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It's important to realize that it's actually easy putting up an online presence and there are many advantages that can be derived from it.

What Is an Online Presence?

For the uninitiated, online presence basically means making your business accessible through the internet. This means making information (including multimedia content) about your business accessible online, providing ways for your business to be contacted online, and enabling interaction with other internet users. This is achieved through different ways. The most common of which are as follows:

Social Media - This is arguably the easiest way to start building an online presence. Signing up for a social media account or page is free. You just have to make good use of the features and functions to reach out to potential customers and engage current ones. And, there's plenty of educational materials around to help you ‘hack' marketing on Instagram, Facebook and more.

Website/Online Store - Many tend to think that maintaining an online presence is synonymous to putting up a business website or online. This is unsurprising considering that websites or online stores are the traditional online counterparts or brick and mortar businesses.



Online Advertising - Of course, advertising online is another way to establish an online presence. It is done mainly to induce awareness of your products or brand, as well as to convince potential customers to avail of what you are offering.

Blogs - Blogs are usually created to complement business websites. They are usually part of a website or online store. They are mostly used to churn out search engine optimized content to improve the search result rankings of a website. Also, they can be used to publish information about a business.

Forums - Forums are also usually used to complement websites. They serve as online communities for customers where relevant updates and information are shared, topics are discussed, and complaints or concerns are expressed. Well-managed forums are highly beneficial to businesses.

Web-based Communication - This is about the use of online communication platforms particularly online messaging apps or services such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Viber. The user IDs or names that can be used to contact a business are usually posted on websites or social media.

In establishing an online presence, you can use one, two, or all of the ways described above. It's advisable to use all as much as possible. You will naturally get better chances of reaching potential customers if you use more ways of maintaining an online presence.

Ways to Build an Online Presence

The ways to build your online presence can be summed up as follows:

●      If you want to have a social media presence, you just have to sign up for an account for free with sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, and Snapchat. It's not enough to simply create your account or page though, you need to be active on these social networking sites in creating connections and making posts that would attract:

●      Likes and comments. It's the same with online messaging. You just have to sign up for a free account and be active in making friends and interacting with your new contacts.

●      For websites and online stores, the good news is that it's easier to have these now. You no longer have to learn coding or the use of web publishing software. You may no longer have to pay a web developer/designer to build a site for your business. There are many online services or platforms now that let you build your website or online store easily, using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. These website builders include WordPress (which now allows you to create an online store), Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace, and website builders of web hosts like GoDaddy's site builder or host-supplied website builders.

Most website builders let you create a basic site for free but will charge you for using advanced feature like more storage and bandwidth allocation, custom domain name, and access to more features. If you use the site builders of web hosts, you can immediately build  your own website without having to pay for anything since the site builder is already part of the cost of web hosting you paid.

●      When it comes to blogs, forums, and web messaging, you generally don't have to pay for anything. There are many free platforms for these you can use. You just to make sure that you actively use these platforms to reach out to customers and engage them.

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Why you Should Constantly Work on Improving your Online Presence

Establishing online presence for your business yields many benefits. These can be summarized as follows:

Online Marketing - More and more people are using the internet. It simply does not make any sense to refuse to bring your marketing online. Regardless of the type of business you are running, it is important to go online to take advantage of the relatively level playing field. Money still rules when it comes to online advertising but the divide between moneyed advertisers and those who have limited online advertising budgets is no longer that massive.

Online Transactions - Ecommerce has greatly advanced over the years. Now, it is much easier to sell products and services online as numerous ecommerce platforms have been made available. Also, the presence a various online payment options and customer guarantees (escrow services in particular) allow customers to more easily and reliably buy things online.

Numerous Ways to Promote a Business - Another very important advantage of having an online presence is the existence of different ways to do promotions. It's not only about spending money for online ads. You can also do search engine optimization to top search results for certain keywords. Social media and email marketing are also a highly viable options. You just need to be resourceful and creative with how you go about with your marketing efforts.

Easier Interaction with Customers - Having an online presence makes it easier to reach out to customers, current and prospective. Inquiries can be made more easily through email, social media, or online messaging. You can create communities through forums wherein customers can share and discuss various topics related to your business. Blogs can likewise facilitate interaction through the comments sections. An online presence makes it easier to build relationships with potential customers and engage current ones.

More Flexible Brand Building and Marketing - Brand building is easier and more flexible online. This is mainly because it costs less to launch brand building and marketing campaigns as well as to change or totally revise such campaigns. You can try out some strategies and tweak things depending on how they are received by customers.

Instant Feedback - If you have an online presence, it becomes easier for customers to express their opinions on your products or promotional campaigns. You immediately get a glimpse of their reactions. Thus, you can more quickly respond. If your product has defects or if your marketing is perceived to be offensive, for example, you can quickly learn about these and do the necessary rectification.

It's relatively easy to build your online presence. You may not even have to spend for it. However, having an online presence ideally should not be limited to putting up a website or creating a social media, blog, or web messaging account. It's important to be active online if you want to get the benefits of having an online presence.