6 steps to take your business online
Now a days your customers are more online that ever!
With a whole lot of their time — reading, watching, researching, socializing and buying.
Many businesses start with a simple presence on a Facebook business page — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just important to realize that you don’t have total control over those platforms and you’ll likely be limited in terms of what you can do there.
As such, you might want to expand your digital footprint to include a number of important elements.
Custom domain name. Your domain name is the heart of your business’s unique address on the web. It should tell people who you are and what you have to offer at a glance, direct them to your website, and help protect and promote your brand.
Website. Your website is your business’s online home. It’s where you tell your story, showcase products and services, and start to establish credibility and expand your reach.
Email. Branded email is an affordable and effective way to communicate with your customers and generate leads.
Social media. Getting active on the social networking sites where your customers spend their time is key to building an online community around your business. You can use sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube to market your products and services, establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and, most important, build relationships with your customers.
Lets Get Started!
1. Get a domain name
Your domain is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Like this:
For a business, a domain name can also anchor a professional email address. Like this:
Let’s say I’m looking for a baker in Francistown. I take out my phone, tap Google, and enter “baker in Francistown — and thats it! I get a list of search results that include relevant websites identified by their domain names.
You want your business to show up in search results when potential customers are looking online for the products or services you offer.
How to register your domain name
When you’ve settled on a domain name that’s available, go ahead and register it for a specific amount of time. Check out our store to register. If you looking for .co.bw domains, contact us and we will register for you.
2. Plan your website
With that domain name in hand, you’re ready to start thinking about your website. A bit of planning goes a long way toward ensuring that your site will do all the things you want it to do for your business.
Do you want your website to inform? To inspire? To generate sales leads? To actually sell products or services?
Is it enough for your website to showcase your products and services, or do you want visitors to be able to buy them directly from the site? If so, you’ll want an ecommerce website (more on that later).
When you figure out what you want your site to do for your business, you can begin building the type of site that will achieve those objectives.
3. Pick your designer
You might not be well-versed in the art of website building — and you don’t have to be. You’ve got options.
Easy DIY website builder
Site builders that we offer in our hosting plans are great if you want an attractive, easy-to-create website — fast. Simply choose a pre-designed template and then replace the text and images to meet your needs. Swipe-to-style. Mobile friendly. Simple to create and update.
Like the idea of building and updating your own website without learning HTML, but want more functionality and customization options than most easy DIY site builders offer? If you’ve got a little skill and some extra time, a content management system such as WordPress might be for you.
You can choose from myriad free or paid WordPress themes (designs for the overall style of your website). A plethora of plugins also can boost your site’s functionality.
TNT website designers
Utilizing one of our team members is a great option if you have an idea for your website, but don’t want to build it yourself. We can collaborate with you to turn your vision into a fully functional, customized website that meets your online goals.
See our web design pricing here.
Whatever path you take, you’ll want to consider these primary factors: cost, customization, complexity, time, and ongoing maintenance. A good method for making your final decision is to prioritize your most important considerations, then weigh the options against your needs.
4. Get your website found
Now it’s time to take the extra steps needed to boost your business’s visibility online.
What is SEO?
Enter search engine optimization, fondly known as SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO): the process of refining a website to get higher search engine rankings and organic visitors to your site, without paying for search engine placement.
Imagine you’re a chef who’s spent a week perfecting a new recipe. If you don’t get it on the menu, it’s going to collect dust back in the kitchen because most of your customers aren’t going to know about it. It’s the same way with your website — you’ve cooked up all this amazing content, and you want search engines like Google and Bing to serve it up to potential customers in their search results pages.
Unlike paid listings — advertisements that display in sponsored areas — organic search results are “free” and based on, among other things, the site’s content and how closely it matches the keywords being searched.
How does SEO work (in a nutshell)?
After you (or your website guru) does the website backend stuff needed to attract the attention of the search engine bots (like connecting the site to Google Search Console), search engines know that your site exists. They scan it, index the information, and analyze the website’s content to determine how and where your website’s content should display on search engine results pages (SERPs).
While each search engine has its own set of ranking criteria, they all look at these same basic but key elements:
Relevant page content. Focus on content that meets the needs your target customers are searching for.
Keywords. Do some research to discover what select words and phrases people use to search for your type of business. Sprinkle these keywords throughout the content on your website.
Meta tags. These are HTML tags that contain info to help search engines know what your site’s about. They help describe your website in search engine results.
Website navigation. This covers all the links on your site and how visitors navigate from page to page. Like visitors, search engines rely on good navigation to get around your site.
Sitemap. A sitemap is essentially a map or directory of all the pages in your website. It guides search engines throughout your site with the names and locations of pages. Learn more about sitemaps.
Link building. Search engines use both internal links and backlinks to rank your site. You create an internal link by linking from a keyword or sentence on one page of your website to another page on your site. Even more important for search ranking are backlinks — links from other websites that point to your site.
Image optimization. This one’s got its own section. Keep reading to learn how to get SEO juice with the images on your website.
5. Connect with customers on social media
Establishing a business presence on the social networks where your customers and prospects spend their time is sort of like setting up a booth at the world’s largest virtual trade show. You can bet your competitors are there, vying for the attention of all those potential customers with flashy banners and giveaways. There’s a crowd gathered around the booth playing a funny video and the vendor live-streaming a makeup demo.
How social media can help your business
Why is social media so important for businesses today, and more importantly, how can you get in on that action?
Build relationships. By developing a following on popular social media sites, you can connect with your customers and prospects and share content with large numbers of people. Social makes it easy to target specific customer questions or issues, while making the same information available to all existing and potential customers.
Build your brand. Social media gives you the opportunity to share valuable information about your business and showcase your personality.
Drive traffic to your website. Including a link back to your website in interesting social posts can generate serious traffic.
Establish expertise. Share your knowledge and experience to build credibility as an industry thought leader.
Make sales. Ultimately, these activities — connections, brand building, driving traffic, establishing expertise — all lead to the same place: sales.
Establishing and maintaining a strong social presence for your business definitely requires a commitment of your time, but the benefits make that investment worthwhile. By getting social, you will continue to build credibility, raise brand awareness, and, especially, engage with current and potential customers.
6.Use your website + email to generate leads
How to collect email addresses
Your website is a powerful tool for collecting email contact info from people who are interested in what you have to offer (just be sure you adhere to GDPR guidelines).
Here’s how you can collect email addresses and other contact info on your website:
Include a contact form. Visitors will fill out the form on your site because they have a question, need information, or want you to contact them. It’s where they go to connect directly with you.
Add a sign-up form for visitors to receive information about products and services, updates, discounts, etc.
Include an email opt-in box on your checkout page (for ecommerce sites).
Give a special offer for joining the email list.
Start with email marketing
Now that you’ve got all those email addresses, what are you going to do with them? How about reaching out to those customers and prospects through a branded, professional-looking email campaign that’s brimming with value for its recipients?
After all, they’ve opted in to receive your email correspondence. It can build brand awareness and loyalty.
Email marketing best practices
You want to send business emails that make it past spam filters, stand out, and entice recipients to open and click. With that in mind:
Only send email marketing campaigns to people who have signed up for or requested them. Look for email marketing programs with opt-in buttons or sign-up forms to help build permission-based contact lists.
Stick to a schedule. Test different days and times to see which combination has the best open rate (the number of list subscribers who opened the email message, a percentage of the total number of emails sent). Be consistent.
Only include requested subject matter. Deliver the kind of information your contacts signed up for, and you’ll build credibility and trust. Send them a newsletter about party planning when they signed up for plumbing tips, and you’ll probably lose a subscriber.
Create interest groups. Placing your contacts in different groups based on their interests or preferences to market more effectively.
Avoid spam and trash folders. To prevent triggering spam filters, avoid using all caps or multiple exclamation marks in the subject line or body of your email.
Give reading options. Send both HTML and plain text versions of your newsletter so all of your contacts can read your message on their computer or mobile device.
Put a name to your email. Use your personal name or the name of your business as the From or Sender name.
Keep building your contact list. Add calls-to-action and sign-up forms to your website and social media profiles, and collect contact information in person at events or conferences.