An online business is a business that can reach the rest of the world by leveraging the unlimited power of the internet. It can open doors to a completely new segment of marketing and promote your product at a minimum cost. Best of all, as a business owner, you can choose whether to operate your business remotely from anywhere in the world or build a team that can work together to achieve your company’s mission.
As with any business, it is important to first understand who your target market is, why or how your business will attract them. Whether you decide to hire someone to build your website or online store, here are ten tips to help you build a successful online business:
Discover a problem that requires a solution. Instead of letting ideas slip through your fingers, make it a point to create solutions that are easy to use and highly sought after. This will make your product much easier to promote once it is launched.
A major reason why many entrepreneurs fail is because they invest lots of time and money in their products before evaluating whether there is a market for them. Have your products tested extensively before making them available to consumers as a commercial product. Needless to say, constantly recruit beta testers from users who would be your target customers to get real feedback to further improve your product.
Tapping into your own network or even using social media to recruit mentors with significant industry experience can aid your business in its path to success. Using social media not to just talk about the product, but also talk about anything related to the industry and associating your product or service to the target audience’s lifestyle or as a problem solving element to a business can attract fans to amplify your brand. Adding value to your fans is what will eventually win you customers.
Before you begin building your website you should have a clear idea of exactly what you want and how you want to create it. For an entreprenur just starting out a new business, building a website usually ends up taking up a significant portion of the business’ startup budget.
Needless to say, creating a website does not have to deplete your savings; there are myriad of hosting platforms such as WordPress and Joomla, which allow you to develop functional and aesthetic websites.
Best of all, Opensource content management systems (CMS) such as Wordpress and Joomla have many themes/templates that are catered to various business industries to help entrepreneurs on a budget to easily implement the technical aspects of the website either on their own or with a web developer as a minimal cost.
For example, an entreprenur wanting to develop a Vacation home reservation marketplace similar to Airbnb can implement Joomla and then add a template (also known as Extension) such as COMDEV’s JomHoliday Extension, that has the essential functions necessary to fully operate a vacation booking site almost immediately. By either implementing it yourself or having an experienced web developer install theme on your website, all of this can be setup within a day and your business can be operational within 1 day.
• Search engine optimization (SEO) is not hard, but is time consuming.
• Social media is your voice and method to connect with newcomers.
• Develop a valuable offer like a free e-book containing information; this entices people to sign up to your e-mail list.
• Send traffic to your offer as many ways as possible. Repeat your offer everywhere!
• List your website in directories, this increases your web presence.
• Advertise your business where your customer is found.
• Use your e-mail list to market your business, educate and create a relationship with customers.
• Create a website that is scalable and will allow you to sell additional products and up-sell to bigger offers. Once you figure out how to sell online, you can pretty much sell anything if the right systems are in place.
Make it as easy as possible to buy and offer multiple opportunities to pay.
Use a proven payment method, cart or website like PayPal.
• View Google Webmaster guidelines
• Be consistent with your address, either use www or don’t, but be consistent.
• Do your keyword research.
• Create high quality content.
• Create a sitemap to be indexed by search engines, and allow your viewers the ability to find something quickly.
• Use your existing web address where possible. A new web address may take months to be recognized by search engines.
• Verify your site with Google.
• Keep an eye on your reputation by using scraping software to see how people are talking about you on the internet (some companies’ offer this services for free).
• Test different ads, offers, squeeze pages. Find out what your rate of conversion is (how many people land on the page and actually sign up or buy your offer or product).
• Use tools like Facebook Ads, which allow you to run multiple ads at the same time, with different images and/or copy to test what works, which ads do people respond to?
Develop your public relations approach right away. High search engine optimization links and mentions in respected publications to drive traffic and build brand identity is what will make your website visible and continue driving customers to your business. Bring in a business partner with PR experience or hire a PR consultant/agency to help with PR to drive positive media mentions.
Repeat visitors to your online business will increase sales for sure. You can give your visitors a reason to come back in many ways. For example, you can let them know that once a month you post a one-day only sale. Another example might be to write an article and let the readers know there will be a follow-up next month. Make the topic of the follow-up something that people really want to know.
Just adding quality content on a regular basis is a good way to get repeat visitors.