Five options for getting your business online
Getting your business online
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When it’s time to get your business online, your first idea may be to build a website. While a website can be quite effective for your online presence, it’s not the only option. In this lesson, we’ll share the benefits of launching a website and four more ways to build a digital home for your business: local listings on Google and review sites, social media, mobile apps, and YouTube.
Options for getting online
There are four strong options for building a business presence online:
- Websites are a common way to put a business online. On your site, you can feature your business products and services, post videos and images, share the story of your company, sell things using e-commerce tools, and make it easy for customers to contact you and post reviews. Learn more about getting started with a website and getting started with e-commerce.
- Google Search and Maps listings can help you get new local customers. Customers find you when searching for nearby businesses like yours or seeking a particular product or service. Setting up a Business Profile on Google is an easy, free way to help customers discover your business on Search and Maps. You can include info on your business, your hours, phone number, address, images and customer reviews. Adding your business to Google is especially useful for businesses that operate in a specific location such as a storefront. Learn more about getting started with Google My Business.
- Social media platforms allow two-way interactions that can help your business get discovered by new customers and build trust with existing customers. These platforms complement your other online homes by letting you post timely updates and interact with customers. You can encourage people to share your posts with others and read their comments to learn about their needs. It’s easy to set up social media accounts, but be prepared to invest some time in creating fresh, compelling content and responding to customer comments. Learn more about getting started with social media.
- Mobile apps help you connect with customers nearby using GPS, enable customers to place orders, and let you share special offers and loyalty perks. Launching a mobile app is more complex than the other options, so weigh this option carefully against your available time and budget.
Bonus: Harness the power of video with YouTube
Video might not spring to mind as the easiest way to get your business online, but it’s now easier than ever to use video to promote your business.
Every business has a story to tell, and YouTube gives you a free brand channel where you can inform, inspire, and entertain customers. Since people turn to YouTube when they want to learn about or discover something new, it’s a great way to reach new customers or motivate existing ones to make a purchase.
To build your YouTube channel, first add your logo, business name, and a landing page banner. Next, create one or more videos that introduce your business and explain who you are, what you do, and what makes your business special. You can also invite collaborators from your company to upload videos and manage content, making it a team effort. Videos don’t need to be time-consuming or expensive to produce, either. Many businesses create successful YouTube channels with smartphone videos.
Picking your online presence
To decide how to launch your business online, start by considering what you want customers to do:
- Shop online: When you want customers to purchase products, try a website that gives you an online store, called e-commerce. Add a mobile app, if that makes sense for your brand.
- Visit your store in person: To encourage customers to stop by, try a business listing on Google Search and Maps so they find you and know when you’re open.
- Build a relationship: If you want customers to have discussions and give feedback, try adding social media or YouTube to your online mix.
Also, think about how you prefer to engage online as a customer yourself — by visiting a company’s website? Finding their info via search or their local online listing? Or discovering their content on social media or YouTube? Consider what works best for your type of business, and your type of customer.
Creating an online presence for your business can help you find new customers and engage with your existing customers to make more purchases. Decide how you want to build your business online, and then visit our other lessons to learn more so you can get started.