How SMEs can grow their digital presence

With most consumers spending their shopping hours at their computer or on their smartphones, small businesses with a digital presence make it easier for customers to find them and the services and products they provide.

Most businesses understand the need to be online because quite simply, they understand they need to be where their audience is. A recent study found 87 per cent of Australians are active internet users and 93 per cent are using it every day, so there’s no better way to meet new customers and nurture existing ones.

Building a multi-channel digital presence has become paramount – a complete website, an online shopping portal and active social media accounts have become the norm. There’s no denying small businesses often lack the time and resources to grow their online presence. Luckily, there are a whole range of tools available which can help build an online brand efficiently and effectively.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an enormous help for businesses building their customer base online. If searches for a topic related to your business appear in the top results, then you have hit the jackpot! Businesses can improve SEO through organic tactics, such as increasing inbound links, providing meta tags and structuring HTML.

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to just have a digital presence, businesses need to be active online, too. A simple way to attract and increase online traffic to your site is by creating a blog. Create content you know your customers will enjoy and use the right keywords to gain the most searches.

Emails and e-newsletters are also effective ways to reach your customer base and reward consistently loyal customers. Incentivise your mailing list by offering additional holiday-themed perks in exchange for email sign-ups, including up-and-coming ideas or offers relevant to the season. Sending text messages is still an effective and great method if sharing messages with a prominent call to action.

Digital success should also factor in mobile technology – after all most consumers are using mobiles more than any other technology to conduct online searches. With smartphone users expected to grow to 2.87 billion by 2020, it’s never been more important to make sure your website is mobile optimised.

I recommend every business use a unique strategy to grow their online presence – there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all businesses. It’s important to review last year’s sales and set realistic goals to prepare for the upcoming year without overspending. Small businesses should set goals which can be broken down and allocated to each employee and area. While it’s important to have an online plan, it’s equally vital to be flexible enough to pivot when needed.

For businesses unsure about where to start when growing online, online marketplaces can also provide support that offers marketing campaigns promoting offers on both mobile and web platforms, that are optimised for SEO. Such business campaigns are visible to a huge customer base and some carry no upfront costs until a sale has been made, giving the business owner freedom to experiment and see what works for them.

Regardless of time and place, the online market offers a face to the brand, no matter what type of industry you’re in, and it’s often one of the first touchpoints of the business. As businesses look to expand their online presence, business owners should ensure that their online platforms can react quickly to customer enquiries, and also monitor web activities to ultimately better understand the target audience and their needs.

Steve Traplin, APAC CEO, Groupon

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