As the new year opened, many entrepreneurs were probably adding finishing touches to their 2016 business goals and plans. If you’re one of them, I hope you considered tidying up your online presence and making it work for your business.
If you need help getting it together, consider this post a holiday gift from me to you. I’m sharing seven simple tips for small businesses who want to shine online.
1. Customize your email address
A customized email address speaks volumes for your business. firstname.lastname@example.org earns trust, builds brand recognition, and comes over as way more professional than email@example.com ever could. You can score your own firstname.lastname@example.org for as little as $4 a month from services like godaddy.com and Google Apps. And it’s easy to setup.
2. Get a website
Sometimes a potential buyer needs online proof that you exist before choosing your business to provide the product or service they need. At the very least, use your site to tell them about your company, provide a description and photos of what you offer, and contact information. Note, if your business relies on customers from other cities or countries, having a site is essential, not just something that’s nice to have. Wix, Godaddy Website Builder and Squarespace are easy-to-use options if you don’t have professional help.
3. Use social media to complement your website
If you are already using social media to drive business, connect with customers in real time and showcase your products and services, keep doing it. But remember, social media accounts limit you to sharing information in the platforms’ prescribed formats. If you’re looking to post FAQs or your portfolio in all its glory, a website might be better. Plus, if your social media account is suspended (yes, this happens and usually without warning) or if the platform has an outage at a critical time for business, it could be bad for your bottom line.
4. Make pricing available
Would you put an item on a shelf in your store without a price tag? So why do it online? Some retail businessowners, particularly in small, competitive markets, are reluctant to share prices on social media or on their websites. Some think they’ll lose to the competition or that customers will think the price is too high. Remember, knowing the cost of a product / service is how customers decide to buy. If you have high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, good customer reviews–and pricing listed, you will likely win out against competitors who refuse to be open about what their products cost.
5. Be responsive on social media
I get it. Running a business is demanding and your to-do list is crazy long. But being responsive on social media isn’t an option. It’s a priority. Don’t post to your business’ page in the morning or at night, sign out and leave customers’ feedback and questions languishing until the next day. It’s bad for credibility and your bottom line. If managing multiple platforms is overwhelming, try a tool like Hootsuite that allows you to track several accounts in one place.
6. Post high-quality photos
Photos online are all a customer has to go on, if he or she can’t get to your store. You might not be able to afford a professional photographer but your images don’t have to suffer. Use your smartphone or tablet’s camera; take advantage of or create good lighting; shoot against plain or uncluttered backgrounds; and use a photo editing app to finish. Snapseed and VSCO are very good options to consider.
7. Understand that timing is everything
I’ve seen great social media content go unnoticed online because it was posted at the wrong time and no one was awake or around to see it. On Facebook, use Insights to see when your fans are most likely to be online. With platforms like Instagram, it’s a little trickier but this article gives good direction. If you won’t have time to post when your customers are online, use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite so your posts are always on time.