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How to Build a Meaningful Online Presence for Your Business

How to Build a Meaningful Online Presence for Your BusinessWith the ample amount of knowledge that product reviews and customer testimonials provide to shoppers online, consumers are increasingly conducting research on the web before committing to a purchase.

A 2016 report by Nielsen found more than 50 percent of people who shopped in travel, consumer electronics and beauty and personal care categories looked up product information online before purchasing. Even if your product or service falls outside this realm or fits a B2B category, it is still vital to have an attractive online presence to build trust in potential customers and get them to convert.

While your website and e-commerce operations are crucial to your business, other factors like social media channels and online interactions all affect your brand. Here are some online components to keep in mind as you build up your digital presence.

Make Your Website an Engaging Destination

Your website is the digital "home" of your brand, so make sure the design is professional and reflects your business values. From imagery to copy, and the mission statement to the user experience, the site should load easily and look perfect on any device. The customer journey should be intuitive, with a focus on getting web visitors to invest more in your brand and ultimately purchase. Feature customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes looks at your office and links to social media channels where visitors can develop their relationship with your business.

If you have an e-commerce store on your site, security is key. While more users than ever are purchasing online, there are still some people who mistrust sharing their information in the digital space. Considering the data leakages of notable brands like Target, Home Depot and Uber, even the biggest companies in the world are susceptible to losing customer trust and having to pay millions of dollars in damages because of threats. Blogger Holly Gary writes on Search Engine Journal that your e-commerce store should feature two-factor authentication, an SSL certificate, a firewall and other security measures to ensure that customer data, as well as your brand's reputation, is protected.

Personally Connect with Target Customers

Social media channels provide the ideal platform for forming meaningful connections with customers. Because you can comment on and discuss content with your followers, using channels like Facebook or LinkedIn humanizes your brand and allows you to provide better customer service online.

Be vigilant about monitoring customer queries on your social channels. Social Media Today reports 53 percent of customers expect responses from a brand they've contacted on social to get back to them within an hour, while 52 percent want a response to a review they've left on social within a week. If you really want to impress web users and gain a step ahead of your competitors, prioritize social media monitoring.

Provide Useful Content Online

Beyond your website and social media channels, give your brand extra momentum online by publishing content that can live on other sites, be shared among users and give your brand a boost in search results. Create a blog that features writing, videos, photography, podcasts, infographics or other content that relates to your target customers' needs. Creating a couple pieces of amazing content a month and promoting them can bring more value than creating pieces that are lower quality more frequently.

Think about the problems your target customers have and how your product or service helps resolve them. Consider the expertise you can share with the world. Take the time to craft an article or multimedia-rich blog that is valuable and shareable. Then, send it in an email newsletter, feature it on social media and email it to bloggers you admire in hopes they might share it with their own audiences. Make sure the content includes a lead capture feature and a call to action to take visitors on a journey to purchase.

In all your online interactions, be friendly, helpful and genuine, just like you would as if you were interacting with customers in a storefront. By positioning your brand as a helpful authority and giving web visitors a clear and easy shopping path, you can set your business up for success online.

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