Your Business Online

How to make the Web work for you

By: Sylvia Slezak

Many businesses in Texas cannot be found online. These five statistics show why your business should be online.

1. Ninety-seven percent of Internet users look for local goods and services online (source: BIA/Kelsey, User View Wave VII, March 2010).
2. One in five searches is local, which means someone is looking for a product or service nearby (source: Google user data, April 2010).
3. Three out of four smart phone users have contacted a business they found on their phone (source: Google/Ipsos, “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users,” April 2011).
4. Over the next three years, businesses that make use of the Web expect to grow 40 percent faster than those that don’t (source: BCG Report, “The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012).
5. Fifty percent of Texas businesses do not have a website (source: Google/IPSOS, Survey of businesses with less than 250 employees, October 2013).

Here are a few simple ideas to promote your business online.

Website
You know that your business needs a website, but taking your business online can be intimidating when you don’t have any experience with Web design or development. Fortunately, the process for getting your business online isn’t as complicated as it may first seem to be, and can be broken down into these simple steps:
• Research and register a domain name. Use an online domain name registrar to search for and purchase the preferred domain name for your business as soon as possible.
• Determine what your website will need to do for your business. Your website is a tool that should provide value for your business. If your business will be selling products online, your website will need e-commerce capabilities for a shopping cart.
• Develop your website content. Unfortunately, website content doesn’t appear out of thin air – somebody has to create it. Never assume that your Web developer or designer will do it for you. If you don’t feel comfortable writing effective content and copy for your website, you may want to hire a copywriter to work with you.
• Include images, audio and videos. You’ll want to make sure that any media you post on your website is professional and appropriately placed for the context. Also, avoid stock photos wherever possible. Your customers want to see images that are a true representation of your business.
• Launch and maintain your website. The switch is flipped, and your website is live! Now you need to make sure that people can find it.

Local business directory
• This is one of the oldest and most effective ways to market your business online.
• Consider listing your business products and services on a directory that is targeted, affordable and accountable.
• Your local business should be found on pages that are specific to the services and products you offer.

Online video
• Provides a wider reach: Gives you access to enormous traffic sources like YouTube and Vimeo and is one of the most cost-effective ways to get the word out about your business.
Injects personality: Builds trust and connects with viewers on an emotional level and helps you stand out among mediocre competitors.
• More memorable than written content: Internet users are becoming increasingly “blind” to banner ads. Your users are much more likely to remember and respond to videos than written content.
• Becomes an SEO boost: Video appears in 70 percent of the top 100 search results listings, so using video to promote your business creates huge SEO advantages. Search engines like Google are rewarding video producers with free traffic and streams of qualified visitors that can turn into customers.

Social media
• In case you’re not fully on board with social media, here are compelling reasons that not using it may be harming your business:
• People won’t know how great your business is. On social media, businesses routinely share customer testimonials with their followers.
• Don’t know what customers may be saying about you online. Without a social media presence, how can you monitor negative reviews or attempt to answer them and demonstrate a policy of responsiveness?
• Lack a method for engaging with your target audience. Social media is interactive and instills customer loyalty. Engagement may include sharing product updates, conducting customer surveys, sponsoring contests, etc.

Your advertising dollars can do much more for you. Why not promote your business? Contact CityOf.com to position your products or services in front of more local consumers! Whether you need your business listed in a target-specific local business directory, a website designed or a video produced, get started now by calling 1-888-785-0500 or emailing staff@cityof.com.

 

This article was written by Sylvia Slezak, director of marketing and social media for www.cityof.com.

 

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