• What To Consider When Launching Your Online Presence

    Launching and building your online presence may seem daunting and confusing if you’re not a technical business owner. (Don’t worry, you’d definitely fall into the majority if you’re in that category.) The task probably seems even less appealing if you’ve been left to manage it all yourself in the past, as if you have the time and expertise to maintain your website, manage your online presence, and learn SEO trends—while, of course, simultaneously running your own business.

    Truthfully, there are a lot of moving parts you’ve got to do to keep your online presence moving in the right direction. The good news is, with an experienced team on your side, the process can actually be quite manageable — pleasurable even. So, if you’re looking to “take the plunge”, consider these five things to gain an edge and get ahead!

    What are your website’s objectives/goals?

    One of the first things you should be asking yourself when looking to build your online presence is, “what is the intended goal of my website?” This is important not only for you, but more so, for your designer. Without this information, your designer will simply be designing “in the dark” (i.e. designing without a plan). This is less ideal for you, to say the last, and certainly not ideal for your business’s bottom line. So, before you go any further, take some time to figure out what you want to get from your website. Or, more fittingly, what your website can do for you—whether that be marketing your brick-and-mortar business, selling your products online, or adding to your newsletter readership.

    Where are your customers hanging out?

    If you’re just now getting your business online, chances are, you haven’t thought much about what sort of social outreach you’re going to implement to engage with your customers. And that’s okay. Now’s the perfect time to start! The best way to figure out how best to reach your potential customers is to first figure out where they’re hanging out already. For instance, let’s say you own an organic smoothie shop, who’s target customer is between the ages of 18 and 35. In that case, creating visually-stimulating Instagram posts that offer insights into the ingredients of your product would probably catch their attention. Or, if you’re a bike shop in Tampa, FL, writing a guest blog for TampaBikeRiders.org may be your best bet. The bottom line is, if you want to reach your ideal customers, you’ve got to go where they can already be found.

    Have you setup your core social media accounts?

    For Heaven’s sake, don’t deny the glory of social media! At Site Assembly, we’ve seen too many businesses turn down our social media services, and yet neglect to handle the task themselves. This is a detrimental mistake. Your customers want to interact with you; by all means give them what they want.

    Setting up a Facebook business Page and optimizing your Google+ business profile, for instance, can help kickstart your social media presence, and get the ball rolling. After you’re up-and-running, follow these steps to create engaging posts and boost your social media footprint.

    How will potential customers engage with your business online?

    This sort of falls in line with the first couple points, but also expands on them. Creating a strategy where your potential and existing customers can interact with you and your business is vital to creating a strong client base who will return many times in the future. Making it as seamless and easy for them to interact with your business is key to your online success. Some ways you can do this would be, integrating a Live Chat service in to your website, maintaining a strong social media presence, responding to online reviews quickly and sufficiently, or writing detailed blog posts aimed at increasing online interactions.

    What is your budget?

    Let’s not forget about the almighty budget: The dictator over all financial decisions, small or large. Whether your budget is $1,000 or $10,000, determining how best to spend your dollars, and how to maximize your ROI, is of utmost importance. Before you start building your online presence, your budget should be clearly defined and your intended goals set. Once you’ve got that much figured out, the rest will come much easier.

  • 5 Online Tools Every Small Business Should Be Using

    *Disclaimer: I, nor Site Assembly, have a vested interest, or financial stake, in any of the below-listed websites or services.

    If you want to get ahead as a business owner today, you must adopt new technologies, utilize available resources and learn things you may not have had to learn as a business owner in years past. To maximize adoptability, many of the services and resources mentioned in this article are not only free, but extremely easy to learn and use. So easy, in fact, that millions of business owners just like you have already started using them. Of course, these services aren’t going to be of much help if you don’t already have a

    Email Campaign Manager

    Mailchimp and Constant Contact are two of the most widely-adopted email management platforms on the web. However, it doesn’t matter which email management software you choose, only that you use one. Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer clean, easy-to-navigate user interfaces, as well as built-in email template generators and email tracking features. Mailchimp’s free plan provides more than enough functionality to run email promotions, collect customer information, send out weekly newsletters, and track important analytics.

    Live Chat Integration

    Today, the philosophical concept of “customer service” has more-or-less transformed into “client concierge”. i.e. Instead of having a single point-of-contact for your customers to reach you, it’s now important to have and maintain several at a time. One way you can expand your customer service experience is by integrating a simple live chat service in to your website. By doing so, you can communicate with potential customers, generate new sales, track online conversions and garner valuable feedback. Both Live Chat and ClickDesk—among others—provide a free, basic plan to get started.

    WordPress (for blogging)

    Here at Site Assembly, we’ve used dozens of publishing platforms and content management systems (CMS) to manage our client’s publications. Still, many business owners do not understand the benefits of blogging. If you’re a small- or medium-sized business and you’re not blogging, it’s time to start! Out of the hundreds of platforms that allow you to blog without a huge learning curve, we feel WordPress is the best! WordPress is always free, easy to setup, and has a seemingly endless network of online resources to connect with other bloggers, find relevant answers, purchase additional extensions, and watch tutorials.

    Facebook Business Pages

    Social networking is a tired term, but one that certainly hasn’t lost it’s meaning. As a business owner, it’s your job to connect with your fans and clients, and engage with them in new and creative ways. Thankfully, the world’s largest social networking platform offers a simple way to do just that. By setting up a Facebook Business Page you can connect with your fans and followers, run promotions, boost your online presence and keep your clients talking. Setting up a Business Page on Facebook is super simple and only takes a couple of minutes to get started!

    Google Analytics

    At Site Assembly, we integrate Google Analytics into every web page for each website we build. Why? Because it’s necessary to understand how your site visitors are using and interacting with your website, and what can be done to optimize their site experience. Google Analytics offers an inside glimpse into important website-related data such as page hits, site visits, demographical information, and other important statistics that can help business owners decide if new features should be implemented, and how to get more visitors to their website.