It’s no secret that 2020 changed the way many of us do business. As human socio-cultural norms alter to cope with a post-pandemic world, business norms also need to make adjustments. Our usual sources of new clientele might no longer exist or might be drastically altered so that our previous methods and approaches don’t work.
Our current customer base is also shifting their spending habits and methods for seeking and purchasing products or services. It can be tempting to try everything possible—throwing paint up against the wall—hoping that something is going to stick and work and cover for the costs of everything else we’ve tried. Of course, trial and error is a much slower process than using tried-and-true methods for reaching audiences in 2021 and beyond.
The following will explore some of the things that businesses can do in order to introduce themselves to a wider audience. The information selected pays special attention to things that have been shown to work since the pandemic. When reading any business advice online, be sure to check the date the article was published so that you have an idea of when the information came about. Perhaps it was true when it was written, but the world has shifted radically in the last two years—what worked in 2018 might not work now.
Online Presence: Get Yourself A Website
Of course, this one should go without saying, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. Given that many people are cautious about leaving their homes (or not allowed to in some situations), you need to have the basic information surrounding your business online. We’re not going to spend too much time talking about this, but at the bare minimum, you need to have your name, location, hours of operation, contact information, products or services available, and pricing (if you have set pricing) online. It’s also a fantastic idea to have a frequently asked questions page so that people considering your product or service can have their questions addressed.
The remainder of this article will focus on the things that you can do to draw new audience members to your website and, by extension, to what your business offers. Consider your website a virtual storefront or virtual office space—make sure it looks appealing and functions (all the links work, and the layout makes it easy for people to find what they’re looking for). If you’re not sure your site meets these requirements, ask for a few beta testers. You want people with a range of ages and internet comfort levels—give them a list of tasks that should be easy like: find out our opening hours, what’s our address, etc., and have them tell you if any of these simple steps were difficult. If you feel your site needs a touch-up, you can always hire a website developer or team to help make sure everything works and looks good.
Online Content: Keep It Coming But Don’t Sacrifice Quality
Once you have a site set up, you need things for people to do on the site. This can include watching videos and reading articles or blog posts. Quality online content is something that scares a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to. There are two ways to approach curating or producing online content that can help take the struggle away.
First, you can view online content as more of curation than creation. Depending on your business industry, this might be the right choice for you. It tends to suit artists and creative-based industries as well as feel-good-oriented companies. This approach involves keeping your eyes and ears open for interesting or inspiring content and then sharing it on your site (with proper credit and your own spin on the information, of course). Let’s say you sell cleaning products with none of the nasty chemicals that give people cancer or hormone problems. You might want to subscribe to a few academic journals and share the latest information on chemical ingredients that scientists release. Any customer who is considering your products probably is interested in learning about the latest research. Make sure to credit the researchers, journal, and rephrase everything into your own words.
The second approach involves creating your own content from scratch. When brainstorming video or written post topic ideas, ask yourself what the pain points of your audience are. What are the things people who need your product or service are struggling with right now? Roll up your sleeves, do the research, and bring useful, applicable solutions to your readers or viewers. The goal is to provide value, meaning information that is helpful in day-to-day life, entertaining, funny, uplifting, or encouraging.
If you struggle with writing or video production, there are countless freelancers available that can help you create content for a one-off post or on a regular basis. You want to have something new on your site every few days ideally (at least once per week), but this can get difficult. Try to break up larger ideas into smaller posts (besides, people don’t like reading articles that are too long anyway).
Search Engine Optimize Your Content With Keywords
Search engines are the most common way people organically discover content. Things like Google Search, DuckDuckGo Search, Youtube Search, and many others are where the average person goes with their questions. If you take the time to use a keyword data tool and figure out what questions people are searching for related to your business, you can include those questions and keywords in your content. This will help search engines connect people who need your content to your website. If you don’t have the time or expertise to work with keyword analytics tools, you can always hire a search engine optimization professional (or, if you’re hiring a content writer anyways, you can specify that you’d like to work with one that has search engine optimization knowledge and skills).
Boost Your Domain Authority To Further Increase Search Engine Optimization
Incorporating keywords isn’t all there is to search engine optimization, a big part of proving to search engines that your work is legitimate and worth being shared with searchers is by improving your domain authority. This is the ranking your site is given by search engines to help them determine how trustworthy your pages are. You can figure out your domain authority using any number of free online tools (just search domain authority checker, copy and paste the link of the page you’re wondering about, and look at the number; anything below 60 is not great).
How Do I Improve Domain Authority?
One of the best ways to bolster domain authority is by working on your backlinks. Backlinks are instances where other sites (that are well regarded and have a solid domain authority) link to your site. There are two big ways to get these links.
The first is by writing guest posts on trustworthy sites. This can involve pitching a magazine an idea for an article that you think their audience would like (the biography section at the end of the article can link to your site). You can also reach out to bloggers who cover topics in your niche and offer to write for them. While this might seem scary at first, it is actually a fairly calm and common process. Anyone who is running a blog, magazine, or publication is almost always on the lookout for content—it’s hard on them to publish new articles every day, so they are almost always open to help. Keep in mind their target audience and their preferred writing voice when you submit.
Secondly, you can encourage news and media outlets to write about you and the work you’re doing. Again, this sounds scary, but it’s actually a much chiller process than you might imagine. Just like blogs and magazines, the news is always looking for more content that is worth publishing. Most media outlets are publishing multiple stories per day, up to as many as two per hour. That’s an insane amount of content and information they need to keep things going. Submitting to the media involves creating a press kit and a press release ideally focused on one small element of news related to your business instead of just: hey, this business is here. Think about the most recent changes that have occurred—how is your industry or business coping with the pandemic? How is your customer base changing? This stuff is news, and you can share it with media outlets.
Writing press releases and press kits is both an art and a science. In part, you’re selling the story idea to the news publication—indicating that it would make for a good story, but you’re also trying to draw people who read the news article that is later written to your site and business. Consider hiring a press release writer as this is a tricky skill to master (and most news outlets get hundreds of these each day). When looking into a press release writer, be sure that they offer case studies where they can show exactly what news coverage they got for previous clients. You don’t just want proof of their ability to write press releases; you want proof that these releases are effective. The best companies will also have their own database of hundreds, if not thousands, of news outlets that they can submit your press release to on your behalf.
Improve The Accessibility Of Your Content To Further Boost Search Engine Optimization
Not everyone who is using the internet can take in information in the same way. When content is optimized for accessibility, search engines consider the content slightly more valuable. This could mean having a transcript of your podcast episodes available. This could mean having subtitles on your video content for those who are hearing impaired. This means having alternative text for the images on your site. It could also mean having an audio version of every written post for those who are visually impaired. Not only is this a fantastic way to boost your ranking in search engines, but it also welcomes a wider audience to your content and your business.
Optimize Content For Mobile
In addition, the verdict is now in on mobile and tablet internet usage. More people are using the internet on their phones or tablets than on laptops or desktop devices. What this means is that you need to optimize everything you’re curating and posting for smaller screens. You don’t want your images cut in half or your text sawed to pieces on a mobile device; you want the image to be smaller and easily viewed without the user having to scroll to take the whole thing in.
The above guide should have walked you through the basic steps involved in opening your business up to a wider audience in 2021 and beyond. Remember that if this process begins to feel overwhelming, there are countless professionals with years of experience bolstering online presences to encourage the meeting of businesses and future clients.
It is also worth noting that none of these tips will result in an overnight explosion of viewers, listeners, users, and clients. Each of the above points requires consistent effort and regular updating to maintain effectiveness and relevance.
You should be checking back with all of these points every three months at the minimum: looking over your website for areas where improvements could be made (especially if your growing audience has resulted in greater traffic and client needs on your site), reviewing your most popular content and seeing what questions or needs people have related to that content that can direct you towards new video, article, or podcast ideas, updating your sense of keywords that are working and publications worth reading out to, always looking for ways to improve accessibility, as well as regularly checking to see if there are new and popular devices that require optimizing your content or site.
In addition to all of the above information, it is worth checking up on your site’s security measures every two months at the minimum. If people are coming to your digital location or if they are sharing information with your business over the internet, it is your responsibility to ensure that their data and privacy are being protected. Ask your hosting platform the tough questions and protect your audience from cyber threats.