A company’s reputation is vital to its success. But in order to gain a strong, positive reputation, it must be visible to its audience and have a significant online presence. With the development of social media, SMEs have to ensure their online presence is strong enough to get through to their audience, or they risk losing out to their competitors.
Transparency is the key to forming your online reputation. People want to know the face behind the business, what the story behind the founding of the business was, and why they should invest their time and money into your services or products. Before social media became a worldwide phenomenon, it was revolutionary to have and use social media marketing to show transparency. It was the key to making your SME visible to your audience and growing your online presence. However, now that everyone is using this tactic, the effect is wearing off. It’s become an expected staple of marketing, rather than a ground-breaking edge over your competition.
So, how can SMEs improve their online presence amid a saturated online platform? The key is in formulating creative, strategic solutions to differentiate yourself from the crowd and engage with your target audience. This goes beyond the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Although it sounds difficult, it’s more about the simple ways to reach your audience that you might not have thought of or didn’t think was necessary for your company.
With all the scams and cybercrime appearing daily in the news, consumers feel safer with transparent companies and websites. One of the easiest ways to do this is by linking your professional and personal social media accounts. Nowadays people want to see the face behind the company and get to know your SME on a personal level. They want to understand your interests and personality, and that makes them feel closer to you and your brand.
Optimising your website is essential to being visible. With people using their smartphones and laptops to surf the internet, conduct searches and buy online, websites need to be mobile-friendly. This also means that websites need to load relatively fast. If it takes too long, customers are likely to switch to a different website and are unlikely to come back to yours. Customer satisfaction is integral to your company reputation and brand, which is why ensuring that your website is straightforward, loads quickly and is easy to use is so important.
The website also has to be in alignment with the GDPR and must prioritise the protection of your customers data. With the staggering rise in cybercrime, and giant corporations such as Uber, eBay, and Amazon falling victim, the need for high-quality security is at a record-breaking high. In 2019, 43% of breaches involved small business victims, so it’s increasingly important for SMEs to ensure that they’re protected and have first-rate security measures in place.
One of the most effective ways to improve online visibility is related to content marketing. Creating valuable content, whether its videos, images, blogs, podcasts, tutorials, workshops or e-books, contribute to your online presence. The content should be engaging, relevant, informative and reflect your brand values. This way the content will introduce your brand to the world, especially for potential customers who haven’t been exposed to your brand yet. By incorporating high-quality content, it improves your website’s chances of Google ranking it higher on search result pages. The higher ranked you are, the more your brand grows, and your sales and traffic will increase.
Web directories also provide a great opportunity to expand your visibility and online presence. These directories allow businesses to generate more traffic and reach their audiences more effectively and are relevant to local searches. There are a variety of directories to list your business, such as Google My Business and Yelp. But the key lies in choosing the one that adds real value to your business, and which one is more likely to bring you closer to your target audience.
Along with trying new methods to improve your online presence, there are also tried and true methods that shouldn’t be forgotten. Guest blogging, for branding purposes, helps to gain credibility, exposure, and increase traffic to your website. Guest blogging usually only works for an established blog or website that has more viewers and authority than your website. This means that if the audience enjoys what they’ve read, they’re more likely to search your website, subscribe to your newsletter, and follow you on your social media channels. Email marketing is another method that remains an effective way to gain customers. Ensure that you make full use of optimising your campaigns with segmented lists for different customers, sending your emails at the right time for your audience and analysing your data to determine which tactics were effective and which were not.
Using a combination of these tools and techniques will allow you to steadily grow your online presence and therefore build your online reputation. While social media plays a vital role in the visibility of your company, there are a variety of other options that can expand it even further. If one tactic doesn’t work after a few months, switch to another and work out which options suit you and, more importantly, your target audience’s needs. For further support on developing your marketing strategy, contact us through the Marketplace.