Building an Online Brand Presence for Your Store
We live in a digital era characterized by a growing demand for customer engagement and retention. This makes having a strong online brand presence incredibly valuable, if not essential.
Think of your online presence as leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for consumers to follow, ultimately leading them to make a purchase.
Between maintaining active social media pages, a website, a blog, and an e-commerce platform, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your brand reaches its target audience.
The buyer journey is essential to consider, and with the right construct, consumers will find your brand before they know you exist. Give your audience the opportunity to learn about your brand before they buy.
In this guide, you’ll learn why your online brand presence is important, its drawbacks, how you can build one, and some of the most frequently asked questions.
Online Presence - Why Communities are Important
Creating your own community can vastly contribute to your brand’s success. But exactly why are communities important?
Here’s how you’ll use communities to enhance your online brand presence:
- Encourage universal exposure. Contributing to an online community can help your brand increase its global exposure. You can share valuable information and educate people about what you do and why you are doing it. This is how people will get to know and engage with your brand.
- Learn from others. Communities encourage you to explore and learn from the successful marketing efforts of your competitors. Pay attention to members of your online communities and use their principles when possible.
- Form strategic partnerships. You’ll find synergies between you and other members of your online communities. Approach people whose expertise complements yours and work together.
Online Brand Presence - The Good and the Bad
We now know how a community contributes to our online brand presence. But what are the advantages and disadvantages when a community grows?
Benefits of Online Communities
Simply put, business owners invest in online communities because they know the benefits of belonging to a community. Here’s some of what you can expect:
- Increased engagement with your brand. This is why we see so many business owners focusing on their online presence management. Boosts in engagement can increase targeted web traffic.
- Better communication between followers. Your audience may need help. With an online community, members can provide support to one another.
- Increased sales and brand awareness. Online communities can offer useful information and timely updates. As your community members become aware of your brand, your sales can increase.
- Increased sign-ups to loyalty programs. As you reach more members of your target audience, you’ll find more people interested in participating in your brand’s loyalty programs.
Drawbacks of Online Communities
While beneficial for business owners, online communities come with a set of drawbacks that can discourage people from creating them. More specifically, these can include:
- Dedicated community managers can be costly. Online presence management can be challenging to handle on your own. However, finding a qualified community manager can be even more challenging and pretty costly.
- Keeping engagement high can be a full-time job. You’ll need to feed your community to keep it growing. This means offering compelling, relevant content and encouraging your community to discuss it.
- Executing can be time-intensive. If you manage your online community, you’ll need to plan accordingly. Whether developing content on your own, managing your reputation or dealing with negative comments fast, these efforts can be demanding.
- Not addressing issues can hurt your brand’s reputation. While you’re giving your fans a platform, it’s also possible that a few highly vocal upset customers could speak negatively about your brand and damage your company’s reputation.
How to Start Building Your Online Presence
Before investing your time developing an online presence, you should first determine the best route for your brand. Choosing the right platform to reach your target audience and creating the right plan will contribute to your success as you become established.
But where should you begin if you don’t currently have an online presence? Here are some steps you can take:
- Start many social media channels (depending on what your audience prefers) and track them to see which performs best. Social media is not only free; it’s simple and easy to maintain. On the other hand, algorithm changes on platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be problematic. While you don’t have much control over the design aspect on these platforms, you can still gain valuable insight without a large investment.
- If you haven’t created a website yet, do so. Operating an e-commerce store usually means developing a site. WordPress is one of the most common platforms to build these websites. It offers complete control over the design and functionality of your website, and it’s versatile. You can build an online store, post blogs and content, build an affiliate site, create a portfolio website; the options are endless. Keep in mind, this route can be expensive to maintain, especially if you don’t have technical expertise. If you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t require technical know-how, Wix and Shopify are great options.
- Work on your SEO and SEA. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA) can come in handy while establishing an online presence. Both strategies involve writing quality content. But some key differences set them apart from one another. SEO activities help your website appear higher in the organic results of search engines. SEA focuses more on paid advertising (Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc.).
- Reward your community with giveaways. You can use online competitions to encourage your community to spread your brand’s online presence. Such competition can be created in a custom fashion or by using third parties to assist you with the process. Gleam.io, is used by many big companies, including HubSpot, and makes a great option if you are just starting out.
- If possible, implement some influencer marketing as well. Influencer marketing is extremely powerful, with many fashion retailers successfully incorporating it into their strategies. Since more than 80 percent of consumers claim they make purchase decisions based on social media recommendations, your customers can be better influencers than celebrities. Zappos has been using its customers as influencers, conducting research to identify and source bloggers and influencers representative of their brand. They find quirky, fun, upbeat, and stylish influencers to produce content that shows off Zappos’ products. These influencer campaigns can be used to build your online brand presence too.
Building an online presence is more crucial than ever before. With the world shifting towards digital experiences, it is important to make it easy for consumers to find your business online.
To summarize, keep in mind that:
- Online communities encourage universal exposure and allow you to learn from others while also helping you form strategic partnerships.
- Establishing an online community can increase your brand’s engagement, improve communication between your followers, boost sales and brand awareness, and increase your loyalty program sign-ups.
- While the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, creating a community can come with a set of challenges, including potential costs, the time it takes to maintain engagement and execute your plan, and the need to respond to issues that could impact your brand’s reputation.
- You can build your online presence across multiple platforms using many different channels. When doing so, track everything you do to see which platforms are worth focusing on and investing in the long-term.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any more questions with regards to the development of an online presence, make sure you check the following Q&A.
Are there any benefits of not being on social media?
While the benefits of online presence are significant, avoiding social media as a business owner comes with many pros too. For starters, social media is time-intensive. There’s no guarantee that this investment will actually pay off.
Keeping up with trends is also challenging. Since they tend to change in the blink of an eye, it’s essential to stay updated on all industry trends to base your social media content. This, of course, demands time and energy, which is why some people hire virtual assistants to handle social media management.
Without social media, you have more time and money to invest in other aspects of your marketing campaigns. For example, flyer distribution to gain some traction locally.
If you’re not on social media, you can also spend more time on other platforms. For instance, Google pay-per-click marketing has successfully driven traffic to many websites.
Social media dependency can be detrimental to your business too. If you avoid using it, you can bypass negative publicity and have more control over your business’s narrative. The energy you would have spent responding to critics could then be spent on building up your reputation with content for your site.
What are the top 10 benefits of social media marketing?
Network marketing and social media come with a host of benefits, including:
- Improved engagement
- Increased inbound traffic
- Access to an international market
- Better customer service and satisfaction
- Track your competition
- Improved search engine rankings
- Higher conversion rates
- Better brand loyalty
- Cost-effective approach to marketing
- Opportunity for thought leadership