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How to setup an online presence for your business

Whether you are a startup or a large organization, follow these tips to build your digital identity.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Dec 14, 2019, 12.04 PM IST
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Knowing where your traffic comes from can help you assess your overall online presence. Having low traffic can be a sign that you need to boost your online efforts beyond your website.
By Bhavin Turakhia

In this digital age that we live in, it is absolutely essential for your business to have an online presence as that's where the audience is. It does not matter which industry you operate in, your business is bound to have an online presence whether you're consciously doing something about it or not. However, in today's times it is best that you do. Simple steps like tracking and monitoring the activities will help you improve your online presence which will positively impact how customers and prospects perceive your business. This will also help you increase your sales in the long run.

If you are a startup or an SME, you may have a preconceived notion of having an online presence is of importance to you. But it is imperative to understand that, having an online presence is fundamental in helping your startup or SME business take off. According to search engine Google, 97% of customers use the web to search for local businesses, and the services that they offer. If you are a startup, having an online presence is the quickest way to create a trust factor among your audience, making the business more viable and genuine to them.

If you are still a little clueless, here is everything you need to know about online presence for your business and how to make it work for you.

What is the meaning of online presence of business?
People often mistake just a 'website' and 'social media profiles' to be online presence, so it is important to understand that it's much more than that and is distributed across multiple channels and platforms on the internet.

Online presence encompasses all activities that a business has under their name on the internet. This includes accounts, assets, interactions, and any pieces of information created by or about the business. With the current trend of having a cool social media profile, startups often get caught up in chasing "cool" marketing and SEO strategies, and take their online presence for granted by just creating a Facebook account. It's imperative to understand that your owned online presence is everything you have control over.

Apart from owned, there is also earned online presence, which is what others have to say about your business. Earned media includes tweets, Quora answers, video reviews, or even online directories.
To cut a long story short, your online presence is something that you can't completely control and you should constantly monitor it. Although the objective of an online presence is to be found on the internet it is not enough for a business. In fact, not monitoring online presence can even prove risky to your business.

Relevance of online presence in today's times?
Let's reminisce the number of times that your purchase decision was based on a Google search or your visit to a restaurant was based on online reviews? That is the power of an online presence and, if not managed well, it can be a deal breaker.

Your customers are more likely to believe and try you out if your business looks presentable on the web. There is often a misconception that offline businesses don't need an online presence but it doesn't matter what type of business you own - your presence and conduct on the web matters to your customers.

Online presence makes your business more accessible
Like mentioned before, even if your business doesn't is not an online one, a positive online presence can help you sell more offline. If you are not being active online your customers will quickly move to your competitors, a risk that you cannot afford.

It does marketing and branding for you
An online presence is a passive marketing stream for your business as customer reviews and engagement on can serve as sales enablers. A website or social media profile helps establish a visual identity you're your customers can recognize and trust.

It helps you better understand your audience
An online presence will help you have a two-way communication with your target audience by gathering insights or reviews. Additionally it will also enable you to better understand who your potential customers are and what they want. For example, through polls on a Facebook page, a restaurant can identify what offers or products resonate better with their customers.
Now that you know the importance of online presence, here are three steps you can take to track and improve how your business looks to your customers online:
1. Monitor mentions of your business
Monitoring mentions of your business will help you stay up to date on what's being said about you online and run damage control in case of a negative mention. Google Alerts can be used to monitor mentions of your business on the internet.
2. Analyze your website traffic (social too!)
Knowing where your traffic comes from can help you assess your overall online presence. Having low traffic can be a sign that you need to boost your online efforts beyond your website. Tracking your website traffic through Google Analytics can help identify main traffic sources as well as hidden ones that you might have missed in your Google search.
3. Assess your social media engagement
Your social media presence also contributes to your online reputation. Activity on your social media channels, especially with engaged customers, can establish trust and credibility for your business. An active social media profile looks trustworthy and, more importantly, it feels human and real.

(The writer is Founder & CEO, Flock.)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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