In the modern business world, there is so much focus on understanding the necessity of an online presence and how we should portray ourselves online. All of this is relevant and valid information, but it is information which can be detrimental to the perceived value of an offline presence. There are many brands that are online only, and they have been very successful in recent years but they risk the wrath of the millennial generation – the generation that prefers to shop in store rather than online. Striving for a well-balanced combination of both online and offline presences could prove very successful for your business in many ways.
Of course, there are benefits to an online presence – for example:
An online presence can improve the credibility of your business. A quick Google search of your company name and the ability to see a website list in the results pages will provide reassurance to prospects.
One of the great things about the internet is that it is always there – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This constant availability means that your information can be found by anyone at any time. For e-commerce, this is particularly important as it means that you can be selling products outside of usual trading hours, resulting in maximum sales.
Improved Customer Support
Websites act as research tools: the information that you provide on your website can be read by individuals first, hopefully answering any general questions that they may have. For businesses that do not have this resource of information, people must wait and call, or even wait to ask you in person – it’s a lot of waiting, which is something that doesn’t go down well in our very immediate world. Having an online presence in this instance would improve customer support as the information they may require is always instantly available.
Information can also be provided in a number of formats such as basic text, video or sound bites. Videos are a great tool to use to help explain your company and products/services – we have recently written a blog post about video marketing, which you can read here.
An online presence can allow you to reach a wider audience, through paid and organic searches. These both have a large potential to bring you more business.
Just as there are benefits to having an online presence, there are many benefits to having an offline presence too – for example:
Chains of emails can get complicated – people reply when they can and often the point of the conversation can get lost within the delayed to-ing and fro-ing. It can also be difficult to accurately represent a tone of voice via online communications which can lead to various misunderstandings. Meeting at a physical location can allow both parties to be on the same page.
Reality Fuels Loyalty
A physical presence can bring everyone back to the real-world. So often we find ourselves lost in the hyper-reality of our online communications that we forget that there is another human being on the other side of the email thread. When we realise this, we can further trust what we are reading, building loyalty as we go.
Word of Mouth
A personal recommendation from a friend or acquaintance could do very well for your business. Online reviews are great, but actually hearing this from someone else can really cement that trust. A selling point may also be that you have an offline presence so be sure to promote this where you can.
Many have expressed the view that engagement is the way forward. People enjoy interacting with brands rather than just letting the brands speak at them. This need for engagement comes from the millennial generation who want to feel part of the communications. Engagement can come in a number of formats, but even just a meeting in a physical location can be enough to make someone feel involved.
As briefly mentioned, real people are at the other end of your online conversation so make sure you connect with them offline. For example, after a meeting with a prospect you may want to connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter as online communication can be a great way to follow up.
Remember: combine your online and offline presences for maximum success in your industry.