By Michelle Stark, Director at Fasthosts
There is a lot to juggle as a small business. As you navigate everything from finance to marketing, getting your technology just right can be easily overlooked.
A well set up online presence, backed by the right tech infrastructure, is a powerful tool to help to find, communicate, connect and work with your customers. It can improve your reputation, visibility and performance from day one.
Many small businesses, however, fall victim to common online pitfalls and end up with something that doesn’t quite work for their needs. Here are five tips to help you avoid making these mistakes.
Take your time to pick your domain
Your domain name helps people find your business. It needs to be instantly recognisable, memorable and it must reassure the user that they are in the right place. You shouldn’t rush the decision, and there are online tools available to help you if you get stuck.
It needs to be short, concise and click-worthy. Avoid unusual spellings or non-standard characters to ensure it is easy to read and understand. Importantly, say the name out loud, write it down and ask a number of other people to check it too. Remember, you may read the words one way, but others may see it differently.
Don’t underestimate the power of a website
In the UK, 76 per cent of shoppers research online before they make a purchase. Therefore, having all your information in one place provides your customers with a one-stop shop for researching your brand.
Product information, opening times, contact details, customer testimonials, social media handles and ecommerce – all of this can be at a customer’s fingertips in one place with a decent website. Rather than hopping around different platforms, your customers will be able to find what they need, when they need it.
Find your perfect hosting platform
When it comes to hosting your website, you have a number of options. Making sure you understand which is suitable for your business is key to ensuring your website runs smoothly.
At one end of the scale is shared hosting. It is a great cheap starting point, where the server that holds your website’s data is shared between different users. At the other end you have dedicated servers, where all the servers’ resources are yours. However, the price tag is bigger and as such is recommended for larger websites that demand high levels of reliability and performance.
With even more options in between, consider how you’d like your website to run and weigh up the options before committing. Importantly, make sure you pick a provider who offers 24/7 phone support – you never know when you might need their help.
Consider a directory listing tool
While a website is important, the value of having up-to-date information on third-party listing sites shouldn’t be overlooked. Listing sites are a great form of targeted advertising as, to get there, the browsers will have already shown interest in products similar to your own.
There are countless online directories: Google My Business, Foursquare, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, Google Maps and more. All of these list information about your business, including a link to your website. Having an accurate and engaging presence on these sites will bolster your professionalism and help you to connect to the correct audience at the exact time they are doing their research.
Monitoring every site, however, can be time-consuming and some sites may fall off your radar. Therefore consider purchasing a directory listing tool. This will provide an easy solution to keeping all these listing sites all up to date from just one portal.
Establish trust with a domain email address
Communicating with your customers using free email providers can rouse suspicions. A great way for your business to look professional is to ensure your domain is in your business email address.
If a customer can see you have a designated email address, they will be more likely to trust that you are the real deal. Your emails are also less likely to end up in junk folders. Additionally, customers will know that any communication you have with them is actually coming from the brand, and if they have any questions they will feel comforted in knowing they can contact the correct people.
While the list of technology challenges can go on and on, avoiding these common mistakes can help you create an online platform that works for your business, connecting you to new and existing customers and laying the foundation for business success.