Building your digital presence

Five starting points to enhance your brand’s online presence

Whether you’re a small high street retailer or a service industry start-up, prior to the pandemic your digital presence might not have been your biggest priority. But now that this year’s events have shown online marketing is the key to reaching and engaging with your target audience, you’ll want to let them know you are open for business.

Building a digital presence is about using various online channels (beyond your website) to connect with your customers and attract new ones.

This article will introduce five of the key themes you’ll need to get started.

1. Understand social media

It’s great when our personal social media posts gain a few likes. But in business, it’s worth more than a smile. Every like, share and comment spreads awareness of your company – driving additional value.If you want your social presence to gain traction, you’ll need to map your audience: Who are they? Where are they? What topics are they interested in? Really take the time to create high quality content that resonates with your potential customers.Also, choose your social channels carefully. If you’re trying to engage professionals, sign up for LinkedIn. If your products/services are visual, Instagram or Pinterest will be perfect for showing them off. Think about your business objectives and pair them with the right channel.Here are some things to bear in mind as you set up your social strategy:

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin – it’s better to do one channel well than three badly.

  • Brand yourself properly, making sure your bios are on point and profile photos are within each social platform’s measurement specifications.

  • Understand your goals, and plot your KPIs against them.

2. Thinking of advertising?

Display advertising is your virtual equivalent of a billboard or bus poster – it’s the digital route to getting your name out there across the internet and starting to drum up interest in your business.

We talk about the routes to display advertising here, but here are a few tips to start you off:

  • Pick your best platform: Whether using a social media site’s native ad platform, or bidding via Google AdSense, you’ll need to consider both the budget limitations and level of complexity. You may wish to hire outside help to master this, but...

  • Don’t be overwhelmed: The segmentation options are huge, but with a little insight you can target individuals with unprecedented precision.

  • Match your creative with your intent: Videos are great for engagement, but may not get as many click-throughs as a piece of static content with a clear link to your site.

  • Be smart with data: The analytics these platforms provide are an advertising game-changer – run experiments, test what works, and double down on your success.

3. Become an SEO master

So you’ve completed the three steps to building your website, now you must help people to find it. You need to crack your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

We’ve written in detail about SEO in our article on getting heard above the noise, but in short: the business benefit of spending time on your SEO strategy, is that search engines like Google will send you free ‘organic’ traffic, without the need to invest in advertising.

4. Get started in SEM

While search engine marketing (SEM) sounds similar to SEO, it’s usually only applied to the funded portion of search engine activity. This includes buying pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which you see on search engine results pages. You can read more about SEM here, but before you get started, remember:

  • Do your keyword research: PPC works by bidding on keywords that users type into search bars, so do your research to understand what words your audience would typically use.

  • Start small: The beauty of PPC is that you don’t need to scale up until you’re ready – experiment with small spends and increase your budget as you start to see results.

  • Look at the data: SEM will give you a vast array of analytics, so get savvy with the data and work out the numbers that are important to you.

5. Don’t forget email

From offer promotions to weekly newsletters, email remains a solid, reliable way to reach your customers. It may be the oldest channel, but it’s hugely versatile and should not be underestimated.

Email marketing tools like Mailchimp let you embed sign-up forms onto your website, which you can use to capture customer contact details for various reasons (for example asking customers for their email address in exchange for content they want to read).

But remember: when a customer gives you their email, they’re trusting you with personal data that you can only collect, use, store and share in compliance with the data protection laws applicable to your business. When processing such personal data for direct marketing purposes, it’s also critical to comply with the relevant laws and regulations on electronic communications. You should obtain legal advice to ensure your business’ data protection and marketing practices are legally compliant.

Once you have your recipient list ready, use these tips to keep your emails engaging:

  • Schedule your emails in advance, being careful not to send too many to one person.

  • Brand your emails consistently, and make sure each one communicates your message effectively.

  • Write short, compelling subject lines so that emails get opened rather than deleted.

  • Use images to bring your communication to life.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for promoting your digital presence. But by engaging in these five areas, you’ll be well on your way in your digital marketing journey.

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