As we enter the time of year when entrepreneurs make their New Year’s resolutions, at the top of the list should be improving your online presence. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Web.com’s Consumer and Small Business Survey, while the majority of consumers (83 percent) say that having a website and use of social media is important to their consideration and choice of a small business, only 41 percent of small businesses even have a website! In fact, the lack of an online presence is one of the top reasons why small businesses fail.
In order to succeed whether you have an online or offline business, you need to be found. And since we are living in a digital world, consumers don’t just expect small businesses to have a functioning website, they want to be engaged on the social and digital channels that are a part of their everyday life.
This means that if you aren’t online in a meaningful way, you need to get online now, regardless if you are a web-based business, or have an offline business like a landscaping service, restaurant or accounting practice. And if you are already online, you need to increase and improve your online presence.
So, what’s your best approach?
I advocate taking a holistic approach to evaluating and increasing your online presence. That means that your website has to have the right information and calls to action that your customer is seeking and will respond to. It also means you need to be found in search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo! Plus, you need to pair this with a strong social presence and a format that is friendly with mobile devices.
Now, as an entrepreneur, that may seem overwhelming, as you are already wearing a ton of hats in your business. That’s why I advocate using an online marketing partner, like a company that I work with called Web.com, who has the tools and resources that help you to establish your digital presence and then grow it as well. This lets you do what you do best—grow your business.
They also can help you make sure that you are focused on the right areas. For example, as more and more time is being spent on mobile devices, you need to have a mobile version of your website, which presents information with a responsive design that works with a number of different mobile devices. Web.com’s Mobile Website Builder is a perfect tool for you to leverage technology and a partnership in a cost-effective, time-effective manner.
As you look to mobile, you will want to make sure that you not only can facilitate online purchases (if that’s a part of your business), but also have relevant information that the consumer is looking for, like hours of operation, customer testimonials, maps and more. Having a partner that specializes in knowing what customers want and respond to makes sure you putting forth the best information to help you get found.
And while every small business owner would love for their website to be “one and done,” it’s critical that you treat your website and social channels as important marketing tools. For your website, update it at least every quarter. Fresh information will make sure you are creating reasons for customers to come back to your site, and also help you rank better in search engines as well.
Having a strong web presence is no longer a nice to have extra for a business—it’s a need to have tool to ensure your business’s success.
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics.
Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth