More and more businesses are establishing an online presence. This is because customers are increasingly going online to access the goods and services they need. Also online business-to-business transactions have become a common trend. Going online brings your business to more people that you would expect a brick-and-mortar store to. When you strategically launch your online business, you will not only gain greater visibility but also improve your return on investment. Here are 10 reasons why your local business should establish an online presence:
1. Customer Accessibility
Consider this: a survey conducted by WebVisible & Nielsen showed that 3 out of 4 people use the major search engines to find local businesses. This means that if someone is looking for a local restaurant, a shoe repair shop, a specialty bookshop or any local service, 75% of the time they will use a search engine such as Google to find this business. As such if you are not online, it means that up to 75 percent of your potential customers are not finding you. However, what if they could find you and see the range of products and services you are offering? This can go a long way in boosting your customer base and your business profits too.
Unlike the brick-and-mortar shops that have to close at some point in the day, the Internet opens 24/7. By having an online presence, your business will go on regardless of the time of day. Customers will still be able to look around your online shop and your product offering and make purchases. This essentially maximizes the business hours so that you are operating a 24-hour business without the need to be physically present. By being open for longer you will be surprised at just how much you will be able to improve on the sales numbers and overall business revenues.
2. Wider Audience
Over 2 billion people have access to the Internet today. This global audience presents a lucrative opportunity as prospective customers. If you have the capacity or the long-term plans, you can sell your goods and services to people in other countries. Instead of setting up a brick-and-mortar shop in every country or geographical location that you want to reach, you simply need to set up a virtual shop that anyone can access.
Gaining an online presence for your local business is made easier by free online tools and mobile & web applications that your customers can use to find out what you are offering. Because people are looking online first before they can make purchasing decisions, it means that those local businesses that have an online presence are attracting more customer inquiries. Any business knows that inquiries, even though they do not lead to an immediate sale, are not necessarily a bad thing. It is through answers to inquiries that you are able to pitch to your local customers. But without an online presence you just might not have as many prospects to pitch to as you would like.
3. Customer Reviews
Both online and offline businesses rely on ‘word of mouth’ as one of the most significant channels of their marketing. But as an offline business, ‘word of mouth’ reviews by customers can only reach so many people, usually a customer’s close friends and family. Yet an online presence allows customers to post reviews about your business and thousands of potential customers will access the reviews and your product offering. Of course, reviews can make or break your business; you need to offer the best services and customer support for your business to receive great reviews. Having an online presence offers your customers a viable platform to undertake ‘word of mouth’ marketing on your behalf. Many studies have shown that potential clients often look through reviews before they can purchase a product or service offering from you.
4. Brand Building And Visibility
Brand visibility means making your brand known to potential customers. As a brick-and-mortar business, you might be surprised to find out that just a few people know about your business brand. But by bringing your business online you become more visible to the people that matter the most: potential customers and the media. The media, whether social or mainstream can play an important role in promoting and marketing your business, but you have to let them know that your business exists in the first place.
Brand building means building trust between your business and these potential customers. Bringing your business online serves as an effective way for prospects to see what you have to offer and what your business is all about. An online existence allows your prospects to realize whether you are the right business to purchase a product or service from. It enable potential clients to compare your offering with that of the competition and it also offers you ample opportunities to tell the client why you are better than the competition.
5. Marketing And Selling Made Easy
It is a known fact that people do not like to be sold to and businesses do not usually like to come off as being too pushy. However, the Internet provides an ideal platform for businesses to effectively market and sell their products without having to apply too much pressure on the customers. By creating great informational and marketing copy for your product offering, you allow the customer to make an informed and relaxed decision. When done strategically, online marketing can be effective in building rapport between you and your customers and establishing long-term partnerships.