In an age of connectivity where consumers are increasingly buying more online, you can ill afford to neglect your business’ online presence.
Since early 2020, Covid-19 lockdown regulations coupled with store closures resulted in thousands of consumers turning to online shopping for essential products and services.
As a result, the adoption of e-Commerce has been exponentially accelerated, making it essential for businesses to have an online presence.
Your business’ online presence could encompass several factors including a company website to drive e-commerce or online sales, social media marketing, email marketing, social media and a blog.
A business website is usually the first port of call. You can use a website developer or you can use free online tools to create a simple website. Remember to keep your design user-friendly and visually appealing.
As much as you may want to share all the details of your business, less is more and a pleasing layout is more likely to keep visitors on the page for longer.
Once you have a website established, you want to look at search engine optimisation (SEO).
“It may sound intimidating but SEO is really just about improving the traffic to your website by improving your search engine results,” says Andiswa Bata, co-head of SME at FNB.
For example, if you run a plumbing service in Lenasia, you want to know that when a potential client types “plumber” and “Lenasia” into their search bar, your company will come up as one of the top hits.
While having an online presence is key, businesses need to find a way to manage deliveries and return purchases. It is also important for businesses to have as many payment mechanisms as possible like card, EFT and many more so that customers are not inconvenienced.
“Businesses can also consider online’ or ‘digital’ services such as nav» marketplace on the FNB App. The digital marketplace effectively provides SMEs with access to a new market by allowing them to move from being a traditional bricks and mortar business, to a small-scale e-Commerce provider on app. This digital marketplace helps SMEs to be exposed to added audiences and enables them to grow their revenue over time. Furthermore, it makes them confident with using an App service to brand and scale their business,” adds Bata.
According to the 2021 Social Media Landscape report by Ornico and World Wide Worx, almost 42% of South Africans are using some form of social media. Active social media users increased 13.6% from 22 million users in January 2020 to 25 million users in January 2021.
This just highlights the importance of using these platforms to build brand awareness for your business. However, you need to carefully consider which social media platforms you want to be active on and the audience you are trying to reach.
Instagram, for example, has become quite popular among South African entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses.
Start out by defining your target market by looking at who already buys from you. Once you have social media business accounts in place, make use of the analytics services these platforms provide to monitor who is visiting your pages and what interactions are resulting.
For example, do you get more interest in posts at 9am or 2pm? Are there particular posts that result in more purchases and if yes, why?
“Establishing an online presence in today’s society could even be the first step towards starting your business. Take it seriously, put in the time and the research so that you can reap the results,” Bata concludes.