online strategy based on your business's needs and customer feedback. With dedication and a well-executed web presence, your small business can thrive online!