Last updated on March 26th, 2020 by Chris Griffin

Technology evolves at a breakneck pace, offering businesses as much promise as it creates confusion. But as businesses pivot to make their services available online in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, entrepreneurs that are looking at how to build an online business would be wise to step back and pay close attention to the digital basics.

97% of people learn about small businesses online. Even if you don’t sell anything on the internet, your digital presence needs to be an extension of your business. You wouldn’t want to run into a customer on a Friday night if you were inebriated and disheveled. You shouldn’t let your customers see a clunky website and a Gmail address listed for contact. 

With 70% of businesses failing in their first year, new businesses can’t rely on word of mouth to attract customers. You need to establish trust and credibility with customers, and attract them with a mobile-friendly website and an active social media presence.

If you haven’t started building an online business because you fear it will be a time-consuming and expensive burden, now is the time to realize you can’t afford to ignore the internet. Building a professional digital presence is not nearly as hard or as pricey as it used to be. And if done correctly, it can put your small business on a level playing field with its biggest competitors in the digital economy.

In this blog, we’ll run through the steps for starting an online business and take a close look at the little details that make or break a digital presence. The good news is that most of these are quick wins for your business. Plus, you already figured out how to start a business from nothing, how hard could getting it online really be? Start by checking off these boxes, and cement your business as a professional digital entity.

Website

The amount of businesses that still have websites that take forever to load and are not responsive to mobile devices is shocking. Your site tells customers who you are, what you offer, and where to find you. Keeping it up-to-date and operating properly shows that you care about your brand and are invested in it. 

You need to stay on top of page load speeds, broken links, and the look and feel of your site. Anything that inconveniences a visitor needs to be addressed. 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website’s performance say they’re less likely to buy from the same site again. 

Email

gmail, business email

The business needs of email are obvious –– messaging your employees, networking, transferring files, and communicating with customers. But what’s less obvious is the impact your email address has on your credibility. 58% of customers said they would not be comfortable sharing credit card information with a business that was not using a real business email address. Think about your own habits as a consumer. Would you be more likely to open an email from bobsmith@acmeaccounting.com or bobsmithacmeaccounting@gmail.com?

If you want to be perceived as a business, not just someone with a Gmail account, get an email address that uses your website’s domain. It’s the easiest thing you can do for your brand’s reputation. Even if you don’t already have a website for your business, a service like Titan will help you create a custom domain and get up and running on business email in a matter of minutes.

email scams COVID-19 Email Scams Are Exploding: Are You Scaring off Customers?

Social Media

You’ve heard the embarrassing brand social media stories, but having no social story at all is equally as damaging. Social media success means different things to different businesses, but one thing is clear, you have to be present and active. You don’t have to break the internet, but you do have to accept the fact that consumers are looking for your business on social media. And they don’t just check your accounts. They look at what others are saying about your products and services.

No social presence tells people that no one cares about your company or that you were too cheap to hire someone to manage your social networks. The good news is that establishing even a minimal social presence really only requires time. There are plenty of small businesses who have built big brands online. For inspiration, check out Hotcards, Bow Market, Folly Theater, and Burger Revolution.

Start with Facebook, make a commitment to build your network, and start engaging in real conversations with your customers in the New Year.

titan-business-email-credibility-survey New Customer Data: Your Business Email Address Matters

Content

Getting leads and attracting attention online is tough for any business. It’s tough for Titan and we’re a SaaS company with considerable marketing resources. It’s even tougher for small, local businesses. So, how can you climb the Google rankings without paying for it? Start a blog.

Blogging is the easiest way to build brand awareness and attract customers from Google. Google favors sites that are fresh and provide relevant content to its users. With a consistent blog, you can promote your business in a way that provides real value to your customers. 

Don’t be intimidated by blogging. You started a business because you’re passionate about the product or service you’re providing. Share that passion with your customers by writing blogs that relate to their pain points and elevate your vision of a better world for them. 

It can be easy to dismiss blogging as a waste of time because the impact isn’t typically instant. But it works. After all, you’re reading this blog, right?

Reviews

Yep, the things that are said about your business on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Facebook will still matter in 2020. Of course, no one wants negative reviews, but just like social media, having nothing said about you is just as bad as getting bashed. Finding little to no information on a business tells customers that it’s either just getting off the ground or that no one cares about it. If no one is reviewing your company, reach out to some of your best customers and ask them to help you out. The benefit to your brand is worth a few hundred bucks in Amazon gift cards.

If people are reviewing your company, and the reviews aren’t glowing, taking the time to respond will help both you and the customer. According to Harvard Business Review, when businesses respond to customer reviews, their ratings on review sites increase. 

There are plenty of resources and templates available for crafting responses to negative reviews, but as a rule of thumb, don’t immediately react. A negative review of a business can trigger a negative reaction from an owner. Assess the feedback and when you’re ready to reply, show empathy and offer a way to make it right to the customer.

Build Your Online Business

By punting on your digital presence, you’re punting on growth. Small businesses need to reach customers online. If they can do it in a way that conveys credibility, they can let their products and services be the market differentiators.

Don’t go crazy figuring out how to build an online business. Follow the basics in this blog and start with an easy win, like getting branded email addresses for you and your team.

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Originally published 26th March 2020 07:00:00am, last updated on March 26th, 2020

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