Checklist for start-ups – setting up your digital presence

For most startups, setting up a digital presence is a key step in getting a new business ready for launch, whether that’s a website, Facebook page, an email address or more. This checklist covers the things you are most likely to need.

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6 min read

You may not need everything (for example if you are not planning on setting up a website), so pick and choose what suits your business model.

Before you begin

Before you can set up any digital assets, you will need to:

  • Decide the platforms you will need. Do you need a website? Or, will you be able to trade purely off social media pages? If using social media, what platforms will you actively use e.g. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter? Even if you don’t plan to have a website, it may still be worth having a domain name for use in future.
  • Choose a business name and domain name. As well as checking your preferred name doesn’t exist already and you’re not facing any issues with using someone else’s trademark, your naming decision may partly be based on the availability of the same domain name (in other words, a web address), or at least a domain name that is related or very similar, to minimise customer confusion. This is because it is what your customers will type to access your site and also will be the basis for your email address. If you find the name you want is not available, you could consider variations on it, e.g. adding your location onto the end. Or you may wish to reconsider the name entirely. To check availability of domain names, simply search online ‘domain name registration UK’ you will see many providers which have a search facility. For more information read this guide.
  • Design your logo and your favicon. You can do this through one of the many simple logo design tools available online, or through a professional designer. Ensure your final logo is provided as a vector file, to ensure you can scale it up or down without losing quality. Remember your logo must be unique and not in breach of copyright or trademark. You will also need to create a small ‘favicon’ version of your logo for including on digital assets. Favicons are the little square logos that you often see in front of the URL in the browser address bar or in a list of bookmarked sites. They might be your whole logo shrunk to a mini version 16 x 16 pixels or they may use a small element of your logo like a motif. Tools such as Favicon.io can help if you don’t have a designer.

Claiming your business properties

Buy domain name(s)

Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll need to buy it and also consider buying other domain extensions (e.g. ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’, ‘.org’ etc. or any appropriate international markets) and even other close variants. Your chosen domain registrar may also be able to provide you with web hosting and email services as part of the package. Although there is often a charge for this, it is usually relatively low cost for small simple businesses.

Claim social media handles/accounts

  • Facebook page. If you are planning to use Facebook you will likely want to set up a business Facebook page for your business. You do this through your personal Facebook login. Ideally use your business name as the page name and as your Facebook ‘vanity’ URL. Remember to have a profile pic and cover photo ready.
  • LinkedIn page. If you have decided LinkedIn is the right fit for your business you can choose to create a company page (it is also a good idea to have a personal profile if you don’t already). Ensure that you fill in all of the information you can about your company in your page, including your web address, company description, cover photo, logo, tagline, call to action buttons, etc.
  • Twitter. If you are planning to use Twitter or think you will in the future, claim your Twitter handle. Ideally use your business name, but if that is taken select a close variant. Remember if no one logs in at least every 6 months, your account could become inactive.
  • Instagram. Again, if you are planning to use Instagram you should set up an Instagram business account (or convert a personal account to business if you have already generated a business appropriate following). Use your business name as your username (or a close variant) and link to your website. Also add your preferred contact details, and fill in your bio and profile pic.

Next steps

Set-up business email

Once you have your domain name, you may wish to set up your business email address using this domain. Even if you are working on your own, if you have a website, it’s more professional to use a domain based email than using your personal email. It also keeps everything separate, making it easier to manage.

When you registered your domain name, or set up your site using a website builder, the service may have included the option to set up your email via a provider such as Microsoft 365 or Gmail (although this may just be for the first few months). You can also set this up directly with an email provider.

Expect to pay a small monthly fee for each email address based at your domain.

Remember you will be able to download apps for your email for Android or iOS so you can access it easily from your phone or tablet as well as your computer.

For individual email addresses and mailboxes consider:

  • Name format. Will firstname@domain work ok if there will only ever be a few of you? If not, best to use firstname.surname@domain right from the start, especially if you could ever have two people with the same first name
  • Shared mailboxes. This is handy for customers to contact you through a simple address e.g. hello@, sales@, customerservice@ or finance@. There’s two benefits - if there’s just one or two of you, you can keep different workstreams separate and then once you recruit more staff, you can grant access for several people to these mailboxes, so they are easier to monitor and share workload.

Design and build your website on your domain

You may opt to do this yourself via an off the shelf web-builder (such as Squarespace, Wix, or even the same provider that you bought your domain name through). Alternatively, you may outsource design and build to a freelancer or agency.

Three things to remember:

  • Hosting. You pay a fee for hosting your website. If you use a website builder hosting is usually provided in the monthly package. If you use a freelancer or agency they will likely sort this for you. If your site builder is different from your domain host you will need to point your domain to your web hosts servers - done within the platform.
  • Consider creating a holding page on your site until it’s fully developed. This shows any early leads that you are in progress and can perhaps be diverted to follow you on social media for the time being.
  • Add site tracking like Google Analytics. Often forgotten till the last minute, this is a valuable way to build insight on your business and your marketing from launch.

Online payment and booking functionality

If you are an eCommerce site, selling physical or digital products, you will probably need to accept online payments and will need to research the best options for your business.

Even if you provide a physical service, you may wish to manage bookings online and potentially accept payments too.

Find out more about eCommerce or selecting an online booking system.

GDPR compliance

From the minute you launch your business you’ll need to be aware of GDPR legislation relating to how you capture, store, secure and manage any personal data relating to your customers and staff.

Most businesses will also need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office which also provides a library of information on this legislation. They have a section specifically for small businesses. Watch our video tutorial for more information on GDPR.

The immediate tasks you will need to complete if you have a website are:

  • Cookie statement. Have a statement appear when anyone lands on your website notifying them if cookies are being used (cookies can be on your site for many things like tracking and to make it run effectively e.g. if people add items to a basket then leave it and come back). Most off-the-shelf website builders enable you to add an announcement panel with this cookie statement. You will need to research the best wording for you and whether you will need to have a link to a deeper page on your site with further information or the option for users to disable cookies.
  • Privacy policy. If you are gathering any data such as a contact form, you will also need a privacy policy to explain how and what data is stored. Further information can be found from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
  • Data storage. Customer information is key to many businesses, whether this is storing customers’ bank details, contact information, delivery addresses, email addresses, marketing info etc. You must ensure that this data is stored securely and in compliance with GDPR. You also need to decide how to store this data - for example in office software (such as Microsoft Excel or Google sheets), in CRM software (such as Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot) or in other programmes such as your inventory or accounting platforms.

Once your online presence is up and running, consider how you will optimise and manage your platforms and drive traffic. Check out DigitalBoost for guides, articles, webinars and 1:1 support to help you with your digital marketing.

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