How to Create an Online Identity for Your Startup

One of the biggest challenges that startups face is undoubtedly – exposure. As a startup, you may offer great products and services but, unless people are aware of your offerings, it’s hard to gain any amount of business. Building a well rounded online identity can take your business to great lengths. While most Indian startups (even corporations for that matter) offer great products and services, their online identities are downright dull when compared to the west. In this post, I’ll guide you through some tools that you might want to consider using to gain exposure on the web.

One of the biggest challenges that startups face is undoubtedly – exposure. As a startup, you may offer great products and services but, unless people are aware of your offerings, it’s hard to gain any amount of business. Building a well rounded online identity can take your business to great lengths.

While most Indian startups (even corporations for that matter) offer great products and services, their online identities are downright dull when compared to the west. In this post, I’ll guide you through some tools that you might want to consider using to gain exposure on the web.

Website

First and foremost, invest in a great website. A well built website goes a long way in communicating your company’s focus on quality. Research your competitors’ websites to understand how they’re marketing similar services. Your website must contain the following:

  • A home page that contains your company’s logo, slogan and your offerings in a simple but, effective way. Consider this as your elevator pitch for potential clients to invest in your products. Think of creative headings and also place customer reviews if possible. Users love social proof. Include links to all your social media. Get to the point. Most users are impatient. You’ve got to tell them what you’re offering in less than two lines.
  • A well laid out menu.
  • Products & Services Page – Here’s where you can include your product descriptions, demos and pricing. Be honest with your services. If you’re a startup ERP developer, you don’t want to tell your visitors that you’ve already sold to thousands of customers. Visitors love honesty. If your product is great, they’ll buy it even if it’s new.
  • About Page – Include details about your company here along with your mission statement, prior work experience and team.
  • Contact Page – Give your users as many ways to contact you as you can. Phone numbers, email addresses, office address, Twitter etc. Include a contact form.
  • Search – A search box is very essential. Your users can find the information they need without having to browse through menus.

If possible, include a blog with latest news and developments about your company. Visitors love to hear what’s going on. This also gives an impression that your company is actually working on something and is interested to communicate this with users. Blogs are a great source of traffic. Your posts must be balanced. Maintain a certain level of professionalism while also being casual.

Contact a web development firm or a freelancer at networks such as RentACoder or oDesk. Clearly convey your website requirements. Pick a great domain name that reflects your company. This should preferably be your company name and if that’s not available, try alternatives that users can remember. Search for available domain names at www.domaintyper.com.

Newsletters

While many visitors may just visit your blog (or subscribe to its feed) to learn about your latest offerings, many visitors forget about your company or services once they leave your website or, after they’ve completed business with you.

Consider investing in a newsletter service like MailChimp. The service very well rounded and feature rich. It allows you to connect with your visitors through email in mass. Send your website visitors product information, promotions or simply wish them on a holiday. You can also send your existing clients new product information. Existing clients are a great source for business as they already know and trust you.

Social Media

Connect with your visitors and clients often. Talk to them and learn about what they want. Use Twitter to send quick messages to your visitors. Reply to users, ask them what they want or what they think of your services. Consider creating a fan page for your business on Facebook as well. Tell your visitors to join the page. Since many users access Facebook often, they will receive your messages often.

Build a streamlined and uniform social media presence. Create the same username on all networks.

This is just the beginning of developing your company’s online identity. Making use of all these tools will surely help develop an online identity and gain traffic. If you like this post, comment about it and tell me what you would like to know in detail and I will answer your questions in following posts.

[Guest article by Nagarjun Palavalli. Follow him on Twitter @palavalli]

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