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Can Start up Businesses Survive Without an Online Presence?

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Every new business needs to carefully consider its overall marketing strategy and developing an online presence should be a part of it. Today, almost all customers are online and although young adults are still the most prevalent users of the internet, recent studies have shown than older Nigerians are also very internet-savvy. Around 78% of internet users in the country are aged between 19 and 35 and students make up about half of this total.

It is estimated that around 90 percent of Nigerian businesses do not currently have any online presence. This is great news for companies that are online; they are striking ahead of the competition, reaching out to new market locations and engaging new loyal customers.

In the past many businesses have failed to go online because few potential customers use the internet, but this is no longer true. Today, 28.4% of Nigerians are online, which means there are 48.3 million potential customers out there.

Every month, Nigerian web users view around three billion advertising impressions, which represents a massive audience. Companies that are not currently online need to start making some serious strategic changes if they wish to become industry leaders. But what does this mean and how does a business go about developing an online strategy that fits with their other marketing objectives?

Being online does not require a huge investment; in fact, businesses can build a very effective online presence without have to invest in a website. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn (possibly the best for business networking) and Facebook provide businesses with a page to showcase their products and services. Google also provides excellent business services such as Google Business Places where anyone can be identified on a searchable map for customers to find.

Being online goes beyond creating business listings. Using email and social media is the most effective way to communicate with clients and business networks. Building a loyal customer base can allow any enterprise to quickly inform clients of new products or services just by updating a Facebook page or sending an email. This option enables companies to save a fortune that would otherwise be spent on telephone calls.

Both existing and new business can benefit from an online presence; for example, a market stall holder who provides geo-targeted information about the products they sell and opening hours may attract new customers who are searching from their smartphones from a few streets away. Just a small boost in business can have a big impact on profit margins and being online can make all the difference.

Online success

Recently, Nigeria’s Twinpine Networks carried out research into internet usage and how it connects with online advertising. The published report “A Study on Digital Media Usage: Generation X vs Generation Y” noted that older internet users are actually more active than their younger counterparts. This is because they represent a group that has more spending power and is making bigger purchasing decisions.

Several Nigerian businesses have successfully used an online presence to their advantage. Take as an example successful entrepreneur, Tunde Folawiyo. There is a website that publishes general updates from Tunde Folawiyo, which is a great place to gain an insight into how to run a business online.

In 2011 Google launched Getting Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO); an initiative that helps small businesses learn how to set about creating an online presence. Many enterprises have benefited since its introduction.

Google has helped owners of a warehouse and transport logistics firm, a cake-baking business and an interior design company all build a web presence. Mrs. Tinuola Okenimkpe of Dreamtreats Cakes is now generating most new business from the company’s website.

Today, anyone who is not online is losing out. Fortunately, creating an online presence has never been easier and it is possible to develop a strong presence without having to hire web designers. Social media marketing is changing the shape of business online.

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