Five key steps for success when taking your small business online

Twenty-six years after the world’s first website was launched by British computer scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, you might think every business would have a firm stake in the online world. But you’d be wrong. In fact, research revealed as many as 60% of Australian small businesses don’t have an online presence.

This is an alarming statistic when you consider the same research showed 59% of businesses experienced growth once they went online, and 83% said online platforms gave them an edge over competitors without websites.

Online presence is crucial for small business success because it’s where your customers spend a chunk of their time. So, if you’re a small business that hasn’t yet taken the digital plunge, the start of the new year spells time for positive change.

Here are five things you need to consider to help you master your digital presence as we head into 2018.

1. Register your domain name

Choosing and creating a domain name will be one of your most valuable business assets. Your chosen domain name will finally mark your all-important presence in the online world, while allowing you to set up a custom email address for your business.

When choosing your domain name, we recommend keeping it simple on your first go. Your domain name should be easily recognisable so try using keywords that spell out what your business is or does. This will be great for your SEO and potential customers will have an easier time finding you among the crowd. For example, if you’re in the business of selling t-shirts go with something simple such as janestshirtstore.com.au.

There are now also plenty of options for domain name endings if you’re after something particularly unique or catchy. Make sure to choose one that’s highly relevant for your business such as janestshirtstore.fashion

2. No business is too small for a website!

GoDaddy research also found well over a third (39%) of single-person businesses believe their business is too small to warrant a website. Businesses with 2-5 employees were not far behind either with 32% thinking a website was unnecessary. But why sell yourself short?

Irrespective of size, websites can be a real driver for growth. They can bring opportunity to diversify revenue streams by giving your business access to a new digitally savvy customer base. A sleek and professional looking website can also help to build your brand image and provide an effective way to engage with new and prospective customers.

And if time and cost is putting you off – don’t let it. It’s entirely possible to create a professional looking website in less than an hour – and for little cost. For the time-poor and cash-strapped among us, it’s a great investment.

3. Don’t be afraid to get hands on

A huge ‘put off’ for small businesses thinking about getting online is the prospect of researching and engaging third-parties to help achieve those goals. And that can be a daunting prospect if technology isn’t your forte!

But it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. Today, even the least tech savvy among us can get themselves online quickly by taking advantage of intuitive web building tools and platforms and the availability of impressive website templates.

4. Mobile optimisation is key

With over 74% of Australians relying on their smartphones as much as they do desktops when browsing the web, small businesses can’t afford to drop the ball half way through their ‘digital transformation’. Getting your website fit for mobile browsing is essential.

Consumer behaviour is very different across desktop and mobile. While desktop or laptop browsing tends to be more casual, mobile browsing is often done ‘on the go’ with a specific objective in mind. For example, people will often rely on their smartphones to find opening hours, contact details, reviews, and even make last-minute purchases. So, what does all this mean? It means your mobile site will likely grab attention when it really counts.

5. Use your new online presence to connect with customers

Consumers aren’t just interested in how your products or services stack up against competitors, they’re increasingly choosing brands based on their values, purpose, and overall experiences they deliver. In marketing terms, it’s called the ‘brand story’ and your website plays a crucial part in telling it.

A business’ website is a virtual hub where existing and potential consumers can participate with your business, learn from it, and feel engaged by it – whether it be through impressive visuals, engaging content, or multiple communication touchpoints. A content-rich website is also essential for a robust social media strategy that inspires trust and confidence in your business. By promoting your content through your social media channels, you can also encourage interested audiences to visit your website.

By providing multiple ways for people to interact with your business in a way that suits them, overall engagement can rise, and growth in your venture will likely follow.

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Tara Commerford
Tara Commerford is the Vice President and Managing Director of GoDaddy Australia and New Zealand. GoDaddy is the world's largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses.

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