Do Small Businesses Really Need an Online Presence?

Although having an online presence is quite affordable today, some small
and medium scale businesses still struggle with the question of whether
they should have an online presence or not.

Plainly and expectedly, you would think that this question should not come
up at all due to the huge exposure that the internet gives many businesses
today. Regardless, as a small business that does not have huge capital,
every penny spent must return reasonable or significant value. Hence, do
not be surprised that this question pops up once in a while.
*Jumia as a startup/business that runs online*

The secret here is starting small. In today’s internet and mobile world,
your business cannot afford to contemplate on whether to have an online
presence or not, It should be part of your plan from the very beginning.
*Therefore, let us look at some of the benefits of having an online
presence*

*24/7 Accessibility*

The Internet never sleeps, and every online platform you use gives your
business a virtual 24-hour showroom. This allows potential customers to
research your product or service after business hours, and in the privacy
of their own homes. If you sell products, an online store allows for
24-hour order placement to capture a sale as soon as a customer is
interested, as opposed to waiting for your brick-and-mortar store to open,
by which time the urge to buy may have passed.

*Brand building*

Brand building means building a potential customer’s trust in your company
or product. Providing an online presence not only gives customers access to
your product or service, but it also provides a way for the customer to
“check out” your company. Online reviews, your interactions with other
customers and the frequency and quality of your posts help to form a
positive impression of your company in the potential customer’s mind,
making a future sale more likely.

*Greater audience*

The Internet encompasses a much larger area than the few miles to your
business’ office or store. Your Web presence reaches out to everyone who
passes by your virtual doorstep, which could include people from right next
door or in another country. Depending on your specific industry and
offerings, this could open up a much wider customer base than relying on
face-to-face interactions would.

*Easier selling and marketing*

It’s a well-known marketing fact that people like to buy but don’t like to
be sold. A well-written piece of copy for your products or services on your
website allow buyers to make a more relaxed, informed decision to purchase,
as opposed to feeling pressured by a pushy salesperson. Marketing your
business is also easier and more far-reaching, as the electronic format
allows for a wider, more cost-effective distribution as opposed to
traditional marketing, which usually includes printing and mailing costs.
*How to create an online presence for your small business*

*Be present on all digital channels*

It should go without saying that to develop an online presence you have to
be present on digital channels. However, a large number of small businesses
still rely entirely on traditional means of marketing. These businesses
lack a website, social media profiles, a mobile app and so on. These
digitally deprived companies cite a number of reasons for their slow
adoption of a branded website or social media accounts. The most common one
by far is that business is going well enough without it. If you are into
this type of business, you are simply limiting the potential reach of your
business.

*Get SEO*

Being solid starts with your website. It should be the central place where
your audience can learn more about your brand and what you have to offer
and how people can contact you for your services. However, this won’t have
any impact if your webpage is hidden amidst a sea of content on the web.
And this is where SEO comes in. You’re not an SEO expert? That’s okay. Ask
for help from experts or others around you with enough expertise to keep
you ahead. Excellent application of SEO techniques can literally take your
website from zero to ranking on the front page of Google. Beyond hiring an
expert, it’s also important to understand basic SEO practices so that you
can channel your efforts towards creating sellable content.

*Build Relationships*

No matter which industry your business belongs to, there will be few online
communities related to that industry. It will be worth finding out the
communities where individuals or thought leaders from similar industry
share their views. By participating in the relevant discussions and being
an active member, you can start building relationships. Why is this so
important? Well, chances are these people are better connected than you are
and they might be able to help introduce you to others who are in your
industry. New connections can be customers or partners who can help you
grow your business.

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