These days, creating an online presence for your company is more important than it ever has been. A business owner who focuses on the right aspects will have the ability to build a brand quickly and to share the message with people around the world. Social media and interacting online creates a strong relationship between a business and its customers which leads to an increase in sales and customer satisfaction. In this article, I’m going to tell you what has worked for my businesses and a few tips on what to focus on to get the best return on your investment.

online-business-strategy---pete-sveen

Facebook

The first step I’d take when getting started online is to create a Facebook business page. Building a page for your company is free, quick, and straightforward. With Facebook, you will be able to share photos and information about your business with people around the globe. Using the world’s largest social media platform will enable you to easily interact with customers and gain valuable feedback to steer the company in the right direction. Build a personal relationship with your fans by sharing information about your mission and the team behind the brand. Some people may not have thought about this, but scams happen all the time online. Hackers can try to obtain things like usernames and passwords to obtain personal information. This is known as Phishing. If you want to find out more ways on how to avoid being phished, make sure you do the research so you are more informed.

Website

Now that your Facebook page is set up I’d recommend designing a website. Developing a website is no longer just for the professionals. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can now construct websites easily and affordably using “Do it Yourself” programs like Weebly, Squarespace, or WordPress. These programs have hundreds of “Themes“(pre-designed templates) to choose from and are built so anyone can learn how to build a website.  Some of the programs combine hosting with their software and allow one to get started for as little as $5 to $10 each month. For those wanting to start an online store, I’d recommend looking into e-commerce platforms like Big Commerce or Shopify, which start at around $25 per month. For more in depth information about starting an online store check out my buddy's blog at www.ecommercefuel.com.

Blog

Blogs play an essential role in building a brand and getting more visitors to a website or online store. A blog is basically a site where you create “posts” or articles on a regular basis. It is a place for customers to learn more about what your company is up to, which will then lead them to your main website or sales page. Writing content as little as once per month will help with your search engine ranking. Focusing on keywords relevant to your business will also play a vital role in helping out with search engine optimization and getting high up on Google’s list. Make sure your blog has features that make it easy for a reader to interact and share the content they find. When valuable content is created, viewers are much more likely to share what they’ve found via social media. A couple free tools that have improved sharing results on my WordPress blogs are Shareaholic and Disqus.

Social Media Platforms

Create free accounts within Pinterest, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Instagram, Digg, and any other platforms you think would benefit the business. Once you’ve created the accounts, add a share tool like “Shareaholic” at the end of each blog post.

  • Pinterest is a platform millions of people use to share recipes, project ideas, crafts, and things you like with friends. Pinterest has been stereotyped as being a site mostly for women, but more men are using the site each and everyday. One of my blogs (www.DIYPETE.com) has thousands of visitors each month from Pinterest alone. On the site, I show step-by-step instructions on how to build furniture and do DIY projects around the house. Pinterest users pin the photos of my furniture or finished projects to their boards as projects they’d like to try or ideas on how to furnish their home. Their friends see it and re-pin the photo to their board, which shares the photo and link with even more people. Pinterest has been a great resource for driving traffic to a few of my sites, and I think it would benefit your business as well.
  • Twitter

Although you may not understand Twitter just yet, it can be a beneficial tool to promote your brand. Once set up, start following and re-tweeting others in your niche. Twitter enables you to reach out to just about anyone, including celebrities, business owners, and companies in your Niche. I’ve had tweets picked up by celebrities, which has led to publicity that I never would have had and over 4,000 visitors to my site in a single day.

  • LinkedIn

I like to call LinkedIn the social network for business people. You’ll add a photo, work experience, and other resume type information to the profile page. LinkedIn makes it easy to find professionals in your niche to contact and do business with. For example, someone who owns a designer t-shirt company may seek to sell them wholesale. Using LinkedIn, you can search a company to find their wholesale buyer and connect with him or her. You know longer have to make a bunch of phone calls to find out who to contact.

YouTube Channel

Videos are one of the most helpful online tools for showing off your company’s products or services. Create a channel for your business and start making product videos, instructional videos, and clips to tell customers more about your brand. Hip businesses like Zappos.com have a product video for every single pair of shoes they sell. The videos are tremendously helpful in showing off the quality and design of each shoe model, which aids customers in their buying decisions and increases conversion rates.

Podcasting

Podcasting is an underused medium to share your expertise with the world.  Sharing content by podcasting will build a relationship with the listeners and bring in new customers. There are fewer than 500,000 podcasts online, compared to hundreds of millions of blogs. Sharing content on a podcast is probably the best business decision I’ve made in the last year. Since starting in April, I’ve had over 40,000 downloads and have quickly become a top podcast about Entrepreneurship on iTunes. The podcast has brought a number of visitors to my site and sales have increased as a result. Say you own a travel agency, start a podcast about your adventures or tips for travelers. When the listeners end up going on their next trip, there is a good chance they’ll go through you since you’ve built a relationship and have given them helpful information via the podcast.  (You can check out the Podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/think-entrepreneurship-interviews/id636844778

Build Your Email List

If I could start all over again, a newsletter subscription form would have been on my website since day one. The newsletter has become my top sales tool and method for staying in contact with customers who have purchased from my store. By providing visitors with an incentive to sign up for your list, you’ll quickly be able to gain a valuable lineup of customers you can email on a regular basis to keep in touch with and sell to. Each time the newsletter is sent out for my online store SignsofTheMountains.com, it’s like calling hundreds of my customers to let them know about specials and what’s going on with the company. I know every time I click send; orders will begin trickling in as a result. To get started with a newsletter look for free services offered by companies like MailChimp. If you are a blogger, I'd highly recommend Aweber because of their auto-responder features and ease of use.

Hopefully these tips will help build an online presence no matter what stage you are in with your business. The information I have shared is what has worked for my businesses, which I’ve learned from experts in the world of Internet marketing and brand creation. Best of luck with your ventures!