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Critical Aspects Of An Online Presence

Monday 23 January, 2012
With so much going on in the online world, it's a massive challenge for business' to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to what's critical and what's just the flavour of the month. To assist in putting some priority on the different online issues, here's a list of the most critical aspects of an online presence.

Critical Aspects Of An Online PresenceWhilst this list is by no means exhaustive, it might at least add some sanity to an increasingly confounding world.

  1. Is our online presence properly integrated into our business operations?

    The days of your website and Internet marketing being a project you occasionally throw some budget at are now officially over. The Internet is a critical component of - not only your Marketing and Communications - but your operations as well, as all staff, suppliers and customers use it (ideally) to streamline day-to-day aspects of your business.

    As a result, businesses need to allocate ongoing resources to the maintenance, monitoring and improvement of their online presence, in much the same way you would get a bookkeeper in to do the books every month.
  2. Where are we on Google and other search engines?

    Do you know how prominent your business is on the search engines for search terms that are pertinent to you? If not, wander over to Google and do a search for these four terms:

    1. Your business name
    2. Your line of business in your location (for example, "Architect Carlton")
    3. Your line of business 
    4. A niche brand, product or service you offer (for example "Environmental Architect")

    How did you fare? If you were nowhere to be found, you may well need to invest in some Search Engine Optimisation or Search Engine Advertising - or even both. If your line of business is too competitive, come up with alternative strategies to counter your poor search engine position.
  3. Is your website professional enough?

    Any investment is Search Engine Marketing - or indeed any promotional technique at all - will come to nought if the website they land at is repelling in any way. For example, it may have technical issues, like slow download speeds or broken links or if built in Flash, it may not appear at all in some browsers. It may have design issues in that it looks ugly or is poorly laid out, poorly written, has poor "calls to action", etc. - the list goes on.

    If you need some guidance in terms of what is acceptable, simply visit the websites of at least four of the market leaders and see what they are offering.
  4. Are we making the most of email marketing?

    Email provides the first opportunity in promotional history to broadcast to up to thousands of customers or prospects without any charge whatsoever - save for some essential and low cost tools.

    If you're not taking advantage of it, you should work out why not and do something about it.  
  5. Is Social Networking a friend or foe?

    It's one of the biggest communication developments in our lifetimes - yet only some businesses can exploit it to their advantage. Why? Because it takes considerable time and/or money to gain any real business benefit. In a perverse way, it's a bit like television advertising - only a relative few can afford to do it properly.

    Then there are issues with staff use and abuse ... The reality for many businesses, is that having an effective presence on Social Networks is simply too hard. But simply ignoring it is something you cannot do. Explore it and if needed, get good impartial advice.
  6. Am I spending too much on superseded promotional techniques?

    Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, you would be well aware that the promotional landscape has transformed in the last decade like no other before it. Before then, Yellow Pages, Local Papers and Direct Mail dominated the promotional landscape. Nowadays, Search Engines, Volume Deals and Social Networking are amongst those that rule the roost. Has your promotional mix adjusted accordingly?
  7. Am I engaging the right supplier(s)?

    Like the promotional techniques themselves, the suppliers who provide them have also changed. Even if you do have a preferred Internet professional, do they have a good balance of technical, creative, marketing, usability and maintainability skills - or are they strictly a one-trick pony?

    If in doubt, there are plenty of providers who will give you a second or even third opinion.

It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day running of your business. Set aside some time for proper planning and preparation and you'll reap the rewards.

Author Credits

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. Please visit our website at www.theeteam.com.au for more information.
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