In this digital world, it’s crucial that your brand is online
We live in a super-connected world, with the internet playing a huge and ever-present role in our lives. Most of us are routinely online for hours every day, for work and social purposes, using a range of digital devices.
Our SME Digital Health Index 2019 showed that there are up to 4 Internet-enabled devices in every Irish household, and we use our smartphones for more than 4.5 hours a day on average. A young Generation Z-er, born after the millennium, checks their phone on average 82 times a day. We are clearly very dependent on Internet usage and the connection to the outside world it provides.
So, if you are providing goods or services as a business or individual enterprise, it’s crucial that customers and potential customers can find you online – as it’s probably the first place they’ll look. Many business people are active on social media to promote their goods or services, but it’s worth remembering that ultimate ownership and control of these accounts lies with the social media platforms themselves. In reality, these profiles are just rented digital assets, rather than owning and running your own fully independent website.
How businesses can use a .ie domain
According to our SME Digital Health Index, 63% of Irish consumers think a business looks outdated if it does not have a website. First and foremost, businesses can use a .ie domain to build a website, geared towards marketing products and services, attracting new customers, making more sales and driving revenue growth.
Building a website has never been easier with many .ie accredited Registrars and other suppliers offering really simple do-it-yourself web builder packages.
An e-commerce-enabled website is a major brand asset and a digital shopfront, allowing an SME to sell to new and existing customers at home and abroad 24/7. It gives a business their own self-managed digital space, instead of relying on rented social media profiles which do not carry the same level of credibility or authenticity.
E-commerce is worth billions of euro to the Irish economy and, according to our SME Digital Health Index, most Irish consumers say it’s important to them to be able to make a purchase online. Some 53% of Irish consumers want their local high-street shops to offer a full online ordering service, while 73% of SMEs say their website contributes to their offline or ‘face-to-face’ sales.
Despite these figures, fewer than a third of SMEs with a website can actually take sales orders or process transactions through it. So it’s clear that businesses can potentially make far greater use of their websites by setting them up for online orders and sales.
Proper business email addresses are also important, such as email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. A branded email which matches the website adds a level of professionalism and legitimacy to communications. It gives the right first impression that you are an established, trustworthy business and helps to develop your brand consistency.
If you are just starting out and are not ready to set up a website yet, you can still use your .ie for your branded email today, to set those important first impressions, and for your website in the future. It also means you don’t need to settle for near-match usernames on free email services such as Gmail.
Read: SME Online Success Story – How a visible online presence helped to scale one Irish SME in the financial sector.
How individuals can use a .ie domain
Many of the same principles apply to individuals just as they do to businesses, although usually on a smaller scale in practice. You can build a personal website with a .ie address to promote your skills and services, boost your brand and climb the search rankings.
A personal website is a great way to showcase a portfolio of professional work experience and previous projects completed, to impress prospective employers and recruiters. Just share the URL with them. This is particularly useful for media, digital or creative pros such as graphic designers or writers, providing your own space to establish expertise in an area.
As with companies, individuals can also build e-commerce functionality into their own website selling goods or services directly online, which can quickly grow revenue. Even if you don’t go with the e-commerce option, providing contact details such as your phone number and email address allows potential customers to get in touch easily and establish a professional connection.
By owning your own website and .ie domain address, you control your own digital identity and all content on the site, as opposed to social media profiles which might contain irrelevant or inappropriate content for a professional audience such as potential employers.
Again, setting up a professional email address to match the website gives the right impression in a professional online setting. It also has the benefit of promoting your website every time you send out an email.
A .ie domain name is Ireland’s official online address, so it is identifiably Irish, carrying great credibility and trust. It also lets your customers find you online by helping to boost your search rankings. Our .ie Domain Profile Report 2019 also found that .ie has overtaken .com to become the online identity of choice for businesses and individuals in Ireland. In 2019, .ie comprised 50% of Ireland’s hosted domains, with .com’s share now well behind at 33%.
- E-book: Choosing a domain name
- E-book: How to get an accurate website quote
- Blog: 5 simple steps to link your Gmail and professional email address