If any part of your business relies on having your customers or clients find you online, your online brand is one of the most valuable sales and marketing tools you can have – especially if you are a service provider.
How you manage your reputation online is entirely up to you. Here are six things you can do to build a stronger online brand for free (or pretty close to it).
1. Give people the chance to get to know you.
We connect to people, not products and services. Contact forms, subscribe buttons, landing pages and other brand touchpoints are all opportunities to show off more of your personality while you interact with your client or customer.
TIP: A well-written About page stands out. Here are a few tips to help you create a good one:
Keep it short. Our average attention span is about 8 seconds. Breaking up your content with subtitles and bold text will help make it scannable.
Get personal. Use your About section as an opportunity to incorporate humour, personal interests, quirks and little-known facts about you and your team.
Don’t leave out the meat. Remind others about your professional accomplishments, certifications and qualifications.
2. Blog more often (and if you can’t, hire someone to do it for you).
A blog post is shareable content that drives traffic to your website by supplying fresh content to Google and other search engines. It also provides you with the opportunity to engage with your readers by asking them questions and inviting them to comment.
TIP: The hardest part of blogging is finding the time to do it. Save yourself some time by creating a title and outline before you get started.
3. Use images whenever possible.
The human mind processes images a whopping 60,000 times faster than it processes text. Use your website and social media profiles as a visual storyboard for your brand (Pinterest and Instagram are excellent platforms for doing this.)
TIP: Be consistent with fonts and colours. Using 2-4 of each will help build brand recognition.
4. Show off your accomplishments.
Press, awards and recognitions are something to brag about. If your website doesn’t already have one, create a page within your website for recent media coverage and accomplishments including links and images where appropriate. Consider it your digital mantel.
TIP: Go ahead and be a show off. Tastefully sharing your accomplishments adds credibility and allows others to celebrate your successes.
5. Take control.
Two words: Protect and promote.
Learn how to take control of the good, the bad and the ugly of your brand by keeping a close eye on your press, your reviews and your ratings.
Made a bad call? Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Use them as an opportunity to reinforce your brand values. Get into the habit of acknowledging, responding and resolving. It will serve you well.
TIP: A little kindness goes a long way. Always use polite and respectful language.
6. Boost your credibility.
Don’t underestimate the power of a few kind words. A good testimonial turns customers into advocates. Reach out to your existing relationships to help you form new ones, by asking your customers to provide testimonials.
TIP: Don’t write your own! Instead, follow these simple guidelines.
Leave them alone. A fake testimonial can be spotted a mile away. Don’t over-edit and always include a first and last name.
Ask for details. The best testimonials are specific. For example, “my sales increased substantially” is far less compelling than “thanks to you, my sales increased by 87% in just two weeks.”
Give them a hand: Provide your customers with a list of questions to help steer them in the right direction.
“What were some of the reasons you chose our business or product?”
“What were your perceptions prior to choosing us and how have they changed?”
“What were your biggest challenges and how did we help you overcome them?”