The Three Foundations of a Digital Presence
Prioritising these three things online will set up your business to effectively reach your customers, and attract new ones. This is where to start online. Getting these things right needs to be the first thing on your digital To Do List, because if you don't get them right, it'll be that much harder to keep the customers you're attracting, no matter how much hard work you put in elsewhere.
So, here they are. My top three foundations for your digital presence:
- Your Website.
- An Email List.
- Search Engine Ranking.
Why do I think these are the most important things for your digital presence? Let's take a closer look at each one:
This is your home base online. Your HQ. Your home. Unlike any other presence online, you have direct control over your website, and how you present your business.
Unlike Facebook, or Twitter, you aren't playing in someone else's home; you don't have to play by their rules, and you aren't subject to their whims.
We saw this most recently when, in January 2018, the digital world freaked out when Facebook spoke about changing their "algorithm" - how they present content to their users. Brands all over the world were terrified that they might lose their connection to their customers. Having your own website, and having it up to date, and attractive, means that you don't need to worry about Mark Zuckerburg and his decisions.
Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't be using Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube; but remember, you're playing by someone else's rules when you play there, and there could be a time when those rules don't work for you and your business. Without a website, you're left to the whims of giant corporations.
An Email List.
Many businesses (small and large) neglect to reach out to their existing customers. Many are scared to seem 'spammy', and avoid reaching out to their customers at all. An email list, well managed, and providing value to those customers on the list, can be a great outreach for your business.
Connecting with your customers through an email campaign can drive reengagement, and provides an opportunity for past customers to become future customers.
The trick here, if there is one, is to avoid over-designed emails, which may easily fall into a junk mail filter, either of the customer's mailbox, or even their own internal filter. The decision to open an email or delete it comes down to whether the recipient believes they can find value in the email. Providing emails which contain value to your customers will almost certainly look different to emails purely looking to drive sales.
Search Engine Ranking
New customers aren't checking the Yellow Pages for businesses anymore.
They might ask their friends for recommendations, but primarily, they'll be "Googling it". How your business performs in Google search results matters. If your business doesn't appear on the first page of a search, it's highly unlikely to be found at all. Your digital presence relies on customers being able to find you online. A potential customer might search for "Restaurant, Eltham", and find four business listings, as well as a number of "Top XYZ Restaurants in Eltham" websites. If you aren't the owner of Third Chapter, Mercer's, Maroush, or Small Plates, then you're missing out on customers searching for something to eat.
Search Engine Rankings, or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be pretty tough to get right, as you need to play by the rules of Google, and appease their desires. This means mentioning the keywords you're aiming for (if you're a restaurant in Eltham, you should be mentioning that on your homepage). It also means having a mobile-friendly website, and a website which loads quickly.
Each of these foundations, working together, can help you secure a foothold online. None of them will guarantee success in the digital world, but without them, success is that much harder.
Over the coming weeks, we'll be looking more specifically at each one of these foundations, and what tools can help your business online.