To be or not to be…Online

One of the things that most of us realised when we entered the global pandemic, and its restrictions, is that it’s such a good thing that we can be and work online. We have the possibility to benefit from the digital transformation and go virtual, work online, present online, do events with a virtual setup, stay connected to our customers, buy, sell, in two words: live online

However, we can’t help wondering: do we actually go online the right way, or do we just shift from offline to online? Being online instead of offline, doesn’t only imply being present in the online environment and sell. It means we are able to provide the desired online experience to our customers – from the awareness phase to the final merchandising process and then maintaining the life cycle. In other words, we are generating digital value, building loyalty in the eyes of our customers and creating business value. 

We are invited to design and build our online presence to gain exposure and make ourselves known, not only for what we want to sell, but also for who we actually are, what do we stand for and what do we want to achieve as an online entity. We know that if we want to trade online, we need to create an online store. But this is not a fixed objective: make the store and start the selling process. Not even if we are selling the best products or services on the market. We ought to create a personalised user experience. Users don’t just buy items, they buy experiences, they buy outcomes. They want their needs to be fulfilled or make their wishes come true, so to speak. We know this looks like common sense, but when we start building our online presence, we tend to forget that we need to create a complete user experience and not just a transactional one. 

Let’s start assessing our online presence by asking ourselves a few questions:

  1. Are my customers quickly reaching out to me? How and where can they find me? 
  2. What about the user experience? How much did I invest in my online presence design?
  3. What will my customers think about me when they read about me? Is this aligned with my organisational vision, goals and values?
  4. Am I selling the correct product/service? What is my brand statement, and how strong is my branding?
  5. What is my social meaning, and what is the purpose of my brand? Or I am just in the selling mode?
  6. Am I credible? Am I recognisable? 
  7. Did I define my online marketing strategy? If yes, is this in sync with my online actions?

 

Did you answer all the questions? Good job! But it’s not enough. Having all the answers doesn’t mean our job is done. Because designing and building an online presence is not a fixed task, but an ongoing process, one that will never end. Why? Because our business evolves – we can grow or expand, or we might have to redefine our business, change our branding or make it stronger, change our products and services and reach more customers. Our goals might change, this means our online statement has to change too because our brand is evolving

We would like to group the questions above in some categories and highlight the most essential items into an online presence “pocket guide” that will guide us and keep us focused and online the right way:

Define your identity map to create digital value and a successful user experience.

Your business brand narrative is the first step that will enable you to build both an offline and an online thriving online experience for your customers. It’s essential to define who you are and what you do, stepping out of the selling mode and walking in your customers’ shoes. What is the problem that my business will resolve? What are the needs that are fulfilled? What are the envisioned results? How can my business support my customers and stakeholders developments?

When you know who you are, then you start building a solid brand. Apart from becoming trustworthy and recognisable, you also start creating connections. The digital environment offers plenty of opportunities to connect your business to any other entities, and the social tools translate your brand purpose into actions. 

You have to develop your brand architecture, which will remain your basic structure during your business development process. You can change or improve your brand structure, but you can never let it go. It’s like your unique mark. This will enable your customers to recognise you and identify themselves with your brand. This is the key element that will generate prospects and conversions. That will make your business rolling

Find a place for your offline business in the online environment and prepare to make a 100% shift.

We do understand that some businesses are built to function in the offline world. You might have a physical store, or you sell only through face-to-face meetings, you are used to organising face-to-face events or you simply delivering some of your services through an offline environment. Nowadays, you can find an online space almost for everything, or at least a substitute. This can also be a good exercise for reinventing or rebranding yourself. This can be an opportunity to expand your business or to expand your target group. Online means potential new opportunities, which can lead to potential new customers. 

Sometimes we were using online just as an asset to help us promote the offline. Now the roles are reversed. Moreover, online started to leave offline behind. We are invited to keep up with the global changes and adjust our business accordingly. Adapting and reinventing ourselves will be the key elements that will assure business success. 

Look at your online space as your business’s new home.

Even if you are present in some of the most used online communities, your website will be your central digital space. In order to make your solution this loud and clear to your visitors, you have to help them get to the main point – build them a bespoke roadmap. Use all the other digital tools to encourage your customers to read more about your business, stimulate their interest and invite them to know who you are and what you can offer them. 

Once they landed on your website, make them feel welcome as a guest in a beautiful home. Yes, your centralised location, your website, is your home. 🙂 

Your online space design plays a vital role in making them want to see more and more. Then, they should be able to find what they are looking for, a wish, a need, a solution to one of their difficulties. Make your brand statement obvious. Show them what’s in it for them if they spend more time inside your home. Provide them with a map that helps them connect to you and your business. Talk about your products and services in such a way that it generates answers and not more questions. Share your fees, share your other customer’s feedback and reviews. This way, you can create more digital value, therefore, start growing your business because you create genuine interest. 

Your website is the central point that connects the social channels with the promotional tools, therefore, it connects the customer to your end products and services and with the information he needs. We can help you build a personalised and complete customer experience. Find out how!

You might also want to read the article: Website Development – The story behind the scenes
Article written by Corina Cernaianu – Project Manager and Diana Popescu – Project Engineering

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