Your business may provide physical, real-world services like pest control or landscaping, but that doesn’t change the fact that today’s businesses exist in an increasingly digital world. Regardless of the services you’re providing or the scale you’re providing them on, you need to have an online presence in order for your customers to find you when they’re searching for the services that you offer.
What Is an Online Presence?
Your online presence refers to the pages and information that someone finds about your business when they look online. This can include a wide variety of different information, and not all of it may be material that your business is producing or in control of. Your online presence is also a representation of the tone of your company, can highlight your company’s purpose, and shows how your company interacts with its customers and community.
Some of the key elements of your online presence, like a company website or social media pages, are things that you control directly, so you’ll only have them if you create them. Other important components, like online reviews from your customers, are likely out there waiting to be found even if you’ve never gone out of your way to request or share reviews. This doesn’t mean that reviews are entirely out of your control, though.
The Importance of Being Found Online
In today’s landscape, customers seeking physical services like yours tend to begin their search online. If homeowners don’t have either an ongoing arrangement with a company that provides the service they need or a referral from someone they trust, then chances are that their first move is going to be a web search.
In fact, studies show that 70-80% of consumers research a company online before doing business with them. That means that if your business isn’t showing up when potential customers are searching for it, you stand to lose that new business and the revenue associated with it.
When you build your online presence with a professional website, you provide potential customers with the information they need to view your business as a legitimate, authoritative partner that they can rely on for professional service. This also helps to differentiate you from the other businesses that you’re competing against, making you more than just a business name and a phone number.
Finding the Right Time to Build Your Footprint Online
Clutch.co reports that roughly two out of three small businesses had their own website as of 2018, which means that if you don’t have a website as part of your online presence, you’re falling behind the pack rather than running in front of it. While the best time to create your website may have been right after you started your business, the next best time is now. The sooner you establish your presence and begin taking control of how your business is perceived online, the more authoritative you’ll appear to potential customers who find you online.
By taking the steps to set your website up sooner than later, you also help your business to be perceived as more legitimate by search engines like Google. In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), a brand new page doesn’t typically rank as well on a search engine results page (SERP) as a page with a more established history. In other words, a search engine like Google is more likely to show your site in the results after it’s been around for a while. By dragging your feet on getting your website up and running, you’re only adding more time to the equation before your page can be viewed as a reputable one.
It can also be tempting to simply sign up for a social media site or two and call it a day, but this doesn’t provide the same long term benefits for your business. Your company’s Facebook page allows you to interact with your customers and offer key information like your business hours and location, but social media doesn’t carry the same weight as a website when it comes to presenting your company as a legitimate, trustworthy business. Put plainly, a social media page doesn’t feel as official as a professional looking website when potential customers are deciding who to hire.
How to Build Your Website
There are a plethora of ways to build a website in today’s world, and choosing the method that’s right for you will depend on a number of factors. Your digital expertise, staffing, and budget will all come into play. Depending on your needs, you may be considering hiring a marketing manager or working with an outside team to run things for you so that you can focus on running your business. These can be costly options for small businesses to afford, though, so it’s worth exploring other options that suit your needs.
One option is to contract a professional web developer to build your website. Assuming you find an experienced, professional developer, you can expect solid results from this option. Bear in mind, though, that the developer will likely need a lot of input on your end in terms of content creation and design preferences, so this might not be your best choice if you don’t want to get caught up in the details and the technological side of things.
You can also consider a number of different do it yourself site building programs, which allow you to take control of your website on your own. You’ll still be responsible for creating content on your own, and you may find that there’s a learning curve to mastering the site building and maintenance process; this may be a better fit if you have someone on your team who’s technologically savvy and has the bandwidth to take the reins on managing your site.
For small businesses, finding a software tool to build and launch your website for one low fee is a great option for establishing your online presence. With WorkWave Website Builder, you simply choose your industry and select a template you like; after that, the software tool takes the information you provide about your business and builds it into a professional looking website to serve as the hub of your online presence. You maintain control of the elements that make your business stand out—like your logo, colors, and images—without ever getting lost in the complexity of having to build your website from scratch. In just minutes, you have the professional website you need to establish yourself as a trustworthy, authoritative business.
What to Include When Building Your Small Business’s Website
When adding information to your website, it’s a good strategy to start with the basics. Once you’ve covered your bases by providing the essential information that your target audience is looking for when they look you up online, you can consider adding more content, like your reviews, down the road. So what should your website include?
The Services You Provide
Be direct when offering a description of the services your business can provide for customers. Even if your company name provides a general idea—think of companies with names like Paulie’s Pest Control or Lemon Tree Lawn Care—it’s best to be specific when listing your services so that potential customers know right away that you can provide exactly what they need. This is doubly true if you provide services that aren’t strictly related to your primary expertise, like a pest control company offering remediation or a lawn care business that also offers hardscaping services.
Your Hours of Operation
A clear list of your hours for each day of the week gives customers key information they need to know when planning for services, and also helps you save time by fielding calls asking what your hours of operation are. If your office hours differ from your service hours, make sure that that information is clear, as well. The same goes for flexible or custom hours, too, if you offer them.
Make it easy for your potential customers to get in touch with you if they have questions or want to schedule an appointment. Provide an up-to-date phone number and email address for business inquiries, as well as your business’s street address if you have a physical office. You might even include a map that can be clicked to provide directions. Even if it’s unlikely that your customers would ever visit your office, providing an address or map adds an additional layer of authenticity to your website.
Additional Company Info
On top of the essentials, take time to add a personal touch to your company’s website with a section or page along the lines of “About Us” or “Company History.” Even if it’s just a paragraph or two covering how your company got its start and the efforts you make to ensure your customers are satisfied, this gives you the opportunity to explain what makes your company different from others that customers might also be looking at online.
Taking Control of Customer Reviews
In addition to your website and social media pages, which you create and control, your online presence includes any outside information about your company that customers might find online, like online reviews. This external information isn’t something that you produce, but it can still influence the opinion that others have of your business. While you can’t directly control what people decide to say about your business online, you can still take a hands-on approach to your company’s online reviews.
Earning More Positive Reviews
While you should always aim to satisfy your customers, that isn’t always enough to earn positive reviews for your company. According to Inc. Magazine, there’s a 91% chance that a customer will take the time to leave a review online after a negative experience. On the other hand, the odds of a customer leaving a review of their own accord after a positive experience are closer to 10%. If at all possible, take the time to find a way to request reviews from your satisfied customers.
Climbing Out From Under Negative Reviews
When negative reviews do happen, there isn’t much you can do to remove them; you can’t simply ask a website to remove negative reviews because you don’t like them. You can, however, take control of the situation by participating in the conversation. While you should never succumb to arguing with an unhappy customer online, you can reply to their review and offer to correct the problem or take additional action to fix things. For future consumers who see the interaction, a negative review has much less impact if the company makes the effort to make things right.
Turning Online Reviews of Your Business Into Assets
With the right approach on your side of things, your company’s reviews can become a tool that helps you organically attract new customers. To get your reviews to work alongside your website as the other side of your online presence, consider taking advantage of a software tool like WorkWave Online Reviews. With automated customer review requests, an easy-to-digest dashboard highlighting your online review scores, and a simple platform for monitoring and responding to online reviews, this tool gives you the options you need to start taking control of your online presence.Whether your business is just starting out or you’re a seasoned company looking to solidify your online presence, building a professional website and taking control of your online reviews is essential to finding success for your small business in the digital age. To learn more about building your brand online and how WorkWave can help your field service company reach its full potential, be sure to visit us online today.