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Going Digital

With millions of people online globally, it’s no secret that the world has embraced all things digital since the birth of the internet, but how are those people spending their time online?

Now is the time to look at how your business can benefit from the still-booming digital trend…

To give you an idea of the explosion of online usage over the last 15 years, consider this; in 2000, about 361 million people were online worldwide. In 2014, there were over 3 billion, that’s a growth rate of 764%!

In Europe, the numbers are even more impressive with over 75% of people having internet access. We’re so connected in Europe that according to Google we have an average of 1.25 mobile subscriptions each; that’s more than one mobile line per person!

No matter which device is used, on average, people spend more than 30 hours per month online!

So what are we doing with all that time online? And how can your business tap into this opportunity?

Shopping and online video has seen triple-digit growth over the last few years. People are spending hours socialising and sharing—nearly a third of our time spent online is via social media sites.

If you’re a business owner, having a digital presence is paramount to ensure you’re interacting with people doing all these things online, presenting you with masses of potential, and this is only ever going to increase as time goes on.

When we look at how the internet has grown and impacted on our daily lives in such a short space of time, it really is a phenomenon of modern global times and this type of opportunity should not be missed by any business, especially small businesses.

So what are the practicalities for your business? What and how does this growing opportunity impact you?

Let’s say you’re a wealth adviser whose business has grown strictly through referrals and word of mouth (certainly not uncommon). So far, you’ve not had any digital presence, but now you want to take your business to the next stage.

How will being online help your business succeed?

One of the biggest advantages to being online is reaping the benefits of local search. Having a digital presence means you’ll be visible when people go online and search for a business like yours. Let’s assume someone searches for ‘Pension Cheshire’ and your business appears in the results. How can this benefit you?

The possibilities here are virtually endless. When a customer clicks a link to your website, there’s so much they can learn about you. They may watch a video you posted about the types of service you offer, or simply a little more information about you; an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge.

They could read testimonials from happy customers.

They may look through a comparison quote service on your website, find you on a map, or find out initial consultations are free.

Perhaps, they’ll fill out a form to ask a question…

If you use social media or post blogs within the website, they may even click through to where they’ll find even more tips, photos and videos.

For anyone just starting out in digital, I’d almost guarantee that you won’t start by having all these features on your website, but these examples should give you a sense of the many ways you can benefit from being online.

So what happens once you’re up and running?
Ensuring you have analytics installed on your website is a first step and absolute must! Your online presence will provide you with valuable insight into existing and prospective customers: what they want, and how to give it to them.

With this information to hand, targeted advertising leads you to people looking for exactly what you have and offer.

As an example, using search advertising, you can show ads to potential customers looking for ‘Pension Cheshire.’ Restrict the ads to show within a certain geographic radius of your business and you know you’ve got a highly targeted and local presence. With the aforementioned analytics tools, you can find out if people clicked on your ad, visited your site, and took certain actions, like filling out a form or reading a blog article.

So how do you get started?

Firstly, don’t be intimidated. The tools and technology available today are easy to learn, easy to use and easy to acquire.

I’d encourage anyone to put a plan together; scope it out, but think Web, Mobile, Social.

Technology and Content: for many, putting the initial website together (that’s mobile friendly) is a daunting task, but there are many great looking template services to assist, and if you need a designer for that added flair of individuality, the costs of undertaking this are increasingly competitive.

Each day, business owners are making the web work for them. The opportunity to reach customers from around the corner is simply now too big to ignore.

Impressions count and unless we project a desirable image, we can easily be over-looked.

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Ian Fitzpatrick

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