Swarm Digital Marketing helps businesses and managers sell goods and services online. And now with COVID-19 rapidly transforming our society, we know that many of you are wondering what it would take to adapt your business and start selling online. This is what our company does. This article provides tips and offers guidance.
If your business needs help doing any of this, please contact us today and let’s talk. Our initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to use our services.
Run Your Business Online – Five Topics
- Modern Teleconferencing Technology
- Email Marketing
- Local Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
Website – Is yours ready? Do you have one?
When a business comes to us and says, “I need to put my business online.” The first thing we look at is the website. You can do this too. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my website content accurate?
- Does my website contain all of the information I want it to?
- Does my website have the functionality that it needs?
- Does my website look good on mobile devices?
- Is my website secure (e.g., do you have an SSL certificate installed)?
- Does my website accurately convey the brand?
If you don’t have a website, designing and developing one is probably one of the first steps in this process. Most often, we recommend building a website on the WordPress platform. And if you’re going to be selling something on your website, we recommend using WooCommerce, which is an ecommerce plugin for WordPress. You will also need a payment processor. Many of our clients use a service called “Stripe”.
Building a WordPress website is something that you can do yourself. You can browse and install templates, or use front-end design tools like WP Bakery or Elementor. Our company builds these websites because not everyone will want to DIY a web design project. And sometimes even the do-it-yourselfers get in over their heads and end up calling us. But it is easier than ever for you to do this yourself, and in a time when business funds might be limited, this may be a viable or necessary option for you.
“I don’t even know what type of website my business would need. Can you explain?”
Businesses know what they need to do, but they don’t always know how to describe it. We use three easy categories for website descriptions.
- Marketing / Brochure Website
- Ecommerce Website
- Web Application
Marketing / Brochure Website
These constitute the vast majority of web design projects we encounter. They feature web pages that explain your brand with text and media, and have basic functionalities such as newsletter sign-up forms, contact forms, and social media integrations.
These websites are useful for businesses selling services that don’t need to take payment online.
These are online stores. If you are selling something on your website, and you want to accept payment online, then you have yourself an ecommerce project!
Another way to think about it: any website with a “shopping cart” is an ecommerce site.
NOTE: Ecommerce websites often have a brochure site foundation to them, and the ecommerce functionality is usually built on top of that.
These websites are completely custom solutions, usually meant to realize a brand owner’s novel idea for offering a service. Web Applications are often built as part of a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model. Web applications are often meant to integrate with one or several mobile apps.
If you believe your project falls into this category, we strongly encourage you to contact us for a conversation. These are typically not DIY projects, unless you have extensive software engineering experience.
“I already have a website. Can we convert it into a store?”
Yes! This is where our work becomes technical. You may look at your website and think, “I could just add a shopping cart and be good to go.” In theory that’s true, but when we evaluate a site for the purpose of converting into an ecommerce store we consider the following (among other things):
- What platform is the site built on?
- WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, GoDaddy Site Builder, etc…
- What is the product or service?
- What type of payments do you need to take?
- Credit Card, PayPal, eCheck, one-time payments, scheduled payments (like a subscription), etc …
If you already have a site, and you want to add ecommerce elements, that’s great! Let us take a look under the hood. Sometimes this is possible and cost effective. And other times a site is too old or built on a platform that we don’t recommend. In which case, designing a new site can be the best option.
If you have a WordPress website, we recommend you take a look at the WooCommerce plugin.
Modern Teleconference Technology (it’s the fancy word for “FaceTime” or “Video Chat”)
In a time where social distancing is vital, staying in front of your customers could be an important part of your business strategy. The uses for video chat should be self-evident as it relates to your business. But which app should you be using?
Katherine over at Owl Labs put together a nice list here. At Swarm we prefer and use:
They all offer modern features such as voice and video chatting for multiple users. There are many more. Pick the one that you think will work the best for you and your customers.
Email Marketing – May be a viable option for your business.
If you’re taking your business online, you may want to consider email marketing for a number of reasons: to communicate changes about your business, to market your new online goods and services, and to keep your customers engaged.
Common questions we have for prospective clients about email marketing:
- What email platform are you using?
- Do you have an email list?
- Is the list opt-in?
- How fresh is the list?
- How do people sign up for your email list?
“What email platform should I use?”
At Swarm we prefer either MailChimp or Constant Contact. Both of those services have been in the game for a while, integrate well with WordPress websites, and have robust functionality. There are many others out there, but these two are the ones we see the most.
If you’re starting email marketing from scratch, we recommend sitting down with a pen and paper and planning it all out. Ask yourself the following question to get started:
- How do I obtain emails?
- What kind of campaign do I need?
- How do I create the assets for the email?
- What action do I want the readers to take?
Local Marketing – Do you need local visitors on your website?
Many of the businesses that are considering going online rely on local customers. This is typically because of a brick-and-mortar location, or a service that requires proximity to the customer. In either case, the local marketing ecosystem is vast and full of potential.
If you need to target a local demographic, and get them on your website, you have many-many options, such as:
- Facebook Ads
- Google Ads
- Google My Business
- Local SEO
- Business Directories
- And so on …
Once you have your ecommerce website up and running, consider spending some marketing dollars on local advertising.
Search Engine Optimization
If your business relies on your website, then you need SEO.
SEO gives you the chance to show up online when people search for your products or services on Google, or other search engines, like; Alexa, SIRI, Google Assistant, Bing, and Cortana. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on techniques that give you a chance to rank organically for keywords that are relevant to the products and services that you offer.
SEO is typically considered a long game. We wrote an article that discusses the viability of running an SEO campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a reason why 64% of businesses invest $1,750 – $10,000 per month on SEO. It’s because of SEO’s historically positive ROI.
We are veteran SEO experts that have been in the game since the beginning. We developed a proprietary WordPress plugin called “SwarmSEO”. It automates the creation of SEO landing pages for every city and neighborhood you want to target and drives those local visitors to your website. If you need SEO then you need Swarm.
Are you ready to put your business online? Do you need to?
We hope this article helps you in putting your business online. We know that times are tough right now, and many of you are wondering how your business is going to adapt. Some of you will be able to read articles like this and do it yourself, which is awesome! But we also know that this is going to feel intimidating to some of you. This is one of the reasons we offer a free evaluation.
If you’re considering taking your business online, contact us today. We offer a free evaluation. We will give you our opinion and there is absolutely no obligation to use our services.
Thank you, and please stay safe, healthy, and stay at home.