If you’re starting from scratch, the idea of building a comprehensive, effective online presence is likely to feel a little daunting. Need a little more convincing that it’s a good idea? In the last few years, more than 70% of small to medium-sized enterprises have spent funds on developing and enhancing their digital presence, which means that having an online presence is absolutely vital in order to keep up with the competition and remain visible in a highly-digitized marketplace. If you’re unsure where to start, use the handy guide below to work out the steps you need to take to begin the process of conquering the online world and getting your business noticed by as wide an audience as possible! Set Clear Goals. This may seem like a step that could be easily skipped - but do so at your peril! Knowing exactly what you want your online presence to achieve and the order of importance of each of these things will be vital to the success of your vision. For example, is the main point of your online presence, at this point, to introduce your brand and build up a customer base? Or is the overriding aim to market your products and services or boost visibility? There are likely a number of reasons present, so start by listing these in priority order - this will allow you to check back, at every stage of the build, that what you’re doing will support reaching these goals. Define Your Brand. The next step, which segues naturally from the above, is to define your brand in terms of its aesthetic, values, and USP. What’s the value proposition that sets it apart from the competition? This stage covers elements such as your business’s unique ‘tone,’ slogan, and logo. A great logo is vital and is a real marketing workhorse: it acts to convey a strong, memorable first impression, gives potential customers an instant idea of what you’re all about, adds professionalism, and can also help to foster brand loyalty. Freelance logo design could be a effective method for your brand development because you can harvest creative logo ideas from multiple designers and pick the best one for your brand. Build a Great Website. A business’s website is the backbone of its online presence and is one of the key ways that your brand is going to get noticed and attract plenty of potential customers or clients. There are three main things to focus on while designing your website. Firstly, making sure that the tone of voice, messaging, and design match your brand. Secondly, ensuring that it’s as professional-looking as possible: so watch out for typos and grammatical errors and check that any images appearing on the site are high-quality. Lastly, it needs to have high-level functionality; this means not only should all the links and eCommerce elements work properly, but the site should be easy to navigate around overall and offer a smooth, enjoyable browsing experience for your visitors. Before committing to a plan, check out as many different options as possible to find the best web hosting package that will suit your business and its needs. There are plenty of affordable, easy-to-use website builders available, too, that provide the templates and other elements you need to have your brand new website up and running potentially within just a few hours - even if you have no prior experience. Set Up Social Media Accounts. Nowadays, having a presence on social media is extremely important in getting your brand noticed by a wider demographic and is a great way to help the word spread organically about your fantastic products or services. Choose which social platforms to sign up for based on your target audience and the type of content you plan to post, and ensure that there are lots of strong two-way links between these platforms and your website. To build up your online presence, post regular, high-quality content that consistently adds value for the reader and keep things interesting by posting a variety of different types of content, such as videos, how-to guides, and newsletters. Creating a social media posting schedule is an excellent idea to help you stay on top of your social marketing and avoid either under or over-posting. Get Promoting! Now that the groundwork is done, it’s time to start promoting your website and social pages to build up an audience, increase your brand’s recognition, and - hopefully - boost your conversion rate. There are a number of ways to go about this: using SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the easiest ways to push your online presence closer to the top of those all-important Google rankings. Great SEO is about incorporating keywords and phrases - as naturally as possible - into your content to help search engines suggest your site and social platforms when someone plugs a relevant search into Google. Regularly running competitions on your sites, offering online discount codes, and interacting with your audience as much as possible (by featuring plenty of customer-created content, for example) are all great ways to digitally promote your business. If you’ve got a more substantial marketing budget, then you could also consider pay-per-click adverts; these tend to be highly effective at driving traffic to specific websites. Final Thoughts. There are no two ways about it: if you run, or are in the presence of starting, a business, you need a powerful online presence. Fortunately, while having this is more important than ever before, creating this presence is also much easier than you may think. With some solid planning and by remaining focused on your goals, and overall brand identity during every part of the process, you’ll be able to build an online presence that’ll have visitors flocking to your virtual doors.