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Tips for Expanding Your Business Online

By BlogNo Comments

“The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, founder, Facebook

It now seems that anything you could ever desire can now be purchased online and shipped to your front door.  Now more than ever, online shopping is relevant and trendy, many people opting to do most, if not all, of their shopping online. 

Many small businesses, however, are being left behind in this age of the internet, and those not yet ready to take the steps to expand their online presence will lose out on a lot of money they could be making.

Whether you are simply growing your brand or planning to sell your products or services online, the internet can be a great tool for expanding your business.

But there is a lot more to going online besides getting a website and putting up content or an online store. 

Here are some tips for expanding your business online. 

Choose the Right Platforms for Website

Creating your website can be one of the most important steps when expanding your business online. But before you can create a stunning website that’s sure to draw your audience in, you need to make the important decision of which platform to use for your website. 

Some platforms cost more money or are not intuitive to use, so making sure you do research and pick the right platform for you and your business’s needs is vital. 

You also want to make sure you pick the right hosting company with an affordable plan that suits your business’s individual needs. 

If you are unsure where to start, Repute PR can help you build a stunning website that will fit your brand’s specific needs.

Web Design is Important

Now that you’ve decided on a platform and web host for your website, you have to create and design it. 

You don’t need a website that is professionally designed, although it may look stunning, as that can cost a lot of money that small business owners can’t afford. When starting out online, using ready-made themes, which many platforms offer, can save time, money, and look very attractive. 

Website design is about more than just looking aesthetic. It’s about functionality, making sure your website is easy to navigate, making sure there is a balance between minimalism and clutter, with not too much empty space, but not so full that it feels claustrophobic. 

You also want to be selective about color themes, graphics, and the overall layout of the site’s functions. 

Even more important perhaps, is making sure your website looks and functions as good on the computer as it does when viewed on mobile devices. Many people use their phones and other mobile devices to surf the web, and you want to make sure when they look at your website that it looks good and is easy to navigate, or else they won’t stick around. 

Use Social Media

Social media is a great way to build your brand without spending any money. There are tons of different social media platforms to choose from and creating profiles on most of them is free and easy. 

You can use your social media accounts to share your website’s blog posts or bring awareness to your brand through engaging content.

It’s important to know who your target consumers are, as different audiences gravitate towards different platforms. Facebook is most commonly used by women ages 30-50, whereas TikTok is most commonly used by both men and women ages 18-29. You can look up the demographics of different social media platforms online and make your decision on which ones to use based on that information. 

Create Content

This goes for both your website’s blog, and your business’s social media accounts, but creating engaging content for your audiences is a great way to expand and promote your business online.

When creating content, you need to focus on engagement, consistency, and quality. 

You want your audiences to engage with the content you create, which can be done by creating polls, quizzes, and contests. Interacting with your audiences can help make them feel like they matter, and that they are interacting with your business on a more personal level. 

Putting out content consistently is also important. On social media, things move fast, so often you need to put out content daily to keep up and remain relevant. When creating blog posts and other such content, you may not have to post as often, but making sure you are consistent about how much you put out in a certain amount of time is key to keeping your audiences reading and engaged. 

If you need help staying relevant and keeping up with the fast-paced world of the internet, Repute PR can help you to develop and distribute new content about your brand and your accomplishments with their Targeted Media Campaign Package

Lastly, you want to create quality content, by avoiding turning your posts into commercials to sell your product, as that can be a turn-off for most audiences. You instead want to focus on creating content that is relevant to your business, adding in “calls to action” that were at all relevant, and keeping your content organic and personable. 

Manage Your Brand’s Reputation Online

 

“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.” 

-Richard Branson

With the rise of social media, blogs, review websites, and other such digital platforms, keeping a good reputation for your company and brand is all the more important, especially when expanding online.

Social media can help you to connect with your audiences, and build their trust, but it can also be used by others to slander and spread rumors and bad reviews about your brand, which can greatly reduce the number of people who buy your product or service, and can influence people’s opinions when looking up your brand online.

It can be difficult to manage your brand’s reputation online, so many businesses turn to reputation management services to help bear the burden of maintaining a clean and healthy reputation.

Reputation management services, like Repute PR, can help you build your brand, showcase your successes in the nation’s leading news publications, suppress “bad news” in the media, control what shows up when people look your brand up online, and even recruit loyal customers to give praise to your brand through online reviews.

If you are interested in the services a reputation management company can provide, then contact Repute PR, to find out everything they can do for you and your brand. 

Use SEO

Creating great content is important, but if nobody is visiting your website, then it doesn’t matter. 

Search engine optimization has become a very relevant topic in the world of content creation, and if your website is not optimized for search engines, it can be hard for your audiences to find your website at all. 

Results found on page two of Google are 75% less likely to be clocked on than results featured on the first page, and 18% of people searching are likely to click on the top result, which means your website is doomed unless you can get it higher on the results page. 

There are tons of resources online that can help you learn how to optimize your website for search engines, but if you don’t have the time to invest in learning SEO, then hiring a professional to help might be a good idea.

Repute PR can help you with SEO, powering up your visibility and ensuring you are at the top of the results online with their SEO Juice Pack.

Make it Easy for Users to Contact You

If you want to bring in more customers online, then it is a good idea to have a simple and easy way for visitors to your website to contact you. If visitors to your website have a difficult time figuring out how to get a hold of you, they may get frustrated or feel that your company doesn’t care about them. 

You want to make contact information readily available all over your website and even on your social media, making sure it is highly visible and easy to find. 

Be aware that if you are putting down your contact information but are not responsive to those various forms of contact, then you could be putting your business’s reputation at risk, so make sure you use contact information for emails and phone numbers that are going to be monitored and responsive.

Another way to make it easy for users to contact you is by using contact forms, which can greatly increase the fluidity and ease of contacting you on your website without having to go to a separate tab or pull out their phone. 

Build Email Lists

Many of the users who visit your site will never come back again, meaning that if you do not get their email addresses, then there will be no way to contact them in the future. 

An easy and cost-effective way of keeping in contact with users even after they have left your site is through their email, so building an email list is crucial. With access to their direct inbox, you will be able to announce content, services, and products, ask for feedback and increase engagement across all of your online channels. 

An easy way to start an email list is by offering something for free to your potential users and consumers, asking for an email address in return. This free thing could be a product, a coupon for your products, or a free trial of some service you offer. 

Improve Site Speed and Performance

In a study conducted by Microsoft, it was found that people could only focus on one thing for the span of 12 seconds in 2000, dropping to 8 seconds 15 years later, meaning that the attention span of the average person is decreasing. 

This means that your website has very little time to show visitors what your business and site have to offer them in order to convince them to stay. 

In another study conducted by Aberdeen Group, they found that “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”

Because of this, it has never been more important to improve the speed and performance of your website. 

Depending on the platform your website is on, there may be tools to help this process, and there are tools online to check the speed of your website as well to make sure it is running fast. 

Focus on Your Target Audience

You wouldn’t want to be catering to an audience of middle-aged women if your product or service is for adolescent men. You also wouldn’t want to be catering to the entire world when your product or service is niche and mostly purchased by a specific audience. 

You need to have a good idea of who your target audience is, that way you can better focus and cater to them. Although you may have some consumers who are outside of the target audience, it is better, and more profitable, to focus on who your majority of consumers are. 

Once you know who your target audience is, you can use this information to better create content that will interest them, use social media platforms that they use, and advertise on sites and in ways that would attract them. 

Partner and Network With Other Brands

A great way to increase your profits, as well as your audience and potential consumers, is to network or partner with other brands. 

Reaching out to complementary businesses and brands who are in your industry, but not necessarily competing with the same buyers, can help to get your brand out in front of consumers who may not even be aware of your brand yet. 

For example, a wireless network operating company could team up with a smartphone company, each promoting the other’s products or services as complimentary for their own.

By partnering with complementary brands, you can piggyback off their consumer base, so long as you are also promoting their brand as well. It needs to be a symbiotic relationship, otherwise, it won’t work. 

Reach out to Influencers

With the rise of social media, there are a surprising number of influencers out there, each on their own platform, from famous and influential YouTubers, to up-and-coming TikTok stars. 

You can reach out to these influencers, either to offer sponsorship if you can afford to, or to offer a free product or service you provide, in return for them reviewing it on their channel, or mentioning your brand to their audience. 

There are loads of videos on YouTube that are unboxing products sent by companies they are working with, and having influencers create engaging and fun content using your brand, products, or services, can not only help expand your audience but also show the quality of your brand. 

You can reach out to creators directly, or via Facebook for Creators, and start working with influencers, but depending on how big their audience is, it may cost more to work with or sponsor them. 

How to Manage and Repair Your Business’s Online Reputation

By BlogNo Comments

The internet is a vast network of positive and negative information. We use it every day, but we tend to brush over how enormous it has actually become, and in a place with more than 1 billion sites, making an impression can be difficult. So let’s go over how you, as a business owner, can get your foot in the door. 

Developing an Online Presence 

Developing an online presence requires techniques from digital marketing. It happens largely through three things: a website, social media, and content creation

Step One: A Website 

The first step towards a concrete online presence is a website. Having a website gives you a home base to reach out to sponsors, draw in customers, and show your product to the eyes of the world. Of course, you are free to customize, but there are a couple of principles of good web design that you should keep in mind.

A good website will have a clean design that reflects your company’s product. For example, if you sell hiking gear, it’s probably best not to design your site around images of Los Angeles. Stick to a scheme that reflects the kind of service you offer, and if you have a logo, build off of it. 

A simple design also ensures that your website is easy to navigate. Too often, customers open a site, only to find that the button they’re looking for is hidden somewhere deep in the pages. Your website’s home page should give easy access to the basics of what people want to know: 

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How to contact you

The homepage of your website is like an elevator pitch to the visitor, but you have around 2 seconds to catch their interest. You don’t need to include all of your information on the first page, but make it easily accessible from there. Make those 2 seconds count. 

Creating a visually appealing and intuitive website that can catch the attention of your viewers may seem overwhelming, and if you feel like you don’t know where to start, then Repute PR might be able to help you with your website building needs.

Step Two: Social Media 

Once you have a website, it’s time to publicize it through social media. Places like Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok have become increasingly popular marketing tools among companies.

The usual route is to take out paid advertisements through places like Google Ads, but more recently, businesses have taken to creating social media accounts themselves—this option is great because it comes at no additional cost to you. 

When using social media as a platform for self-promotion, it’s important to consider your target market. Facebook tends to draw older users, perhaps with families and established jobs already. Instagram is largely used by people between 15 and 35; TikTok usually indulges younger generations, up through college students. 

Social media is a great way to bulk up your website’s following, so it’s important not to include too many details when using it. People scroll through social media as a way to relax—providing an excess of information can feel overwhelming and actually drive them away from your page. Instead, stick to the basics of what you can provide, use visually interesting images, and link your website (either in a post or in your profile) so people can find out more information for themselves. 

Step Three: Content Creation 

Good work! You’ve established a website and a social media page. Now, you need to fill them with something. That’s where content creation comes in. 

Website Content: On a website, your best option is blogging. Besides being a way for you to show your product, websites let you keep in touch with your customers and tell them about your progress. You can also use a blog to provide information about your field to your customers. 

You have a wide variety of options here: you could answer commonly asked questions or stick to a list-style article. For example, if you sell hiking gear, your website could host a blog with posts like, “What should you never bring on a hike?” or “The 10 Best Hidden Trails in the US.”

Blogging is also a great option because it increases traffic to your website. Instead of just being a business, you’ve now become a source of information and entertainment to your visitors, and this will help boost your ranking on a search engine result page. 

Social Media Content: On social media, you’re almost required to have more fun. People turn to social media for fast-paced entertainment, so your content needs to conform to that. A great way to do this is to follow trends but with your product in mind. And it’s okay if things get humorous here. 

A company that’s done a great job with social media is Ryanair, an Irish airline. Though getting bad press in Europe because of their low-cost style, Ryanair’s image has soared online due to their TikTok profile. They follow popular trends but do everything with airplanes—and the comedy that creates has garnered them millions of views on their videos. 

If you don’t consider yourself particularly social-media-savvy, it could help to start with a trend watch, and you’ll begin to get a feel for what kind of content your business can create. 

Maintaining an Online Presence 

Though creating a website or social media platform may be a one-time thing, you need to consistently update your content and marketing strategy to maintain your online presence. There are three main ways to do this: customer engagement, revisiting content, and getting in the news

Method One: Customer Engagement

On the bottom of Dunkin’ receipts, there’s often a QR code. If you scan it, it brings you to a survey about your customer experience at that particular Dunkin’ store. It gives you the opportunity to voice any complaints, but it also allows you to say you enjoyed your experience. That’s what customer engagement is all about. 

Customer engagement is particularly important online due to the fast-paced style of the internet. Consistently getting traffic to your website will help you stay afloat in the long run, especially as you’re continuing to build your brand. 

It also helps to build rapport between you and your customers. People like to feel in control of their experiences, and if you provide them with the option to give you feedback, they’ll be grateful for the trust they can build with your business. 

But the satisfaction survey is not the only way you can give your customers a say. Many small businesses turn to raffles and giving away some of their products as a way to hold publicity and make their customers share their content. Let’s go back to our hiking gear business to see how this might play out. 

You’ve noticed that a particular water bottle you sell is a customer favorite. So, on social media, you advertise that you are doing a giveaway of five water bottles! Of course, your company is able to afford not getting profits from those 5 bottles—otherwise, this deal would not work in your favor. But you say that to enter the giveaway, one must like the post and tag two friends. 

People who want the bottle will do these two things because they’re simple enough to do, and it garners traction for your site. You choose five lucky winners from those that participated, your company gets boosted online, and your customers are happy that you’ve engaged them. It’s a win on all sides. 

Method Two: Revisiting Content

You’ve spent a lot of time developing content to establish yourself on the web, so it’s not surprising that you need to keep doing it to keep your place. Of course, fresh topics, like your newest product launch, or a new sustainability initiative your company is taking, are great things to write about. But there’s no harm in revisiting topics you’ve already discussed (and it’s less work, too!). 

Editing and republishing old articles on a blog is a great way to boost your rankings in the eyes of the internet algorithms. Fresh traffic to an older yet revised page tells search engines that your content is consistently needed by readers. This is what’s called evergreen content, and it’s a resource you can continually use. 

Revisiting old posts is also a good way to do site maintenance. Sometimes links or images get removed, in which case your article is left with its most important source leading to an error page. Or perhaps, you might find a post that is no longer true, in which case revision is welcome. 

Finally, it sends a message to your customers. It is correcting data, updating links, and revising sentences that show you pay attention to how this website is presented to them. It’s all about the customer experience, and doing this shows them you care about it. 

Method Three: Get in the News

Easier said than done; it would seem. But it might be the solution both you and a journalist are looking for. 

Like business blog writers, personal blog writers and journalists are always looking for topics to cover, although their content tends to be more topical than evergreen. So if you reach out to them and say you have a topic, they’ll often be more than willing to hear you out. 

Good times to contact the media are when you’re doing something completely new. Things that are big changes for your business, like releasing a new line of products, starting a new political initiative, or hiring a new group of people, will be fresh stories that they are more likely to pick up on. 

Start by looking for local or online-based writers, and get a feel for their style of content. It would be difficult to pitch a story about new hiking boot technology to a journalist who writes about French politics. It will also help you, once you do contact them, to be familiar with their work because this establishes rapport. 

Whether you call or email, there are five basic steps to follow when contacting a journalist

  1. Who and what: establish why you’re contacting them. 
  2. If you’re on the phone, ask if it’s a good time: journalists have a lot on their plates, so respecting what time they’re able to meet is a good first step in. 
  3. Why them: tell them you know their work, and that is why you think they’d be a good fit for your story. 
  4. The story itself: pitch your idea! What’s so special about your new product line or initiative?
  5. Ask if they’re interested: if they are, great! If not, don’t take it personally, thank them for their time, and move on to the next one. 

Contacting the media is an interesting process because you often don’t know whether you’ve been successful until the words “yes” or “no” come out of their mouth, but getting in touch with journalists is a crucial way to expand your customer base. 

Sounds like a lot? An incredible amount of work goes into growing and maintaining a business reputation. So much so, in fact, that there are companies who can do it for you

The Benefits of a PR Company 

Working with a PR company allows you to focus on actually building your business. They have teams that can more intricately follow these techniques and even used more advanced ones, like whisper campaigns and SEO writing. But they can be expensive when you’re just starting out—so when do you know you’re ready to work with a PR company? Is it worth getting one?

Repute PR states that their three-step process of reputation management is to tidy it up, broadcast it, and then protect it. For these three steps to work, they mostly need to build off of a reputation you’ve already created. So it’s best to follow the steps outlined above to give yourself a reputation to work on until you feel that it’s concrete enough to be improved. 

But once you reach that point, it is absolutely worth investing in a PR company. The third step of Repute PR’s “Formula” is to protect your reputation—that isn’t something you can easily do on your own. Reputations are built over long periods of time, but they can be damaged by an unseen event in a matter of days. 

Working with a company like Repute PR ensures that you don’t have to worry about that. We specifically have a crisis management team that can take matters into their own hands if you run into unexpected trouble. The relief of being able to focus on what you’re putting out, instead of what everyone on the internet thinks about you, is definitely worth exploring as a business owner. 

What methods have you used to grow an online reputation?