Why Your Small Business Needs an Online Presence to Thrive in 2019

You need to stop hesitating, postponing, finding excuses and stalling – your small business needs an online presence, no question about it. Right now in 2019, we are facing a period of online reckoning – social media platforms are oversaturated with content, engagement rates for Facebook and Instagram are dropping, pay-to-play options gain on importance, and the online reviews are treated with mistrust.

Yet, despite all of the aforementioned and many more reasons, a small business like yours simply cannot do well without establishing at least a single online touchpoint

In this article, I am sharing with you the most important reasons why your small business needs an online presence to survive in 2019.

#1 We are permanently connected 

I am sure you have your views on how we consume content and how much time is spent on scrolling through Instagram. However, from a business perspective, you cannot afford to be cutting off a valuable source of income. The Internet has irrevocably wedged itself into our lives and gave rise to a completely new type of interactions between businesses and consumers.

As of December 2017, 54.4% of the world’s population has internet access, with European-wide usage sitting at a staggering 85.2 % (Internet World Stats). According to Zenith Media, in 2019 people will spend more time online than watching TV dedicating an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. On average, Instagram users spent 53 minutes per day with the Android app in June — just five minutes less than Facebook users spent with their app. Snapchat users spent 49.5 minutes in the Snap app (Recode). The issue of sinking time into social media has become so prevalent that even Instagram has employed a time-tracking feature in July 2018.

With our lives half-led online staring at the small screen (over 36% of the world’s population is using smartphones, says Statista) your small business is losing potential customers by not meeting them at their usual hangout spot.

#2 Customers look online to connect with local businesses

It used to be that spoken word of mouth would bring customers to your storefront. In 2019 the Internet amplified WOM beyond belief and took the control out of business owners’ hands.

Your customers are definitely online –  even the Gen Xers (turned 38 to 53 in 2018) have outpaced Millennials in tablet ownership for several years (Pew Research Centre). 80% of Instagram users voluntarily connect with brands (Adweek) and 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles (Hubspot). Google reports the increased importance of ‘before I go’ searches stating they have seen a 55% growth in mobile searches for “menus” over the past two years. Customers will talk about your brand in online chat apps (this is called ‘dark social‘ because you cannot measure or access these brand mentions), write articles about you and add your business’ physical location to Google Maps without your knowledge.

The conversation about your brand will happen regardless of whether you want to join it or not. By creating an online presence for your business you actually take control of how your brand is portrayed online and set the tone of the interactions between yourself and your target audience. 

#3 Your online presence fosters relationships

An online presence gives you a number of possibilities to turn a one-off purchase into a long relationship. Surprisingly enough in 2018 less than two-thirds (64%) of small businesses had a website. What a missed opportunity! Luckily, amongst those who still don’t, more than half (58%) plan to build one in 2018 (Clutch).

Think about online presence this way – at your brick and mortar store you can only engage with your customers exclusively when they are there physically. With a robust website, mailing list and an Instagram account, you can reach them anytime, anywhere. 

Your online presence is also an instant feedback loop. Customers are more demanding than ever and rightly so! They have the power of the Internet at their disposal and can seamlessly flick between brands. You can engage with them to co-create your offering, tailor it to what your ideal customer wants and implement your new strategy almost immediately.

#4 Online presence is affordable

It used to be that advertising was reserved for the big guys. Now, every small business owner can run online advertising campaigns for as much as €5. You are able to set up a website and social media accounts at zero or low financial cost. Sure, it still requires time and effort but with advance planning and utilising the available resources, you can craft an impactful online presence and learn a few tricks on the way. Or you can contact me.

You can promote your products, show how they are already used by your happy customers – more than two thirds (68%) of buyers said they frequently give credence to peer reviews and user-generated feedback (Smart Insights) – and notify your customers about special offers without leaving your office. The important part is, it’s there for the taking if you want your small business to prosper.

Are you now convinced that you need to develop an online presence? Subscribe to my Library of Resources to download the Small Business Owner Online Presence Checklist for free in the Library of Resources here.