Creating a successful online presence can help you reach a larger audience, but are you doing it right?

A concept image of web and social media

Not so long ago, having an information website was enough for many companies. But with the advancement in technology and greater connectivity, many companies are expected to expand their digital capabilities to meet the ever-changing needs of customers. As a result, nowadays it is fairly easy to find companies that include e-commerce, social media, video content, location-based services and mobile apps as part of their product marketing and sales repertoire.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic which ushered in a new normal and created a ‘social distancing economy’. Instead of going to the shop, most customers now choose to buy online and pick up their orders in store or buy online and have the orders delivered. Even when customers are visiting a physical store, they may prefer to pay with a mobile app or a credit card. Amid this new normal, companies that sell goods and services directly to consumers are rushing to reassess their digital strategy.

For B2B companies that don’t face end-users, a strong online presence is still vital. In this case, your website and other digital tools are essentially your shopfronts to the world, allowing prospects to come and verify who you are, gaining their trust and confidence. Your online presence also helps your brand to be visible, offering you a platform to share valuable information and engage with customers. All of these will ultimately lead to increased sales and profitability.

Without a doubt, managing your company’s online footprint is important in this day and age. To help small business owners who need to reassess their online presence during this pandemic, we are asking some of our customers for ideas and here are the five tips that many entrepreneurs are following.

1. Evaluate your online presence

Before taking any step or spending any money, it is worth evaluating how your prospects and customers see your business online now and identifying your business goals first. Typically, prospects and customers find your business through:

  • Your website
  • Your social media profiles
  • A local business listing
  • Other information sites

Once you have identified the touchpoints, you can then decide on what you want to improve to achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to sell online, then you’ll need to create an e-commerce roadmap that supports your strategy. Typically, the roadmap includes:

  • Choosing an e-commerce platform
  • Working with a web developer
  • Defining the fulfilment process
  • Outlining refunds, returns and warranties policies

Beware that running an e-commerce site can be intensive. Before making the commitment, it is best to get an experienced small business accountant like our team to assess risk and return. Our number is 020 8108 0090.

2. Deliver a great user experience

Every successful entrepreneur – be it B2B or B2C – is aware of the buying cycle. To them, digital tools should be used wisely to deliver a great user experience to their prospects and customers. In other words, meeting the different needs of prospects and buyers regardless of where they are in the buying cycle.

A typical buying cycle involves four stages:

  • Awareness: your customers become aware of their needs or a problem that needs fixing.
  • Search: they will then search for the solution that can best meet their needs.
  • Review: they may check a few reviews or ask around, or they may consider alternatives.
  • Decision: when they are ready, they will make a purchase.

No matter at which stage they are, your prospects and customers must be able to access your website, get the information they need, or make a purchase with ease.

3. Boost website security

If your website accepts payments and requires your customers to provide their personal information, then it is important to establish credibility and gain their trust from the start.

Usually, your hosting company should provide some basic level of security, and many of them also sell enhanced services to meet your requirements. Here are a few common types of website security:

  • A security scanner that automatically checks the website for malware.
  • An SSL certificate which shows customers that your website can be trusted.
  • A backup option that keeps a copy of your website and data.
  • A Web Application Firewall to protect real-time web traffic from certain threats.

Internally, you must make sure that your staff are using the internet safely. This may mean installing security software on your computer, get automatic updates, avoid clicking on links or open attachments contained in emails that you don’t expect, to name but a few.

Data protection is another key area – you need to be clear about your marketing communications and keep customer data secure.

4. Manage online reviews

Every customer can potentially influence others by posting their opinions online. Some common places where you will find reviews are:

  • Google review
  • General review sites like Trustpilot
  • E-commerce sites like Amazon
  • Social media
  • Personal blogs

Good reviews tend to boost sales but bad reviews may drive away potential customers. According to some of our clients who manage successful online businesses, the key is to encourage happy customers to post honest reviews, while tackling negative reviews professionally by looking into the incidents, apologising (if you were wrong) and learning from them.

Here is an example shared by one of our clients who runs a successful repair business – whenever he completes a job, he politely asks the customers if they are happy and would like to give a review. Most of the time, his customers leave a positive review, but whenever a client posts a negative review, he would look into the incident, offer an explanation or a remedy, and remain constructive throughout. As a result, the owner has tremendously improved his standing with customers.

5. Sharpen your campaigns

If you already have a website, then you know that getting audience naturally takes time and effort. To gain traffic quickly, you may be looking at a few ideas, which may include:

  • Run targeted search or display campaigns
  • Advertise on social media
  • Start email marketing
  • Partner with influencer
  • Use Google My Business to expand your online presence

While Google My Business is a given, other types of campaigns should fit your business goals and budgets. Generally, you want to run campaigns that are:

  • Targeted: finding people with specific criteria and whom you think are likely to buy your services or products.
  • Well-designed: from the picture to the wording you use, they should appeal to your target audience.
  • Has a call-to-action: clearly states what you want your visitors to do.

If you look to gain exposure quickly, consider offering incentives like a special discount if they sign up for email marketing or give vouchers to those who recommend a friend.

Grow your business with Tax Agility

Allowing yourself to focus on strengthening your online presence and growing your business takes time and effort, and it is likely to mean that you need professional help in specialist business functions such as bookkeeping and tax.

At Tax Agility, we are leading chartered accountants for small businesses in London, Putney and Richmond-upon-Thames. Our services include:

  • Accounting & Bookkeeping: leave your day-to-day finances to us. We will also provide monthly management accounts, prepare statements and help you set-up cloud accounting.
  • Tax: if you are tax-efficient, you will have more money to invest, expand and create jobs in your community. Let us help you with tax planning, tax computation and tax returns.
  • VAT: from VAT returns to manging VAT on import and export goods, we take care of them so you don’t have to.
  • Payroll: As your team grows, outsource your payroll administration to us so that you and your team can continue to enjoy accurate and on-time payslips every month.
  • Management consultancy: take your business forward with practical advice based on financial data and benchmark analysis.

Benefits of working with Tax Agility

At Tax Agility, we are ICAEW chartered accountants and it means you can count on our expert but affordable services. Our team of small business accountants are knowledgeable, staying on top with the latest developments in practice, legislation and techniques.

Our services are also competitively priced with no hidden charges. Most importantly, you are free to choose how you want to engage us. If you choose to combine our bookkeeping, VAT, tax and payroll services, you will certainly achieve bigger savings and run your business more efficiently.

As small business owners ourselves, we value long-term partnerships and believe in growing together with our clients, protecting your investments as your company grow.

Call our small business accountants today on 020 8108 0090.

Alternatively, you can use the contact us form to get in touch.

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This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.