Steps to establishing an online presence:
Obtain a Domain Name
Your website will be made with a series of files and these files will need to be stored somewhere. Though you can do this on your own computer, generally, it is much easier to store them on another company’s servers through a hosting service. Moreover, most hosting services will be able to register a unique domain name for you. Though we cannot endorse any of the following for-profit sites, some reputable hosting services are Register, GoDaddy, OnlyDomains, and eNom. These services have different customer service policies and prices so make sure to choose the one that works best for your business. When choosing a domain name, make sure to keep it professional, readable, and short. In addition, try to select a common Top-level Domain (the letters following the dot) such as “.com” or “.net”.
A basic website is pretty easy to set up. Many of the paid hosting services listed above provide users with tools to create their own website, however, there are also many free sites, such as wix or Weebly, that can be used to set up a website. Once you have a website, it’s vital that it can actually be found by search engines. To do this, you need to look at the search engine optimization (SEO) for your website. It’s important to monitor the information on your website and make sure it’s current and correct. The more current your website, the higher your SEO will be. For more information on SEO, see Google's Guide to SEO.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep in touch with customers. Compared to direct mail, email marketing is cheaper and elicits far greater response rates. In addition, when customers sign up for your email newsletter, they provide you with demographic information that is helpful for market research. Email newsletters should include plenty of graphics and color. They should also provide incentives to consumers, such as helpful tips, informative content, or early notification of special offers or campaigns. Consider using a company branded email address like firstname.lastname@example.org as consumers trust company branded emails more than those that use a generic email account such as Yahoo or Gmail.
Having a presence on social media allows customers, potential customers, and other interested parties to engage easily via a channel that plays an important role in their everyday lives. Widely used sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are great places to post news, tips, photos, and videos as well as asking and answering questions. Other social media sites that could be utilized are Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and FourSquare. It is important to research these sites and make sure that they will work for your business and enable you to reach your target market. Promoting your business through social media is also a great way to gain more subscribers to email newsletters.
View the following resources for further information on establishing an online presence.