Starting an Online Business? 5 Things You Must Do
Starting an online business is a great idea. In today’s economy, every type of business is online, and some of the most successful ones are exclusively online. Think about Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. All or almost all of their customer interface occurs in cyberspace. Sure, as behemoths, they now have large corporate offices. In Amazon’s case, they also need warehouses to manage goods, but that’s beside the point. These companies started as online businesses and have never gotten away from that business model.
Your own, brand new online business won’t need a glamorous corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, nor a fleet of logistics workers. This is great because it means your overhead is next to nil. One of the biggest reasons small businesses fail is because of too much overhead. This predicament often causes them to take on too much debt, and, in a short time, the red ink becomes insurmountable.
With that in mind, you can see the advantage of operating out of your spare bedroom or garage. After all, that’s how Apple came into being. Free of large expenses, you can focus on the things that make your business grow. Meanwhile, unlike Facebook, you don’t have to pay teams of lawyers, legions of developers, content monitors, HR people, etc., along with maintaining your buildings, infrastructure, etc., etc.
You do need marketing, and you need it like a thirsty desert hiker needs water. When any business starts, finding customers is the biggest challenge. This was true when all businesses were the brick-and-mortar type. It’s even more true in the online world. As an online business, you lack the benefit of a storefront with an attractive sign that can lure passersby inside. In fact, just getting noticed online is a task that takes a cohesive marketing strategy that must be applied diligently, over and over.
To make it happen, there are five musts. These marketing techniques form your core message. They get you noticed by viable prospects, build a regular audience, boost your reputation, and make you money. As an online entrepreneur, you’ll need a website that sells your business, optimization that keeps people on your website and buying from you, content marketing that resonates with your customer base, search engine optimization (SEO) that gets you to the front of the right searches, and great copywriting.
Online marketing pro Christine Austin notes that there are several experiential musts to create for your users. The expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies to the online world with far more gravity than the physical world. Online, potential customers can navigate away from your website and forget you forever, all without you having anything to say about it. The only opportunity you have to convince customers to stay on your site comes from its design and content.
Austin explains that visitors should know what your business does within 5 seconds of arriving on your site. The layout should be simple. A blog is a must, and navigating to it should be a snap.
Before designing the website, have a plan. The plan should focus on taking your customers through the sales funnel. The sales funnel contains the steps between initial contact and the purchase. A website, through its design and content, should take the customer, step by step, to the sale. There are a number of new technologies available to assist business owners in developing, streamlining, and executing their sales funnel.
Once you create your plan and build your website using good basic principles, optimize it. Austin recommends eliminating anything that detracts from your message. For example, distractions may include complex animations, wordy content, stocky images, and jargon. Optimize with social like and share buttons. These help you attract attention! Use call-to-action buttons. These guide visitors from one page of your site to the next, and through your sales funnel. Optimizing for mobile devices is becoming more critical. Ask yourself why someone would visit your website from a smartphone and how to maximize their experience to create sales.
Don’t Overlook Content Marketing’s Importance
Content can be thought of as the bread and butter of a marketing campaign. While other aspects of the campaign are crucial, without content that sells the product, they really don’t matter. A professionally designed website is great, but without strong content, it’s just for show.
In a Forbes Magazine article, Brian Sutter, a content marketing expert, stresses the importance of influencer marketing. Influencers are people who have an existing audience. Just any old influencer won’t do. You need the one with an audience that fits your target market. Online influencers are all over social media, and they make online entrepreneurs money. Find the ones that suit you.
Also, consider storytelling. This effective content marketing technique makes your business stand out. Great stories arise from how the company started, as well as successes. The key is to tell a story that makes your company shine. People buy products they relate to and believe in. Content marketing creates this feeling, so don’t overlook content marketing’s importance.
To create more website traffic, use an effective SEO strategy. To do this, you’ll need to determine the right keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that your target audience is likely to include in Google or Bing searches. For example, an online title lender in Miami might choose the keywords “online title loans Miami.” Keywords inserted into blog posts, videos, and e-books are very effective.
The content of your blog posts, e-books, and website are your copy. You want it to be snappy, easily digestible, entertaining, and on your message. It should both enhance your SEO efforts and help pull your customers through your sales funnel. Creativity, organization, and English language skills are key. If creating publishable content isn’t your thing, there are many companies that provide writing services at an affordable price.
Marketing an online business requires skill and persistence. It’s important to never underestimate the importance of your sales funnel. Your content must bring people to your website or business, make a great impression, underscore the benefits of your product or service, and provide a call to action that moves them to the sale. Don’t overlook content marketing’s importance. When you offer professional, convincing content, people understand why they need your product or service now.