From Brick-and-Mortar To Click-and-Order: Why Your Small Business Needs an Online Presence
Do you want to know the secret sauce to small business growth?
It’s getting found online! Yes, you read it right.
The term “online presence for small business” can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s the best thing you can do for your business in 2023.
Not long ago websites were considered a luxury accessory for big enterprises, but now it has become a dire necessity for every business. Today’s customers rely more and more on online businesses as they socialize, search, buy and review services and products online only.
To put that in perspective, there are hundreds of customers in your local area searching online for the very same products and services that you offer! And your business is invisible to them!
According to research in 2018, 46% of small businesses didn’t have a website. Fast forward that in 2022, 27% still don’t have a website.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of online presence for businesses and the top 5 reasons why you need to go online.
Online presence helps small businesses reach more customers.
Small businesses can amplify their brand awareness and visibility.
Having an online presence for small business removes the need for a physical storefront and traditional marketing methods. Dramatically lowering the overhead business costs.
Online tools like Google Analytics provide real-time data and analytics to track and measure the ROI.
Instantly respond to customer queries and offer self-service options like FAQs and other product or service information.
What is an Online Presence?
Online presence simply means representing your business on the internet. This can include a variety of online platforms, such as a website, Google listing, social media profiles, online directories, etc. It showcases your products or services, shares information, and updates, and interacts with customers.
Online presence surpasses the limitations of traditional brick-and-mortar shops. It provides small businesses with a better way to build and increase their brand visibility and credibility while helping reach more potential customers.
Statistical Data on the Importance of Online Presence
– The number of internet users worldwide is projected to reach 5.3 billion by 2022. (Source: Statista)
– Approximately 88% of consumers research a product or service online before making a purchase. (Source: Hubspot)
– Social media usage continues to grow, with over 4.7 billion active users worldwide in 2022. (Source: Statista)
– In 2023, mobile devices accounted for over 49% of internet traffic worldwide. (Source: Statcounter)
– Businesses that have a website grow 2.8 times faster than those without a website. (Source: Entrepreneur)
– Companies with an active blog receive 97% more links to their website. (Source: Hubspot)
– More than 72% of customers trust online Google reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. (Source: searchengineland)
– In 2021, email marketing had an average ROI of 4400%, making it one of the most effective forms of online marketing. (Source: Optinmonster)
Reason 1: Reach More Customers
The number one reason for going online is that you can reach a larger and more diverse audience, beyond the geographical limitations of a brick-and-mortar store. This opens up opportunities for you to target new and untapped markets, and reach customers you may not have been able to reach otherwise.
Your website and social media account enable you to provide information and showcase your products and services. And with the right marketing efforts, you can make sure that your target market knows about your business and what you have to offer. This directly leads to increased sales and a larger customer base, as people are able to discover and engage with your business online.
Online paid advertising options further broaden your business’s reach and bring instant results. Paid ad platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads provide a variety of targeting options. Demographic and interest-based targeting allows you to reach specific audience segments that are located in your service area and interested in your niche of products and services. This allows you to maximize your marketing efforts and reach the people who are motivated potential customers.
Reason 2: Increase Brand Awareness and Visibility
Online or offline, it’s marketing 101 that increased brand awareness and visibility can bring many benefits to a business. It includes improved customer recognition, loyalty, and trust, as well as increased sales, competitive advantage, and brand value.
Now imagine increasing all of these benefits 10 folds with an online presence. With the help of your website, social media accounts, and online listings, you can create a consistent and professional brand image, making it easier for people to find and remember your business. Your website also acts as a 24/7 sales agent, who never sleeps and always makes your business visible to potential clients.
Additionally, a strong search engine optimization approach can further strengthen your online visibility, making it easier for people to discover your brand through search engines like Google as a trusted and credible service provider.
Reason 3: Lower Your Overhead Costs
Lowering overhead business costs is always a burning point for mall business owners. Having an online presence can help lower your overhead costs in several ways. Since being online eliminates the need for a physical storefront, it can help your business save a lot in terms of cost of rent, utility bills, and maintenance costs.
Online marketing is less expensive than traditional marketing methods, such as print or television advertising. Businesses can let go of old, untraceable, and expensive marketing methods that no one really sees, and can save a fortune in marketing costs.
By reducing the need for a physical storefront, lowering marketing costs, improving efficiency, and providing real-time data tracking, businesses can lower their overhead costs, maximize their resources and improve their bottom line.
Reason 4: Track ROI (Return On Investment) More Easily
Traditional marketing mediums like print ads, billboards, and tv ads were expensive, untraceable, and hard to measure. Internet on the other hand provides businesses with the tools and data they need to easily track and measure the ROI of their marketing and advertising efforts. Online tracking platforms like Google Analytics provide real-time data and analytics, allowing businesses to track key metrics, such as website traffic, conversion rates, and customer engagement.
Businesses can further streamline their efforts by testing and refining strategies to achieve the best results. For example, businesses can use A/B testing to compare different versions of an ad or website page to determine which performs best. This information can be used to make informed data-driven decisions and further optimize marketing strategies to increase ROI.
Reason 5: Superior Customer support
Customer satisfaction has always been directly linked to business success. No matter how small or big your business is, it needs to provide support to its customers. Having an online presence helps businesses to offer better customer support. With tools like live chat and social media auto-replies, you can quickly and easily respond to customer inquiries and concerns, improving customer satisfaction and building customer loyalty.
Your website can also provide customers with self-service options, such as online FAQs, how-to guides, and product information. This can reduce the burden on customer support teams, especially if you are a small business.
Customer feedback has always remained one of the major aspects of good customer support. Online platforms enable you to analyze and act on customer feedback. For instance, Google reviews give you the ability to receive feedback in form of reviews from your customers and reply to them publicly. Enabling your future potential customers to know that you care about your customers and working on areas of improvement.
By leveraging the benefits of online customer support, businesses can improve customer satisfaction, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.
In crux, having an online presence for a small business is essential for its survival in today’s digital age. Honestly, who would say no to the ability to reach broader and more motivated customers, lower overhead costs, track ROI more easily, and offer superior customer support?
The Internet should be seen as a salvation for small businesses as it has finally enabled them to use online tools and resources to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Whether through a website, social media, or e-commerce platform, small businesses that establish a strong online presence will be better positioned to reach new customers, increase brand awareness and visibility, and grow their business.