According to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics, the average weekly spend online increased by 21.3% in December 2016 when compared to December 2015, showing that online shopping continues to grow. However, it’s not only potential e-commerce opportunities being online can open – there are many other benefits that getting online can provide for small businesses.
If you have a burning question about how to get online, from getting a professional email address to how much you’ll need to invest, we’ll be answering your questions in a live Twitter Q&A with Do It Digital on 16th February between 11am and 12pm. Join us by asking your questions with the #askdotuk.
Until then, read on in this post as we look at the main four questions to getting online; why, who, when and how.
Why Get Online?
Having an online presence allows you to be visible to customers who are looking for local businesses – as the majority of shopping journeys begin on Google, not having a website puts you at a serious disadvantage. Customers may also be looking for specific information about your business – opening hours, location, reviews – and without an online presence that you own, this information may be unavailable or worse, incorrect. The other online opportunity is e-commerce; by making your products available to buy online you’ll be opening a whole new gateway for increased revenue.
We’re also seeing an increasing connection between online and offline buying as customers seek the convenience of online buying with the personal touch they often receive in-store. Small businesses can utilise what they learn about their customers online to fuel offline tactics and offer a better, more personalised in-store experience. Alongside this, you can learn some really useful insights into your customers – for example their age, gender, where they live and what device they’re viewing your website on.
Who Can Get Online?
In short, the answer is everyone! Although it’s tempting to think you’re covered by having a social media page, all small businesses can benefit from having a website, which is a crucial tool.
Businesses in all industries can benefit by getting online and websites can be adapted to best suit your business plan and goals. You can still showcase your whole product range in an online brochure even if they are purchased offline or set up a Click-and-Collect service where customers can reserve items online to be collected in-store. Or, if you have an extensive knowledge of your industry, you could share this through a blog on your website. However you use a website for your business you’ll be opening up opportunities to be seen by new customers who may be actively searching for your products or services.
It’s not just businesses who can benefit from being online, creating an online presence can also open up opportunities for individuals too. From providing a platform where you can write about your passion in a blog to widening your career prospects with an online CV or portfolio, individuals have many reasons to get themselves online.
When Should You Get Online?
Although getting online is quicker and easier than most people think, it’s still important to set aside some time for the process – perhaps if you have a month where business quietens down slightly. You’ll need to schedule time to plan some key areas, for example, defining what you want your website to do; will it be e-commerce or need a blog section? You’ll also need to do some research and check whether your preferred domain name is free and perhaps find a trusted web partner if you want to add some more technical features to your site.
In this process, it’s also important to remember that your website will need maintaining and updating regularly after it’s gone live. If you have a blog, you’ll need to be adding new content on a regular basis, and if you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, you’ll need to ensure the software is kept up-to-date. How will this fit into your schedule and who will be responsible for making updates? These are all key questions you’ll need to ask yourself and plan in advance to ensure you’re ready to start getting online.
How Can You Get Online?
Generally, there are five essential steps to getting online:
1. Secure the best domain name for your website.
2. Choose a hosting package that suits your needs.
3. Make sure your website is clear and simple, and ensure it is optimised for mobile devices.
4. Drive traffic to your website from search engines and social media.
5. Secure your website against cyber and security threats.
If you have a question about how you can get online, or on any part of your business’s online presence, join us and Do It Digital in our live Twitter Q&A on 16th February 11am-12pm – Simply ask your questions using the following hashtag #askdotuk.