“The Internet, like the steam engine, is a technological breakthrough that changed the world.” – Peter Singer, moral philosopher
There is no doubt about it: the Internet is huge and far-reaching. It has made the world smaller. It has made business more competitive. It has changed the way the world works. The Internet is a driving force behind the global economy, and statistics have shown that for every job that the Internet has destroyed, almost three jobs were created in its place.
Because of this expansive growth, the Internet – formerly known as the “world wide web” – has become a key marketing tool for businesses. The sheer number of businesses operating online has exploded in the last decade, which means that if a business isn’t online, it has a very good chance of failing.
In today’s competitive business market, a company’s website is its virtual calling card. When consumers hear of a company, a service, or a new product, one of the first things they do is grab their laptop, tablet or smartphone and do a quick search online to find out more information. Consumers feel more confident when they are able to email a business with questions or concerns, view the company website and interact with the business via social media.
The Internet boosts all business
Although the internet makes the business market even more competitive, every kind of company can gain advantages from it – even some unexpected ones such as those in the healthcare sector, which means that business owners need to pay more attention to things like online healthcare marketing in order for these businesses to succeed.
Think about today’s consumer. It is a very rare occurrence for anyone to do anything – make a purchase, see a movie, visit a restaurant – without doing their own research online. People pay attention to what others are saying – user reviews are huge, even in the healthcare sector. Consumers like to be informed, and if a doctor’s office doesn’t have an online presence, some patients may avoid treatment from that doctor, regardless of how reputable he or she may be!
Building an online presence
Even if a company has brick-and-mortar storefronts, it is still important to have an online presence, which allows for communication and interaction with customers. Both large and small companies will only achieve more success by doing this. Today, more than ever, an online presence means more than a simple website with the business’s phone number, email, and location. Creating an online presence involves a virtual version of the business, complete with a user-friendly and informative website and social media accounts.
Establishing – or improving an already established online presence – has a number of positive effects on a business. The Internet plays a vital role in a company’s accessibility, brand building efforts and customer relationship management, and it can ultimately boost the bottom line. In this sense, a company’s social media voice is one of the most critical elements to keep in mind.
Developing and maintaining a social media voice takes time, effort, and skill – but the benefits can be innumerable. However, a clearly defined voice is key. Employees focusing on this task should be fully informed and properly trained on how to interact with the public via social media as it not only involves sharing information about the business and product, relevant information, and industry news but also direct customer concerns and complaints in some cases.
Communicating with customers online
Though a strong social media voice is integral, that voice must always be in alignment with the corporate identity, which helps to build the brand. It is important to be consistent – consumers have certain expectations and gravitate toward consistency, transparency, and reliability. In other words, if a company communicates in a manner which consumers do not find trustworthy or believable, they won’t spend any time – or money – on that particular brand.
There are actually a number of ways a business can communicate with customers online – through blogs, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and even online chats. The Internet is constantly evolving, so the ways in which customers and businesses will interact and communicate online will continue to change as well. However, it is the quality of this interaction that really seals the deal.
It is a well-known fact that consumers like to buy, but they do not like to be sold. They prefer to make informed, relaxed decisions without pressure from a salesperson. A well-written piece of copy, such as a blog post or an article, is an excellent way to capture an audience’s attention while allowing them the freedom to decide if they want to pursue the purchase. It is also important to respond quickly and professionally to any direct contact online – this not only helps to build the brand but the company’s trustworthiness.