Three ways to successfully move your offline business online


Date: 8 June 2020

A woman browses an online store to make a purchase from home

Data shows that 87% of people are consuming more news and 83% are seeking coronavirus news and content online as a result of COVID-19. If you have a potential customer base of 1,000, that means 870 of them are more likely to see online content than before the crisis. That's a huge number.

For this reason alone, advertising your business online is crucial. People won't spend days searching for you or asking friends how to contact you if you're not easy to find online. Even after the crisis has passed, the risk of having to close your store again and becoming disconnected with your customers is way too high.

If people want to buy from you during a worldwide pandemic, the least you can do is make it easy for them to get in touch. If you can do this, and effectively sell your product or service, you're on to a winner straight away.

Ready for online success? Here are the all-important steps you need to follow:

1. Create an engaging website

31% of people say that the suitability of a brand appearing near Coronavirus content "depends on the brand". In other words, it depends on what they're selling. But don't let figures like this put you off.

The first step to sharing content and building an online presence is creating a website. You can do this regardless of what you're selling, so long as your site captures attention, engages users throughout, and convinces them to take action.

If it's a service you're offering, such as hairdressing or electrical work, having an online presence can also provide an extra stream of customers after the crisis has passed.

Some of the best website builders include:

  • Squarespace - turn any ideas into a reality and stand out online with a professional website, online store, or portfolio.
  • Weebly - get access to customisable web page designs and useful tools to build your website and grow your ideal business.
  • Wordpress - create a free website or build a blog with dozens of free, customisable, mobile-ready designs and themes. 

However, you aren't limited to these options. If you just want an ecommerce shop, website builders such as Shopify and Wix will allow you to sell your products to anyone, within one easy platform.

When you've figured out a design, give your customers what they really want. Put the most engaging benefit in your headline and highlight the rest in the first half of your page. Tell them how your business will improve their lives, save them money, or slash the time it takes to get their children ready for school. Use captivating imagery and video for more impact.

If nothing else, include your contact details and use engaging CTAs. These are the 'call to action' buttons that will drive your users to do whatever you want them to do – such as giving you a call, signing up to your newsletter, or buying your product.

2. Sign up to the right social media channels

Notice the word 'right' there. Not every social media platform will work for you, but the ones that do will help you increase sales, build brand awareness, and form loyal relationships with customers.

Each platform has its own audience and unique benefits, including:

  • As one of the most popular social platforms, Facebook boasts millions of active users – 1.3 million of which use Facebook groups every month. It's perfect for finding and joining communities, and with such a smart and strategic algorithm, the chances of your customers seeing relevant updates are much greater.
  • Twitter provides real-time updates about industry trends and topics, meaning you can jump into relevant conversations and highlight your brand or services. You can also talk directly to customers, influencers, and people in your industry, making it easy to resolve problems and build strong relationships.
  • LinkedIn is designed exclusively for networking online, which makes it great for reaching and connecting with professionals. It provides an opportunity to be seen as a thought-leader as you can share business-related articles and business updates, as well as your own opinion.

You don't have to choose just one but decide early on how you're going to use each channel. Consistency will make your users hang around for longer, allowing you to build a community that will drive sales even after your 'bricks and mortar' shop has reopened.

Moreover, the right social media channels will enable you to build trust. If you don't have the time to post content every single day, simply interacting with posts and showing you're online could be the reassurance someone needs to convert.

3. Drive traffic to your site

Now you've created an online presence, you need to reach the people who will care about your product or service.

This can be split into two parts:

  1. Spending money on social media to promote your posts, reach a targeted audience, and get more eyes on your ads.
  2. Paying for pay-per-click (PPC) ads that show on search engines such as Google and Bing whenever someone searches using one of your keywords.

If you're just starting out, it's best to work on your organic social media before diving into paid. People are much more likely to buy when they know who you are, and you will gather data from your audience insights to help create better campaigns.

However, if you're new and have a lot of competition, paid social media posts can be much more effective than PPC ads. This isn't only because you can get creative and stand out with different ad formats, but because of the difference in search intent.

Google searchers are specifically looking for a product or service, while Facebook users are shown ads based upon their interests – making it a much easier playing field for new advertisers.

Despite this, PPC advertising is an excellent way to drive customers on a smaller budget, as you only pay when someone clicks your ad. You can also use keywords combined with your audience settings to really target your ideal customers.

Move your business online with ease

Pandemic or not, having an online presence is crucial. If someone searches for your brand and nothing comes up, it says to customers:

  1. You aren't who you say you are
  2. You not bothered about resolving customer complaints
  3. You're living in the past

You wouldn't want any of these statements assigned to you.

Our first bit of advice is to take one step at a time. Focus on making your website a reflection of your business and ensure your contact details are easy to find. Next, work to strengthen existing relationships on social media and gain inspiration from your competitors. If they use captivating phrases in their PPC ads, test some yourself and see how they perform.

Once you've got a little bit of traffic, elements such as retargeting, email marketing, and content marketing can be great for maximising your results. They're some of the best lead generation strategies for startups.

For now, start small and make informed decisions, and let your performance dictate your next move.

Copyright 2020. Post by Jess Kirkbride, Copywriter at Adzooma – the simple, quick & easy way to manage your online advertising

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