June 9, 2020

Now is the time to get serious about your business’s online presence. Even if you’re not trading via an online store, it pays to make sure you control the first impression people have of your business, and right now, that first impression is likely to be online.

If you’ve ever thought, “Maybe we should sell stuff through an online store”, then this current climate gives you reason to look at that option more closely. Going online or adding e-commerce to an existing site could be a new or enhanced revenue stream for your business.

Time to feel the fear and do it anyway!

Getting an online presence for your business does require work. If you don’t have the time to invest, consider using a local web developer or social media specialist to set you up and help you get the best results.

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Here are a few tips to help you get the ‘i’s dotted and the ‘t’s crossed for your business’s online profile:

  • Do you own your Google My Business (GMB) account? If not, you should claim it now to give your business a better chance of being found via Google search and to get your business on Google Maps if you have a shopfront or customer service location.  Not sure if you own the account? Go to www.google.com.au,  type in your business name in the search bar and see if a google account pops up in the name of your business, complete with icons for ‘call’, ‘directions’, ‘save’, and ‘website’. Scroll down and check if you can see ‘Own this business? Claim it now’ and there’s your answer, you need to claim it. You can find out how, where, and why through several online resources: from Google here , and from easy-to-follow blog articles here and here . A well-managed GMB account shows customers who you are, what you sell, where to find you and what to expect from your service AND Google search likes your business when you use their services.  If you’re new to GMB, it pays to know that you will need to create or use a google account to use any of the google suite of services like Google My Business.

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  • Do you have a website? If this whole web thing scares you, rest assured there are some great locally-based web-builders/web-developers who offer all the services and solutions you need to get a great online product. If you’re pretty IT savvy and have A LOT of time to invest in figuring it all out yourself, there are some user-friendly systems out there that guide you through how to set up your own website – check out the big players such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, SquareUp, Weebly and others.
    Before you get started, write down why you want a website, what you want it to do for your business (e.g. host an online store; show simple business information; collect customer requests etc) .
    Do your research
    and know what they can provide for what you need – not all online store systems are equal, particularly when it comes to supporting Australian GST differences across products, services and shipping. Speak with your web developer or do some indepth investigation to make sure you choose the best solution.

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  • What about social media? Yes it is worth the effort. For quick turnaround on information, nothing beats social media, as the COVID19 pandemic has shown us. Businesses have been able to share daily updates, connect with customers and keep engaged in a simple, social way.With so many people using the major social media platforms it really does pay to have your own business page.
    Before you get started, know your customers, know how to connect with them and know what each social media platform offers.
    Do your research, different social media platforms do different things. Some allow advertising, some make this challenging. Some are more image/photo driven than others. And keep an eye on the rules, they change. For Facebook you’ll need a personal account first in order to then be able to create a business page. Some simple tricks with Facebook include: i. create a simple, logical username for your page – see here for some background; ii. make sure your business page has got your business logo clearly on display. If you’re using Facebook and Instagram it’s useful to have one simple graphic element in the small ‘profile’ display area – having a lot of text or a busy graphic element in this spot lacks strength and doesn’t give you an easily recognisable branding when your business comments on other pages, and it helps to have your full brand on show in the larger ‘cover’ image. iii. Fill in all the details you can in the About section.

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The two best reasons for owning your presence online are: 1. you get to tell your story rather than letting someone else do it; and 2. you’re making it so much easier for customers find you.

Resources and links

https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/

https://www.woorank.com/en/blog/how-to-add-your-business-to-google-maps

https://www.facebook.com/help/121237621291199/

 

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Photo of local business owner Peter Wright

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1 June 2020 COVID-19 restrictions update