Five reasons to go online 31 Mar 2020
Why you should take your business online
If you run a business, however small, here are five compelling reasons to go online. Operating a business without an online presence in today’s screen driven world is akin to trying to run up the down escalator whilst it’s moving. Exhausting and ultimately, self-defeating.
- Data shows that virtually everyone is now online, all ages, all demographics.
- People make instant decisions based on online information – it’s where they go to research a topic, often using their phone. The days of printed directories and listings are gone. If your business does not appear in search engine searches, people will not find you
- It’s a cost-effective, digital shop window for your business
- It gives you local and global reach – stake your claim to a slice of your market
- Your website and social media platforms are easy and powerful tools to keep your customers, present and future, up to date
If you want people to be able to find your business and use your services, your enterprise needs to be online. There are very few exceptions that I can think of and that’s because it’s the world than the majority of your customers occupy and use.
Technology and the internet may not be your favourite subject, but as a small business owner, you should regard it as a utility, not an optional extra.
An excellent place to start is market data. According to the Office For National Statistics, 95% of adults in the UK aged 16 to 74 recently used of the internet. The Silversurfer demographic is the fastest adopting age group. The UK ranks third in the EU for the highest internet use, sitting behind only Luxembourg and Denmark. And mobile usage of the internet now far outstrips both tablets and desktops.
People browse on the move and make instant decisions based on the online information served back to them. In fact, many are glued to their phone. And if you are not listing in the information they are looking for then, most probably, they will move on, and you will lose out.
ItsLello recently worked with a local small business that had, up to this year, sourced all its work through traditional directory listings and word of mouth. It had no online presence apart from paid Yell listings (expensive). Word of mouth is a fantastic source of business but in this case, many loyal clients were now elderly with less need for the services on offer. The owner was far from keen to start using social media, and their previous website had long lapsed.
Directories and word of mouth had proved to be a successful marketing strategy for years backed by impeccable customer service. But, over the course of the last year, enquiries had steeply dropped off, and bookings declined. Other competitors had stolen a march by launching websites, social media pages and advertising online. All hugely damaging to the bottom line.
Working together, we worked through all the key reasons to go online. And, as a result, built and launched a simple website. In addition, we created a Google My Business listing and a Facebook for Business page. Bookings are steadily picking up. With a better understanding of why the online space is so valuable, this small business owner has become more confident about communicating online.
This is one instance where FOMO (fear of missing out) does matter. If you are running a business, however small, and you want customers both old and new to find you and use your services or products, you have to have a website and or a social media presence.
Online is the place where people go to look, research, browse and shop. Perhaps key reasons to go online to retain your market share. For example, what time does a local restaurant open? Where is a particular shop located? How much does the holiday cottage you like the look of cost for a week in July?
Think of a website as a digital shop window. The internet has no geographical boundaries, so your potential audience is vast. So use it to communicate with your customers. The trick is to ensure that you set up its content so that people using search engines to find services and products can find you. Tell people about your business, post updates, images, videos, run an online store, take payments, bookings ask for feedback and much more.
Going online will mean you have to learn some new skills but the time spent will be well worth the effort, reaping dividends.
Social media is now an ingrained aspect of everyday life here in the UK. Facebook is the most popular with 40,000,000 users here in the UK alone; worldwide, there are over 1.65 billion. Hot on its heels is YouTube (737.1 million UK users), followed by Twitter (13.6 million UK users), Instagram (24 million UK users), Pinterest (10.3 million UK users) and Snapchat (16.95 million UK users). We’re talking huge numbers here and significant audiences.
Using social media allows you to post regular updates about your business, interact with followers and customers and target advertising to specific groups. It gives you reach and presence to an audience which is likely to be different to your website audience. The communication benefits of using social media as part of your business’ marketing are vast, and you can see this coming into play with the ongoing Covid-19 situation as enterprises seek to touch base with their customers, even if they are not currently operational.
But it does come with a health warning. It is crucial to understand which social media platform or platforms are appropriate to use for your business. It is easy to get sucked into maintaining several platforms, creating a time-munching nightmare. Social media platforms are, currently, free. They will encourage you to run paid advertising, which is where they make their money. Treat having a presence and running a paid advertising as two separate activities. Ask ItsLello for some free advice here.
A new website doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Start small with just a couple of pages, using a simple drag and drop tool. Or opt to use a tool such as WordPress or Craft. A web agency may build you a website using their proprietary system. Again, ask ItsLello for some advice here, and I can steer you in the right direction, helping you to choose the most suitable platform for your small business.
Whatever technology you choose to use, I always advise businesses to use a one which allows them to edit their content. Content management systems allow you to edit your website’s words and images, saving you valuable time and money. Don’t work with a provider who insists on doing this for you – they are looking for an ongoing income stream, and you will get quickly frustrated when you find you can’t even amend a typo without help. With today’s technology, there is no good reason, aside from lack of time and a little know-how, to not have the facility to run your site yourself.
For an active online presence, a combination of a website, which houses all the critical information about your business plus the right social media platforms works well. With plenty of reasons to go online, perhaps the most important one is staking your claim to your share of the market and the customers with whom you want to work.
ItsLello can work with you to create websites and social media platforms. Whatever your reasons to go online if you need support with understanding what’s right for your small business, get in touch. I can also help with writing copy, producing and running your website and social media accounts.
*based on 2018 data from the Office of National Statistics