As the marketing world becomes ever more digital year by year, people turn more and more to digital ideas. One of these digital concepts you may have come across is the concept of a ‘digital footprint.’ This phrase is thrown around a lot, but do you really understand what it means? Do you really understand how your digital footprint affects your business? If you’re not sure, then keep reading. It’s no longer an option to understand this concept – it’s vital to your company’s survival.
It’s important to understand, first and foremost, that having an online presence does not equate to having a strong digital footprint. A better way to view this footprint is as the way your company is perceived online as a direct result of your activities online. Your digital footprint is the best tool you have for controlling your brand and reputation online. It’s comprised of where your business is found, how consistent your information online is, where and how customers are engaging with your business and, overall, how much of an opportunity you as a business have to capture new customers.
Does your company have a website? Are you listed on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or some combination thereof? Are there reviews about your company on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List? These are questions you need to know the answer to. It’s crucial that you understand where your business appears, under what names, for what searches, and how often. This will help you understand what sort of customers are looking for you, and what sort of customers you need to be targeting. Also, this will help you make sure you aren’t wasting money marketing somewhere that people aren’t looking for you.
It’s one thing to know where your business is being listed. It’s another thing entirely to know where customers are actually actively engaging with you. If you’re spending money advertising on Facebook, but no one is engaging with your business on that platform, then you’re wasting your hard-earned dollars. Understanding your digital footprint and where your business is leaving its mark will help you save money by focusing your marketing in those areas.
This is perhaps the simplest component of your digital footprint. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. As you may remember, back in the day people used the yellow pages to look up businesses. Imagine if a company had the wrong phone number or address listed. They’d lose a lot of customers because they wouldn’t be able to reach the business! Nowadays, there are around 100 digital pages that act as new yellow pages. Sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others like them allow customers to quickly and easily look up your information. Just like in the days of physical yellow pages, if your company’s information is listed incorrectly on these sites it can negatively impact your sales, your customer acquisition, and your reviews online. Additionally, having NAP consistency across the board boosts your SEO, which boosts your rating on Google and raises your position in its results.
I mentioned review sites before, and I’d like to emphasize them a little more. According to helpscout.net, 58% of Americans do some sort of online research about products or services they’re considering purchasing. A big part of your company’s footprint is what is being said about you online – these reviews affect whether or not someone decides to contact your business. You must monitor what is being said about you on these sites. It’s also been shown that even bad reviews can have a positive impact. This depends on how the business owner responded and reacted. If someone does leave a negative review or comment, that’s your opportunity to not only win them back, but to prove to other potential customers that you are willing to help improve their experiences.
It can be easy to see all of this and think I use traditional marketing to reach customers, so none of this applies to me. That simply isn’t true anymore. Even if you have not intentionally developed an online presence, you have one. You’re also missing out on a potential audience if you aren’t active online, particularly on social media. As of 2014, 64% of millennials said they used social media and social networks to stay up-to-date on their favorite brands. Yelp receives around 145 million unique visitors every month. Those visitors trust the reviews they’re reading to the same extent that they’d trust a recommendation from an acquaintance. Someone, at some point, has written a review about your company, or searched for you, or checked in at your location. Whether you know it or not, you are on the map.
This does not have to be a bad or intimidating thing! Having an online presence simply means that it’s that much easier for potential customers to engage with you! What is important, though, is making sure you can leverage this digital footprint to your advantage. To do that, you need to have a strong digital footprint. You’ve got the first step now – understanding what a digital footprint is. Stay tuned – the next blog in this series will address what you can do to develop a strong digital footprint. It’ll also show you some of the ways DoBizLo can help you leverage your digital footprint to your benefit.