Online Branding – Brand Yourself or Business Online
These days everyone is talking about online branding, social media branding and digital marketing but what exactly is this hype all about? Well online branding is not much different from traditional forms of branding, it is about creating an identity and getting exposure for your business or audience. The difference with online branding is that you are using the internet as your platform to brand yourself or business. Online branding is nothing new but with new innovative internet platforms like social media, blogs, Apps, and ever-growing internet users it has become popular. Online branding is one of the easiest, cost effective and reliable ways to build your business identity if done right. Locally, in South Africa 2016 statistics show that there were at least 26 million active internet users, 13 million social media users and the average time spent on the internet via a computer is more than 4 hours according to We Social Report link.
The importance of online branding
The need for online branding is increasingly becoming necessary for businesses because our tech savvy society, where it is likely that the first contact your customers will make with your business will be online. Your brand online should represent your company values and customer promises, who are you? What do you do? Why you do what you? Essentially it should tell your story.
With so many businesses online and millions of people browsing the net, you should distinguish yourself by spending time on your online identity. Even something as simple as setting up a website and social media pages can mean winning or losing new potential customers, remember the old expression that first impressions count? Well it also applies to your online image. Imagine going to meet a new business client wearing flops and shorts, what would the client think? Even if your business is good you can lose clients simply because of your image and how you represent your business.
How to brand yourself or your business online
Now I am going to list a few simple things you can implement to boost your online brand and image. However, I would recommend you speak to a digital marketing consultant so they can advise you according to your needs.
- Research your audience: If you have an operational business you should know this by now. Who is your ideal customer? How does he/she look like? Age, race, gender, social standing can you visualize them? Write it down and tailor your online branding around that.
- Classifieds and Directories: Yes, the old-fashioned way of marketing your business is still important for online branding. List your services on your local classifieds and business directories like yellow pages , trip advisor and any other directory relevant to your business.
- Create a website/blog: This is not rocket science and it’s also not expensive you can have a professional looking website for less than R 300 per month (check it out here link). If you want to be online you need to have website it’s that simple but be careful don’t just add another dull website make sure it looks professional. As I mentioned, creating a website is not rocket science, if you have some time you can take an online course here and learn how to create a website in less than a month. If you run a business this is not something you want to spend your time on rather give the work to a professional.
- Blogging: As I mentioned that a website is a must have for online branding, a blog is also a must have if you have a website. Blogging is about writing articles also called posts on your website to engage with your audience relating to your business or service. What you reading right now is also a blog post. The articles must be interesting or helpful so that they can generate a lot of visitors to your website. If for example you have a business selling beauty products you can write a blog post about how to take care of your hair, whenever someone wants to know how to take care of their hair they will search it on Google and it will show your blog post, when they click on the link it will lead them to your website and if they find the blog post useful they might consider buying your products. Please not that blogging is not that easy, you need to be strategic and research your information properly that’s why you might want to consider a blog manager.
- SEO: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, once you have a website or blog this will be the most important thing for you. Why do some websites appear on Google’s first page and others don’t? It’s because of SEO. There are millions of websites selling or providing the same service as you, if someone searches ‘hair products’ or “fashion bags” million results show up so how does google decide on which one to show first? It’s because of SEO, so it is important to make sure your website is optimized so that people can find your business online.
- Social media: The primary use of social media is to engage with your customers or audience. Most business people will tell you that most of their revenues come from returning customers, your business can’t survive on new customers every month that’s why social media is such a useful tool to engage with your customers so that you can retain them and also attract new customers. Social media just like blogging, it needs you to be strategic, you need to post things that are interesting and also helpful to your audience. Social media marketing can also be time consuming because it constantly needs to be maintained that’s why I would also recommend social media manager.
- Pay per Click: Services like google Adwords, Bing ads, and Facebook ads are used to generate traffic online to your business. Pay per click works like this; You advertise your business with for example Google Adwords, Google shows your ad to internet users, if they click on the ad they will be directed to your website if they don’t they don’t charge you. This is different from other forms of advertising like posters or distributing pamphlets where you can’t measure the number of leads that came through that poster. One of the advantages of advertising with Pay per click services like Google Adwords is that you can track how many people came to your website as a result of the ad.
Online branding is important today in this tech savvy generation if your business is not online you are losing potential customers every day. To find out more and get expert advice visit this page.