9 Steps to Bring Your Business into the Digital World
By Jarrod Mason, Principal Youwho Digital
Finding your way online today can be easy –– pull out your smartphone, hit a few buttons and voila, the digital world is at your fingertips. What about your business though?
Is it as simple as hitting a few buttons and now your business is accessible to the masses online?
We’ve compiled 9 (somewhat) simple steps to bring your business into the digital world.
1. Develop a Brand Identity
Having a brand is something I am sure most of you are aware of, but what makes up a brand identity?
Think of it like this, you are building a company and that company will take on a personality of its own. You will name it, stylize it, give it a mission, and then tell everyone about it. Others will either identify with the brand you have built or not, much like some people will like you and others won’t.
The point is to develop a brand that your target market will LOVE. This requires you to understand who your market is, what your market likes, and how you can penetrate the given market.
Once you understand your market you will develop a visual identity. This can include a logo with particular type set or colors, a tag line that helps represent your mission, or corporate purpose and a persona that others can interact with.
Will your brand take on an edgy adventurous style such as Red Bull, a sophisticated and modern style like Apple or a convenient brand like Amazon? That is all for you to decide.
Branding isn’t just giving your company a name it is giving it a personality and a purpose.
2. Create a Google Business Listing or Yelp Listing
This one is sometimes overlooked and it is a simple way to develop some local SEO. Google is the number one visited website behind Youtube & Facebook so it makes sense to have a presence somewhere on Google.
The added benefit of a google business listing is the easy, free SEO service. If you have a local brick and mortar retail outlet or a local service company, take advantage of google’s local search. Identity all geographic areas you do business in and tie it to your services. So when someone is searching “Pet CBD Tincture” in your area and you sell that product your business listing is populated in the search.
This is also true for Yelp. Yelp has over 80 million unique visitors every month and can be an excellent route to engage customers.
Word of mouth advertising is still one of the strongest marketing tools to date and Yelp is built perfectly for that function. The goal would always be to have positive reviews and the highest rating possible. Even if you receive some negative feedback it allows you the opportunity to address it immediately and change the conversation if it is something that can be accommodated.
Restaurants especially will want to take advantage of Yelp. Integrate Yelp in with your influencer campaign and invite Yelp Elite or other influencers in to leave reviews after a dinner on you. This will help get the word out on one of the hottest platforms out there.
3. Develop a Website
Still not sold on having a website for your company? Think about this – 6 out of 10 customers expect the business to provide online content and more than half head straight to the website after hearing of the brand. If you have no website you are missing out on business no question.
Developing a website in 2019 is as easy as it has ever been. There are countless sites such as WordPress, WIX, Squarespace or Shopify that allow anyone and everyone to develop a website all from the comfort of their own home. With that said, you will want a little strategy and thought to go into your website for it to fulfill its potential.
There are millions of website on the internet so the key to a successful website is two-fold. The first being a modern design that gets your customers attention and the second being a responsive website that flows well. The goal is to reduce the clutter and only provide the information your customers seek. This can take some thought so it is imperative that you understand what your customers seeks and how you can provide that in an online platform.
With most internet users accessing via their mobile phones you will want to ensure you website is setup for mobile access. Think of thumb scrolling and easy to digest content. Users are on the go and when they end up on your website they want the information they seek as quickly as possible. This means your images have to load fast, your content has to be relevant and to the point and contact information has to be easily accessible.
If this all seems like a lot, don’t fret. Hiring an agency to build a website is extremely affordable and is a cost that will quickly recoup the initial expenditure.
4. Have a Social Presence
Whether you are a fan of social media or not, when it comes to an easy and affordable route to reach customers — social media is where it is at. A recent study found that 77% of Americans are on social media; that is nearly 8 in every 10 individuals. What other “location” can you find where 77% of customers are every day? None.
Another added bonus is the top social media sites are all free to use. The cost associated with creating and updating a social media account are relative to what you seek in return — you can operate on a budget of $0 or $10,000. We will discuss the difference below in the high quality content section.
The rise of influencer marketing has also put more focus on social media as a legitimate marketing tool. Customers demand trust and transparency from brands they purchase from and influencer marketing is a fast pass to engage potential customers and that build trust. The cost to utilize an influencer is relatively affordable and research has shown that “micro-influencers” have the best engagement and help to convert more loyal customers in time. So this means all small business owners can develop an influencer marketing campaign without breaking the bank.
5. Integrate Email Marketing into your Strategy
Since the digital world was born email has been a mainstay phenom that has helped drive its growth. Instant communication took the world by storm and the need for letters, faxes and telegrams has slowly faded away.
So how has email marketing evolved and what should I be doing in 2019?
For kickers, don’t believe the hype that email marketing is dead. We send nearly 74 trillion emails every year and that is only increasing by millions every year.
The goal in 2019 isn’t just to send an email – it is to send an email that will stand out.
Using email management tools such as Mailchimp, business managers are able to test campaigns, organize and track data and create stunning templates that set you apart.
The data derived from email marketing campaigns can be extremely valuable as well.
As a salesman, I utilize email metrics such as open rates or specific elements clients click on to hone in on what my customers are interested in. Then when I approach the customer to start a conversation I already have a good idea of what they are interested in so we don’t waste their time by talking about things they don’t want, need, or desire. This is a method of consultative selling and email data is a great tool to have in your box when taking this approach.
6. Create Educational & Informative Blogs
Writing an internal blog can be both fun and beneficial for yourself and your business. It is an opportunity to share some of your passion and knowledge with your base.
Beyond this, it is extremely valuable in the arena of thought leadership. The idea of being a thought leader has been around since the late 19th century and is beginning to evolve into a powerful new tool to set leaders and businesses apart. The idea is simple, to become recognized as an authority in your field. How It is done however takes years of planning and execution.
Creating blogs is just one of those aspects that can dramatically boost you in that area. Writing blogs with educational or informative content is a great way to position yourself as an authority in your field and begin gaining the trust and admiration of those who you help. To be seen you have to first put yourself out there.
Be patient with this approach as well. It will take time for search engines to pick up on your content and for the cycle to run its course to start generating business opportunities. But much like the phrase “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday” the goal is to start creating content and never look back.
7. Don’t Create Content – Create High Quality Content
The amount of content being generated every day is astounding. It is estimated that every minute there are 1,400 blogs posted, 2,460,000 bits of content shared on Facebook, and 72 hours of video uploaded to Youtube.
So how can you stand out in such a growing pool?
High quality content is the first box to check when you begin creating content. If you go the length to create content in the first place, go the extra step to create stunning, clean, engaging content. What is high quality content you ask? It is simply content that is informative and engaging to your users. This doesn’t necessarily mean a nice crisp photo on instagram, but more a photo on instagram that others received something from (emotion, information, motivation, etc).
You want to provide value to those you interact with and you do that by being authentic, creating unique content and giving them an experience they can’t find elsewhere. So in turn they come to you every time when they need something. Think back to blogs & thought leadership.
To find out if you are generating quality content you need to track metrics from various sources and compare your content over time. Make sure to include Google Analytics into your web monitoring and track your click through on campaigns using UTM tags. You can also compare stats such as social media impressions or engagements to better understand how your base is interacting with your content and where you can make improvements.
8. Utilize Virtual Assistants
Growing a business can become demanding, especially if you are boot strapping it yourself. However, hiring some extra hands adds more overhead and sometimes you may not need a full time helper.
This is where virtual assistants excel. A virtual assistant is someone who works remotely and can handle a variety of tasks such as secretarial duties, accounting, inbound sales, social media, inventory management, procurement and so on. There are VA’s who cover nearly every aspect of business operations and as this phenomenon begins to grow, expect the services to grow as well.
So as you expand, pay attention to those small time consuming tasks that can be managed with the help of a virtual assistant.
9. Compile & Convert Data into Insights
Data is now everywhere, and the days of relying on qualitative information to make business decisions are over. Whether we are tracking how many steps we walk per day, how efficient our homes are or how many conversions we made on our latest marketing campaign, we can now track nearly everything in our lives.
With that in mind, the goal is to pin down the metrics that directly affect your bottom line and put instruments in place to measure. These are called KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators. If you are a business that sells ice cream, track daily sales and correlate that with say… the daily weather. You may find an interesting correlation with certain temperatures or weather types and this could help with a number of things such as staffing levels, when to run promotions, how much inventory to have on hand etc. This data is sitting there already, you just have to pinpoint what data you want to use and how you want to use it.
Get creative in your approach as well. The rise of data is just beginning, so start by tracking a few simple metrics, apply what you learn from those and continue expanding into other areas of your business. You also don’t need a fancy tracking program to track metrics, you can simply utilize spreadsheets and some simple graphing functions to develop corresponding information.
The Wrap Up
There is no shortage of ways to digitize your business, the question is usually what do you have time and money for. As the technology continues to progress and the internet continues to expand, the barrier of entry should continue to lessen and make operating online easy for even the most technologically inept individuals.
The goal however should always be to move towards having your business in the digital world. If you find yourself short on time or budget, don’t hesitate to reach out to Youwho for a conversation. We can walk you through the most appropriate and cost effective ways to turn your business digital. I wish you well in your business pursuits and encourage you to stay up with the latest business & marketing tips brought to you by Youwho Learn. Until next time!