How To Bring Your Business Online

1. Decide your online goals

Key learnings

Taking your business online offers a lot of opportunities, but with so many options, it’s easy to spin your wheels and lose focus. Setting specific goals can help as you begin to navigate the digital world.

Every business has different objectives. It’s good to know exactly what you want to achieve online, as it can help you set the right priorities and put your plan into place. Because you don’t want to feel too overwhelmed.

There are lots of clear ways digital can help your business. Such as, building relationships on social networks, selling online, finding new customers. Or even keeping existing ones. It’s good to start by asking yourself a simple question: why, exactly, do I want to be online? Imagine you own a hair salon. Your ultimate goals could be: to cut more people’s hair, sell more premium services than the standard haircut and sell more of the products you offer. But before anyone can walk through your door, they have to know you exist. This is a great goal that digital can help with. So let’s start with that one: getting the word out in the digital world.One easy win is listing your business in local online directories. So, when people look for hairdressers on search engines or online maps, your business will show up. Then you might decide to build a website to share information about your business. This could be things like your opening hours, your location, your prices and the services you offer. Maybe even photos and videos that could entice new customers to walk through your door. You could set up a social media page on Facebook or Twitter where you could post photos of your creations, offer special deals and really connect with your customers. As you start achieving these goals, and more people become aware of you. Your goals may naturally evolve and you might want to shift your focus toward turning visitors into paying customers.

You could add new features to your site. Things like online appointment scheduling, a “reviews” section where people can say nice things about you, or even an ecommerce store to sell your hair and beauty products online.

Now that you’re using digital to attract visitors, and turn them into customers, you could start expanding your business by investing in online advertising.
Whatever your ultimate digital goals are, or where you currently stand, your priorities will naturally change and grow with your business. Now to make sure you’re meeting your objectives, it’s really important to measure your progress along the way.

This is called “analytics”. Analytics lets you know what’s working well, and what could be tweaked.

We’ll dive into this more later, but with digital you’ve got lots of options for measuring your success. So let’s recap. Before you dive into the digital world, think about exactly what you’d like to achieve. Then, prioritise different online opportunities to help you accomplish your goals. In the next few videos, we’ll help you plan. First, by looking at different ways you can establish a digital presence.

Next, the different ways to market yourself online.

And lastly, how you can measure and improve your digital endeavors.

2. Building your online presence

Key learnings

Let’s take a look at all the options for launching your business online, step by step. We’ll cover:

-local listing

-social media and video

-website and mobile apps

We’re going to look at the first step to going digital: staking your claim online.

You’ve got lots of options for building a digital presence, including things like local listings, websites, mobile apps and social media. These days, it’s easy for anyone to make a home online. But while a website might be the first thing that comes to mind, you don’t necessarily need to start there. Let’s say you’re a hairdresser, for example. Your first step to finding customers online, and being found online, might be to list your shop in local online directories like Google My Business. Then, when someone searches Google for hairdressers in your area, you’ll appear in the results — no website required! You could also start a Facebook page to give potential customers a glimpse into your business and what you can do, like photos or videos of some happy customers with great hairstyles that you’ve created. If this is all a bit much, don’t worry.
There’s a lot you can do without a website, but at some point, you might want to build a home of your own on the web, a one-stop-shop where your customers can find everything they need to know about you online. The most important thing to think about as you start to plan your site is what you want people to do there. For example, do you want them to ring you? If so, include your phone number prominently on every page. Perhaps you want them to find your physical shop? Well, include a map and driving directions. Maybe you want them to make appointments online? That’s a feature you can build in. Or, lastly, you might want them to actually buy products from you online, by placing an order or submitting a payment. That’s called e-commerce, and there are a range of options — from simple to more complex — that we’ll discuss in more detail in other videos.

Websites aren’t the only online homes anymore. These days many businesses create mobile apps for customers which they can keep on their smartphones or tablets.

Apps open up all kinds of digital doors — for example, you can create loyalty programmes or automatically send reminders about upcoming appointments.

Right, to be clear: If you want people to find you on the web, you need to stake your claim online.

That can be a listing in a local business directory, a presence on social media sites, a simple website or one with e-commerce, a mobile app — or all of the above.

Whatever you choose, this is the place where people find you, get to know you, and hopefully become your customers.

3. Marketing your online presence

Key learnings

You’re online, so now it’s time to bring in the customers you want. We’ll review how to best help them find you, using some tried-­and-­tested online marketing avenues:

-Search engines

-other websites

-social media

-email

OK, so you’ve established your online home, and now you’re looking for ways to bring more customers to your virtual front door.

Let’s discuss some great strategies to do just that using search engines, other websites, social media and email.

So let’s talk about you, how are you going to get customers to find you online?

There are a few ways to do it using digital. Let’s start with search engines. When people type something in a search engine, they’re letting it know exactly what they are looking for.

If you offer relevant services and products, search engines will show your business in the search results. Now, there are two main ways you can use search engines, and we’ve got lots of info to share on both.

The first is search engine optimisation, or SEO, which helps you promote your business in the unpaid search results.

The second is search engine marketing, or SEM, which lets you buy ad space in the search results. SEO is all about getting your site in front of the right people who are searching for your products and services.

Now, there are lots of ways to do this, we’ll explain them in detail later on, but the key is knowing what words people actually type in — the keywords. They are the most relevant words to your business.

Understanding these will help you improve how you show up when these words are searched.

SEM, on the other hand, is when businesses pay to advertise to people searching for specific keywords online.

Most major search engines use an auction system, where lots of different businesses compete to show their ads by bidding on the keywords they’d like to target.

Search is a great way to reach people, but we do lots more on the Internet. We read news, check sports scores, browse recipes, watch videos and generally browse lots and lots of interesting content across the web.

Alongside all of this content you might see ads. This is called display advertising.

Display ads appear everywhere online, and come in many formats like text, images, video, and ads you can click on and interact with.

They can be a great way to get your message out there and you’re able to choose the people you want to see your ads, and the websites and pages you’d like them to appear on.

Social media sites like Facebook or Twitter are another option for boosting awareness of your business, and they’re especially useful for building relationships with customers.

On most networks you’ll create pages or profiles for your business. You can then connect with lots of people by starting meaningful conversations and sharing content you’ve created whilst growing your business’ online social life.

Before we wrap this up, let’s not forget one more pretty important way businesses can use digital: email marketing.

We’re not talking about junk email, or “spam” that clutters up your inbox, but sending relevant information and offers to people who have already said they’d like to hear from you.

You can get people to sign up, or “opt in” to receive emails from you. Then the rest is up to you. You can send coupons to people who have made an appointment on your site, advertise special events, or promote sale items.
Knowing all the ways you can find people online — and knowing how they can find you — can help launch your business big-time.

The more types of digital marketing you try, the more opportunities you’ll have to reach your most valuable customers, wherever they happen to be in the digital world. HIDE

4. Analyse and adapt

Key learnings

To go digital and do it the right way, you need a well-thought-out and flexible plan. In this lesson we’ll talk through:

-setting realistic expectations

-tracking and measuring how you’re doing

-adapting to changes in technology and your industry.

By now, you know how important it is to figure out what you want to get out of digital, how to establish your online presence, and start using digital marketing to drive people to your digital home.

But it’s also important to make sure that your digital plan is geared toward the long haul. Let’s go over a few ways to do that: setting realistic expectations, tracking your results and adapting to changes in technology and your industry. The first thing to remember: don’t expect too much too soon. It can take a bit of time to set up your digital presence and get noticed online.

So if you’re a hairdresser launching your very first website, your online shampoo sales probably aren’t going to go through the roof straight away.

It takes time for search engines to find you, and for you to implement and improve your digital marketing plan. So, try not to set unrealistic goals you’re unlikely to meet.

A crucial part of any online plan is to measure what you’re doing and make sure it’s working. This is called ‘analytics,’ and it can show you how people are finding your website and what they do when they get there.

We’ve got lots of videos that dive into the details of analytics, but generally, knowing where your online visitors come from can help you figure out which of your marketing campaigns are working and which ones aren’t.

If you know what people do once they’re on your website, it can help you figure out if your investment in digital is working.

For example, in your hair salon, you don’t just want people to find your homepage, you might want them to do lots of things like: watch your clever how-to videos, make appointments, get driving directions to your shop, or actually buy something. Tracking what people do on your site can help you to understand what’s working and what’s not, so you can make changes and continually improve what you’re doing. A final point to mention: it’s important to remember that the online world is constantly changing. New tools, technologies and tactics pop up pretty much daily. So a good plan combines the basic concepts that don’t change that often, with forward-thinking to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Similarly, when things change in your industry, make sure your online world is kept up to date.

Are you offering the latest hot trends in hairstyling? If hair dyes become the next big thing, you can quickly update your adverts to show customers what you can do.

To set yourself up for success online, you need to look before you leap. And don’t stop looking! A good plan will consider three things: first, know your online goals, and set yourself realistic expectations. Next, use analytics to track and measure what you’re doing and how it’s working. And last, always keep up-to-date and adapt to changes in technology and the industry you work in. If your plan tackles all these things and you stay flexible, you’ll be well on your way.

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