Owning a business is a dream come true for most of us. But it comes with great challenges. Nearly
20% of small businesses fail within the first year.
Why do small businesses fail?
Poor marketing is one reason why businesses fail. The other reason is not adapting as the market
changes. For example; the pandemic triggered a surge in online activities. Customers started looking for everything online. And service businesses’ online presence increased to meet the demand. This led to the rise of online businesses and on-demand apps.
Today, it is crucial for small businesses to establish a web presence for marketing concurrently with traditional marketing efforts.
In 2022, the percentage of businesses conducted online reached 29.7%. This has caused quite an effect on offline businesses. They face poor customer responses and fewer leads. Although the demand is high, customers are unable to reach them.
If your small business is facing these issues, you are in the right place. The solution is simple. Nurture your small business’s online presence.
The internet is made for business. It is a great tool to make your business succeed. You can reach out to your customers. It creates awareness about your services and increases leads. You can achieve these without spending much.
This article will give you insights into why small businesses should go online. It will shed light on the benefits of an online presence for your business. And why it matters.
Bonus tip: Tips on how to get your offline business online.
Let’s dive in.
Online and Offline Presence of Small Business
That’s a big number, right?
If your business is not on the internet yet, you are lagging behind. More on that later. First, let’s look into the two types of businesses.
What is online business?
An online business is a business done on the internet. This includes any services or products you sell. Customers reach out through websites or apps. They do not have to come to the store. They can order and buy from home.
Benefits of online business include low start-up and maintenance costs. In 2020, over two billion people purchased online products and services. Online businesses are convenient for both customers and sellers.
What is offline business?
An offline business sells goods in a physical store. Example: bakery, gift shops, etc. Other forms of
offline business are home improvement contractors. Example: home service providers such as
plumbers, repairs, etc. They rely on visiting their customers to provide their services.
Online business vs offline business
Main differences between online and offline businesses:
Types of online presence for your small business
To take your business forward, you must first have an online presence. There are different types of
the online presence you can use. But these five platforms are a must-have:
Reasons why your small business should have an online presence
Taking your business online means more awareness for your brand. You get more customer engagement and exposure. But there’s more.
Six reasons why we need to do business online:
An online presence helps people can find you in seconds. It exposes your services to interested
customers. You will be taking your business to where your customers are. You will be able to communicate better and make work efficient.
Going online means that you will be available to customers 24/7. The customers can check, find, and book services at any time. They can reach you faster. This allows more customers to come to you.
People are more likely to trust a company with a website. The trust increases when it consists of reviews. Along with the website, social media allows customers to leave reviews. It allows you to communicate with them. This helps your business gain trust. Another advantage of an online presence is reputation management.
As your brand grows, people will share their opinion of you. Reputation management helps influence people’s perceptions of a brand. With an online presence, this is easy to handle. It includes responding to queries and keeping an eye on remarks. You can respond to threats or comments. In addition, it helps you grab chances to boost your reputation.
Have a competitive edge
Customers expect prompt and easy service. They prefer businesses with an online presence. They want to find services and products in seconds. Customers do not trust businesses without an online presence.
The better your online presence, the easier it is to locate you. The easier it is to locate you; the more customers can find you. The more customers you get, the better your chances of success.
It’s that simple!
Having an online presence makes it easier for customers to decide. Without them, you will lose your business to your competitors.
Compete with other brands in your location
Knowing your competitors is crucial for your success. Gain an edge over your competitors your area with these tips:
Solve your customer’s problem
Customers look for answers and assistance. They go to businesses that solve their issues. Chances of getting customers are higher if you fix their problems.
Build your niche and USP
The service business market is competitive. To succeed, you have to promote your unique selling point (USP). A USP is anything that separates you from your competition. It shows your value. And it leaves more room for expansion. When promoting your brand, highlight your USP to attract more customers.
Set good prices
Customers prefer prices they can afford. Research your customers to find out how much they are willing to expense. To know your ideal price, understand your competitor’s prices. Find out the services they are providing. And compare their prices with yours.
Adapt to change
The market is dynamic. Researching different trends in the market is crucial for businesses. Adapt and make changes with time to improve your business.
Provide excellent service
Bad service is bad for business. If you do not provide excellent service, you will lose customers. Researching your competitors is crucial. But providing unbeatable service is necessary. Great customer service builds loyalty and helps retain customers.
Connect with your customers
Customers will have specific questions about home improvement services. With an online presence, you can provide the answers. You can solve issues without taking much time.
Fact sheets and FAQs are a great way to address customer issues. Automated responses save time. You can even showcase videos of your services. Many businesses use email marketing to connect to their customers. Along with connecting with your customers, it helps you provide better service.
Low operation costs
For small service business owners, every expense counts. Getting your business online helps cut down many expenses. For example, billing tasks. Small businesses can utilize online software to incorporate these tasks.
Reduction in costs and time
Operational tasks tend to cost money and time. For home improvement contractors, this could result in loss. Shifting to online services can be helpful. Three ways how going online can help reduce costs:
Online services allow you to use tools that help with daily tasks. Tools such as accounting software reduce time and improve efficiency. Most of this software is free. With its help, you can incorporate invoicing and log-in task details. It is secure, accessible, and productive. Example: Scoro, QuickBooks, etc.
Low marketing costs
Online marketing tools allow you to promote services at a lower cost. You get a wider reach and you save time. Example: Google Ads, Instagram for business, and Facebook marketing tools.
Automated responses help answer customers’ queries. Example: FAQs, fact sheets, and similar Q/A sections on your website. Add them to your social media pages for convenience. They communicate with customers without taking much of your time.
Sneak Peek at two Home improvement companies’ online presence
Businesses are beginning to understand the importance of online presence. Let’s look at examples of how online presence has helped these two brands:
A look into K&B home remodelers LLC: roofing contractors
K&B is one of the leading companies in siding and windows. They also provide roofing, doors, and custom portico contractors. They serve all of northeastern New Jersey. The company has won many accolades since its founding.
K&B home remodelers LLC online presence statistics
A look into Arctic Air Conditioning Online Presence
Arctic Air Conditioning was founded in 1977, specializing in air conditioning (residential and commercial. They provide heating and indoor air quality services in Monmouth, Middlesex, Mercer, Somerset, and Ocean counties.
Arctic Air Conditioning online presence statistics
Benefits of taking your small business online
Taking your business online need not be challenging. You can start small, e.g., creating social media pages. And build up from there.
Key benefits of having an online presence for a business
- Accessible business at all hours.
- Helps you reach a wider audience.
- Low-cost marketing.
- Helps you connect to your customers.
- Improve service and customer interaction.
- Get instant feedback and reviews.
- Cuts your costs.
- Saves time.
How to create an online presence for your small business
An online presence is vital for a business in today’s market. It benefits both you and your customers and opens a window of prospects that is gainful and reachable.
Although there are various ways to strengthen your online presence, we will touch upon simple and crucial ways to get started with your small business web presence.
Set up social media
The number of active social media users rises every day. At present, it is over 4.65 billion.
Facebook had the highest number of active users. As of January 2022, it was 2.9 billion. But that’s not all. Customers prefer to visit local business pages. Two-thirds of Facebook users visit local business pages. They visit these pages at least once per week. This makes Facebook the ideal place for businesses to reach customers.
Your business should be on Facebook. It is free and takes only minutes. To increase reach, create accounts on other social media as well.
To create your social media pages, follow this tutorial.
The first step is to create your social media pages. The second is improving them for your customers. Here’s how you do that:
- Post photos and videos with creative storytelling.
- Invest in SEO marketing and targeted advertising.
- Include online forms for booking. They help generate leads.
- Provide valuable content on your pages. Update them regularly.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews and feedback.
Get on Google My Business
List your business on Google My Business. This way, customers can find you instantly. It is free and takes only minutes. You can list your business on Google My Business with a computer or smartphone.
Creating Google My Business listing from your computer:
- Sign in to Google Maps.
- Right-click on the map. Then, click on Add your business.
- Or you can click on the menu in the top left corner.
- Select the option Add Your Business.
Creating Google My Business listing from your smartphone:
- Open the Google Maps app.
- Search your business.
- Scroll down.
- Choose Claim this business.
Get listed on online directories
Many customers search for local businesses on online directories. A great way to get seen is by listing your business on this platform. You can list for free. Although some may charge extra for additional features. Find out what online directories your customers go to find businesses. And get your business listed on them. Examples: Angi, Craigslist, etc.
Build a website
Websites are vital for an online presence. They build trust and make you appear professional. Make sure you create a website that is simple. Avoid spelling errors and complex design. Provide clear information.
An ideal website is the one that:
- Shows up in search engine results.
- Allows customers to understand your brand and services.
- Allows customers to contact or book your services.
- Turns visitors into potential customers.
- Is easy to navigate
- Is simple and user-friendly.
Building your own website takes time. But you can create your own with this guide. You can
also, choose to outsource it if your budget allows.
Online opportunities for small businesses
You can utilize online opportunities for your small business. Here’s how:
- Manage your suppliers.
- Allow customers to book time and service.
- Manage your finances.
- Communicate with your customers.
- Research competitors in your area.
Future prospects to look into while going online
Remember that the market change is constant. With the internet, change is more constant. Your business needs to adapt to the changes. Before planning for an online presence, look into the following:
- Research online tools beneficial for your business.
- Decide which parts of your business can benefit from going online. For example;
- marketing, billing, etc.
- Determine your budget.
- Consider what equipment and software you will need.
- Plan early for risks such as scams, viruses, or even data theft.
- Learn what training or skills you or your staff may require.
- Learn about laws that apply to your online business.
Creating an online presence makes your business look professional. The rewards are endless. It helps customers understand your services better. It saves time and money. Your chances of getting noticed are higher. It will help you understand the market and your customers. And what’s better?
You can start with a small step and build up slowly.
The first goal is to get yourself on the online map. You can do this with a good website, social media, and online listings. Then, move on to paid ads and targeted ads. These tools help you get more reach and increase customers’ interest.
Once it starts paying off, move on to online management tools. Software like Scoro and StudioCloud helps your business stay organized. As more customers pour in, online management tools can help keep you efficient. This will come in handy once your business grows.
An online presence gives your small business a bigger chance to succeed. You can compete with the big players. And get a bang for your buck. Don’t miss out. Make the best out of the internet.
Get started on your online presence today!