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Building an online presence for your business

3-minute read

For small business, a credible online presence is an essential marketing tool – and, with the right help, it doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. To talk to somebody about your account call on 08000294864


Even when customers are happy to come to a bricks-and-mortar location, the internet is an integral part of their buying strategy. According to The ROBO Economy (Research Online Buy Offline) 2018 report, 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store and 45% read reviews before making a purchase.

For small businesses, having a credible online presence is a necessary part of doing business today, as James Matthews, Digital Experience Director and Martin Dutton, Technical and Product Director, from Big Dog Agency explain below.

In a nutshell

  • Having a credible online presence can be an essential marketing tool
  • Optimising your website isn’t as expensive as you might think
  • Think about the extras, such as social media, pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimisation

Why is it important for small businesses to have an online presence?

“More than ever, customers do their research before parting with their cash – and they do it online,” says James.

“If you don’t have an online presence that’s appearing in these searches, then you could be missing out on potential custom. Prospective customers may also question your credibility if you don’t have an online presence.”

What are the best things a small business can do with their website?

Keep it simple. Remember, a website only needs to do enough to prompt a prospective customer to contact you or buy

James explains: “Don’t feel like you need to produce reams of content or over explain your services. Make sure that, at any point in their journey through your website, it’s clear to the visitor how they can get in touch.

“If you’re employing a website agency, then make sure they take time to understand your company and the products and services you offer. They should be asking what makes your company different/unique in order to design a website and write copy that effectively communicates this.

If you’re designing a website yourself using a templated tool like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix, take your time to get it right. These tools will help you to create a site that is optimised for both tablet and mobile as well as desktop and this is key.”

Buidling an online presence for your business

 How can small businesses help their customers find them online?

“The answer to this starts with a well-built, professional-looking, mobile-optimised website with content written for your audience – these are things that Google looks for,” says Martin.

“Beyond your website, you can work on off-site content marketing – writing articles for sector blogs or journals that link back to your website. These have the benefit of putting you in front of a wider audience, as well as building authority with Google, which could increase your search rankings.

“Where relevant, social media profiles can increase reach and awareness, driving customers to your website, but a considered social strategy is important, as a dormant presence can do more harm than good. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists will be able to provide guidance and support on this. Paid advertising in the form of Pay Per Click (PPC) can place you at the top of search engines, and with the right strategy can deliver results.”

What size of investment would be advised to develop a good online presence and digital marketing support for small businesses? 

A budget between £2,000 and £20,000 will get you online

“The development cost for a website is highly dependent on the individual project, and who you engage to carry out the work, whether that’s a template tool like WordPress freelance developer, web agency or an offshore web company,” says Martin. “Do you want a custom design, or something templated? Can you write copy and imagery yourself, or do you need someone to produce that for you?

“There are other essential costs to factor in, including domain name, SSL certificate (a standard security technology) and hosting, and then optional extras like content marketing or search engine optimisation.”

“With all of these variables it’s understandably hard to put a number to paper.”

James adds; “Increasingly sophisticated and intuitive-to-use website builder tools mean that it’s easier than ever to design a simple and credible website to be your shop window. You simply need your time to input design and copy elements (often working from a set website design template) and to pay a small yearly hosting fee. It could be as little as £100 to set up a ‘brochure’ site that just raises awareness of your firm.

“Even hiring a web designer and developer can often be cheaper in comparison to paying to be in offline publications or directories. And remember, it’s a corporate presence you will have full control over.”

“For a more sophisticated presence, a budget between £2,000 and £20,000 will get you online,” says Martin. “However, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of exactly what you want, and this is something that a reputable web agency will help you clarify so that you can maximise whatever budget you have.”

There really is then no excuse to get started and get online. The benefits are clear. All it takes is a bit of planning, a sensible budget and some creative thinking. Build your online presence and open your doors to the world.

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