Any business needs to communicate professionalism – in this day and age ensuring that your online presence is polished and exudes credibility is an important part of this.
Even if you are an entrepreneur or a small business, you can still have a professional image that is just as savvy as the big boys.
Getting certain things right online will help boost your business credibility big time – lots of them aren’t terribly complicated and take just a bit of legwork. Go through this checklist and get some ideas for how you can improve your business and ensure that you are putting your best face forward online.
An appealing website
When it comes to your online image, nothing trumps your website. It’s your home online and it’s where most people have their first experience with your company. Make sure that it’s giving off the right impression. Consumers these days have certain expectations when it comes to a website – if they are not met, this affects how they feel about your company. Ensure that you have a current, clean website design that is user-friendly and easy to use. If you need help with your website, take advantage of our website design services.
And in case you’re thinking that it’s enough to simply have a Facebook page for your business and no website, think again. It’s crucial to have the control and flexibility of owning your own web presence. With Facebook, your business is in their hands.
The right web hosting plan
The most appealing, up to date website means nothing if it does not perform well. This comes down to choosing the appropriate web hosting package for your business. Every company’s online requirements are different. You need to think about whether your hosting provider offers you all the resources and power you need run your website optimally. What is their uptime? Do they have resources that can scale if you get a traffic spike? How is the speed of the network? Any hosting provider should be able to consult with you on the best option for your business, whether it’s a simple shared hosting environment, or a private cloud server .
Having a website that loads fast and is always available equals professional. Anything but could leave a bad impression on your site visitors.
Using a proper business email
This is a very common thing that we’ve noticed with small businesses and entrepreneurs – using a generic email service, such as Hotmail or Gmail, for their business email address. It certainly doesn’t portray a very professional image in your email communications.
With a domain name and a web hosting plan for your business, you have the ability to set up your own email address.
Once that’s set, you just have to choose which email interface you want to use. You can use the email program for your computer’s operating system, such as Outlook or Apple Mail. You can use the Gmail interface. Choose the option that is most convenient for you, and away you go.
Professional business phone numbers & communications
Once you’ve got your email settings, it’s time to think about your phone. While it is true that much interaction happens online these days, telephone communications are still very common and very necessary.
One thing to think about if you are a business that deals with customers in wide geographic locations is to get a toll free number. This communicates a professional image for your business and is also beneficial to the customers themselves. Seeing a toll free number at the top of a website screams credibility.
Another consideration is getting some local phone numbers for your business. This gives a real localized feel to your company and is also useful to use in online listings, advertising and other online communications and promotions channels.
You also need to think about how the phone communications are handled. Are people calling into a personal voicemail? Can they easily find the specific person that they are looking for?
Setting up a professional business phone infrastructure is easy with our business phone services. You can get the toll free and or local phone numbers you need and pair them with professional phone communications. Enjoy features such as a professional auto-attendant answering calls 24/7, the ability to create extensions for your employees, and the option to run your business from mobile devices. Click to learn more about our professional Business Phone (IPPBX) services.
Easy to find contact information
You’ve got your communications channels all polished up, now you need to make sure that your customers can get in touch with you… easily. When you come across a company online and they make it challenging for you to find their contact information, how does that make you feel? It gives off the impression that you don’t want people to contact you, which begs the question, why? You are planting a seed of doubt in a visitor’s mind.
Ensure that your contact information is front and center on your website to boost your credibility. You should have a contact page with phone numbers and email addresses and any other contact channels such as social media. You should also consider having main contact information easily accessible on every page of your website. Nothing communicates a legitimate, genuine business than transparent and prominent contact details.
If your website revolves around e-commerce in any way, then another important factor to consider is the impression it gives off from a security standpoint. Do you have SSL certificates , security seals and other credibility boosters on your site? Do you communicate clearly that your shoppers are safe when completing transactions online with your business? Don’t lose out on any potential customers or sales due to a lack of trust.
Owning your online real estate
Another aspect of having a professional business presence online is being aware of all of your business’ online listings and doing what you can to claim and control them.
Many of these online listings and directories do not actually require a business to submit or input any information – the needed details are simply grabbed from a website. So you could have listings that you are not even aware of. Automatically generated listings are often not presented in the ideal way and lack a lot of information. In some cases, users are even able to leave their own comments or feedback – it’s important that your business can publicly address and deal with any situations that might arise.
Ensure that you are in control of the most important listings. Major local listings are the first place to start, such as Google Local or Yahoo! Local. Next, do a Google search as if you were a customer looking for your business – what online directories or listings show up on the first page or two? Focus on claiming and improving these as you can.
Follow this checklist to ensure that your business shines (in the right light of course) online.