Building an on-line identity is vital to achieving the identified goals of any business in this modern world. This process may seem complex and daunting to some however it is a process like any other and is most successful when tailored to the goals of the entity.
Different businesses have different goals so their pathway to achieving them will best be tailored to the individual business and their priorities. Some may focus on sales, some on information and brand awareness, some on membership/subscriptions and others on archival/historical matters, as a few examples. Most employ a range of goals that may include some or all of the above, or other business/industry specific elements.
There are many tools used to achieve these goals and the most common are a web site, social networking, email campaigns, membership/subscription systems and team communications platforms. The most important thing to remember here is that if any of these are employed then they must directly focus upon identified goals and all elements must work together.
Websites are many and varied, some are good and some less so but regardless of their intended function a website is the most comprehensive component in that it can centralise various functions in one place and so usually serves as the hub of an on-line identity.
It may serve some or all of the following roles:
- A business card – who, where, what you do.
- A sales portal – a catalogue and a big red BUY NOW button
- A communication platform – the latest news and events
- A diary – What is happening, and when
- An archive – What has happened historically
- A membership portal – how to become a member and/or specialist news for members
Social Networking platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc) may form another vital element of an on-line identity as a communication platform with a shorter, smaller format but with real time engagement. Often used as an adjunct to a website directing followers to the website for further information or services. Eg Here is our latest news, why not head to our website to see all the details/pictures.
Email is often stated as the most powerful of all of these tools as you can communicate directly and target an audience that has already given you permission to speak to them via their inbox. You can also easily measure the effectiveness of email (how many opened it, how many clicked the links included etc). With bulk email tools (eg MailChimp) you can also target specific chunks of subscribers with tailored information eg male/female, geographic location, type of subscriber (full member/social member) to further drive engagement and to further your individual goals.
Bringing It All Together
These individual services work best in a coordinated way so that all elements work to achieve your stated goals. For example a Facebook post may link to your latest newsletter, the newsletter may have a link to the website where they can sign up to receive all future newsletters in their email. All posts and emails should always include a “call to action” that is in cohort with your goals – click here, share this, sign up now, buy one of these, register for this event, become a member etc.
Much of this can also become automated, saving you time and money. A website news item may also be automatically posted to Facebook, a post to Facebook may also be duplicated to Instagram, Twitter etc. Membership subscriptions may automatically include social networking follows/likes, confirmation emails or in house or on-line discount offers.
Another important element from this system is the ability to measure the effectiveness of the tools you employ and to therefore make adjustments to future campaigns to better serve your goals. Google Analytics will tell you about your web site visitors, Facebook can provide statistics about engagement and Mail Chimp will give insights about your email campaigns.
Where Do I Start
We start with a lot of questions about your organisation, goals, target markets, current services, current customers/subscribers/members. Next we work together to refine this information and develop clear priorities and options. This will include who is going to be responsible for what and the level of skills and knowledge required to achieve this and make sure it is tailored to your budget. The more that can be done in house the less you will need to pay for someone else to do. It is often best to start small and to grow over time, rather than making a large commitment up front that is unrealistic to achieve.
As new services are added these can also be used as significant marketing opportunities in themselves, further increasing the effectiveness of your whole on-line business identity.
Finally we can get down to the nitty gritty of how you want to look (logo, colour schemes, fonts etc) until a final digital business plan is produced, encompassing all prior decisions. With this body of information you will now have enough to present to a developer to obtain an initial quote.
How I Can Help
I have a decade of experience directly in these technology areas and a lifetime of experience working with small businesses in financial services, sales/marketing, events/hospitality and business systems. My website showcases some of my recent work, the services I offer and I am supported by colleagues in the web development industry for those tricky questions that need specialist input.
I am happy to provide initial consultation free of charge and would like the opportunity to discuss your individual needs with you at any mutually agreed time and place.