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Small business online presence: 6 essentials to get noticed

Capture your community's attention with a thoughtful online presence. These 6 reliable tactics are easy to implement for any small business.

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If your small business lacks an online presence, you could be missing out on a lot of customers.

The numbers show us that 76% of consumers will consider a business’s online presence before they visit a physical location, so making a great digital impression is crucial.

That said, making an online presence can feel like a moving target at best (given how fast the internet and its trends change). So here are six reliable steps from real small businesses that you can take and put to work today.

6 tactics to kickstart your small business online presence strategy:

  1. Set up a website.
  2. Start a Google My Business profile.
  3. Build a social media presence.
  4. Partner with other businesses for advertising.
  5. Build an email newsletter list.
  6. Start texting.

Without further ado, these actions will give you a great head start on an online presence that will raise awareness for your brand and result in more sales.

1. Set up a website

I know this sounds obvious, but I’ve also personally seen some small businesses skip this step and regret it later.

In fact, 85% of your customers will check you out online before they decide to buy, so make your website count.

This example comes from The Shop Agora, a Seattle food-and-wine staple.

They not only have a website, they have one that hits a few key points:

  • It’s simple and attractive.
  • It clearly shows what the brand sells.
  • The look and feel of the brand is obvious.

While there are a lot of website-building tools out there, services like Wix or Squarespace are a good place to start if you’re a beginner.

When you start your website, consider:

  1. Ease of use: Our head of content’s wife, Nancy, started her small business’s website on WordPress (mainly because he thought it was a good idea). She later had to work with him for any update, small or large. She later switched to Squarespace and now has complete control over the design and can change the content herself whenever she needs an update. Make sure you — the person responsible for keeping up with the website — feel comfortable with using your website platform.
  2. Simplicity: Whatever you publish, you’ll need to maintain. While having a website is important, you can have as few pages as necessary to get the right information into your audience’s hands. Think of the five Ws: Who, what, where, when, why, and (bonus!), how.
  3. Practicality: Don’t overthink it. You may not need professional pictures or professional writing for your small business. The first step is to simply start: Get something published, and you can always improve it later on if you’d like. Simply having a website gives you the ability to be discovered — let go of perfectionism and let your work meet the market as fast as you can.

2. Create a Google My Business profile

Again, don’t skip this step. Having a Google My Business profile not only makes your business easier to find and notice on Google, it also gives interested scrollers easy ways to see your offerings and contact you.

As many as 87% of consumers used Google to choose a business to patronize in 2022, so put your business’s best face forward with Google My Business. Your profile will pull into all of Google’s tools, like its search engine, Google Maps (so people can find your physical location easily), and more.

This example comes from my local pie shop (I’m addicted, send help).

Note that every field is filled in, and you can reach their site, directions to their location, their contact details, and even their reviews from one central area.

📕 How to ask for a Google review from a client [playbook]

3. Build up a social media presence

Did you know that 76% of social media users have bought something that caught their eye on social media (including me)?

Social media is not only an excellent opportunity to show your customers who your brand is and what you have to offer, it’s an increasingly large influence on consumer decision-making.

This is a simple yet effective Instagram post from Outsider Comics. It features product offerings, eye-catching graphics, and unique art that viewers won’t soon forget.

As you think about social media, let these questions guide your decisions:

  1. How many accounts/profiles can you maintain? How many do you want to maintain? Be realistic with yourself, start with the bare minimum (e.g. one), and post regularly (even once every other week could be enough, depending on your business). The last thing you want is a dormant account that makes it look like your small business is no longer active.
  2. Which social networks do your target customers use? While you might love TikTok, if the core of your customer base uses Facebook, well… you should probably consider using Facebook instead (if you choose just one social network). How can you know which networks your audience uses? Just ask them. Text messages can be a good way to collect that info (more on that later).

4. Partner with other businesses for advertising

Let your community help you, and help them in turn. 

Partner with other organizations in your community in exchange for mentions on their marketing materials.

As a side note: My local roller derby league puts up posts with their sponsors named weekly and ahead of big events, and those sponsors have seen a lot of success from it.

5. Start an email newsletter

Creating an email newsletter gives you a reason to collect your customers’ email addresses. Your emails can serve as regular reminders that your business exists to help them in some way.

You can collect email subscribers through forms on your website, by sharing a link to that form on social media, and asking customers to sign up for your newsletter when they check out. Simple email service providers like Mailchimp help you start at no cost (and those forms are as simple as copy/pasting the code from Mailchimp into your Squarespace website).

For example, our head of content’s wife, Nancy — you met her earlier when you read about starting your website — has a simple Mailchimp newsletter for her massage therapy practice. As a solopreneur, she sends an email once a month with helpful massage tips (e.g. which way should I roll over when the therapist asks me to move onto my back?).

6. Start texting

You know I couldn’t go too long without throwing in a texting tip. This tip will help you collect phone numbers while you’re attracting eyes online.

All you’ll need to do is create a text-to-subscribe keyword (a short word or phrase customers can text to your number to sign up for your texts). Then, just place it online where your customers can see it, like on your social media, website, or ads.

Here’s what that looks like in action.

Lily Norton
Lily Norton

Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.

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