Your Digital Presence Checklist
Grow your business with these digital marketing essentials
Everyone is online. Your current and potential customers are actively seeking information about the products and services that you and your competitors offer. Every business needs a strong digital presence.
With over 89% of adults in the United States using the Internet regularly, it’s critical to have an accurate and consistent online presence. You’re losing money and handing customers over to your competition without it.
Thankfully it’s easy and low-cost to build a solid online presence that will help you reach your customers. Yes—low-cost even for small businesses with a limited budget.
We’re going to talk about how you can build your robust online presence by securing online business listings, building a website, and engaging with your customers on social media and email. These are all tools you can start using today.
Digital Presence Checklist
First things first, you need to be found when customers are searching for you. Potential customers might not know who you are, but are looking for products or services that you offer.
Or you might have customers who know exactly who you are, but depend on online directory listings to find information about your business including your website, what you offer, your hours of operation, what others are saying about you, and directions to your location.
Google My Business
The number one behemoth in online directories is Google. If you ever wondered how Google gets its information for businesses that are displayed on the top (mobile) or the right (desktop) of the results page, the answer is Google My Business.
Google My Business is also the reason why you can look up information about businesses and navigate to them on Google Maps.
It’s critically important for you to claim your business on Google My Business so that you can make sure you have accurate information on Google that’s available to customers. This information will include the basics like your business name, type of business, location, hours of operation, contact information, website URL, pictures, and reviews.
Claiming your Google My Business listing is easy. Just go to google.com/business to submit a request to claim your business, and then fill in basic information about it. A verification card with a confirmation code to complete the process will be mailed to you in several business days.
Once you claim your Google My Business listing and submit all the necessary information for a complete listing, don’t be passive! If your hours of operation change or you have temporary holiday hours or closings, make sure you update your listing. You will lose current or potential customers if your hours of operation are not accurate for all 365 days of the year.
Google My Business also has a helpful and easy to understand analytics tool. You can learn more about how customers find your business on Google, how many of them visit your website or call your business from the Google My Business listing, how many people request directions to your business and from where, and which pictures are getting the most attention.
These insights will help you learn more about how your customers are finding you so that you can make any adjustments necessary to keep your business thriving.
Bing Places for Business
Yes, Google is the king of search. However, Microsoft’s Bing search engine is not a tool you want to ignore.
According to Microsoft, Bing has a 33% market share in the United States with a considerable market share across the globe. A lot of that is thanks to Microsoft integrating Bing with the Windows 10 operating system.
Bing Places for Business works very similarly to Google My Business. When people search for your business, your listing will appear on the top of the search results page.
Your listing will include critical information like your business name (duh!), type of business, hours of operation, a link to directions to your business, a website link, reviews, pictures, and so on.
Setting up a Bing Places for Business listing is easy and very similar to setting up a Google My Business listing.
You’ll first go to bingplaces.com to claim your listing. You’ll then complete your listing profile by filling out all the necessary information about your business. To finalize the process, you’ll verify your listing by receiving a PIN at your business address, phone, or email.
Don’t Ignore Your Listings Once They’re Live
You want to be sure to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative.
Thank customers who leave you positive reviews so that they feel appreciated, which will increase the chances of them becoming brand advocates. Respond to negative reviews in a professional manner and strive to help the disappointed customer solve their problem, just like you would if you got a complaint in-person.
Potential customers can also submit questions on your listing, so make sure to respond to them promptly or they may go elsewhere. Update your hours of operation on your listings if they change, both permanently and temporarily. Keep your listings looking good by adding new pictures and switching out low performing images.
As we mentioned in the beginning of this post, you need to be where your customers are. A strong online presence requires a good website. Without one, you’ll lose out on new business and legitimacy.
Think about a time when you visited a website to look for information or shop for a product, and then left because it was too confusing or it was difficult to find what you were looking for. That was a poor user experience. You definitely do not want that to happen for your audience.
When designing a website, you should put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. First, figure out what they’re looking for and answer questions like, “what problems or pain points does my audience have?”, “what solutions are they looking for?”, “how soon do they need this information, product, or service?”, “how can I solve their problems?”, and “what’s the best way I can solve their problems?”
Getting a deep understanding of your target audience and answering these questions will help guide you in designing a website that will solve your audience’s problems and grow your business. Dig deeper on the basics of website user experience by checking out this guide from Google.
The world of web designers debate on what’s the absolute best practices of web design, but we just want to point out the basics. Your website should have a modern design, which includes contrasting colors, liberal use of images, less white space on the borders, a mix of big and small font sizes, and simplified content versus long blocks of text.
Your website design should be very easy for your target audience to navigate and find the information they’re looking for. You should have a relevant call-to-action to encourage your audience to take a desired action like purchasing a product or contacting your business.
Your website design should make it incredibly easy for your audience to contact you, including your business address, phone number, email address, links to social media profiles, and a contact submission form.
Check out this Hubspot article to learn more about web design trends in 2018.
A responsive website automatically shifts its size to an optimal display on any device, particularly desktops, tablets, and smartphones. This is critical because currently over 57% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, and that number is continually growing worldwide.
Simply put, your audience is going to look you up on their mobile devices – and if your website has a bad mobile user experience – then they will shut you out and go to your competitors. Google is also heralding the push for mobile optimization by lowering the search results rankings for websites that are not optimized for mobile devices.
You should strive to continually engage with your audience, and email is a great way to do that. Email marketing is an effective strategy to let your audience know of new products or services, discounts and promotions, upcoming events, and what’s new at your business.
Email marketing is still effective because your subscribers opted in to receive your emails, so they have demonstrated some level of interest in your business.
Email Marketing Platforms
There’s a variety of email marketing platforms you can choose from. The two giants are Mailchimp and Constant Contact, both of which have user-friendly tools for managing your subscriber list and creating visually appealing emails.
We recommend Mailchimp because of the variety of tools it has for managing your email marketing including subscriber list(s), integrations with other digital assets like website plugins or social media, analytics, and the user friendly drag-and-drop email design module.
Play around with both to see what suits you best!
You should also integrate an email address capture tool to your website so you can keep growing your subscribers. WordPress has plenty of plugins for this including Mailchimp and Constant Contact integration. Wix and Squarespace have these features readily available for you to set up, but are less flexible on what email marketing tools you can use.
You should definitely have a dedicated location on your website for users to subscribe to your email marketing list, but you should also consider adding a pop-up with an appealing call-to-action to encourage users to subscribe to your list.
Another strategy you can deploy is offering a “freebie” in exchange for the user’s email address. The freebie can include a coupon, a free whitepaper or e-book, or any other low-cost giveaway that makes your business attractive to your audience.
Your business should also have a solid social media presence to attract and retain customers (and to look alive). You’re likely already on social media as the number of people creating social media accounts continues to skyrocket. You don’t need to be a social media guru to have a good social media presence.
You just need to understand where your target audience spends its time on social media, create social media profiles on the social platforms where your audience lives, complete your profiles with accurate information similar to your Google My Business and Bing Places listings, and consistently create content to engage with your audience.
If you’re new to social media marketing, read this Hootsuite guide on how to create a social media strategy.
There’s a decent number of social media platforms out there and your audience spends its time on at least one of them. These platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
You should be where your audience is, which means you may not have to worry about keeping up with all social media platforms. The first step to figuring this out is understanding the demographics of users on each platform.
Hootsuite has a very useful social media demographics report on each of these social media platforms that will help you fine tune your social media strategy.
You must engage with your audience on social media in an ongoing basis. This will help you grow your audience while keeping them informed and energized about your business.
Just having a social media profile published and barely posting anything won’t do you any good. You must also create content that is appealing to your audience, including text, images, and video that they will engage with.
To help you with this, take your audience demographics into consideration and then figure out what energizes them, what they want to see from a business like yours, what their pain points and problems are, and how you can be their solution.
You’ll be able to fine-tune and adapt your social media content strategy by experimenting and learning more about what does and does not engage your audience.
A critical piece of a successful social media strategy is to frequently publish posts. The optimal frequency for posting on social media varies depending on the type of business, but we have some basic guidelines on the major platforms you can start with:
Facebook: One to two times per day.
Twitter: Several times per day.
Instagram: As often as possible if you’re a B2C business. Both B2C and B2B businesses should post at least a few times per week.
LinkedIn: B2B businesses should post one to two times per day. B2C businesses shouldn’t worry about posting frequently on LinkedIn, but they should still consider having an updated LinkedIn profile as this can be a good employee recruitment tool.
To help you with organizing your social media content, we recommend creating a social media content calendar. A social media content calendar will help you stay on track with your posts while also helping you to not forget important dates. Check out this Hootsuite guide on how to create a social media content calendar that works for you.
You can also use this free social media content calendar template that Hootsuite has provided. We recommend setting aside time on a periodical basis that works for you to focus on building your social media content calendar so that you don’t have to worry (and forget) about creating content everyday.
Check Your Digital Presence Now
This checklist is just the beginning – although fundamental – to you building a strong online presence. This is the start of your digital marketing journey where you’ll continue to learn more and grow your business through digital strategy.
For each item on your online presence checklist, you must be diligent in keeping your information up-to-date, ensuring your website and online listings are following the latest trends and standards, and that you’re consistently engaging with your audience in a creative and genuine way.
At Refract Labs, we can help you achieve an awesome online presence with digital marketing strategies that will grow your business. Whether you need help with website design, social media, content marketing, or digital advertising, we have you covered.
We would be happy to review your marketing strategy and chat about how we can help. Just send us a free consultation request. You can learn more about our services by checking out our website at refractlabs.com or by emailing us at [email protected].