It’s simply not enough to have an online presence anymore. It needs to be a good online presence, as a study published by Advertising Age shows that 97 percent of consumers use the Internet to research products and services in their local area, and 77 percent of businesspeople search online before meeting someone face to face. The first impression is made online, and you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Here are four steps you can take to ensure that you make that good first impression:
- Set Goals – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Online marketing, like all other marketing, needs a plan and a few goals in order to get you somewhere. Depending on what your current online presence is, develop a few goals to improve upon that. If you’re online presence is practically nothing, then set goals that will increase awareness. If you’re online presence is outdated, set goals to put out newer content.
- Revisit Your Online Marketing Strategy Regularly – What’s happening in technology and online is constantly changing. Where your customers may be lingering today may not be where they’ll found tomorrow. Be willing to make changes in your strategy and presence to fit what people are doing. This doesn’t necessarily mean to follow the fad all the time. But, it does mean that online marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” sort of deal. Take a look at the numbers and your current online presence to see what’s working and what’s not, and adjust.
- Conduct Google Searches – This is to see what comes up when your business name or industry keywords are typed in, so you can glimpse what a potential customer might see. This was a crucial step in boosting the number of hits for a blog that I help manage. With a Google search, it was found that our posts needed meta descriptions. Without them, Google was showing comments in place of the description. Once we made changes to the meta description to the posts and the home page, we saw a jump in our hits. The changes not only improved our first impression, but checking Google also demonstrates that you actually care about your online presence.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread – Whether you are setting up your entire online base, a new page, or a new blog post, make sure to proofread your content. Nothing looks worse to a potential customer than a misspelling or a forgotten word. That sort of thing says that your writing skills are as bad as your product or service. A few grammar sticklers might take the time to say something, but most won’t and will simply move on to your competitor.
MSN’s Business on Main offers additional steps to take to make your brand e-vailable to customers. Ramon Ray, editor of Smallbiztechnology.com offers his own tips on how make your website more appealing to potential customers on OPEN Forum. After all, there are hundreds of millions of web sites out there, all competing for the attention of the customer. What are doing to put your business and your presence above all that, and in the mind of the consumer?