If your business didn’t start out organically as an app or with an online presence you’re probably thinking about getting to that point. It’s hard to think of a business these days without an online presence, but for many smaller businesses getting started was the first phase of the plan. As you grow your business you need to think about getting your business online. To help you get going, remember these easy steps:
Finding Your Domain
If you don’t already have a domain name, get one. Research site names that already exist and find something both unique to your business and easy for customers to remember. Make sure it either matches your company name or at least the product or service you are selling. Domain names don’t cost very much and can be purchased on a yearly basis but are necessary to get the process going.
Staying in Site
You have a name so now it’s time to build a website. But what should you include?
- Solve a problem. Don’t just talk about your product or service. Talk about how it can help solve a problem or be a solution for your customers.
- Is your site an e-commerce site? Make it easy for customers to make a purchase. Don’t hide the “buy” button. Give them an opportunity to buy the service or product from multiple locations on the site.
- Give your customers the ability to ask questions. Whether it’s getting to know your company better or questions about the service, make that function accessible and easy to use.
A good website is a responsive site. What does this mean? Being “device-agnostic” or making it easily accessible on multiple platforms such as desktop and mobile devices will give users options of how and where they can use the site.
Don’t Be a Stranger
Your site’s up but how do people find you? Things like ads and social media can help but also the use of search engine optimization (SEO) and local searches can be of even more importance. What are they? SEO is a way of making your site appear higher in search results (on Google for example) by creating content on your site that uses the language or terms and phrases that people search. Local searches can help customers find your physical location easily through Google Maps for example, can also help you be found more quickly. It’s free and can add greater exposure for you.
Extend Your Reach
can extend their reach to their customers by interacting with them on a real-time basis.
Social media helps blend the information of the site with direct communication capabilities to create a customer service mechanism. It’s important, however, to know your demographic. Not all social media appeals to all people and you have to be aware of which sites appeal to your customer base. Work within those relevant sites and don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to interact on all platforms.
Are You Ready?
Once the pieces are in place, you can use online tools to help sell your product or service. Your customers want fast, efficient ways of doing business online, and if you want to accommodate them, you need to consider your own capabilities. Ensuring fast, efficient and real-time data to customers may mean operating in the cloud. Also, fulfillment and distribution considerations will become important. Are these things you can do on your own or do you need help from your local postal service or larger distributions facilities? Making it easy for your customers is the key. The easier it is the more likely they will come back and possibly refer you to others.
The Bottom Line
Make sure you have access to everything. It sounds simple, but over time it will be necessary to make changes or modifications to the site as needs change. Holding “the keys” to the site will make design, growth and function easier in the future.
For more tips on getting your business online, visit #RBCSmallBiz Panel Discussion – Getting Your Business Online.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.