How to take your business online
Starting a business is an exciting endeavor which is also quite risky and dangerous. According to the data provided by the Bureau of Labor, about 20% of businesses fail during the first year, and about 50% — during the fifth year. For small businesses, it usually takes about three years to become profitable and about seven years to be truly successful. The optimal digital marketing strategy is one of the factors determining the success of the future business. Let us consider the essential phases and challenges every business goes through since day one.
Every small business has a predictable pattern of development. However, there are some exceptions to the rule like Uber that we will not cover. As we know, the exceptions prove the rule.
- Stages of business development
- How to create a successful business
- A step-by-step guide to take your business online
- How to sell products online
- Website design
- The basics of website design
- Website content
- Boost your visibility online
- Social media
- Google My Business page
- Digital advertising campaigns
- Specific platforms
Stages of business development
The first year
The first year is challenging for every small business. The early successes at this stage are launching the website and enlarging the list of the customers. The other milestone at this point is the press coverage.
Despite the initial success business owners should be alert. The above-mentioned steps do not necessarily guarantee the future prosperity and progress of the brand.
During year two, the business owners may experience the first problems related to money. The costs may start disappearing and the founders of the companies may find themselves drowning in debt. In this period the owners of business typically realize that the early customers may not usually turn into the long-term clients of the company. And the successful start of the business does not mean that the brand will show great results in a long-term perspective.
The indicators of success at this stage are the consistent growth of your business and the expansion of the client base.
The success of the business during the year three means receiving a stable profit. Also, in the third year, the owners usually set the goals and make business plans for the following years. This period aims at defining the areas of the business that will be developed further, figuring out the risks, examining the overall state of the company, and checking what costs can be reduced.
The markers of the profitable business at this stage include effective marketing, sharper positioning of the brand, a more efficient management team, better development of the product, the refined process of acquisition of the customers, and understanding the customers’ needs and requirements.
How to create a successful business
First of all, it is important to understand that developing a successful business can take years of hard work. On average, the online business starts to bring money in 18-24 months. The market is highly competitive and the company should put a lot of effort into the business to stand out. However, online advertising, search engine optimization, and building social media presence can speed up this process enormously.
The founders of the business should be prepared that during these 18 months the business will bring no reward. This fact strongly affects motivation but it is important not to give up at the initial stage.
Effective marketing is an essential tool for business development at every stage of the establishment of the business. Let us consider a good example of the implementation of an effective digital marketing strategy.
Jacob Evans was the founder of the real estate agency in the UK. He has built a strong reputation due to his extensive experience and skills. The agency was showing good results on the local market but there was a need for the website redevelopment to keep up with the competition. Also, Mr. Evans wanted to identify the online opportunities that existed on the market and improve local search visibility.
The business owner approached Dewzilla to advise on SEO strategy and to dominate both search and social media. The agency examined the existing website and ran the in-depth market analysis to develop and apply the digital strategy. The main tools for implementing a powerful online marketing strategy were Google ads, content marketing, social media management, and advertising.
The implementing of a new digital strategy implied finding the answers for the following questions:
- What are the target markets the company would like to engage in?
- How can we make sure that the information the company is providing is valuable and engaging?
- In what ways the digital presence of the real estate company can become stronger?
The digital agency worked together with the internal marketing team to provide the content and technical SEO strategies, support, and advice for the team to improve the rankings in Google and the traffic of the website.
Due to the focus on the targeted SEO strategy, Dewzilla managed to increase the online visibility of the brand. The advertising campaigns helped to drove leads and make bookings for the real estate agency. The outcome of the online marketing campaign was the 400% increase in the organic traffic of the website, 51% of leads generated by online channels, and the total growth in the number of website visitors per month.
A step-by-step guide to take your business online
First and foremost you need to create an e-commerce plan. When you are making important decisions about marketing and technology and establishing relationships with the vendors you need the perfect plan.
Many businesses start building their digital presence from creating the page on Facebook or Etsy. This is a good beginning but also this strategy is connected with certain drawbacks. The major disadvantages of this plan are the lack of control over these platforms and the cut of the sales which is often taken by many e-commerce marketplaces.
The website is the online home for your business. The website of the brand tells people the story of your business, the products, and services you can offer. A website helps your business to expand the reach and establish credibility. Creating the site is a perfect opportunity to improve brand awareness and attract potential customers online.
The initial step for taking your business online is making the list of possible names for the website. This is the key issue for your business, the unique address of the company on the web. The domain name helps to promote the brand and to direct the customers to your website. It tells the people about your business, the products, and services that your brand can offer to clients. There are plenty of companies that can assist you with site naming and registering the domain.
If you decided to choose the domain name by yourself, you need to follow several simple rules.
- The domain name should be short and catchy. It should be easy to remember for your clients. Try to create the domain name which you would recall if you saw it on a side of the bus.
- Make the domain easy to type. Try not to use the unusual spellings and hyphens in the name of your website.
- Apply the keywords. Think of the keywords your customers are likely to use when they would be searching for your brand or industry.
- Target the state or city. If you want to cover the local market and appeal to the customers, use the name of the area when creating your domain.
- Choose the right extension. This is a part of the domain name that usually comes after the dot. Use the geo-specific domain name that will attract more local visitors to your site.
The useful approach is to analyze the websites of your competitors in the industry. Moreover, it is important to check if the website name is not used by the other brand, trademarked, or copyrighted.
To figure out the best domain name, you need to consider the industry of your business, services and products, geographical location, and the most suitable keywords used to describe your brand.
When you have chosen the website name, you need to register it. The domain name can be registered for a certain amount of time. For instance, if you have registered the domain name for a year, you need to renew the registration when the time passes. The domain names are most often registered for three to five years.
Some businesses have multiple domains and the reasons for this are quite simple.
The room for development. If your business has a domain name registered with traditional extension when your business grows you can create the additional domains. They will represent some new markets you serve or the specific services and products by your company.
The protection of the brand. Multiple domains are the ability to protect your brand online.
To show a connection with the specific geographical area. If your business is operating on the local market, it is a perfect opportunity to identify your website with this area.
To identify with some industry. Including the industry in the domain name might help you to improve the search results significantly. People are often searching for the product by industry, so this approach will be useful for your business to stand out in the results of the search.
In addition, if you have multiple domains, you can attach the main domain to your website and forward the additional domains to that address. The same thing you can do with the Facebook business page or the other pages of your company on social media.
Then you need to write the website outline. The key question is: what is the main purpose of your website? The purpose will be related to your business goals and strategy. You may use the website to inform the customers about the new products, sell these products or services, generate leads, or inspire the visitors. For instance, if your aim is to provide the customers with the opportunity to purchase the products directly from your website, you should focus on developing an e-commerce website. The type of site will correlate with the objectives.
The site outline typically includes the following components:
The website solution companies usually offer packages that consist of the combination of website building and web hosting. If your business is related to e-commerce and sales, the web host can deal with your transactions. The services offered by the web host might be the following:
- collecting orders;
- handling credit card transactions;
- sending e-mails to customers;
- forwarding the orders for shipping.
The activity of your company on social media platforms is useful to build the online community around your brand. You can market your products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and LinkedIn, and establish relationships with your customers.
Branded email is an easy and affordable way of communication with the customer and an essential part of the digital strategy of your brand.
How to sell products online
If the main objective of your business is to sell products and services online, the most suitable website for your company will be the online store or e-commerce website. The online store differs from the ordinary website on several points.
A shopping cart. This tool enables us to show the descriptions of the products and images on your website. Some features as inventory tracking and shipping options will be important for your business, so you may search for the shopping cart that includes these options.
Payment processing. You can use PayPal to collect payments but also you can establish your own merchant account. A merchant account will bring credibility to your site.
Secure Sockets Layer Certificate. The customers often look for SSL when they buy products or services on your website. This is a digital certificate that helps to encrypt the information provided on the site when the users fill the forms or purchase products. The indicators of SSL certificate are https:// in the address bar of the site, green address bar, and a padlock icon.
You have many options to create the perfect design for your website.
There are DIY website builders where you can create a good-looking website in an easy way with the help of the templates. The sites made in the builders are easy-to-use and mobile-friendly.
If you want to create a more complicated website than the one made with the help of the templates, you may apply the content management system like WordPress. To use WordPress you do not need to learn HTML. You may choose the most suitable theme from the designs presented on the platform. There are free and paid options. The WordPress plugins might enhance the functionality of your website.
This option will be suitable for you if you have the idea of how your website should look like but you do not have enough skills to implement it. Website design service or professional designer can turn your vision into a perfect website that helps to attract customers and meet your business goals.
When you consider different options of creating the design of the website for your business, you need to take into account the costs, complexity of the future website, the amount of time at your disposal, customization, and maintenance. This approach will be useful to weigh your requirements and define the priorities.
The basics of website design
There are several important issues that are the fundamentals of your website design. Even if your decision is to leave the design to the professionals, there are still some points you should approve.
Logo. The design of your brand’s logo should fit into the overall website design. The colors of the website might either be from the same palette as the logo or serve as a contrasting background for it.
Color palette. The colors should match the business objectives and the industry of your company. For instance, if you are the owner of the creative company, the most suitable colors will be bright and vibrant hues like tangerine and hot pink. The colors should evoke certain feelings in your customers.
Fonts. The fonts that you use on your website are just as important as the colors. You need to pick the colors that will represent your business in the best way.
Layouts. The negative space or whitespace is one of the key elements of the website design. With a small amount of whitespace, your site will look active, while a large amount of negative space is more typical for the minimalist design.
The valuable content for your website is an important part of your digital strategy. The site of the brand usually contains the story of the company, its mission, and what distinguishes the brand from its competitors. Tell the visitors of your website how you got started and what problem the business solves for the client.
Core pages to include on the website
The experts usually recommend to include the following pages on your website:
- About Us;
- Contact Us.
The valuable content for the website consists of the text that tells your story, high-quality images, photos, and logo of the company and video.
Short videos and images are the perfect way to convey the idea of your business and the impression you want to create for the customers. You can either take the photo with the smartphone or use the images from the stocks. The quality stock images can help you to save the costs of hiring a professional photographer.
Navigation plays a vital role in the design of your brand’s website. People usually appreciate the convenience and the appropriate navigation will help them to travel through your website and find the necessary information they were looking for.
How to tell the unique story of your brand
There are some simple tips on how you can find the inspiration for telling the unique story of the company on your website. You can get inspired when talking to friends, analyzing the sites of your competitors, the marketing materials, and newsletters of your company. Try not to copy the content placed on the other website, try to identify the points you like and what you do not like about the other websites related to your industry.
Boost your visibility online
After creating relevant and informative content for your website it is time to get your website found by the target audience. To accomplish this goal, you need to apply SEO or search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is aimed to make your website get organic visitors and higher search engine rankings. The key criteria that typically matter for search engines include:
Relevant content. The content on your website should meet the needs and requirements of your target audience.
Keywords. These are the phrases and words the users search in connection to your business. Find out the most popular search queries concerning your industry and then insert the keywords in your website content.
HTML tags. Meta tags provide information about your website in search engine results.
Navigation. Search engines take into account good website navigation.
Sitemap. A sitemap is a file where the information about your website pages and content is provided. It includes information about the changes and updates on your pages and the alternative language versions.
Link building. This is the process of getting the websites to link back to your own.
Nowadays social media marketing is an integral part of business promotion. Creating the page of your business on social media is a great way of engaging potential website visitors and customers. Social media provides you with the opportunity to showcase your business and generate serious traffic via including the link to your website in the publications.
It is important to choose the appropriate social media platforms that will correlate with your business objectives and your industry. For example, the best platforms for product-centric businesses are Instagram and Facebook. The choice of suitable social media platforms depends greatly on the target audience.
To establish a connection with your target audience add links to the social media pages of your business. You can place the links in your marketing materials and the signature in the official emails from your company.
Buttons on the company’s website. The common practice is to add the icons to your social media profiles on the website of your brand.
Links in social media posts. When you make a post on social media, add the URL of your website to encourage the visitors to go to the brand’s page.
Google My Business page
Google My Business is an effective method for small businesses to attract customers in the local area. Your visitors will see the page of your brand on Google Maps and also, they will be able to find your company through Google search. You will be able to add more information about your business, such as the range of services and opening hours.
Before using any service or purchasing some product most people tend to read the reviews. The positive reviews about your brand are a perfect tool to attract new customers. You can encourage existing customers to leave reviews about your services. Thus, you will build trust and customer loyalty.
In addition, you can publish the quotes and testimonials provided by grateful customers.
Digital advertising campaigns
Digital advertising requires investments but the results are worth it. The main advantage of digital advertising campaigns is the ability to track them more easily compared to offline marketing activities.
The basic platforms for performing online marketing campaigns are Facebook and Google Search. These sites are the most effective for conversion. The alternative way is to hire a digital marketer who will set a digital advertising campaign for you.
You can join some platforms where the potential customers and clients will be able to find you. The choice of the platform depends on the type of business and the industry. For instance, if you are the owner of the restaurant the most suitable platforms would be related to the food delivery as Uber Eats and Deliveroo. For the retail industry, these would be Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.
There is a checklist to analyze the success in the development of your website.
- Pay attention to your strategy and stick to the plan.
- Make sure that the website loading speed is high.
- Ensure that your home page has a call for action.
- Add the contact information on the website home page.
- Ensure that the message you are trying to convey is clear.
- Use eye-catching images, photos, and videos.
- Check if the website is working without errors.
- Make sure that the website correlates with your business objectives.
- The customers should be able to share your website through Twitter and Facebook.
- Ensure that the contact information is available on every page of your website.
Your website should encourage visitors to learn more about your products and services. It should turn your visitors into the clients of your company. Also, the website is evidence of the credibility of your company.
If you are looking to achieve great results in your website development, promotion and support reach out to the digital agency and you will get professional help from the skilled experts.