How to Create a Digital Footprint for Your Small Business
When was the last time you picked up your phone to research something about a business?
For me, it was about five minutes ago. I wanted to double check the daily special at Calcutta Kitchens in Kingston, where I’m meeting my friend for lunch. Calcutta’s owner, Aditi, always posts her specials on her Instagram, so I knew a quick check-in on her page would tell me which of the restaurant’s fragrant, delicious dishes were on offer.
This is probably one in a hundred such internet searches I’ll do on any given day. Whether it’s looking up the price of a pair of clogs I’ve had my eye or scoping out the pricing and services of a nearby spa where I’d like to treat myself to a birthday massage, there’s a lot in my digital research queue—and likely yours too.
That’s an important truth about the customer journey today. With quick access to a smartphone and so much information available online, the majority of the journey from a customer discovering your business to making a purchase takes place on the internet.
This is why creating a robust digital footprint is an absolute must for small businesses.
From curating a great website to building out your social media channels to advertising in the digital places where your customers are likely to be, there are many ways to make sure you’re meeting the needs of your customers online when they need you.
Read on for our five tips for strengthening your small business’s digital footprint.
Create and Update Your Website
Your website is the foundation of your digital footprint.
It’s the place the majority of your potential customers will go first when they’re trying to decide whether or not to engage with your business. Even if someone is planning to visit your store or make a purchase in-person, your website will often provide the initial information they need to encourage them to take that next step. 53 percent of shoppers surveyed by Google say they always do research before they buy to ensure they are making the best possible choice.
A good website doesn’t stop at basic details though.
If you already have a website with your contact details, hours, and some basic information about the products and services you provide, don’t stop there! A sparsely populated website can actually send a signal to customers that your business might not be well-run or attentive to their needs. Today’s customers want to know more about the businesses they buy from in an effort to make sure their values align with their own.
Here are a few more ways to build out your website:
- About: An about page (with photos!) is the perfect place to explain your business’s history and mission. Your About page helps to humanize your business and demonstrate that there are real people with interesting stories behind it all.
- Our Team: If your business has a small team, create a page where people learn more about them. Don’t forget to add headshots or a full team photo!
- Explanation of Products or Offerings: This one seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you create a page where you fully explain all your services, programming, and offerings. If it makes sense to be transparent about pricing, do.
- Social Media Links: Many people like to follow businesses on social media before committing to becoming a customer, so be sure to add links to those accounts as well.
Claim Your Business on Google
You know that little box with a business’s address, hours, and phone number that pops up on Google when you search its name?
It’s part of your Google My Business profile, and it’s an integral part of your digital footprint.
Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, verifying your business with Google and filling out your profile will make you more searchable by potential customers. It’s particularly useful for attracting local customers, since Google can highlight your business details in its search results based on users’ locations.
Build Your Social Media Presence
Social media has changed the way businesses do business.
A customer’s discovery of your business is just as likely to happen (if not more so) on social media as it is in-person. And with Facebook and Instagram’s e-commerce functions, you can even go from customer discovery to sale in minutes.
Establishing a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram is particularly important for businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires, where tourism is a vital part of the economy. Visitors do a great deal of online research about where they will spend their time on a trip, and an up-to-date social media page is a vital part of building the impression that you’re worth a stop.
Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm for surfacing posts is changing all the time (and increasingly prioritizing paid posts) so it’s important to post several times a week at minimum in order to ensure your potential customers are seeing the information you share.
Want more info about what social media platforms are right for your business based on your ideal customers? Check out our full social media platform explainer.
Digital Brand Awareness Advertising
Now that you have the building blocks of a solid digital footprint, you can go all-in on advertising your business to potential customers online.
Brand awareness advertising is the top of the sales funnel, and where most businesses should start with online advertising. That’s because potential customers don’t always start their journey by looking for your service. Many times, they don’t even know they need you yet.
The goal of brand awareness is to place your business—branding, mission, location, and services—in front of potential customers so they remember your business when the time comes.
At Chronogram Media, we specialize in brand awareness campaigns specifically geared toward jumpstarting business’s digital footprints.
Our digital brand awareness advertising includes:
- Run of site banner ads across our digital publications: Chronogram, Upstate House, Rural Intelligence, and Explore
- Digital sponsorship banners and ads in our six email newsletters, including Chronogram‘s Eat.Play.Stay, Rural Intelligence, and High Society
- Digital sponsored articles on Chronogram.com, Upstater.com, and Ruralintelligence.com
- Event sponsorships
- Branded sweepstakes
- 7-day and 30-day social media campaigns
When used in combination, these channels provide digital exposure to thousands of potential new customers. Every placement also includes a direct link to your website, which also increases the likelihood that someone will click over to your website and learn all about your business.
Interact with Your Digital Audience
Now that you have your digital communication channels established, it’s time to find ways to break through the noise.
If you’ve invested the time to create your social media pages, don’t let them go quiet! Aim to post at least once a week or more to encourage engagement. Let your customers know what’s new at your business, and interact with them and other local businesses to establish yourself as part of the community.
Looking to get more leads or increase the size of your email list? You can do a giveaway or run a sweepstakes! Offering potential customers an awesome prize—like the chance to win $500 of merch from you or a partner business—is a positive, fun way to introduce customers to your brand in a way they’ll definitely remember.
From website creation to sweepstakes, multi-channel advertising,marketing campaigns, and more, our team at Chronogram Media can help your small business create a rockin’ digital footprint that sets you apart from your competitors. Want to learn more about how we do it? Reach out to our sales team at [email protected] to start the conversation!
Want more marketing tips geared toward small businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Art of Business!