In an era when we spend so much of our in front of a computer or on a phone, here are some sobering statistics: Almost half of New Zealand’s businesses still have no online presence whatsoever. Just one in four have a website. And fewer than one in ten make use of social media.
With more and more Kiwis using the web to research and buy goods and services, getting your business online isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’ anymore, it’s a necessity. A report from Google and Internet New Zealand* shows Kiwi businesses that use the web well are up to 73% more productive than their offline counterparts.
So for those yet to make the leap online, Google New Zealand’s Tony Keusgen has five tips to get started.
1. Make sure you can be found
Not being online is the same as not being in the phonebook was a few years ago. One in five searches on Google are related to a customer’s location: for example, people looking for the closest shop or service. If you’re not showing up on online maps, for many customers you may as well not exist.
The good news is getting listed on Google Maps is quick and free using a new tool called Google My Business. Once you can be found on online maps and directories, customers on their computer or mobile phone will be able to find you straight away.
2. Work your website
The next step up from being found online is having more space to show off your wares. Even service-based businesses which are largely offline, like builders or hairdressers, can still use websites to show off the inside of stores, display services, attract customers and drive sales.
Website traffic is also valuable. Every click you get can be turned into useful information about what your customers are looking for and whether you were able to help them. To work out how visitors are finding your site and what they’re doing when they arrive, sign up for an analytics program such as Google Analytics. This offers free insights and tips which help you make your website easier to use – leading to more people talking about your site, sharing your content and linking to you.
3. Be smart with social media
Social media lets you get closer to your customers, providing a new avenue of customer service that allows your business to build a reputation beyond bricks and mortar.
But before you jump in, pick your platforms wisely. Some businesses, like florists or clothing retailers, can make the most of visually rich sites like YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram. Others will have more success by offering exclusive deals, competitions or chatting with like-minded people on Facebook or Google+. Take a look at similar businesses to your own and observe how they’re using social media.
4. Choose your words wisely
Great marketing doesn’t mean you have to spend big, it just takes common sense and a little creativity. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic formula to make sure your website is the first listing on search engine results. But smart use of online advertising can help you reach the right customers, just as they looking to make a purchase.
Start by writing an ad that tells people what you offer and decide on a daily budget. If the words people type into search engines match the keywords that you’ve chosen in advance, your ad will appear in the top results. To understand your most effective keywords, sign up to Google AdWords and play around on the keyword planner.
5. Switch to the cloud
Some of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies are using cloud based technologies to run their business. It lets them work from anywhere, share large files quickly and employees can work on one document together in real-time, regardless of where they are located. Along with boosting collaboration and productivity, having your data and resources online removes the need for physical office servers and IT support – dramatically cutting costs.
*The value of internet services to New Zealand businesses: http://www.innovationpartnership.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Sapere-Google-INZ-The-value-of-internet-services-to-New-Zealand-Businesses_-_Report-31-March-2014.pdf
September 30, 2014