To grow your online business requires a comprehensive strategy that integrates all your online activity and builds a strong and relevant digital presence. This post outlines the four most important things you can do to ensure your digital presence helps grow your online business.
Digital Presence Defined
But what exactly do I mean by digital presence? In short, your digital presence is how you, or your business, appears online and is composed of your various online activities — your website, your social media channels, your Google search results, and possibly online reviews.
And why is it important? Well, just think about your day to day activities. Want to buy something? What do you do? You google it, see what others are saying about the product, compare pricing, read online reviews. etc. And then, using what you learned online, you often make a purchase decision. That’s why having a strong and clearly defined digital presence is critical for growing your business.
Creating a strong digital presence is an ongoing process and has multiple components. However, these are the four elements I consider foundational to all your online marketing.
1.Clarify Your Message
If you confuse, you lose. It’s as simple as that. A confusing, unclear message will sabotage all your online efforts and weaken your digital presence. So before you build that website or create that Facebook business page, clarify your message.Create a clear, compelling message around your business or brand and then be consistent with that message across all online channels.
Here are some guidelines to help you create your message.
Know your target audience
How can you speak to your target audience in a way they will understand if you do not know them? You’ve got to know them intimately — their likes, their preference, their pain points, and their desires.
If you have an existing customer base, send out a questionnaire, do a live webinar, go live on Facebook. Whatever you can do to create a relationship and get to know these people buying your products or services. If you are brand new in business, look at your competitors and try to learn about their target audience.
Be creative and persistent in getting familiar with your target audience.
Make your client/customer the hero
The Hero’s Journey structure was first outlined by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Many Biblical stories, Star Wars, The Hunger Games and most box office hits use this process. Campbell divides the story arc into 17 different stages, but for creating your own brand story, focus on four:
- Your client has a problem.
- Your client, the hero protagonist, is powerless to fix it.
- Until they meet a guide (that’s you).
- That gives them a plan that helps them fix their problem and return to a place of well-being.
There are several frameworks that can help you implement this structure in your brand story. Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand book is a great place to start.
Keep it simple
You are not writing a thesis. Write in clear, concise, and compelling language so your message is easily understood. No filler, no fluff.
Like: We clean your gutters. We make you look great online. We help you grow your online business. We make your lawn look perfect.
Not like: Our business was started back in XXXX by our beloved grandfather who started mowing lawns when he was 8 years old. No one cares about that. People care about how you are going to help them solve their problem and make their lives better.
2. Make Your Website Home Base
If you are using a Facebook business page or some other social media channel in lieu of your website, you are making a big mistake.
Let me explain what I mean. If you post all your updates and posts on your Facebook business page rather than your website, you are using Facebook in lieu of your website. That’s a mistake. You want all roads to lead back to your website, which means you add a blog post or update on your website and then you share that blog post on your various social media channels.
See the difference?
Your digital presence is the sum total of all your activities online, and you want all roads leading back to your website. Because, truthfully, that is the only thing you own. You do not own Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and have no influence over their policies and decisions.
You do control and own your website, so make it your home base online.
All roads should lead back to your website. Post on your website and then you share that content on your various social media channels.
3. Make your website great
This is where that clear, concise, compelling message you created in step one gets to shine. Your website should be carefully designed so that every word, image, and design element attracts your ideal client and helps you grow your online business.
No fluff, no filler — both in terms of copy and in terms of design elements.
Think about your own experience when you visit a website. Observe how you react. Do you feel overwhelmed and confused by all the different messages and design elements? Do you know what the website is about when you land there? If not, my guess is (well, there are stats to back this up) that you are out of there in about three seconds!
That’s right, you only have a few seconds to convey a meaningful message to your visitor. Here are a few ways you do that:
- Include an easy to understand tagline in the top area of your homepage. Keep it simple as mentioned above, like “We clean your gutters.”
- Include an obvious call to action. Make it easy for people to do whatever it is you want them to do —buy now, schedule an appointment, get a quote, place an order. If the visitor has to search through your website trying to figure how to connect with you, you will lose them.
- Break down your product or service into bite-size categories. Too much information overwhelms. Communicate the core of your products and services in small, easily digestible pieces.
4. Provide Value
Remember, your digital presence is the sum total of all your online activities and clients and potential customers will most likely get to know you and your business through various venues. So make it your goal to provide value on your website, on your Facebook business page, on Instagram, wherever you have an active online presence.
And providing value is really pretty easy.
- Share your knowledge with a free PDF or short mini-course, make YouTube videos, go live on Facebook. You have acquired a wealth of knowledge in your chosen profession. Sharing with others before a financial exchange establishes your authority and expertise.
- When someone asks a question on one of your blog posts or social media posts, give a great answer. Meaning, invest the time to answer thoughtfully.
- Know Your target audience’s pain points and create content around how they can alleviate these pain points. That’s the real value because we all want to feel better!
In short — if you want to grow your online business — show up, share your gifts, and use your digital presence to provide real value.
Grow Your Online Business Recap
That was a lot, I know, so I’ll close this post with a brief recap of the four most important things you can do to grow your online message:
- Clarify your message
- Establish home base
- Make your website great
- Provide value
Like everything in life, there’s always more, but these are the foundation for whatever else you do to grow your online business.
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