1) Connect with customers.

The internet is where your customers congregate, share their thoughts and vent. This makes the internet and all that comes with it one of the most powerful touch points with your customers—and, perhaps more importantly, potential customers. You need to make sure that you have a sturdy, visually appealing and easy to use website where you can showcase your business and all its offerings. You could add a blog section to your site that will allow you to constantly update it with good content that is of interest to your customers and whoever may land on your site. As a good practice, you should also make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch, if you have a LinkedIn profile, that is. If you don’t you should create one. Some customers may search for you on the networking site and the last thing you want is for them to find a typo in your job title or worse, to not find you at all. Once you’ve all of this under control, then you should think about getting your business on social media. Good platforms to start with are Facebook and Twitter or even Instagram, depending on what your selling point is. These social platforms act as a good place for your customers to congregate beyond your website and can also create a healthy buzz around your products and services.

2 Compete for attention.

Frustrated to see one of the rival companies in your space growing exponentially–especially when you believe you have a better product or service? Maybe they have a better online presence than you? When customers use search engines, if you don’t show up, you simply can’t compete for the attention of prospects and customers. However, making sure that you show up on search engines isn’t an easy task. You need to think about your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search Engine Optimisation is all about setting up your web pages so that the likes of Bing or Google can pick them up easier and making sure that you rank high in the first few pages of search results. SEM on the other hand, is more about paying to ensure that when users search for certain topics or “Keywords”, that your business is one of the first that they see. There is so much involved in both of these practices that if you do decide to take your business online, it would be worth doing some courses on SEO or SEM. You could have the best website in the world, but if people can’t find you, then it’s not worth that much.

3) Even the playing field.

Having a good online presence, and being active on social media, levels the playing field between big and small companies—and big and small budgets! The customer doesn’t know whether you have 5 employees or 500 as long as your website is professional and hits the mark. With social media, a scrappy, small and socially-savvy company can compete with larger ones and win over market share. Think about your audience – if you’re competing for the young consumer, then they live online and on social media platforms so that’s the best place to reach them. Because all of these platforms and technology are available to you today, either for free or at a very affordable price, it gives you the opportunity to compete with a company that is much bigger than you.

4) Analyse your Business.
Online tools give us unprecedented levels of information and data about our prospects and customers. These tools are readily available in today’s world and are very cost-effective. You will instantly see their value as they allow you to understand who is coming to your website, when, for how long and from where. All of this data is available in real time and allows you to understand what pages or content interests your customers so that you can focus on giving them more of that. It’s also important to research what customers are responding to on social media – what post received the most likes or comments. You can use of all of this data to understand how to better engage with your audience to help you sell more. The possibilities are endless.

5) Generate More Business.
Lastly and most importantly, being online gives you more opportunities to reach more people and to sell more products or services. By adding a shop to your website, it allows you to sell at a fraction of the cost of a bricks and mortar shop. Hitting “Buy” on your web browser is a lot easier than getting into your car and travelling to where the physical product is. You can reach a much wider audience, for a fraction of what it might have cost 10 years ago.

If you currently have no online presence, there are a lot of resources available to you to get you started. This article was provided by our friends at Microsoft Business