Step in the right direction – Best practices for building your brand’s digital footprint

Digital footprint

Your digital footprint is one of the key elements that will help you to build your company’s profile, acquire new customers, and ultimately, drive your brand’s success. Having a good reputation and an attractive online presence is crucial if you want your brand to go the distance. Here are some tips for building a digital footprint for your small business.

Cornerstones of your digital footprint

The digital world offers many powerful tools for building brand loyalty and managing customer relationships – from WhatsApp, email and your website to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. The challenge is deciding what really matters to your company and supporting these goals with the right tools.

There are four cornerstones that deserve your attention.

Communication: who is your brand?

Communication isn’t just about your company newsletter or your advertising. It’s also about the message you convey to your customer in every interaction and at every touchpoint. Your goal is to set a clear vision and values for your brand, and then live them out via every channel that you use.

Social media, customer support, content marketing, paid advertising (think PPC), search engine optimisation (SEO) — and any other medium you use to communicate with your customers — must convey your brand values. These values are the core of your brand’s personality. Knowing what these are will help your team deliver the message more efficiently.

And that’s important because brand personality can have a significant positive impact on brand loyalty, word-of-mouth, resistance to negative information, and even willingness to pay more. It’s a strong driving force behind a company’s performance.

The question to ask here is not only who your brand is, but who it is for. If you know that, you can communicate in a relatable way and reach the exact audience that will appreciate your message.

Content: Still king if done right

Content matters more than ever – you need to produce quality content to grow awareness of your brand among prospects; support your SEO strategy; educate customers about your offerings; build relationships with existing customers and drive customer conversion.

So, you’re doing content marketing — great! But:

  • Do you really know what purpose it serves?
  • Can it help solve your customers’ problems?
  • Can it educate them?
  • Does it add value, or is it the same recycled ideas that you can easily Google?

For your content to truly deserve a crown, it has to be tailored to your customers. Speak about what matters to them, try out new angles, do good research — and then keep an eye on the metrics (use a tool like Google Analytics or the analytics tools in social platforms) to see if your content hits the mark.

Hint: prioritising your blog efforts makes you 13 times more likely to hit a positive ROI. 70% of your potential clients would rather get to know your brand through articles than advertising.

Personalisation: Data-based decisions

Learn how your clients behave. Your clients expect personalisation, 91% are more likely to select a brand who offers deals and tips that are relevant to them. If you set clear goals, measure your data, and adjust your approach, you’ll soon see the results. Even good old A/B testing (add a control group to make it perfect) will improve your output. Relevancy is key here, and the more relevant you are, whatever you do, the easier it is to sell anything.

Reputation: Will your clients refer your product?

Standing out from the crowd is never easy. Your brand is still one of the best ways to do it. A recent study found that brand loyalty is more strongly related to the offline word of mouth than to online word of mouth. So, why would a buyer choose to NOT refer your brand? Another study found these four main reasons:

  1. Too hard to understand the value of the service (±44%).
  2. The material was sales-focused, rather than helpful (±33%).
  3. The website wasn’t impressive (±30%).
  4. The brand has poor reputation (±28%).

As we’re talking about creating a digital footprint and reputation and managing it, let’s go over a few things you can do to avoid these mistakes in the first place.

Create user-focused, value-driven content

Solve problems one (it’s difficult to understand the value of the service) and two (marketing materials are sales-focused, rather than helpful) by creating content that’s user-focused and readily conveys the value of your service in the user’s life.

Make sure your website does your brand proud

Problem three (an unimpressive website) can be easily solved. There are many website building solutions available, including GoDaddy’s Website Builder, that enable you to quickly and affordably make an effective website. You’ll want to be sure your website looks professional and loads quickly on all devices — especially mobile.

Keep customers happy

Problem No. 4 (poor brand reputation) can be a bit trickier to overcome. Much like interpersonal relationships, client-brand relationships rely a lot on how you make the client feel. If they feel good about your brand, that’s what they’ll inadvertently spread. Plus, the best way to preserve a good name is to never taint it. That may seem daunting at first, but it can be done if you focus your efforts correctly.

Key takeaways and practical tips

Let’s sum up some and conclude with a few tips for building your digital footprint:

  1. In communication, it’s important to know both who your brand is and who it is for.
  2. Stay true to your brand personality, and do it on every level: ads, posts, on-page content, etc.
  3. Trust the power of good, user-focused content.
  4. Personalise – be relevant, but don’t be creepy.
  5. Make sure your clients would recommend your product because they understand the value you deliver, enjoy your helpful material, and find your website impressive.
  6. When it comes to your website, optimise for all devices.
  7. Your brand reputation is vital. It’s much easier to build it from the ground up than dig it up when it’s six-feet under.
  8. Make your clients feel good.
  9. People trust online reviews more than they trust your ads. That means affiliate marketing can work really well for you — and a PR disaster can be a true disaster for your revenue.
  10. Prioritising revenue over users can be dangerous. Make decisions with user interests top-of-mind.
  11. If your team only knows what to do but not why, they’re more likely to make mistakes that can jeopardise your reputation.
  12. At the end of the day, mistakes will happen. If you’re well prepared, you can fix them.

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Naomi Miles
Freelance writer and editor Naomi Miles is based in Cardiff, Wales. Starting out working in TV, she now splits her time between being a Twitter Editor and writing for UpdraftPlus, a WordPress Backup Plugin with over 3 million downloads and the highest star rating (4.9 out of 5) of any such plugin. When she's not writing, she's kept busy looking after her three young children.