Built it and they haven’t come? 4 Things You Need to Know to Widen Your Customer Search Online

There’s clearly nothing worse than having a beautiful website that no one can find.  Richard Stevenson from 1&1 Internet, Europe’s largest domain name registrar, explains how to capture more clicks and convert more into useful leads for your business.

shutterstock_193745936One of the most famous quotes in movie history proclaimed: “If you build it, they will come”. While for an Iowa corn farmer in the 1990s this may have served as an ideal business model, unfortunately this old adage no longer holds true in today’s ultra-competitive business landscape – especially when customers increasingly prefer to discover products and services online rather than trudging down the high street.

While many savvy small and medium businesses understand the importance of having an online presence, and have a website to attract and engage customers online, many can struggle with the next step – expanding their online audience and converting customer interest into sales.

To help, we’ve put together our top tips for widening your customer net,

Unlock the value of multiple domain names

A small business that has created a place on the web to call home and registered its domain name may consider their job done in terms of establishing an online presence. Yet, a lot of value – and clicks – can be unearthed in registering multiple domain names, especially by registering domains names with similar spellings of a company name. For example, if an SMB operates under the domain BritishPetToys.com, it could also register BritishPetToy.com, or BritishPetToys.net,  and direct traffic from those site to its  main URL. This helps to capture and direct traffic from the misspelled websites to the intended site.

Be savvy about social media

Over one billion people use social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as e-commerce websites like amazon.com and ebay.com. Redirecting your website to your company’s social media or e-commerce site is a great way to bolster your businesses online presence. This straightforward technique involves little to no investment, is easy to set up and typically offers fast results.

As your business becomes increasingly social online, you may realise that your customers are responding more positively to pictures and videos than reams of text. According to traffic analysis firm, Chartbeat, most visitors only read about 50% of any piece of content they click on. Conversely, most will view all content delivered via videos and pictures. Small online businesses should take advantage of multimedia for maximum impact.

Today there are website packages aimed specifically at helping small businesses launch a compelling and effective website in minutes.  In particular, the latest packages from around £10/month also provide functionality for social media management.

Time pressure often means that photographers have little time to establish and execute an effective social media strategy to meet modern consumer demands.  There are no tools within website and hosting packages that can greatly simplify social media activities, with both the rapid creation of social material and the centralised and timely management of multiple channels.

All business owners today would be wise to explore solutions to enable them to satisfy social media expectations in the long term.  There is a real business value to social media when it can be done in an automated and time efficient manner.

Be listed

Being visible where consumers are searching is of paramount importance.  There are now easy and affordable turn-key tools for ensuring that your website is always within eyesight in your local area.  ListLocal tools provide a better chance to be easily and quickly found online by giving small firms the opportunity to feature their contact details instantly on online directories, search engines, apps and map services. Be sure to add your important company details into leading online directories (including Google Maps, Thomson Local, Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp, TomTom, Scoot and newspaper directories such as Mirror Online and Independent Online).

Use the web to sell

Are you using your website to share information and engage with consumers, but not to sell? Don’t miss out on the potential to turn your website into an online shop for your products or services. Making your website transactional is definitely worth considering in today’s online world. According to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013 and the internet retailing market grew by 16% over the course of the year.

If you’re preparing to start selling online, think about your overall checkout flow to ensure you’re making the experience simple, safe and secured for customers. Choose a trusted, third-party payment processor to handle the transactions and keep customers’ data secure.

Small businesses can grow and succeed online by registering multiple domain names rather than depending on one, cultivating visitors through social media and then gradually turning visitors into paying customers through e-commerce.

You need to build it, create a website name (or several), promote via social media, manage your listings comprehensively and allow people to buy from it. Then they will come.

See more similar content at Talk Retail.

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