Before You Purchase a Website
Websites are a fantastic way to grow the online presence of a small business.
Websites are also expensive, so there are a few steps you should take prior to launching a new website for your business.
There are only three ways for a website to be found.
- A customer that is already aware of your business, performing a web search to find your website.
- A customer finding a direct link to your site, from another website or site visitor.
- Your website appearing in a search result from a search engine, where your site ranked high enough to be seen by the potential customer.
The last point on that list, is the ultimate goal of your website, but it is difficult to get to that point without establishing your online presence with the other action items we present in this post.
Develop Your Initial Marketing Materials (Logo, Name and Domain)
Before you can do anything, you'll want to make sure you have established your business name, logo and domain. You should also have a general idea of your business's color scheme and personality.
Your website design and layout is directly influenced by your branding materials. Therefore, you need to have your color scheme and logos ready to go before we get started on building your site. If you need help with designing your logos or choosing your color scheme we would be happy to help!
I typically recommend picking out a domain ahead of purchasing a website as well. Domain names are an asset that once purchased, can't be purchased by anyone else. By picking your domain name ahead of time you prevent other businesses from purchasing your domain name.
A great domain name should be easy to remember, should be clearly related to your business and should preferably include the .com extension as well.
If the domain name you wanted for your business is already taken by someone else, it is best to know well ahead of time so that you can plan your branding and marketing materials around whichever names are currently available.
By purchasing your domain name ahead of time, you can include the link in your social listings, on business cards and on your social pages, knowing that you already own the rights to that websites domain.
If you're unsure how to purchase a domain, or would prefer to have someone else manage your domain name for you, be sure to reach out to us. We would love to help you!
Set Up a CRM/Newsletter Service
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) service allows you to start collecting contact info for potential customers that may be interested in your service. Oftentimes, a CRM is also used as a newsletter building service like in the case of Mailchimp.
The right CRM for you is dependent on a lot of factors. For instance, B2B businesses will likely get more benefit from a service like HubSpot, while consumer centric businesses will likely get more benefit from a service like Mailchimp.
The reason you want to implement a CRM early, is so that you are able to start collecting customer email addresses prior to the launch of your website. You can use the sign-up links generated by your CRM to start building a mailing list of customers early on.
Many of the activities you perform on your site, like writing blog posts, adding new products, services or pages will work best when they are complemented by an email push announcing those new additions to the site.
As we build your site, we will be integrating various features your CRM offers into your website.
If you're unsure which service is best for you, reach out to us and we can help make sure you are picking the correct CRM for your business.
Establish Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a free service, provided by Google that allows you to manage your business as it appears in Google Maps.
The most important aspects of the Google My Business directory listings, is that they prove your business's address is where it is. This is an important factor in ranking for popular location based search queries that contain phrases like "near me". These search queries typically pull location data directly from the Google My Business directory, in order to show the searcher businesses that are definitely located near them.
Google Business listings are free, and easy to sign up for. Once created, the business profile is able to start collecting reviews, photos, questions and customer inquiries. These engagements with the business profile, will also improve the position of the listing, as higher rated listings increase in search result ranks.
After your listing is created, you will be able to respond to reviews, answer questions, enable direct messaging and set up associated alerts. The Google Business Listing also allows you to publish updates, similar to the way you would on a social media site like Facebook.
For businesses that have set business hours, you are able to add those set hours to your business listing, allowing customers to quickly see if you're open for business while they are performing a search query.
You can also post content updates to your Google Business Listings, allowing you to make announcements similar to how you would on Facebook or other social networks. These updates could then be seen by other potential customers in your local area.
Your account, once created, will also allow you to track analytics of how customers engage with your listing.
Establish Your Social Media Profiles
You should establish your social media profiles for your business as soon as you possibly can.
In most cases, social media profiles are completely free. They provide an easy and effective method for staying in contact with your customers.
Similar to the CRM, part of the reason you need your socials set up early on is so that you are able to re-post content from your website directly to your socials. Unlike email marketing, there is less "buy-in" on the part of the customer to follow a business account on social media. It is easier to gain social followers than it is to gain newsletter and email subscribers.
When we build your website, we will include links that point users to your various social media pages. We also will include schema tags in your site that help let Google know that those social profiles are representative of your business as well. This allows your page to gain some authority from the ranking of your social pages as well.
What Social Media Platforms Should You Create Your Pages On?
There aren't too many benefits to being on every social media site. Additionally, you likely don't have time to manage a large number of social media accounts. Therefore, it is best to pinpoint a few platforms that your brand will focus on growing on. There are a few factors you should consider when planning out which social media site you will target.
- The types of content you'll be producing
- The demographics of your current audience and target customers
- The social media platforms you already use
The Type of Content You'll be Producing
Unless you are hiring a social media manager, you will be responsible for making most of your content as well. Because of this, you'll want to consider the type of content you're interested in making before creating your social media pages.
If you are someone who enjoys being on camera and talking to your customers via video, then you should consider a platform like Tik-Tok. If you prefer writing text/image based content, then platforms like Twitter and Facebook may be a better choice.
While it can be tempting to join a platform that is more popular than the ones you currently advertise on, it is important to remember that if you can not authentically engage with the type of content that performs well on that platform, then you will not likely do well enough on that platform to see any additional performance from that popularity.
The Demographics of Your Current Audience and Target Customers
Demographics are an important factor that will determine which social media platforms you'll want to create business pages for.
One other demographic you will want to consider is age. If your typical customers trend towards being younger or older, you'll want to choose social platforms with a similar age demographic. If your customers are from any age group, you will want to stick to more general audience platforms as well.
The Social Media You Already Use
If you are already using a specific social media platform, you may as well create your business account on that platform as well.
The reason you would do this, is that your first few followers on your business account are likely to be people that you know personally. Chances are you chose the social media platforms you currently use, partially because your personal contact use those platforms as well. By creating your business page on that same social media platform you use you are now ensuring that:
- You have a general understanding of how the platform works and what content tends to perform well on that platform.
- You have an audience of users that you can ask to follow your page and share content from
- You will have the minimal amount of difficulty in learning how to use that platform for your business.
One of the toughest parts of social media marketing, is staying motivated to continue engaging and creating content for platforms. Joining a platform that you are completely unfamiliar with can be a really tough situation to stay motivated in.
The difficulty of staying engaged in producing social media content, is the direct reason why it is best to limit the number of platforms you advertise on.
Performing very well on one or two social media platforms, is much better than performing poorly on all social media platforms.
After performing the previous actions, you should already start seeing some growth in your online presence. At this point in building your online presence, you should already have a solid idea of how your brand presents itself, and what messages are critical to include on your website.
Because you have already started to establish your businesses online presence you have some SEO benefits from your listings on socials and Google My Business.