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3 Things to Avoid When Establishing Your Online Presence
The face of the digital landscape in Ireland has changed dramatically over the past two decades. We’ve come a long way; our Grannies are now using iPads! Let’s put it simply: if your brand has no online presence, you’re doing at least one thing wrong, writes Danielle O’Connell and Lauren Higgs from Good as Gold.
“I’m stuck with a website that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, I’ve already spent a ton of money and am being told that I need to spend more to fix the situation. I’m totally trapped.” Recently a client called us for some advice regarding her business. She owns a medium-sized company and has spent over a year moving from creative houses to marketing agencies in the hope of finding someone who she can trust. False promises, a badly designed website and a lot of frustration led her to our door, and unfortunately she is not alone.
The question often asked by business owners is: “How can I increase my conversions?” and although this is ultimately the goal for every business, it opens the digital Pandora’s Box of hefty retainers for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), content management and Google AdWords campaigns – all of which are detracting from the more fundamental issue of: Your Brand.
The digital bandwagon has been jumped on by so many at this stage that it’s hard to know what advice you should follow. If, like us, you’ve just started your own company, there are a number of points to be aware of to avoid getting lost in the digital abyss. Setting up a Facebook page because you “probably should” or publishing a website that no one can find is just going to waste both your time and money.
1. Don’t rush: “I need a website quick!”
You’ve spent months, maybe even years, working on establishing your business. It’s your baby. The biggest mistake you can make now is to rush. You may think that the most important thing is to be live on the World Wide Web, but remember, as soon as you hit “Publish” you’re exposing your brand and company to a global audience. Your brand is your public face and you need to be sure it’s ready to entertain. It shouldn’t take forever though, so we suggest you focus on finding out as much as possible about your audience, and then make a plan. This will make the most out of your schedule, save embarrassment and ultimately increase sales – both now and for years to come. The same applies to your social media accounts. If you have paid a graphic designer to create a brand for you that eloquently represents your business, it is a travesty then to upload a stretched or blurry version of your logo, not to mention a total waste of billed design hours.
“Don’t mistake speed for precocity: the world doesn’t need wrong answers in record time.” – Cennydd Bowles, digital product designer and writer
2. Don’t just tick the boxes: “That’s me done then!”
The check-list when setting up a business is quite a long one, particularly when it comes to the digital world. There are social media accounts to be set up, a website to build and populate, SEO and – if you thought there was light at the end of the tunnel – there’s digital marketing to consider. If you have these items neatly ticked off though and are still no closer to creating a loyal fan base or generating interest, what’s going on?
Often we see businesses with beautiful websites that click through to social accounts that are anything but. It is vital that you have a clear and consistent voice across all relevant digital channels, not just one. If a potential customer’s first interaction with your brand is through a Facebook page that poorly represents who you are and what you do, why would they hang around?
Specialising in digital design, we’re regularly asked to provide graphics for various platforms and to add links on websites that bring users to sad and empty social media accounts. The mistake here for business owners is completing a task without really asking the question, “Why?” Is it better to have a page that has not been updated in months or to have none at all? For example, a blog is a clever way of giving a personal touch to your brand, and a healthy, relevant blog will contribute to both website traffic and SEO. However, if you dislike writing and are burdened by a blog section you know won’t be updated, don’t have one!
“It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave.” – Pepp Laja, ConversionXL
3. Don’t always live in the now: “I’d better post something.”
It’s important to engage and interact with your customers in real time but don’t let your approach become stale or find yourself in an “I’d better post something” situation. Traditional media, like newspapers and magazines, have always had difficulties finding out about their audience. They rely heavily on sampling and research firms to tell them about their readers.
Digital media provides a unique position whereby a whole heap of analytics are readily available now to all business owners, not just digital agencies. Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can tell you a lot about your customers: gender, age, interests, what time they go online and much more. It is an absolute waste not to use this information to tailor/update your content and strategy, as things in this industry can change at the flick of a switch or, more likely, the click of a button. For example, if all your fans are online at 9pm at night, you’re limiting your potential reach by posting at 8am in the morning.
This same logic applies to foresight; a bit of research goes a long way. Will there be changes to Apple device operating systems in the near future that will effect your new mobile App? It can be costly to deal with these things as an after-thought, so tool yourself up with the mostly free and generally easy-to-use metric systems available to you.
“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon
The digital space can be over-whelming but, if you take it in bite size chunks, learning as you go, there’s no reason why you can’t look after things yourself.
Although good advice is essential to small and medium-sized companies, farming out all of your online requirements to third parties can mean you are effectively signing a lifetime contract. This money, in our opinion, would be better spent on internal training. Learn how to do the basics and manage your strategy. No one is expecting you to miraculously know how to code overnight, and we don’t recommend side-tracking yourself with tasks of that size. However, learning to update the imagery and text on your website, and getting to know your audience and how to best represent your brand are a must. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ve gotten this far, it’d be a shame to fall at the last hurdle.
Written by: Danielle O’Connell and Lauren Higgs, Good as Gold – a digital design and strategy company with a focus on making the digital industry more accessible for both new and established businesses
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