The world of online business and eCommerce has not been the same over the last few years, as consumers who were faced with lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders kept many from visiting their local in-store retailer.
As trends for online shopping increased, and businesses quickly became more digitized, small and medium-sized businesses were among the ones who were left behind, as larger, more prominent brands managed to easily transition into the digital world.
The United States is only second when it comes to online and eCommerce shopping. According to the latest estimates, eCommerce sales are set to reach 23.6% of all retail sales by 2025 – an increase from 11% in 2019. With more than $768 billion spent on eCommerce in 2021 alone, with an estimation of over $1 trillion by 2025, the market of online shopping is doing exceedingly well, as more and more businesses look to improve their digital presence.
Even with an unmatched playing field, big box brands, and heavy competitor traffic, small and medium enterprises that are still not completely digital are now facing declining sales and a lack of support from younger consumers.
Not quite convinced? According to a Walker Sands Future of Retail Report from 2018, around 41% of consumers receive packages from Amazon per week. Around 50% of consumers aged 18 to 25 receive at least two packages per week, with the largest percentage of 57% being held by consumers aged 26 to 35.
If you take into consideration just how much time younger generations, from Gen Xers, Millennials, and now Gen Zers are spending online, you can think for yourself how much money they’re spending online – and at this rate, it’s only going to become bigger.
So if you’re not quite tech-savvy, and don’t have the digital footprint you’d like for your online business, consider the following five ways you can improve it.
Have A Website
Websites were always one of the strongholds for conducting business online, and in some cases, smaller startups and medium-sized businesses simply made use of websites as a way to showcase their contact information, location, social media handles, and a small gallery of their services or products.
Although this is a great way to establish an online presence, having a website just for the need of advertising your contact information is rapidly losing its steam. The statistics are almost quite alarming, with more than 36% of small businesses claiming they don’t have a website, and around 35% stating their business influence is too small to have a website.
Yes, we need to consider that some business owners and entrepreneurs won’t have the financial capital from the get-go to set up a website, but overall the importance of having a platform where you can control nearly every aspect thereof is a way to shape interest for potential consumers and help improve customer services.
Today, setting up a website has become somewhat easier, and a lot cheaper at that too. Business owners might be able to create a website themselves, using some form of website building tool to help them along the way. Others are simply requesting the help of a web developer or graphic designer, where medium-tiered businesses can look at employing a full-time member of the team to run and operate their website.
There’s a lot of thought that should go into setting up a website, most importantly what you want to do with it. In today’s world, online shopping is rapidly taking over in-store and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. To help grow your business and digital footprint, consider how a website can play a vital role.
Invest in SEO strategies
It wasn’t long ago that business owners started realizing their online traffic was declining, as fewer and less frequent visitors clicked on their website, or interacted with their social media posts. In comes Search Engine Optimization, the master of growing “organic” traffic, and building a digital footprint that will be recognized by nearly every person on the internet.
SEO strategies have become a key factor for small businesses, especially those who are just starting to generate a decent amount of online traffic. Even the most basic concepts of building a solid SEO strategy aren’t that hard. A lot of businesses nowadays are either hiring a digital marketing team, or perhaps a freelancer that can help them get the job done.
From building keywords, creating natural high-quality content, using multimedia, adding page titles, to improving overall user experience – there are a lot of different ways you can go about improving your SEO skills.
Although it might sound like an easy task to get done, experts suggest that hiring a professional would still be the best option. At the start of any new business, resources might be a bit scarce, but as the business grows, and the importance of online presence is being realized – consider reaching out to a high-rated SEO specialist to get the job done.
Link Social Media Platforms With Your Website
If you’re a small business that has at least one or two different social media accounts, a website, and perhaps a LinkedIn page, then you’re already on the right track to building a better online footprint.
An older study from 2014 revealed that around 81% of consumers and shoppers conduct research on a business before making a purchase. This translates into thousands of people visiting your social media pages, following your tweets, or simply checking out your website before making a final decision. An online presence plays a major part in the way your business is portrayed to the public. Generally speaking, we see how younger generations of consumers would follow trends from celebrities and influencers, and having your products or services endorsed by a high-ranked social media influencer might not be that far-fetched.
Overall, linking your social media platforms with your website helps to create a direct link between your business and your social networks. This makes it easier for consumers to reach out to you in case they have any queries, make simplified purchasing choices, and even browse through your current offerings. It’s a two-way street, and if you have social media, perhaps add your website URL link in the bio section at the top of your profile. There are simple and, really affordable, almost free ways you can grow your online presence without having to spend big bucks getting it right.
Focus On Local Reach
Oftentimes when building a digital marketing or online strategy, we tend to overlook the areas which make the most impact – the local community. In an article by Entrepreneur, experts suggest that when looking to increase your online traffic, look for ways that will make an impact in your surrounding community. With this, businesses should be looking to narrow their target audience to their surrounding areas. Once they have identified their points of interest and their audience, they can start using online strategies that will help influence the online shopping experience. You can then look to target either residential or commercial accounts, or even create a strategy that is specifically aimed at parts of the city or state that will draw in the post online traffic.
It’s not something a lot of business owners think of, but when you start your business, you should already have some idea who your target audience is and how you will be reaching out to them. Targeting them directly in the surrounding area via the internet and other social media channels is one of the first ways you can make an impact and drive more online traffic.
Use Freelancers And Contract Workers
If you’re looking to get the job done without having to hire an additional employee, or having to do it yourself – consider hiring a freelancer, or contract worker. This is one of the best ways you can save money, while also getting to increase your digital footprint. Freelancers nowadays are in an abundance, as more and more people are quitting their jobs to pursue something more meaningful. When using a freelancer, or a contract worker you will be able to get the job done, professional at best. It also helps lower costs on employee wages, and there’s no obligation for you to keep a freelancer or contract worker on your team after the project has been completed.
With so many websites and platforms that are dedicated to hiring freelance talent, a business owner will have a plethora of options and individuals to choose from. Of course, like anything else, you’re spending money for a service you want to get done properly, so ensure that the person you do end up hiring has the needed skills and knowledge to deliver to your requests. It’s not at all a bad idea to spend a little more than what you have budgeted for, as this will help secure a freelancer that will get the job done properly, without causing any other delays.
Freelancers work in a range of fields, and they might come up with even better ideas than what you initially had, which makes it easier in the long run, as you no longer have to worry about updating online shopping items, creating content, publishing on your social media channels, or running digital marketing campaigns. Always remember, if you’re not sure how to do it, and you’ve got some cash to spare, there’s a freelancer who’s willing to do it for you.
Business is no longer the same as it used to be, and companies who are seeing a decline in support, or online traffic should consider ways to improve their digital footprint. Keeping up with current trends, and consumer buying habits are some of the key factors that will influence your online presence.
Overall, we now see how important it has become to build an online reputation that can impact consumer habits, and lead to growing sales. Having a digital presence should be one of the major contributors to any business, of any size, as it enables them to reach a larger audience than they never even thought of.
Be consistent in your marketing campaigns, and make use of high-quality content. Create engaging platforms, and draw in consumers that will become avid supporters. There are affordable, yet professional ways to get the job done, but it’s important to always consider how your digital footprint is your business, just online.
[Related: 5 Great Apps to Power Your Business]