Promoting your business online
There’s no doubt the Internet has changed the way we do business. Understanding how to digitally promote your goods and services can protect and enhance your bottom line. In this module, you’ll learn how to talk and engage with your customers online, the importance of attentive customer service – particularly in a space where people increasingly expect information instantly – and how best to grow a loyal network of customers.
Part 1: Online communities
Traditionally, if a customer wanted to buy a product or use a service, they would have to physically go to their local shop to make a purchase. The Internet and Social Media has changed this.
It revolutionised how businesses operate and altered the commercial landscape. So it’s only natural that customers would change, too. If you’ve already made the transition online, you might notice that your ‘community’ – customers and potential customers – view and interact with your business differently. This, of course, has a big impact on your marketing strategy.
Treating your customers, both new and existing, as part of your community will help you develop a strong reputation, increase sales, and grow sustainably.
The rapid increase in online businesses means your community now has access to hundreds of other suppliers. Rather than being limited to a small handful of local businesses, they have the power to explore those with the best reputations from all across Australia, and indeed the world.
Using search engines, community forums, review sites and more, customers can easily and quickly compare products and services. They can ‘shop around’ and find the best deal for them. As a result, they’re likely to know a lot more about what you and businesses in your industry can offer.
Part 2: Product and service reviews
Everyday, people write product reviews based on their own experience of products and services, for other potential consumers to read. The voice of experience gets shared via forums, websites and social networking sites. The influence of the consumer has grown and continues to.
Smart business owners can use these reviews to their advantage. Not only can the feedback provided by the reviews prove invaluable to improving or modifying their products and services, it can also be used for marketing purposes as testimonials (when permission is received).
Part 3: Creating a community
Building your own online community is a good way for customers to gather, comment on your product or service, and provide feedback.
You can do this through having a blog on your website, social media, or business forums. If you run a shopping cart or e-commerce system, give your customers the ability to rate your services and leave feedback, which is then visible to the public.
Make sure to foster these meaningful conversations by providing a welcoming space to share ideas. Listen to what they have to say. And use that information effectively. Just remember to always direct your community back to your business website, whenever possible.
Part 4: Customer service
Whatever platform you choose to build a community, it’s important to manage it well. Check for comments daily and address any questions, concerns or positive feedback as soon as you can.
Excellent customer service cannot be overstated. If a customer asks a question or raises an issue, seize the opportunity to showcase your service or product. Not all queries should be addressed through social media sites or your website. In these cases, direct the customer to additional support – provide an email address and ask they email you directly, or a phone number where they can talk to someone offline.
The level of support provided can separate your business from other companies who might offer the same or similar services.
Most customers buy from people they know, like and trust. Creating a ‘community’ and interacting with that community goes a long way to developing trust and building credibility.
If you want to promote your business online, but don’t know where to start, these resources may help. All information was current at the time of writing. When you go to any of the links below, you will be leaving the DBK site.
Module 4 – for great insights on Social Media and building communities and attracting customers.
Hubspot.com/free-marketing-resources – Marketing insight and tips to attract people to your website.
Blog.bufferapp.com – Online Marketing tips.
Econsultancy.com/blog – Fascinating digital news, case studies, statistics and tips.