Hello all, following on from last week I hope you haven’t upped sticks and moved and I will have an audience for this week’s installment – How your surroundings can affect you from an online business perspective.

Offline and online businesses, although one is in the real world and the other in the virtual world, still share the same goals and a lot of the same planning and execution of marketing.  Despite not literally being placed out in the open, an online business still has to think of the high street as a competitor as they can offer an entirely different experience to your “shop” which could be located anywhere from someone’s home, place of work or even on public transport.  If you can’t compete with a face-to-face meet and greet and personal shopper experience then how can you take advantage of your surroundings to offer a smooth and progressive customer experience?

Take a look around you.  How much technology is within sight or reach?  For me, I have my phone next to my right hand, my ipad to my left and I am on my computer, so you might say that I am surrounded by technology.  And I can guarantee that if this is the case for me then it will also be the case for many others out there.  In order for you to fit in with and use your surroundings to your advantage you need to be compatible with all forms of technology.   When recently trying to perform a function on my phone (purchasing shoes, I admit it) I was forced to give up as it was simply too fiddly a process on such a small screen.  The site I had visited shall remain nameless but the point is that it was not compatible with my phone and therefore ran the risk of me abandoning my purchase and going elsewhere.  As it was I completed my purchase when I got home from the comfort of my sofa on my laptop and all was well even if I did have to wait…

That’s another thing that you as an online business have in your favour, you have the ability to tap into a consumer’s frame of mind when they are primed and ready to shop. Customers who shop online may do it for many reasons, time factor, from either end of the scale, being a big one. Too little time and they will want clear and concise direction as they are purposefully out to spend, a lot of time and they will welcome suggestions and are more open to add on purchases.  This is your equivalent of the face-to-face customer service I was talking about earlier … but only if your site is navigational on their chosen device!

And much like the accommodation your customers expect to have when choosing a device to visit you from, they will also expect a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to communication, especially in this, the virtual generation.  Communication channels are in abundance now with the front runners still seeming to be Facebook and Twitter (which are most commonly accessed by phone and ipad might I add relating back to device compatibility).  These two channels are great for businesses to communicate with their product consumers on a personal level and even in some instances a business level too.  They also can speak volumes about your business reputability with regular updates, carefully selected content and influential followers or friends.  But if you are a B2B business then perhaps some other options are better for you.  Social media sites are not the only channels surrounding business communication, networking sites like LinkedIn and business community “hangouts” are another way to capitalise on the nation’s love of modern technology and lack of time, so go networking virtually with the aim of getting people to visit your (device friendly) website and ultimately your product/service range.

But even the good old website is not safe from competitors encroaching on its territory despite the carefully selected domain name (which ideally should be your business name or extremely relevant to what you do) which is your private space.  No, you are surrounded by search terms that float about like lottery balls with only a couple being the key to a big win – i.e. maximum traffic.

Unique customers bring with them unique search terms, so you need to not only incorporate key words and phrases into your content but also your tags and metadata. I am what I call an ‘obscure searcher’ as I tend to type exactly what I’m looking for, rather than keywords, which can end up as a rather lengthy search term.  Use tools available to you such as Google Adwords (which is free) to get a better handle on what is being searched for and help boost your ranking.

If you want to know more about making your website navigational on different devices and how to tailor the content to suit the platform then just give us a shout – we think of this kind of thing as fun!

Next week I will look at how to compile a great marketing email.

Simple online business influencers
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