How to get your business online

it equipment to get online
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Most customers will expect to find your business on the internet.

Some potential customers may not even consider making contact unless a business can be found online.

Being online is one of the most important investments a business can make.  It will allow customers to find, interact, and ultimately buy from your business.

It will be also easier to showcase your products or services, and shows the business is active, and keeping up with current technology.

Can I just use Facebook or other social media instead of a website?
In some circumstances it is possible to just use social media platforms without a website, however, it will have many disadvantages.

The most important being:  You don’t own your social media accounts, or followers. This can’t be emphasised enough!

You could be happily tweeting along, or posting your next big thing on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest (to name a few), only to discover your audience is declining.

Why?   Your social media platform may have decided your content is not conforming to their rules or standards.  It could be as simple as exceeding their hourly, or daily posting limits.

Also, what if your target audience is not using the same social media as your business?  It could result in a significant, unknown loss of customers.

Understand there are limitations in customising social media pages, unlike a website, where you have complete freedom of presentation.

Having a website allows you to use Google Analytics which provides a wealth of information about visitors.  It is a free tracking tool offered by Google, and shows exactly how visitors are using your site. This is valuable because it can be used to measure website performance, and improve traffic, which ultimately leads to better business and improved sales.

Finally, there is no guarantee how long a social media platform will be around.  Take Google Plus for instance.  Its social networking platform has now shut down. Or, MySpace.  Whilst it still exists, it is no longer the popular site it once was.

You should definitely use social media, but partner it with a website you own, and can control.

Use social media platforms to direct visitors to your site.  Always post good quality content on both your website, and social media accounts.

8 Steps for to build on online presence
Before getting started, it is essential to establish the aim of your online presence.

For example, do you need to have the ability to sell products or services, either immediately, or in the future.   Will your website be a simple blog style, a scrolling one page, or multiple page site? What about the website content, images, its branding and the colour scheme?

Think about the purpose of your website because this will determine the complexity, and elements required to create the best site for your audience.

Who will be audience?  Again, this can determine the styling of your website, and will be a major contributing factor for you online marketing campaigns.

There are several options for getting your business online:
The complete or partial DIY solution, having a web designer or developer do all, or part of the process, choosing a website building platform, or a hosting provider with an integrated website builder who can also provide the domain and hosting service.

Before deciding which approach to use, you should have already gone through the process of business branding.  This including choosing a name and logo for the business.  For more information, read: Why and how to brand your business.

Once you are ready to create a website, the following steps will guide you:

1. Buy your website domain name

Your domain name is the address of your website e.g. www.startandgrow.com.au.

2. Choose your hosting provider

Hosting is the service that stores your website and makes it available online.

For more information about domain names and hosting, and how to purchase read:
What are domain names, website and email hosting and How to choose a domain name and hosting.

3. Create your website

It is possible to do it yourself, or hire a professional to build your website.

Read: How to get a free website and How to hire a professional to build your website.

You can check out the Website Packages built by Start and grow your business.

4. Install an SSL certificate

An SSL certificate protects sensitive online information and is a must for any website.

Read: Why you need an SSL certificate for your website

5. Setup your business email

If you don’t know how, ask your hosting provider. It’s a good idea to have an email address that matches your domain i.e. hello@startandgrow.com.au.

Relationships are built on communications, so ensure you can be easily contacted.

6. Preview and test your website

Once all content is uploaded to your website, ensure its free from spelling and grammar errors.  Check how it looks on different screen sizes. View the website on a computer, tablet and mobile phone.

Check that all links, subscriber and email forms work correctly.

Most importantly, ask family, friends or others you trust to give honest feedback, test and review your site.  It’s likely you will be blind to its faults, because you understand how to navigate the site, and may be unaware of difficulties others may encounter.

It is also very common to overlook simple writing mistakes because we tend to read what we believe we wrote, rather than what was actually written.

Accept feedback, and make necessary changes because your audience, not your family or friends will ultimately be your biggest critic.

Remember, a bad website is worse than having no website at all.

7. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.

You can’t just build a website and expect people to find it. There are estimated to be more than 1.5 billion sites world-wide, so it can take time and effort, to get your website noticed.

SEO practices include; optimising website content so it can be discovered by search engine results, improving the sites loading time, using internal and external links, linking to social media, and much more.

To find out how to implement SEO practices for your website, read: Why you must use SEO for your website.

8. Create a digital marketing plan

Having a plan to guide your online marketing efforts will go a long way in helping you reach your target market, grow your audience, and maximise the potential of your website.

For more information, and a simple template to get you started read: Why and how to create a digital marketing plan.

Final thoughts

Having a business without a website is like fishing without bait!

A website makes it easier to be found, can improve customer service, promotes your products or services, and is always OPEN.

Your online presence can build credibility, and saves time by providing answers to common questions, rather than responding to emails and phone calls.

With the right marketing, it is possible to position yourself in the market, and convert your online visitors into valuable customers.  Read: Why and how to create a digital marketing plan.

Being online does not have to be an expensive process.  Read: How to get a free website and How to hire a professional to build your website.

Go to the affordable  Website Packages available from Start and grow your business.

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