Real business story

A strong digital presence has never been more important

The shop window for most businesses is its digital presence. Getting it right can increase brand awareness, demonstrate trust, set you apart for the competition and ultimately generate new business.

Joe Benitez believes that a website should be one of the key investments a business makes

A growing body of research suggests that the vast majority of people check a company’s website and social media channels before doing business.

It's time for leaders to make building an online presence a priority.

Hunter to hunted

A digital presence was always an afterthought for Integrated Estate Management (IEM). With a one-page website and unutilised social media channels, the company relied heavily on existing connections for its business.

But when Joe Benitez, business development director, joined the facilities management company, he convinced founder Alistair Scott that creating a strong digital presence was a priority – and something they had to get right.

“How do you go from being the hunter for business, which is the traditional method, to the hunted? Build a strong digital presence. Your website is your shop window. It should be one of the key investments that a business makes,” Joe said.

Several studies reveal that between 70-85 per cent of customers will research a company online before doing business. Therefore, your website and social media channels need to show what your business does and demonstrate credibility immediately.

“The old website didn’t make it clear what services IEM offered. We didn’t show our accreditations to give a level of authority. We didn’t have any testimonials from previous clients to show potential customers they could trust us. There were no case studies to demonstrate that we can empathise with the journey customers are on. These were some of the key things we wanted to put onto the new website,” Joe said.

IEM brought in an external agency to build the website at the end of 2020. The business went through a three-week phase to decide the look and feel, opting for simplicity above all else and a green and black colour scheme.

“The facilities management industry has always been notoriously complicated. So we decided that our mantra would be simplicity. We wanted people to understand exactly what we did straight away,” Joe added.

“Your website is your shop window. It should be one of the key investments that a business makes.”

Joe Benitez, business development director, IEM

Demystifying social media

A big part of IEM’s digital push was revamping its social media channels. Working alongside an external partner, the business began to develop a presence on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

As social media was still quite new to the business, the team began by playing it safe with professional photos and brief messages. However, they soon discovered that people interacted more when they related to a story and became braver with posts.

The posts that have gained the most amount of traction so far have been a poll about whether people minded having someone with tattoos working for them, a post about Lewis Hamilton winning the Grand Prix and a post about Alistair racing his car on a track day.

“What we’re starting to realise is that connecting with people rather than businesses is getting us a lot more traction than trying to be professional all the time,” he said.

“When we post on social media, we never say ‘please check out our website’ or ‘contact us’. We think people are too intelligent for that. If they like the content we post, they’ll find us and hopefully want to buy our services.”

While some posts are very conversational, others are targeted at the facilities management audience and are more technical and specialist.

More connections, more business leads

Since putting more effort into its digital presence, IEM is experiencing much higher levels of interaction on its website and social media channels. While it’s still early days, the business is confident it will see growth as a result.

Its website has gone from one or two new visitors a week to an average of 60. The amount of time people spend on the website has increased from an average of 30 to 90 seconds too, showing that visitors are getting value from the content.

“Our most recent social media figures show that interactions have doubled in the last month. People are interacting with our business a lot more. Our LinkedIn page was launched a few months ago and is nearing 400 followers with 74 per cent increase in engagement, which is very good for just under three months of activity,” Joe said.

Based on IEM’s experience, Joe advises other businesses to invest in specialists to develop a strong digital presence.

“You can have the greatest product but if nobody knows about it, it’s pointless. That’s why any company that does not invest in its digital presence is lacking something. You don't need to be a specialist in everything, outsource to the experts.”

Five steps to building an online presence for your business

Use our action plan to get started

Top takeaways

People need to know what services your business offers as soon as they visit your website. The site must also demonstrate credibility with testimonials, accreditations and case studies.

People connect with social media posts when they relate to them. While there’s a time and place for business-centric posts, don't be afraid to have real conversations and start debates.

Around 80 per cent of people visit a company’s website before buying its product or service, so leaders should invest in making it as strong as possible.