Managing your business’s online brand is an integral part of any marketing strategy, but it may also help you to get a business loan. An increasing number of the largest online lenders, such as Kabbage (a ValuePenguin affiliate) and Funding Circle (also a ValuePenguin affiliate), are relying on online data in addition to traditional data points to gain a fuller picture of a business’s health.
Kabbage, which recently received $200 million in funding from Credit Suisse, uses a fully automated underwriting process (involving no humans) to approve applicants and requires business owners to link online accounts, which run the gamut from bank accounts to vendor accounts, to complete an application.
Even traditional lenders are getting in on this trend. JPMorgan Chase (a ValuePenguin affiliate), which recently renewed its partnership with online lender OnDeck (also a ValuePenguin affiliate), the largest online lender to small businesses, uses the latter’s underwriting technology, which considers online data points, to help it offer online business loans. Even banks and credit unions that don’t provide loans online are increasingly using social media in their approval process. In fact, Dun & Bradstreet (a ValuePenguin affiliate), which collects corporate and business data and issues business credit scores, incorporates into its databases information on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presence for businesses. This data is included in reports used by lenders to make credit decisions.
If you’re not in the market for debt financing, a strong online presence may help you secure other types of financing. A smart online branding strategy, for instance, can be a key ingredient to running a successful crowdfunding campaign. Frequently, the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are the ones that go viral on social media. Your business’s online presence can even help you pitch would-be investors or business partners since it can demonstrate a market demand for your product or service.
If you haven’t already registered social media or other online accounts for business, or haven’t been using them effectively, now is the time to start — especially if you are planning on applying for a loan in the near future. Here a few steps you can take to build your business’s online presence:
Claim Local Listings
If you do nothing else, make sure to claim your business on Yelp, Google and Yellow Pages. All these listings are free and will help improve your business’s visibility with consumers online. In large part, that’s because registering your business on these websites will help it show up more prominently in Google search results since those are based on online presence. Make sure to add photos, hours of operation and contact information for your business. You should also encourage your customers to leave reviews, which will also help your brand’s visibility.