Every successful B2B business needs to have a strong online presence. Today this means more than just having a website and an email address. Your prospects and customers today have 24/7 access to the internet at their fingertips through the myraid of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and IoT connected devices.
A prospective customer can look you up online at any point in time. What will they find?
You need to consider your Total Online Presence.
Start with Your Strategy
Before you jump into the components of your Total Online Presence, you want to make sure that you've laid the foundation and set the direction that you want to go in.
Think through the following
- Who is your target audience? What are their pain points and what are their triggers? What jobs are they trying to complete?
- How does your target audience use and access information online?
- Who are your competitors and what are they doing online? What are they doing well? What are they weak at or lacking in regards to their online presence?
- Draft your story and your messaging. Write up how your company solves your customers problems, and how you do it better than anyone else, or what type of value you provide.
- Write up a company profile. Prepare 150 character, 300, and 500 character versions. Write up profiles for key individuals, if it's important and relevant to your customers.
- Assemble any images, photos, certifications, recommendations, etc. that your business and key individuals may have.
Keep a copy of your Marketing Hourglass handy as you work through each of the following steps.
There are a variety of tools and technologies which you can consider, but a modern marketing program usually includes:
1. Quality Content that Generates Interest and Drives Leads
Pick the themes for your content strategy.
I find it helpful to create a theme for each month that all of your content can revolve around. Each theme I use has a substantial topic related to my audience’s industry/pain points and represents an important keyword search term.
Provide valuable information and use content upgrades to convert the readers of this information into leads. Try to personalize and add emotional components to your content as much as possible to really establish a connection with a reader. The more they feel that connection, the more likely they’ll be to convert into leads and eventually customers.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel with your content. You can share relevant content from other sites on your social platforms to provide value to your audience. You can also repurpose content you already have, so, for example, if you have a podcast episode, transcribe it and turn it into a written blog post.
2. A Modern Mobile-Optimized Website and/or Landing Pages
No one will argue whether or not your practice needs a website, but your need website needs to do the following: tell people who you are, tell them what you do, give them confidence and build trust in why they should do business with you.
When it comes to content revisions, it always surprises me when people don’t think to start with their website as the content hub. The role of your website is to help you:
- Get found
- Build trust
Oh yeah, and it needs to be optimized for use on mobile devices. While many professional services firms have websites, they tend to be older, brochure-ware type sites that were built a number of years back. They may still be viewable on a desktop browser (even if they look older and stale), but viewing them on a smartphone or tablet may be difficult or near impossible.
- 10 Reasons Your Website Needs to be Mobile Optimized
- 7 Most Important Factors For Mobile Optimization
3. SEO - Onsite and Offsite
SEO, or search engine optimization, is how your content and website get found online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the method used to increase a website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) on sites such as Google, or Bing. Developing an SEO strategy for your business can help draw traffic to your website.
Keep in mind that the goal of a search engine is to provide unbiased results that deliver information you are looking for as quickly and as accurately as possible. In order to do this, search engines are capable of identifying all relevant information online and ranking them in order of quality and relevance. There are hundreds of factors that are involved when search engines rank websites in an organic search. SEO is constantly evolving so that search engines like Google and Bing can provide the best, most relevant results. You don't need to be an expert, but it is something to keep in mind as part of your Total Online Presence.
- MORE INFORMATION: The Local SEO Playbook
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Other tools like SEMrush Keyword Tool, Ahrefs, and BuzzSumo are best left for digital marketing agencies to manage on your behalf.
4. Online Advertising - Search Engines, Display Advertising, Social Media Sites
Paid advertising can get expensive very quickly, but don't rule online advertising out for your professional services practice. Online advertising can be highly targeted based on keywords, search terms (programmatic), and geograpic locations, and can therefore be very cost effective. With remarketing, your practice can advertise to visitors that have come to your site or social media pages, keeping your firm top-of-mind and keeping the sales dialogue open.
5. Social Media
- MORE INFORMATION: How do you make social media work for your business?
The main social media sites for professional services businesses to be on (in order of importance) are:
LinkedIn - Bare minimum: Make sure you have a company page, and make sure all customer-facing staff have profiles that are linked to your company page. Good to have: Post regular updates on your company page. For individual profiles make sure you connect with your customers, prospects, and referral sources. Advanced: LinkedIn can be a great lead generation tool, depending on the type of customer you are targeting.
Facebook Business Pages Bare minimum: Setup a business page for your firm. List off your address, profile, website, and services offered.
6. Marketing Database coupled with Email or Marketing Automation
Email marketing is vastly underutilized in accounting. It’s really quite easy to implement. All you need are three things:
- A list management tool
- Your client list with emails and preferably permission
- Content for your newsletters and marketing emails
List Management Tools
If you have a CRM with robust email marketing capabilities, then you already have your list management tool. Some of the market leaders in the enterprise space include:
In the small and solo firm space, any of these vendors are more affordable and a few of them are free:
When you choose a vendor, be sure to choose based on email deliverability rates in addition to feature set and price.
Your Client List
Some firms will need to do some admin time to put together their client list, especially if they don’t have a CRM or have not collected emails. If you don’t already have a process to add new clients and prospects to your list management tool, it’s essential to put that process in place.
7. Listings and Reviews
What will people learn about you and your business as the search around online, apart from your website? You want to make sure that your business turns up favourably in places that could generate new leads for you, or in ways that will help to add credibility to your business.
Often you can have your business listed for free. It can be time consuming, but every listing is another source of leads or helps prospects to determine your legitimacy.
Consider the following for your business, based on your area, your industry, and your customers:
- Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Authorities, Business Improvement Associations, Better Business Bureaus
- Industry Associations - depending on which customer segments you are targeting
List your business and make sure it can be found on search engines. The top two in Canada are: Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Once you have business listings, make sure to encourage positive reviews.
Online reviews can make or break a business. Your goal is to generate as many positive reviews as possible. If you've been in business for awhile consider reaching out to existing and previous customers to get them to complete reviews for you. Often if you ask, they will. Also, put a regular program in place to reach out to new customers once you've provided them with your product or service.
Drive reviews for the following:
- Google My Business and Bing Places for Business
- Facebook page likes
- Industry sites or forums
So there you have it
Your Online Presence will be the backbone to your marketing. It will help you to create awareness, be found, generate leads, help nurture those leads, build trust and credibility, and generate the sale. A strong Online Presence can help your business to stand out and to thrive.
- MORE INFORMATION: Helpful Marketing Resources for Small Businesses and Startups