As a retailer who has borne the brunt of the pandemic, you already know your business needs a strong online presence that can boost brand awareness, educate your customers about your offerings and bring in more sales. However, a strong online profile cannot be built in a day. But once it does happen, your business will certainly benefit from it as more customers will be able to discover your brand and connect with it. If you are wondering how to increase your online presence in order to attract customers, here are four tips to get you started.

1. Build an attractive and informative website

Given that the Indian ecommerce market is likely to become worth $200 billion by 2026 and that internet penetration jumped from 4% in 2007 to 52.08% in 2019, you need a website (for starters) to stay relevant as a small business owner. And that website should be easy to use and compelling, so you can stay competitive. The most important strategy to attract customers online is to build a website that offers helpful information, showcases your products neatly, is easy to browse and has a simple shopping process. There are many free website building platforms available these days that don’t require much technical knowledge to get started. Wix, WordPress, Shopify, Gator and Weebly are some good examples of such platforms. Or, you can hire a professional website developer. Also note these pointers:
• The website design should clearly convey your brand image and value and go well with what you sell. The “About Us” page should tell a story on how your brand came to be, so that potential customers can relate with you better and feel the urge to buy.
• Your site should be fast and secure as no shopper will want to spend time on a website that is prone to cyber attacks. The website should have SSL certifications and the URL should start with https://.
• Since most customers are likely to shop using their smartphones, your site should be mobile-responsive or easy to scan and navigate on handheld devices.
• Use attractive images and descriptions of your products on the website to give exhaustive information to the visitor. Use videos wherever necessary.
• Keep the colour combination soothing and use a font style and size that is easy to read.

2. Use WhatsApp Business to connect and interact with customers

The Whatsapp for business app can help you quickly respond to customer queries, automate responses and categorize customers. You can become more efficient when it comes to engaging with your customers, build trust and deliver a superior customer experience. Here’s how you can get started:
• Make sure that WhatsApp for Business is available for your mobile device and in your location
• Choose the number you wish to use and download and install the app
• Open the app and verify the phone number you want to use for your business
• Submit the name of your business and complete the profile
The app will let you do the following:
• In your business profile, mention details like address, website link, email address, and working hours
• You can set customised greeting messages for new customers or those who return after a long time
• Create different labels for different customers and organize them in order to make them easy to find later on
• Create quick replies to commonly asked questions or automate responses in case you are away and will answer later

3. Make the most of social media

Even if you are a small retailer or business owner, you need social media pages to boost your brand visibility and get better leads. However, pick only those that connect you with your target audience and help you meet your business goals. Here are some pointers about the top social channels:

Facebook – With 290 million Indian users, Facebook has a massive reach. After creating a page, mention what your business is about, working hours, achievements, contact information, and upcoming events. The best part is that even if you don’t have a website, you can create a shop section on your Facebook page and start selling. Here’s how it works in brief:
• Click the link showing ‘Add Shop Section’ under your cover photo.
• Read and agree to the merchant policies that elaborate on returns and refunds, product listing, deliveries etc.
• Then add business address, email address and payment processing details. You will then see a ‘Shop Now’ button at the bottom of your cover page.
• Next, describe what all you sell and add items to the shop. Your products will be reviewed to make sure they comply with merchant policies and then appear as listings.
• You can also create collections to organize or categorize different products. Add top products to the Featured Products collection so that they show up right below your Facebook cover image.

Facebook lets you target the right people easily and also create ads with ‘Buy’ buttons to make the shopping process fast and simple. You can also join seller groups for better reach.

Instagram–Boasting 100 million users in India, Instagram is popular among millennials and apt for showcasing premium quality images and videos of your products. This is especially helpful if you sell clothes, decorative items, cosmetics, fashion accessories, toys or furnishings, as visual appeal is very important when you are marketing such products. You can also use hashtags to reach new and potential customers, tag them in relevant posts, and message them directly too.

YouTube–As a small business owner, use this channel to post engaging and informative videos that show how your products can be used. With 265 million active Indian users, YouTube is ideal for increasing your brand awareness and educating your customers.

Always post valuable, informative, and engaging (with images or videos) content on social media. Promote offers, discounts and share positive reviews from customers. You may also increase engagement on your channel by posting interactive content like quizzes, contests etc. .

4. Engage with your customers with email marketing

As a small business owner, email marketing is perfect for gaining more visibility, engaging with customers, and drawing them towards your online or brick and mortar store, even if you have a modest budget. Plus, sending emails is simple, time-saving, and lets you communicate meaningfully with your customers in a one-to-one manner. Here are some tips to hone your email marketing:
• Offer customers a personalised experience by addressing them by their first names, using a conversational tone, talking about products that might interest them, and explaining how your products will solve their problems. If you have collected data about their birthdays or anniversaries, send an email to wish them
• Emails are ideal for announcing new collections, product lines, sales events and in-store discounts or deals. Customers are likely to open such emails and visit your store to make a purchase.
• Send emails on your best-performing or best-selling products and how others are rating them. As a small business owner, you should also share positive reviews to gain customer trust and encourage them to make a purchase.
• Send emails to showcase how you procure or choose your products, how well you stock your store, and why shopping from you is a better option than going elsewhere. Use images or videos wherever possible.

Conclusion

As a retailer, increasing your sales with these online tips will take a bit of time and patience. Make sure that you constantly work towards your end goal. Even if you are new to digital marketing, it is easy to implement these tips from the ground up and build a powerful online presence.