Starting from Scratch? Build Your Business with These Online Foundations

online_foundationsIf you’re new to the world of digital marketing, it can definitely feel overwhelming, especially when you begin to hear about all of the things you need to do in order to get your enterprise at the top of the digital marketplace. While there’s an endless stream of ideas regarding how to enhance your online presence, there’s a big difference between those actions that are nice to take versus the ones you need to take in order to get started off on the right foot. If you want to cut through all the noise and focus on what’s really important, keep these indispensable online foundations in mind to position your business for success.

1. Your website must be user-friendly.

This is perhaps the most important element of your online foundation, because your website is the primary interface you’ll have with the majority of your target audience. Imagine a brick-and-mortar store in which there are no signs for the aisles, the products on the shelf are arranged without any rhyme or reason, the employees are nowhere to be found, and you can’t even locate the checkout area. How long do you think that type of place would be in business?

We all know that it would be absurd to run a physical store that way, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses have websites that are designed in essentially the same manner. Your navigation menu must be clear, intuitive and easy to find, your page layout needs to be uncluttered, and users should be able to find the information they’re looking for without having to jump through hoops to do so.

If you’re planning on running an e-commerce site, make sure that your products are sensibly laid out, your product descriptions are adequate and your online checkout process is very easy to navigate and secure. If you focus on your visitors by making your website user-friendly, you’ll already have an important advantage over a large percentage of your online competitors.

2. Your website must be mobile-friendly.

More and more people are using smartphones as their primary device for accessing the Web, so you have to make sure that your website is designed in a manner that can accommodate all kinds of handheld devices.

One of the most popular ways to do this is through utilizing what’s known as “responsive” design, which is basically a style of coding web pages that enables them to automatically resize and rearrange page elements in order to display properly on various screen sizes. There are dozens of content management systems that can do this for you (WordPress is one of the most popular at the moment), so you don’t even need to be a coding expert in order to develop a mobile-friendly website.

Another method is to create a separate site that is strictly for mobile devices. This site is a pared down version of your website that can load quicker and be more compatible with smaller display sizes. By making sure that your website is mobile-friendly, you’ll not only be able to reach a wider audience, but you’ll also have the chance to rank better in search engines (read more about that here).

3. You must have a solid social media presence.

Although social media platforms were somewhat of a novelty only a decade ago, they’ve evolved to become multi-billion dollar entities that can offer brands unprecedented access to massive, highly targeted audiences. Savvy businesses recognize that having a presence on social media is a great way to engage with your customer base, receive valuable feedback and build an online community around your brand.

If you haven’t yet established accounts for your business on any social networks, start by setting up shop on the “big three” social platforms first–i.e., Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and then you can move to other important sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. Becoming an interactive member of these vibrant online communities will add a personal touch to your business, and can endear many of your target customers to your brand.

Without a doubt, there are dozens of “to-do” items that would be helpful in terms of establishing your brand online, but it’s important for you to focus on the core elements of building an online business in order to keep from “majoring in the minors.” Keep the above three essential building blocks in mind, and you’ll have a solid and stable foundation that can position your business for long-term online success.

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