In today’s marketplace, it’s becoming more and more important for small businesses to create a digital footprint. Yet, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that many minority-owned businesses, especially those owned by solopreneurs, have little time to devote to these efforts.
- Verify your business online through sites like Yelp and Google search, then link them to your website.
- Keep a close eye on user comments for insights into what customers expect and what they appreciate about your business.
- Maintain an active presence on social media where you can communicate with customers and promote new products or services.
The good news: there’s no rule that you must make major updates and upgrades all at once, and there are more resources available than you might think.
Here’s why it’s worth making online upgrades part of your business plan this year — and how to find support to help you ease into it.
Customers and prospects today are increasingly searching for businesses online. More than half of consumers (64%) say their shopping is now a mix of online and in-person experiences, per the Bazaarvoice 2022 Shopper Experience Index. And that trend is likely to continue: E-commerce sales in the U.S. are projected to grow from $819 billion in 2022 to $1.4 trillion in 2027.
Also consider this: In recent years, nearly one-third of global consumers have begun prioritizing purchases from minority-owned businesses — especially younger generations who are also known for being digital-savvy.
Upgrading your company’s digital effort can help grow your business.
While you’re at it, you may also want to consider other
tech improvements, such as making the shift to contactless payments.
You can start to build an online presence without investing time and money into building a website (though you may want to do that later).
Many people use crowd-sourced reviews on various websites to find information about businesses, so these third-party platforms are a great way to start building a digital presence for your company. Not only do consumers use these sites to discover companies, the sites themselves often provide metrics about how many people search for your business and what percentage engage to find out more.
You can register your business with review sites like Yelp, and search engines like Google. (Creating a Google Business profile only takes a few minutes, though you’ll be asked to verify by mail that you’re the business owner. This helps protect your business but can take a few weeks.)
Many online shopping and review sites give businesses a way to identify as minority-owned. For example, Google Merchant Center provides an option to identify your business as Black-owned, Latino-owned, veteran-owned, or women-owned. Google Digital Coaches also provide free training and coaching to help Black and Latinx small businesses create a thriving online presence. Not only do consumers use these sites to discover companies, the sites themselves often provide metrics about how many people searched for your business and what percentage engaged to find out more.
Increase your relevance once you’ve registered your business or created a profile by asking customers to post reviews. Monitor these comments since they can help you better understand your customers, and good feedback can convince prospects to pick you.
According to a recent survey, more than half of consumers (60%) say they are prioritizing or want to prioritize buying from Black-owned businesses — and nearly half of the people surveyed said they’re learning about these businesses from social media. This is just one example of how consumers are using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, to search for businesses they’re interested in. For this reason, your social media marketing should keep pace.
Creating social media pages lets you share information without creating a full-fledged website. You can instantly communicate a product launch, for example. It also makes it easier to have two-way conversations with customers, which can be helpful if you’re not sure what products or services to keep or phase out. A number of social media sites also have e-commerce options, so customers can make purchases from your business via the social platform.
Get a website
If you’re seeing a lot of traction on social media, consider creating your own website. It’s much easier today than it was a decade ago. A number of companies offer “templates” for websites, many based on the type of business you run.
- Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly offer a range of templates for any type of business.
- Shopify and BigCommerce focus on e-commerce.
- WordPress and others allow more custom coding.
In most cases, you’ll just need to follow the prompts to select your website address and domain, enter text, and upload photos. If you’re worried the web-version of your business name is taken, consider adding your city or state to it, and explore “.org” or “.net” in addition to “.com.”
To make your site different from your social media or third-party pages, fill it with unique content, like a blog or descriptions of your products or services. Don’t be afraid to get into the details and talk about what sets you apart. If you decide it’s time for some professional help with website setup, you can support diversity by seeking out a minority-owned web design firm.
Our worksheet — “Create the best website for your business” — walks you through the process.
For additional support, contact a Wells Fargo banker who can help you better understand how these digital upgrades fit into your overall business plan.
Link your Google business profile, Yelp profile, and
social media accounts to your website — and vice versa.