In today's technology-centered environment, a company's online presence is paramount. Studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers will do online research before making a purchase. If your brand doesn't have an optimized online presence that makes it easy for customers to find the business, you could be losing out on a wealth of opportunity and revenue.
This is true in both the consumer and enterprise sectors: Acquity Group's 2014 State of B2B Procurement study found that 94 percent of company purchasing administrators do some type of online research before completing a transaction. This includes 77 percent who use Google to search for specific items and brands, 83.4 percent who utilize a business's website for research and 34 percent who use third-party websites.
A separate study from Spire Research found that a robust online presence can have a direct effect on revenue generated by a business. Business Today reported that more than half of the companies surveyed — 54 percent — experienced increases of 20 percent or more in their profits after establishing an online presence.
But the question remains: How do you create an online presence that is most beneficial for your brand?
Let's examine some of the most successful strategies for establishing an online presence:
Don't skimp on the content
First and foremost, it is critical that a company delivers consistent, up-to-date content. A blog can go a long way toward keeping consumers informed on industry trends and organizational news. But, if this content isn't updated consistently, it's not as valuable for readers. An out-of-date blog can also communicate a negative message to viewers, suggesting that the brand is lazy or inconsistent.
"Don't let your blog fall to the wayside and go stagnant," advised Hubba contributor Sara Carvalho. "If you have an upcoming feature or product that you're excited about, talk about it!"
This can also fill content holes, and prevent the brand from including "Coming Soon" or similar pages. Instead of waiting for a product or feature to be available, provide customers with as much information as possible in the meantime.
Keep branding consistent across channels
These days, online presence includes a variety of social media and other channels. If your business has a presence or advertises in a range of locations, the branding should be consistent, using the same logo, tagline or other brand identifiers.
"It is common for a business to use several channels to reach out to customers," noted R. Kay Green, president and CEO of RKG Marketing Solutions. "It is very important to display a consistent branding strategy across all online channels. This creates brand recognition and helps to reinforce the brand."
Ensure ease of use
Once customers have discovered your website, the brand should make it easy for them to find what they need. This means making the platform responsive and simple to navigate. Carvalho advised not only making general contact information easy to find, but including links to social media profiles too.
This extends to mobile as well. A consumer that has to work to navigate the website on their smartphone or tablet may seek out a competitor instead.
"Scrolling left and right to read a sentence on your phone or tablet is a nuisance," Carvalho wrote. "A good responsive site puts simple navigation at your fingertips. Your audience may not thank you outright for it, but they will give you a mental high five!"
Guarantee resources are available
Having a robust online presence also requires that these resources are always available to customers. What good is a company website that is constantly down?
For this reason, your brand should be sure to partner with a hosting expert that can guarantee support. To find out more about online presence, contact Hostway today.