An online presence is your appearance on the internet or digital channels, which gives you or your brand the opportunity to relate to and attract more customers from any part of the world.
Your business can be in Nigeria or anywhere and if finding customers from your target location is an issue, learning how to build and grow your brand presence online will solve the problem.
This is the aim of this guide.
It contains the strategies to increase your brand presence online.
Nevertheless, what your online brand presence does is break whatever physical barrier that exists between you and your potential customers and send your brand to a global outsourcing push.
How to build an online presence for your brand?
Because of the wide and broad use of the internet, gaining an internet presence can be tedious for local businesses.
For this reason, you need to know how to build an online presence for your local business.
In our institute, we have designed a template that contains the steps to take if you ever wanted your business to appear on the internet.
With this, you don’t have to be confused about where to put your feet.
All you have to do to build an online presence for your small business is to create a business website.
This implies that your business goal determines the kind of website that is good for your business.
So, having a business website is not enough to build your brand online presence in Nigeria.
Part of the effort to build an internet presence for your brand is to integrate social media into your website and effectively practice search engine optimization.
This requires having a page on social media platforms with your business information so other users can feel your presence and connect with your brand.
Facebook, for example, allows users to link their Facebook pages to their websites and vice versa.
This doesn’t mean you can’t build an online presence for your business if you don’t have a website.
The bottom line is if you want to build an online presence for your brand, a website must be involved.
And this can either be your own website or a third-party website like Facebook.
You can also be on search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo with the use of SEO.
When you have your own dedicated website for business, growing your brand online presence on other platforms will be easier.
There is a limit to what you can do on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. But with your website, the sky is your limit.
Anyone stumbling upon your brand on any of the media has the tendency of visiting your website and convert into a potential customer.
You just have to be sure that you have the right content and that is why you need to know ways to grow your brand presence online.
With your online presence on Google, your visitors can go as far as visiting your website, blog, and social media channels and eventually close a deal with you.
According to Google, 97% of consumers come online to search for local businesses.
When anyone surfing the internet encounters your brand and finds your product or service relevant, then the possibility of converting the audience is very high.
Through your brand presence online, people coming in contact with your brand will find more about your products or services.
And the more this happens, the more sales you’re going to generate.
A 2017 survey of small business websites shows that 29% of small businesses didn’t come online earlier. And by the end of 2018, there would be only 8% of them without an internet presence.
If you’re one of the 92% lucky business owners and your online presence reflects your brand identity, you have the edge to attract more customers.
Why need an online presence
The other time you wanted to rent a store, you told the agent to get you a store that faced the street or which was at the core center of the market.
Your reason was to have a store where people could find you easily.
Without renting a shop on the street or market, a lot of customers can find you with your online presence.
I mean, your online presence is like opening a business where your business can be accessible to customers.
You can use it to increase your visibility and outreach on the web.
Online presence, however, is the avenue to make your business accessible to customers from any part of the world.
Since marketing has shifted to social media, most consumers come online to learn about brands and which products to buy.
The information you have on your digital channels, however, strongly influences your customers’ purchasing decisions.
In that case, your business isn’t just meant to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, but to have content that can engage the audience.
So, you have to build your brand presence online in a way to establish a very strong relationship with your customers.
This strategy will make you attract your prospects.
Ways to grow your online presence
One thing is to have a website or social media page, another is to know how to leverage those platforms for growing your brand presence on the internet.
So, the following contains ways to increase your brand’s online presence.
1. Make your business information clear
One of the best ways to make your customers learn about the good things wrapped up in your business is to have it said on your About Page.
Most people explore the About Page when they visit a nice blog or website for the first time.
Because this contains necessary information about what makes a website relevant to them, customers go there to explore what they can gain from the brand.
So, to engage the audience with the page, write the content in the first person, not in the third person.
You can easily engage your readers when you make them feel you’re directly talking to them.
Talk about the priorities or concerns of your target audience, which you intend to solve with your website.
Avoid the temptation of talking about yourself, you don’t need it.
Any other thing you feel like saying can be on another page, such as how your audience can contact you, your autobiography, collected testimonials and events, and so on.
In fact, you can link every other relevant page to your about page instead of stating what doesn’t concern your audience there.
Don’t put anything on your about page if it’s not about your audience, because that page is meant to serve as an opportunity to make your audience love you.
So, let it focus on your audience, not you.
2. Provide effective customer services
Use your social media pages to reach out to your potential customers and get feedback on your products and services.
Find out about what your audiences are going through while using your products or other companies’ products and guide them.
If need be, recommend a solution for them.
According to FreshSparks, this practice can help you achieve three things which include:
- Boosting your brand awareness
- Marketing your products or services
- Gaining customer loyalty
The use of social media to implement effective customer service may not be the intention while inventing social media.
But over a period of time, social media have become an essential marketing tool for smart local businesses.
3. Increase your domain authority
Domain authority (DA) is a metric created by MOZ to quantify the authority of a website. Marketers believe that the online presence would be very strong if its DA is high.
This may not be a search engine ranking factor, but it plays a major role in attracting opportunities and guaranteeing your marketing success.
For this reason, your effort to boost your DA means your content must be life-changing, relevant, and consistent.
With this, your thought leadership will be great and that will make your audience trust you.
To boost your DA, you need to create engaging content, which is possible with these steps:
- Choose the right niche for your content
- Use a neat theme for your content
- Build outbound links
- Earn backlinks from high-authority websites in your industry
- Build internal links
- Create original content
- Make your content compelling
Others include this SEO checklist to write quality content.
With such a standard, your content will fuel your brand presence online and also make your brand popular on all digital channels where your brand is present.
4. Instill emotions in your content
Emotions can be used to catch the attention of your audience. When you add it to your content, your audience’s affinity with your brand will increase.
Sonia Simone, in 13 emotional-based headlines that work, describes this practice as an emotional trigger.
Marketers use the strategy to trigger their customers’ fears and desires to take a certain action.
So, this is another effective way to boost your online presence and marketing success.
5. Social proof
If you really want your audience to take heed of your online presence, you need to make them see how credible you are.
Don’t be surprised if you make an offer and nobody is taking it despite the fact that the offer is great.
In such a situation, there is something wrong with your credibility that you need to fix with your social proof.
When it comes to credibility, everything isn’t about you doing the “talking” all the time.
Your work can speak for itself for once.
Your landing page must reflect what Neil Patel calls social proof before your audience can trust you.
Social proof isn’t a new strategy in content marketing. But the problem is that you’re not using it effectively.
As long as your landing page can speak for itself, your audience will trust you.
Meanwhile, growing brand presence online in Nigeria requires your effort in building a great user experience and avoiding sending bad signals.
A bad signal includes running an eCommerce on an insecure website, and that will make your brand look dubious.
With such an impression, if you don’t have the intention of stealing your customer’s banking information, nobody cares.
As it would be too risky for your audience to share sensitive information on an insecure website, your audience might see you as a lazy, dumb, and dishonest brand.
Aside from that, hackers can take advantage of this to break into your customer privacy if you leave a loophole on your website.
So, if your website is not up to the task, your audience will wonder what you mean by sending them to a scanty page. They may think your intentions are bad.
This is like inviting a hungry man to an empty restaurant. What do you expect him to eat when he gets there?
Your online presence isn’t just to have a website or blog, but that which must be safe, relevant, and highly resourceful.
6. Get credibility or trust seals
According to a study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, not more than 10-20 seconds that visitors land on your website or page, they decide to stay or leave.
In another study, Econsultancy revealed that the only thing that makes customers stay on a website is the credibility or trust seal of the brand.
Your credibility factors in whatever decision your customers take immediately they land on your page.
If your landing page is secure, they stay.
Their concerns include the fears of being defrauded, stealing personal information, not receiving what they pay for, money-back, and so on.
So, to guarantee your customers are safe, they like to see these three signs on your website:
- 100 satisfaction guarantees
- Return/ refund guarantees
- Credibility/ trust seals
You can use any of these three strategies, depending on your business, to make your customers feel secure on your website.
For example, clearly stating your brand’s return and refund policies and adding a trust seal where your customers can see it can help increase your brand presence online.
7. Collect customer testimonials
Irrespective of your marketing strategies, you need customer testimonials to make your new customers complete a transaction when they land on your page.
Your online presence may not be enough to prove to your new potential customers that your brand is the best if the existing ones can’t testify to it.
New customers can’t trust all you say about yourself because you can’t be your judge without favoring yourself.
Before your new customers can trust you, they would rather like to hear from an outsider, most especially a customer who is well familiar with your brand.
They believe that whatever they hear from an outsider is genuine since you won’t be paying your customers to praise you.
All you have to do is to directly ask your customers to make feedback on their experience with your brand and present their comments on your website for public consumption.
You can add testimonials to your landing page or emails.
According to WordStream, you can achieve the best result with your customer testimonials by creating a special page for the same and linking it to your landing page or emails.
8. Integrate email lists
Emails still play an important role in your marketing success. You can use it to make your target customers to be aware of your online presence.
According to MarketingCharts, you can achieve the best ROI with your email marketing effort.
This is not only because email is the least difficult digital marketing strategy but because it is the most popular and effective.
If you have an email list of your customers, you can send them emails about your new offers or deals.
The email will lead them to your website and possibly they will purchase your products or services.
You can also use this strategy to make your existing potential customers return to your website.
9. Brand or website name in post titles
People see your post titles more often than your website. That is why it is a good SEO practice to make your domain name short so that the space for the post title can as well contain the domain name.
If your domain name is short, you can add it to your post titles to increase your online presence without any difficulty.
Take for instance, when you make a search query on Google, Google returns millions of results to you. You’ll find out that some brands have their names side by side with their post title while some don’t.
The fact is that the post titles that contain brand names have more brand exposure than the others.
Even if you don’t click through them, most of those brand names won’t be new to you next time you come across them.
If your post titles can attract searchers, adding your brand name to your post titles will increase your brand exposure.
The more people come in contact with your brand name, the stronger your brand presence online.
That is why the impression rate of any post is usually higher than engagement – the rate of actions visitors take.
10. Offer gifts
Last but not the least, the way to grow your online presence is your effort to offer gifts, discounts, or waivers on your service charge to your customers.
You can leverage this strategy to increase your brand presence online.
BrainWaves uses this strategy to encourage visitors to join its instruction club and it works fine for them to generate leads.
Consumers like to know what discounts, freebies, or other promotional values they stand to get if they buy from you compared to other businesses.
So, make it a habit to appreciate your customers if you want to grow your online presence.
Your product may be good – people like it and buy from you, no big deal if you don’t have a measure to resist your competitors.
Since you’re not the only one in the industry, there would always be someone who wants to get you off the radar.
Your customers may not buy from you again if they can get the product you sell for them at $5 in another store at $4 per unit.
How do you intend to retain your customers when your competitors double-cross you, only for them to hijack your customers and share your sales among themselves?
If you have a very strong relationship with your customers and you’re able to make them trust your brand, your brand’s online presence is definitely going to resist the competition.
Based on this, there is an indication that all possible ways to grow your online presence hinge on your relationship with your customers.
So, ensure you create a good impression of your brand through all your marketing channels.
Since the audiences rely on your business information, so let your presence online serve the interest of your customers.
The relationship will make them learn more about your relevance and to trust you won’t be a problem.
Make your customers feel you care for them and you have more to offer than to get from them. If they must buy a product, make them feel it’s for their own good not for the profit you’re going to make.