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How going online can benefit your business

Creating an online presence for your business can:

  • open your business up to new markets
  • increase brand awareness for your business
  • provide an easy way for customers to learn about your products and services or find your phone number or shop address
  • allow you to sell your products to customers online (e-commerce).

Your business’s online presence can be anything from a simple social media page to a full e‑commerce website where customers are able to make purchases from you through your website. It’s important to make sure you carefully consider and plan the online activities that are suitable for your business.

Protect your business online

While you’re building your business’s online presence, it’s important to also consider your online security and protect your business and customers from possible security risks.

Online scams and threats

If an offer sounds too good to be true, or something seems strange about an offer or request for payment, it could be a scam.

Protecting privacy

If you offer a way for customers to register their details on your website, or offer an online payment system, you need to make sure that the information they provide is protected. There are also privacy laws you may need to follow depending on your business’s size and type.

Learn more about privacy and business from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

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If you need to run your business from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19), there are tools and resources available to help you set up and work securely. Learn more about running your business from home during COVID-19.

Do you need a website for your business?

Most customers nowadays will expect to be able to search for your business on the internet. Having a business website will:

  • allow your customers to find information about your business
  • promote your brand online
  • sell your goods and services to customers at a time and place convenient to them.

If you are planning to have a business website, it's a good idea to think about what you hope to achieve before you start creating one. You may want to look at the websites of businesses similar to yours to get ideas on what will work best for you.

The features and information you have on your business website will vary depending on what you want to use it for. For example, you may have:

  • a simple page with basic information, such as where you are located and contact details, about your business
  • a display of your product range and prices
  • an online store that allows your customers to order goods and services from you through your site.

It’s also important to make sure your website is always kept up-to-date and any changes to your contact details, products and prices are reflected in your website.

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Is social media right for your business?

Social media is a useful online tool that can help you to:

  • promote your business and the goods and services you offer
  • engage and build relationships with your customers
  • get feedback from your customers
  • attract new customers
  • run promotional events such as competitions and giveaways.

If you don’t want to create and maintain a whole website, you can also use social media to build an online presence for your business.

Advantages of using social media in your business

Some of the advantages of using social media for your business include:

  • reaching a large number of people through a channel that they already use
  • the ability to interact with your customers and potential customers on a personal basis
  • potentially reaching large audiences around the world
  • its generally free and easy to set up, and charges for additional services are usually low-cost
  • the ability to spread your messages to your audience quickly.

Risks of using social media

Aside from the advantages, there are also risks to using social media that you should be aware of. These include:

  • receiving negative feedback from your customers in a public forum
  • spreading incorrect information about your business – for example, if you accidentally have an incorrect sales price, it can spread quickly
  • getting unwanted behaviour on your social media channel, such as bullying and harassment
  • needing additional time and resources to manage it – social media is a platform where customers can engage with you and requires active monitoring.

If you do decide to use social media for your business, it’s important to have strategies in place to avoid or address the risks involved. This can include things like having a plan for how you respond to customers on social media, and putting in place a process to ensure your messages are correct before they are published.

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Selling online through other websites

Online marketplaces allow you to sell your products online through their website. Some well-known examples include eBay and Gumtree.

Using an online marketplace can be an easy way to start selling online without having to set up your own e-commerce website.

Some advantages of using an online marketplace include:

  • there are already existing buyers on the platform
  • setting up your online store on the platform is usually a simple process
  • the platform might already have options in place to help you with collecting payment and shipping your products.

There are also downsides to selling on an online marketplace, such as having to pay a regular fee or other form of payment to use the online marketplace, and limitations in how you can format and style your online store.

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Using a blog for your business

A blog is a website or part of your existing website where you 'post' informal entries (also known as 'blog posts'). The content in a blog is regularly updated based on when you add a new post. Blog content can be in a variety of formats, ranging from written updates to video diaries.

You can write about a variety of topics in your blog, such as updates related to your industry, or answers to common questions your customers are asking.

Running a blog for your business can help you:

  • attract new customers that are interested in your products and services
  • hold the interest of your existing customers
  • improve your business website’s search engine rankings with regular fresh content
  • develop your brand or 'personality'
  • engage with your customers through allowing comments and sharing
  • gather feedback, reviews and testimonials.

While blogs may require a lot of work, they can also be a very effective tool to market your business online.

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Other resources to help you get online

See examples of different tools you can use to develop your online presence