I get questions all the time about how to get started online and where to get started online by those who are just starting up their business.
This is perhaps one of the most common questions asked out there and I find lots of great advice from sites all over the web.
What I tend to focus on with most people is just getting that first sale. Often times most new businesses do not have a lot of cash. This is one big reason why I started MarketingPlayBook.co . I want to get you making money and off the ground so you can start to grow your businesses and have more money to hire out people like me to take you to the next level.
On today’s hangout we are going to give you some very actionable information to get started online and to make your first sale or at least get your first online lead.
Here is the Weekly Hangout Video to accompany the written guide
You started your company or you have been around for years. It does not matter. You are now looking to generate more sales online and have few if any online assets.
The question you have or should have is
What Do I Need To Setup My Business online?
First the stuff you should have already
- Your Name
- Company Name
- Hours of Business
- List of Services you Provide
- Brief Summary of Business
- Image and creative assets.
I won’t spend much time on any of the above as this is all very common things
I will quickly talk about websites however because some people think they need to spend a lot of money to get a business website up but in today’s world it’s really cheap and it does not have to take long.
In order to build a website you really need 3 things
- Domain name which you can get from a registrar such as Godaddy, Google Domains or Namecheap. I like Google Domains and Namecheap.
- You then need hosting for your website. Hosting is the server that serves your website to the general public. There are hundreds of hosts out there. If you are small I would go with Bluehost. If you have a big site or eCommerce store and will have lot’s of traffic then I would go with Liquid Web.
From there you need to change what are called name servers from your register where you registered the domain name to point to your hosting account. Bluehost and Liquid Web provide the name servers and details on how to do this
- You need to code your website. gone are the days where most people higher a web developer to hard code an entire site. In 90% percent of all cases all you need is a decent Content Management System. I recommend WordPress. It’s free and your webhost will help you install it.
From there you can find a free theme you like online or a paid theme that is well supported that has the look you are going for with your business.
Where to List My Business Online?
This is the fun part. Well fun for me at least.
You need to ensure you are listed at the most prominent places online where people look for your products or services. Your website is just the main sales page. It can get organic search engine traffic our you can use paid traffic sources like PPC to generate traffic which in turn can lead to sales.
However you need to be listed online where your customers are looking for your services.
This also helps to complete and connect an echo system together for you business. As you build out other online assets, search engines such as Google will see you as more of an authority website for the products and services you are promoting.
If you are a local auto mechanic and want to be found organically through search engines then you need to tell Google and Bing about your business.
Here is a List of directory Assets You should Create
- Google My Business at https://www.google.com/business/
- Bing Places at https://www.bingplaces.com/
- Yahoo at https://www.aabacosmallbusiness.com/
- Yelp – https://biz.yelp.com/signup_business/new
- Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/create
- Better Business Bureau – http://www.bbb.org/
- Angie’s List – https://www.angieslist.com/
- Merchant circle – https://www.merchantcircle.com/signup/#step=stepOne
- Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show
- com – http://www.yellowpages.com/?re=yp
- Whitepages – http://www.whitepages.com/
- Dex Media – http://my.dexmedia.com//spportal/quickbpflow.do
- yellowbook – http://www.yellowbook.com/
- citysearch – http://www.citysearch.com
- mapquest – https://listings.mapquest.com/pl/mapquest-claims/preview.html
- local – https://advertise.local.com/
- foursquare – https://foursquare.com/
- usdirectory.com – http://www.usdirectory.com/
- bizjournals – http://businessdirectory.bizjournals.com/
- discoverourtown – http://www.discoverourtown.com/add/
- ezlocal – http://ezlocal.com/
Not all of the above offer free registration. Some will also attempt to upgrade you to a paid plan. It’s up to you if you want to pay.
TIP: I know plenty of companies are run out of people’s homes. I ran my computer repair company out of my home. In most cases you will need to use a physical address to register at the above places. If you do not want to use your home address you could pay for a street address at mail box place. P.O. Boxes in most cases will not work
If you do get a P.O. Box then use this form to request a physical street address – https://ribbs.usps.gov/mtcsa/documents/tech_guides/PBSACustomerAgreement.pdf
You should also register and reserve your social handle online. This is normally your company name or some version of the name and not your personal accounts.
To make things easy you can but in the name at http://knowem.com/ and check to see if that name is clear on dozens of popular web 2.0 and social sites
- Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/create
- Twitter – https://www.tumblr.com/
- reddit – https://www.reddit.com/
- blogger – https://www.blogger.com/home
- Tumblr – https://www.tumblr.com/
- vimeo – https://vimeo.com/
- Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/
- Pinterest – http://photobucket.com/
- wordpress – https://wordpress.org/
- photobucket – http://photobucket.com/
- etsy – https://www.etsy.com/
- trypepad – http://www.typepad.com/
- hubpages – http://hubpages.com/
I know your eyes are popping out of your head. I gave you 50 places to register your business. The directories are important because these are places before will visit. It’s vital that you fill out your profile and use the same name and address and phone number. You also get the added benefit of having a link in many cases pointed back at your website.
The social sites are important to register and at least reserve your name so someone does not scoop it up. They can also be used for content promotion to help generate leads for your businesses or to stay in touch with customers.
While not every plumber is going to spend time on YouTube, Facebook or twitter you can do a lot with these kinds of social sites. See our Content Development hangout where we talk more in-depth on this subject matter at http://marketingplaybook.co/hangouts/developing-content-strategy-small-business/
We have covered your website, directories, and social web 2.0 sites. building up these assets should help to give you a solid start that is 100% white hat.
Lastly you need to quickly setup your analytics and submit your website to Google Webmasters, Bing Webmasters and to Google Analytics
This is a portal where both Google and Bing provide feedback on your site. They will let you know what keywords are being used to find your site online and where you rank for those keywords. They will also tell you if t hey see any issues with your site. It’s a win win so be sure to setup Google Webmasters. Maybe someday soon I can go over more of the benefits if there is any interest from you.
Google Analytics helps give you a clearer picture of how people are using your website. You can see how visitors move from 1 page to another and get a feel for what kind of pages people are viewing most. You can also see how long people are staying on your website.
There are dozens of small insights you can gain from having this setup. For me, one of the major ones for small businesses is seeing who is referring in traffic. You can tell for instance if your business directory listings are sending people to your site. If so then you might want to possibly upgrade your listing or find other similar sites to connect with.
Once you start running paid traffic from AdWords you will also be able to link this account directly into AdWords and it will help to give you the full picture of how your paid ads are performing.
I do want to leave you with this thought. Take the time to pick-out a good WordPress theme for your website and put in the effort to make the site look good. Your website is an extension of your physical business and represents you 24/7 365. These were plenty of times where a client told me they selected my company over the others that they work looking at because my website looked nicer. That and I was very helpful over the phone when they called.
So two things. Have a nice looking website and list your phone number really big on that website and answer the phone in a professional manner when someone calls.
In next weeks hangout I’ll be going over your first steps into paid traffic to produce leads and what you need to ensure you have in place before you start paying for traffic.
Be sure to join us live every Wednesday at 2PM CST for your weekly dose of Small Business digital marketing – http://marketingplaybook.co/connect/