Your small business needs an online presence. Period. Referrals and word of mouth may have been enough to keep you afloat in the past – but change is inevitable. Now, without a basic digital strategy, small businesses risk going the way of the dinosaur.
Look at this: Weebly, a popular website builder, surveyed millions of consumers about their habits and beliefs. What did they discover? More than half don’t trust a business without a website. In other words, without a solid online presence, you’re already behind the competition and losing out on business.
There’s more. Customer habits were changing pre-pandemic because of new technology. Now with COVID-19, we rely more on new tech than ever before. From online menus to virtual consultations and contactless payments – technology and business are now married for better or worse.
It’s our mission at Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, to turn up the voices of small business owners. We strive to facilitate growing and running your business your way. We’re excited to announce the release of our new profiles feature that makes it easier for you to expand your online presence through an instant Google-searchable microsite.
Let’s break down 5 specific and interconnected ways an online presence will help you grow your business. As you read, you’ll learn tips to strengthen your online presence with little effort. Check it out:
1. Make it much easier for your customers to find you
Consider this: When was the last time you bought a new product or used a new service without reading about it online first? Also, think about this: If you enter your company’s name into Google, does your business show up on the first page?
Your online presence serves as your 24-hour virtual showroom. Whether it’s your website, Facebook, Upwork, or another platform, your prospects now can learn about you at their convenience – even after you’ve wrapped up for the day. Verified reviews and other content can serve as proof that you can get the job done. Then, you’ve already started to build trust with a prospect before they reach out to you.
Additionally, you’ll expand your reach in your local community and beyond. Adding interesting and valuable content to your website and social media improves your ranking in online search results over time. That means when people enter keywords related to your business into Google, they’re more likely to see you.
Bonus tip: Once your prospects can find you, make it clear what you want them to do next. Do you want them to schedule a meeting, request an estimate, or purchase online? Make sure that’s easy to understand and take action.
2. Build trust and establish your brand
Trust + clear expectations = a strong brand. Your online presence is critical to customer trust and loyalty.
A combination of customer reviews and proof of excellent work is the best way to achieve this. Here’s a parallel to drive this idea home: Imagine you want to try a new restaurant in town. Chances are you go on a review site, look at food pics, check out the vibe and decor, and read what other people liked and disliked about it.
Regardless of your industry, your customers will want the same thing when looking to do business with someone like you. For example, if you’re a general contractor, add before and afters of your recent projects. Include customer feedback and take some time to describe the project. If you’re a freelance designer or writer, do the same with your portfolio. Soon you’ll be able to add this content directly to your Invoice2go profile.
Some businesses worry about becoming more visible online because they don’t want to get critical public feedback. However, while it’s never fun to get criticized, honestly accepting feedback and using it to improve your business can lead to incredible growth.
3. Improve your customer service
Good customer service is a must. The relationships you build will profoundly impact the level of success you achieve.
Your site serves as a communications center to answer customer questions, explain your business’s unique benefits, and describe your processes and policies. Here are 4 examples of how your online presence can enhance your customer experience:
- List your service packages, work process, or prices so your customers can read about them in advance.
- Create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. Field common customer questions online and save yourself time responding to queries on the same topics.
- Use photos and videos to demo your work or show off completed projects.
- Depending on your industry, you could add a new customer intake form. This way, you could have customers give you the information you need right at the start.
When you provide excellent service, your customers will likely share positive feedback online – further expanding your reach. However, even if you get negative feedback from time to time, this gives you the opportunity to reach out, clear up misunderstandings or make amends, and potentially with them back.
Even if you don’t win back every customer, others will be able to see that you’re willing to work hard to satisfy those you do business with.
4. Get more customer reviews and valuable feedback for your business
Some may hate online reviews or consider them a double-edged sword. However, they’re now deeply entrenched in business. They’re the online version of word-of-mouth – which is so deeply rooted in human psychology.
If you’re an Invoice2go subscriber, we’ve recently made it easier to get verified reviews. However, no matter what platform you use, you need to do everything in your power to add positive reviews to your online presence. Because – simply put – without them, many people will quickly move on.
Not all of your reviews will seem fair, and even top businesses get plenty of negative reviews. Take them in stride, and when possible, use them as opportunities to improve your customer service.
If you notice trends in critical reviews, use that as your chance to make changes to improve your business. Remember that a negative review isn’t a failure – it’s just one person’s feedback. Stay focused on your growth.
5. Make it easier to market and sell your business
While it takes time to cultivate a winning online presence, your website and overall online presence will make it so much easier to sell your services.
Customers will already see how you work and the quality you deliver. They will know what other people think about you and that you’re reliable. You will give yourself a voice to talk directly to customers.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’re likely already on review sites. Joining in on these conversations is a huge opportunity. It’s better to know about an unhappy customer so that you can reach out. Otherwise, you could potentially have a scenario where you have someone angrily spreading bad publicity about your business without you even knowing.
Compared to traditional advertising in newspapers and local television, online gives you far greater value. You’ll reach more people interested in your business at a much lower cost. Hard selling doesn’t work anymore. You need to shine and attract customers to you, not push your services at them. This is the new golden rule.
By establishing an online presence, you’ll immediately reach more customers. You’ll build more trust more easily because you’ll allow them to learn about your business, see your work, and read what other people think before they talk to you. It will be easier to keep them happy because you’ll learn more about what they like and dislike through reviews and feedback. Over time, you will build a unique brand that will give you a more secure spot in your industry.
It’s our mission at Invoice2go to turn up the voices of small businesses and independent professionals worldwide. We’re excited to continue doing our part to help small businesses grow and thrive. Check out our blog for more resources for your small business.