By Richard Matchett, Digital Practice Lead at Zutari

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating socio-economic impact on South Africa. We’ve seen mass business closures, a rise in unemployment, and plummeting tax collection, which has placed the country in a significantly compromised position. What has become apparent amidst the turmoil is that businesses have to fast-track their transformation to digital to improve their resilience – be it in part or the adoption of a more comprehensive digital strategy and solution.

There is much for businesses to consider when moving to digital, such as how the move will change their business models and what the best strategy is moving forward. The one critical element is having an online presence – whether via a website or an off-the-shelf online platform. An online presence is facilitated by acquiring a domain name – the business’s internet name.

Do’s and Don’ts when creating an online presence

Do choose your domain name wisely

Apart from choosing your business’s domain name, you also need to consider which top-level domain will best benefit your business. For example, .za country code top-level domain, as this will determine how you resolve any infringements against your brand and businesses, more so, pre-emptively to protect it.

South African laws and regulations protect domains ending in .za through the .za Alternative Dispute Resolution, whereas international laws have to be applied to resolve infringements when it comes to the other 1 568 top-level domains globally.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Content is key

New business owners often get sidetracked by the little things that are important to them but won’t necessarily take the business forward. They usually don’t recognise the value of their website and the content they post on it as their display window to the world – the window through which they can attract customers. Good and relevant content will not only attract new customers to your website but will keep existing customers and visitors interested and returning to the site. Importantly, well-optimised content positively affects how your website is ranked in search engines, which improves the business’s online reach and accessibility.

Don’t ignore the customer experience

Online business transacting is similar to contact or in-person business transacting in that the importance of customer relationships and the customer experience cannot be under-estimated. It can be argued that these are even more critical for online businesses considering the hypercompetitiveness of online companies. Always follow through with queries and completed transactions, and ensure you engage with your customers without being intrusive.

Also, monitor reviews and social media platforms for brand sentiment and address any issues of dissatisfaction.

Do add social media platforms to your online presence

The influence of social media platforms cannot be ignored. Focused social media usage that compliments your existing online presence has proven to help businesses grow and flourish.

“Good and relevant content will not only attract new customers to your website but will keep existing customers and visitors interested and returning to the site.”