You might not be selling your products online or even trying to attract global customers, but as a small business owner, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of having a positive online presence in today’s digital world. Still, many small businesses do not understand the growing importance of a strong online presence. They underestimate the potential it has in attracting new customers and business opportunities.

A strong online presence is much more than building a website for your small business. According to research, most customers turn to the Internet to search for businesses and products. This trend is global and growing at more than twice the rate originally predicted. Does your small business have an active online presence?

Typically, the first thing your potential customers will see when they search for your business online is your website. Having a professional website that is easy to navigate will spark their interest in your business and may push the customer to make a purchase. Because the customer journey is long, most customers get lost in the shuffle. However, if your business has a solid online presence, you will have a better chance of directing the customer from the awareness stage to the conversion stage. This is where the concept of online presence management, or OPM, comes into the picture.

Here’s how OPM can impact the growth of your small business:

  1. Greater visibility:

    With the majority of customers using search engines to find businesses, getting listed in online directories is essential for the growth of your small business. Getting your small business listed in an online directory will help you expand your customer base and obtain leads. However, you must audit your business listings across all online directories in order to ensure consistency and accuracy. If a customer gets the wrong address or directions online, he or she will waste time trying to find you. Such negative experiences may damage your online image.

  2. Makes you accessible:

    Your business website will act as a virtual store and showcase your products to your potential customers around the clock. With a few clicks, your customers will understand what your business is all about. If you have a retail business, having a website will allow your customers to buy instantly.

  3. Improves customer relationships:

    Social media platforms are all about building and maintaining relationships. These platforms can provide your brand an identity and make your business look more appealing and engaging. Customers will find your business trustworthy and will be able to relate to it on a more personal level. Social media is an effective way to get potential customers interested in your business and to form long-term relationships.

  4. Enhances customer service:

    If you have an active online presence, you will notice existing and potential customers coming to your website and social media profiles with their requirements. This will give you an opportunity to provide excellent customer service and encourage people to connect with your brand. Responding to their questions will result in increased customer satisfaction and will encourage them to convert from regular customers to brand ambassadors.

  5. Improves brand image:

    Building an active online presence will not only give your customers access to your products and services but will also provide a way for them to learn more about your business. Online reviews, social media posts and sharing information through the website will help form a positive image of your brand in the minds of customers. The more positive the image, the more likely your customers will buy from you.

  6. Establishes your brand as a leader:

    One of the key benefits of having a strong online presence comes when customers regularly share your content. Others will see you as a thought leader and will come to you for solutions to their problems. This is why investing in quality content is important: not only does it improve your ability to tell your story, but it also builds long-term relationships with your potential customers.

  7. Boosts credibility:

    Recent surveys reveal that customers believe a website makes a small business more credible. Also, online reviews on third-party review sites can lead to brand reinforcement, which will promote your business as a trusted player. By creating and sharing educational content through your website, blogs and social media posts, you can give your customers a taste of your knowledge and problem-solving capability.

The biggest challenge for a business establishing its online presence is a lack of planning. You must create an online presence management plan that will help you achieve your business objectives. Businesses with an effective online presence management plan grow twice as fast and employ twice as many people. Having a strong online presence is essential to the growth and visibility of your small business. If you do not have an online presence management plan for your small business, start the process now. Once you have built a positive online presence for your small business, monitor it and keep working on it.