Even as a brick-and-mortar local business, you still can’t ignore the internet when it comes to marketing your business. But to get attention online amidst so much competition, what you need is far more than just a website. You need a robust and vibrant online presence that attracts and intrigues your ideal customers,
That probably sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But done well, your online presence can bring you many benefits.
So, what is an online presence, why do you need one, and how do you build a solid online presence that really works for you when it comes to marketing your dermatology business?
Read on for Surefire Local’s ultimate online presence guide for dermatologists:
What is an online presence?
You can’t just create a website and call it good anymore. Your online presence must consist of far more than that if you want it to be truly effective.
Your online presence does indeed start with you, with the content you create and the things you say about yourself. It starts with you creating quality content that reflects who you are as a business, including your values, what makes you different, and why people should come to you over the competition.
But it’s also about getting found in the search engines and on social media. You have to consider everything that makes up your online presence and how you are going to rise up the search engine rankings and gain more visibility.
Finally, your online presence is also made up of what other people say about you, what they think about your practice, and whether, and how much, they engage with you.
Your online presence really is the whole picture. It’s about creating an excellent online reputation that is trustworthy. And it’s about being as visible across as many searches as possible.
Benefits of having an online presence
You should be able to see from our description that you will need to do a lot of work to set up your online presence, and that it’s not just a one-and-done task, but one that you will also need to maintain and build over time.
Yes, it really is a lot of work, but the benefits are huge:
1) Get discovered more easily
Your online presence consists of your own content and user-generated content. As you keep building your online presence and adding more and more places that you can be found online, if you build engagement and provide quality information, you will find that people interact with you more and comment about you and your company. You’ll start to build up reviews, comments, and even more engagement, all of which will work as hard as your own content to get you found online.
2) Be seen as a legitimate business
As you build quality content across the internet and people start to respond to it and add their own comments and reviews, you also build your online reputation, which is a huge part of your online presence.
If you have ensured consistent posting of your information everywhere you are online, then what you are doing is backing up over and over again that yes, this is your business, yes, you are genuine and legitimate, and yes, you can be counted on. That works just as well for the search engines, who are then more likely to move you up in the rankings, as it does for potential clients.
3) Promote your business around the clock
It is a fact that you have to sleep. You can’t promote your business 24/7 yourself, but your website and everything you’ve created to build your online presence – they never sleep and they will be there, working away to promote your business, whether it’s 3 am, the middle of a busy day at your practice, or whether you’re enjoying a relaxing holiday doing your favorite thing in the world.
While, as we said, you can’t just set and forget your online presence, once you’ve built it to a certain point, you do develop momentum and you do get to a point where your business is promoted around the clock.
4) Save money while attracting new customers
As your online presence matures and you have more than just the basics in place, you can take your foot off the gas at least a little and that includes with your budget too. It costs far less to promote a business that’s well-established online than it does to push the boulder uphill when setting up a new online presence.
You might work really hard at first, but it does pay off and you can find you save money purely because you’ve already done so much in building your reputation and your presence online.
The more people get to know you and come to rely on you, the less work you have to do – and the less money you have to spend – to convince them to book with you over your competitors.
5) Earn Google’s trust
Google is always looking to provide the best possible answers to the questions its searchers have. That’s their main priority. If you have a consistent, established online presence and you’re the clinic that’s always there with helpful, educational, and entertaining top-quality content, then you will build trust with Google.
Answer the questions your audience wants to know, and you will provide content that all the search engines love. Keep doing that and you will gain more visibility in the search engine rankings.
One further aspect of gaining Google’s trust is that they want to see consistent information everywhere across the internet about your business, particularly about your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP). Ensure that you provide this information consistently everywhere you supply it and you will establish that you are a genuine and legitimate business to be trusted.
6) Nurture customer relationships
You’re building more than just an online presence. You’re also building a community. If you provide exactly the content and the answers that your audience wants, you’re going to delight your followers and build trust. Answer their questions honestly and create an entertaining, vibrant space for your followers to hang out and engage with you, and over time, they will. You’ll be nurturing customer relationships even without having met some of the members of your audience. And when they do book to see you in person, continue to talk to them in the way you have online, in a supportive and helpful, nurturing way, and they’ll love you for it.
You can guide potential customers from simply knowing you exist, to thinking about visiting you, to booking an appointment and becoming a client if you build authentic and genuine relationships with them online.
How to increase your online presence
From the information we’ve given above, you can probably start to see some of the pieces and tasks involved in building your online presence, but here’s where we really start to dig into it and break it down:
It all starts with your website. Your website needs to be modern, attractive, and welcoming, so don’t skimp on the design. Get the professionals in to create something that works beautifully, but also reflects your business.
A pretty design isn’t enough, though. Your site must have quality content and images to give a taste of what it’s like to walk through your doors in person. You need to provide all the information your site visitors want to know and guide them through your sales funnel, to help them make a buying decision.
Everything on your site must work beautifully. Your navigation should be smooth and easy to use, and it must be clear what you want your visitors to do next, with clear calls to action.
Your content, as it must elsewhere, should educate and inform, answering any questions and helping people see that your clinic is for them. More than that, you need to ensure it is fully optimized with SEO best practices to ensure you will be found online and start to climb the search engine rankings.
Blog posts should have quality graphics and images included and provide well-keyworded answers that people will enjoy and appreciate.
This is your home on the internet. It’s as close to your storefront as it’s possible to get without actually driving up to your door. You need to present your brick-and-mortar business beautifully on your website and encourage people to find out more and then book an appointment.
2) Social Media
It’s important to be active on social media and not just rely on scheduled posts. Scheduling can be really helpful and save you time, but you do need to be there and active too. People want to see you interacting, liking comments, and responding to them. They want to feel that you are a real person who cares about them and wants to engage. In return, you’re likely to gain engagement back from your audience.
You only have so many hours in the day, so it’s important to choose the right platforms and stick to them. Try to focus on just one or two social platforms and become really good with them, rather than spreading yourself too thin. You will get much better interaction and feedback if you focus.
Just as you have on your website, you need to share educational and informative content to help your audience understand what you do, what’s involved, and how you can help. It’s important to focus on a good balance of educational content rather than trying to constantly sell your services.
If people can see you answering questions, taking the time to help, and posting what they need to know, that’s convincing all on its own. It shows you are genuine and authentic and that you’re likely to be the same in-person, if they book.
Don’t forget, however, that social media is another place where you can optimize your content for SEO. Make sure to include the right keywords in your copy and use relevant hashtags to get attention.
3) Directory Listings
It’s important that you claim your business listings on the largest directory platforms, including Yelp, Facebook, and Bing. In particular, you want to claim your Google Business Profile. It’s highly important for visibility on Google and for potential listing in the Google Map Pack.
You must complete and optimize your profiles fully, ensuring you list great content and helpful answers that give viewers everything they’ll need to know to decide if they want to book with you. Don’t forget your opening hours and your full, consistent contact details (NAP).
This gives you listings across the internet with your full, consistent business details included. That’s how you build a strong presence where you’re proving every time that you own a genuine and reliable business.
You’ll want to encourage people to leave reviews on your directory listings, particularly on your Google Business Profile. People tend to only look at the most recent reviews posted in the last few weeks, so this is an ongoing job that you can’t neglect. Reviews provide social proof to potential customers and add to your reputation with Google. The more reviews you have, the more chances that you might appear in the prime 3 listings on Google Map Pack at the top of Google.
You also need to reply to reviews, and interact, just as you do on your social platforms, including if you get any negative reviews. People want to see who you are and how you’re likely to respond in person if they book an appointment with you.
You will also need to maintain your directory listings to add new posts, news, offers, quality images, and more. You’ll want to answer any questions people ask and make sure they can see you’re aiming to help.
4) Online Advertising
Paid ads are an excellent way to gain visibility and start to build your reputation even when you’re still establishing your online presence. Here are just some ways you could advertise:
These ads are paid ads on Google, Bing, etc. You can usually see these at the top of the search results. It’s possible to target your ads to particular demographics, and to aim at people in your local area. You only pay when someone clicks your ad, so they can be a cost-effective way to drive leads.
As you might expect, these are ads on Facebook, and other social sites. As with search ads, you can easily target the right audience in your local area, and again, you pay per click.
Target your audience based on their hobbies, apps they use, and sites they’ve visited. While they may not be quite as effective as some ads, you do have more options for branding to suit your business.
If you’ve ever bought a toaster and then been bombarded with ads for other toasters, you’ve seen these ads in action. You can retarget visitors to your site or to another ad and aim to bring them back to visit you again.
5) Email marketing
Email marketing can be highly effective when persuading people to book. Once people are on your list, you can continue to market to them as much as you like, though of course, do continue to provide great content and to use segmentation to target what they are particularly interested in.
Build your list consistently. You own this list and if for some reason Facebook were to shut down tomorrow, deactivating your ads, you could still market to your list.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo
As you can see, there is a lot of work involved in building and maintaining your online presence, but there is help at hand.
Surefire Local offers professional business intelligence marketing software to help you manage the most important online marketing activities all within one platform.
Instead of having to log into multiple pieces of software, you can manage your content marketing, social media, paid ads, email marketing, and more, all in one place.
As you work to build your online presence, you can save huge amounts of time by scheduling posts, emails, and more, and you can manage your reviews, send reminders, and reply to your reviews across every platform, without leaving our dashboard.
Manage your business directories and update your information on over 80 listings, including Google Business Profile with just a few clicks.
Building your online presence isn’t nearly so daunting when you have the right marketing software working hard for you.
Why not book a demo with our friendly team and see how we can help you build your online presence?