We at webFEAT Complete we spend most of our time obsessing over our clients’ online presence: website design, e-commerce, web hosting, search engine optimization (SEO), social media… our business is your online business.
How to Boost Online Presence
But it can be easy to forget that, for many of our clients’ customers, that online relationship often begins offline, whether at a storefront, in a newspaper, or on a billboard. Lucy Langdon, writing for Moz, explains why it’s important to make what she calls the online/offline “crossover”:
- If someone likes your brand offline, they’ll probably like it online, too. It’s a huge opportunity missed to not introduce your customers to your website.
- An online customer is much more likely to give valuable feedback on your brand than an offline one, particularly if you make it easy for them.
What’s the payoff? Langdon explains that converting an offline customer to an online customer can decrease overhead cost because online communication and services are almost always faster and cheaper.
So how can you bring your offline customers online? Here are a few ways to get started:
#1: Pick a memorable domain.
There’s a lot of thought that should go into picking your domain name. What’s available? What does it communicate about your business? How will it perform on search engines? But the fact remains that the most obvious way to get customers to your site is to have a domain that is easy to remember and easily attached to your brand name.
What makes a memorable domain? Short and catchy are always good, as well as easy to spell. You should also avoid a URL that’s too close to a competitor’s or violates a trademark. If your brand name doesn’t fit well with these criteria (if it’s a strong brand name, though, it probably does), consider making your product the focus of your domain.
Bottom-line, a short, concise domain will not only be easier to remember, but it will also be easier to print on promotional materials and advertisements.
#2: Use short or custom links.
Let’s say your domain isn’t short and sweet. Originally intended as a tool to facilitate sharing when there’s a character-limit (like on Twitter, for instance) there are a number of sites that can take a long and/or clumsy URL and shorten it to a more manageable length. In keeping with tip #1, shorter is always more memorable. Some of the more popular link-shortening sites include:
Most of these services will also allow you to customize a URL’s suffix, effectively allowing you to brand the URL any way you’d like or promote a specific event or deal.
You can usually create custom URLs for your social media properties, as well.
#3: Print your domain on everything.
Yes, every single thing you print or print on should include your domain somewhere prominent to help with your online presence. This is why it’s beneficial to have a short domain or to use shortened, customized URLs, so you can make them prominent on your printed materials without taking up all the space. Your domain should appear on any of the following items you print:
- bill summaries
- promotional items (like coffee mugs, pens, t-shirts, etc.)
- press releases
- employee business cards
- employee uniforms
- table tents
- in-store signage
- company vehicles
- advertisements (print, radio, or TV)
- direct mail
Everyone of these items presents an opportunity to tell someone offline about your presence online. If you’re trying to promote your social media sites, plaster those increasingly popular Facebook and Twitter icons (even if you don’t provide the URL to those pages) all over your print materials and store front to let your customers know they can find you there.
#4: Give them a reason to visit your site.
No matter how memorable your domain, offline customers won’t visit your site without reason to do so. Including a concise call to action with the domain is critical to help your online presence. Some examples of offline calls to action are:
- Learn more about us here: [link]
- Connect with us on Facebook/Twitter!
- Stay up-to-date on new products: [link]
- We’d love your feedback! Please review us on Yelp/Google.
With the social media and customer review sites, sometimes it’s not necessary to include the link (depending on how savvy your customers are with those sites). When in doubt, include a short URL with the call to action.
Here are some tips on how to craft an effective call to action.
#5: Use QR codes sparingly.
A QR code — a pixelated box that, when scanned with a smart phone, takes you to a webpage — is another option for directing people in the real world to the digital world. Like shortened links, QR codes are often highly customization, and there are a number of sites that will generate QR codes for you, for free: just provide the URL and out pops the box.
It’s worth saying, though, that while QR codes are still used, their popularity has diminished recently. This is probably because there isn’t a smart phone or tablet device that comes with an easy-to-use QR code scanner already installed, and therefore QR codes are only usable for those folks who’ve already downloaded a scanner app to their device.
#6: Request store-front social signage.
Most of the major social media platforms especially can provide stickers or other promotional materials for your store front that can inform your customers of your online presence. After you set up your brand page or profile, just submit a request for signage. This is an especially popular tactic for businesses seeking online reviews.
Here’s why online reviews are so important to your online presence.
#7: Incorporate social media during events.
If your company’s marketing strategy includes periodic networking or other kinds of events, encourage guests and participants to engage your brand’s social media pages or profiles in real-time, during the event. At the start of the event, make an announcement or post prominent signage guiding your guests to your social media pages and establishing any hashtags you’d like them to use. Incorporating activities or contests that use social media as part of the event itself is also highly effective.