As new devices and innovations continue to emerge, it is easy to see just how much technology has infiltrated many aspects of our daily lives. For example, walking down the street you will probably see people viewing emails on their smartphone, reading the morning news on a tablet or listening to music on an mp3 player. The entertainment industry, in particular, has seen how technology has changed the industry, not only in the studio but also in business.

Arlene Stern, 1&1 Internet customer and singer in Honeysuckle Road, an Americana, Celtic, & Alt-Country band, took a break from the music industry but recently returned to find it almost unrecognizable.

“I had been away from the business for a few decades and coming back meant that the band was faced with a brave new world – the Internet!” said Stern.

Just like most new business owners, the Internet can be an unfamiliar and intimidating challenge when one is not well prepared. After learning firsthand what it takes to create an effective online presence, Stern relied on three techniques that brought Honeysuckle Road to the next level.

Research is Vital

Fully understanding the ultimate goal of a strategy is key before making any business decision. With a mission of booking gigs and making a name for the band, Stern conducted her own form of market research.

“We had tried the “old school” method of visiting venues and dropping off our CD’s to book gigs, but the venues wouldn’t accept them. We were flat out told that we would not be booked without a website,” said Stern.

After getting the same response from nearly every venue, Stern knew that the only option to succeed was to invest in a website. Stern’s requirements were very similar to most start-up businesses. She wanted an interactive website where she could make edits quickly, include examples of her work, post announcements about upcoming events, and communicate with her audience. However, she also knew that she had little to no knowledge of Web coding or website design and a professional Web designer was out of her budget.

“We were faced with a situation common to many bands – limited computer skills, limited design knowledge, and even less money” said Stern.

Many small businesses look at their goals and find that a do-it-yourself (DIY) Web solution is the best option and most attainable. Such website builders take the need for technical experience out of the equation and offer customers full control and creative freedom over their website.

Get Found

“Our website is the only way venue patrons can find out who’s playing that night – it’s a great way to meet and interact with new fans” said Stern.

Creating the website is only half the battle of succeeding online, making sure it is actually seen is next.  Registering your website with local online directories and optimizing it for search engines are easy ways to ensure your website is working for you, and not against you.

Many Web hosting companies offer assistance in these areas to help increase your websites’ search engine optimization (SEO) – a good feature to look for when choosing a host. If you wish to take SEO into your own hands, strategically determine and implement certain keywords throughout your website. Using popular search terms or company information throughout the site helps prove to search engines that your site is credible enough to rank high within their result pages. Research from Chitika Insights proved that a mere 6% of Internet users go to the second page of results so you want to ensure that the largest number of people will see your site and business details.

Go Beyond the Typical Website

Now more than ever, consumers are requiring interactive experiences when dealing with a business or organization on the Web. Building convenience and added interest into a website can improve loyalty and credibility. Consider linking your third party accounts directly to your website to keep visitors well informed and up-to-date on the latest promotions or company information, for example. Web hosts are starting to adopt this trend to simplify the implementation of such apps for big brand companies. With Web apps specific to a variety of industries, business owners can find the ones to best match their business needs. For example, restaurants can incorporate their OpenTable account, real estate agents can add a Trulia Web app, and salon owners can take advantage of CalendarWiz. Stern has focused on implementing Facebook and Twitter elements to enhance the band’s social media following. Communicating with fans has become a main priority for Stern and her band, allowing them to connect with visitors without directing them away from Honeysuckle Road’s homepage – perhaps the biggest advantage of Web apps.

“The Facebook & Twitter Web apps are great; it’s easy for people to just look at our website and hit “Like” or “Follow” right there, without having to go searching on Facebook or Twitter (which can be confusing for some people).  Having everything in one place just makes it so easy,” said Stern.

Honeysuckle Road and countless other small businesses have proven just how easy it can be to make a name for themself, and it all starts with creating an effective online presence. Although the Internet and technical jargon may seem like a foreign language, DIY solutions can be the best solution for achieving success online – especially for those tech novices.