How to take your business online
Starting a business is an exciting endeavor that 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.
- How to start your online business?
- Other tips you should consider
- main Types of online business
- examplles of online businesses
- 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
How to start your online business?
There are thousands of successful businesses that can be good examples for others to start. They mostly have started it using the following steps:
- Discover a need and try to fill it.
- Design and build a user-friendly website.
- Utilize proper tools like search engines to drive traffic to your website.
- Create a professional reputation for yourself.
- Follow up with the visitors.
- Use back-end sales to increase your income.
Now let’s have a deeper look at each one of these steps.
- Discover a need and try to fill it.
You should find a niche. To become a successful business, first of all, you should make sure your business is filling a gap- something that people need and something to make them your customers.
You better start by searching the market. It boosts your chances of success. You should find a group of people who are trying to solve a problem, but they can’t. It’s not very easy, yet not that hard. There are tools to help you find your answers:
- Check online forums to see what problems people are dealing with.
- Use keyword searching to find the businesses that are not filled with a lot of competitors.
- Estimate your competitors’ power to fulfill the need. Examine their activities and take notes. After that, you can create a product or service that is already out there, but not as good as what you have provided.
After finding your idea to establish a business, you should study the market to find out what can make or break your business. This is not an easy task. You should conduct market research and competitive analysis.
- Design and build a user-friendly website.
Once you and your product or service are ready for presentation in the market, it’s time to show up online.
First, you need to design a website. In this process, always keep in mind that it should be simple. To grab someone’s attention, you have less than six seconds. After that, you have lost your chance to have the visitor back -maybe forever. So, you better always remember to:
- Select one or two simple fonts on a light background, preferably white.
- Keep the navigation process on your website easy and understandable.
- Use media only if needed to clear your message.
- Make it easiest to buy. The fewer clicks needed, the more is your chance to convert a visitor to a customer.
- Keep it customer-friendly. Your website is your online front store.
- Use search engines to drive traffic to your website.
There are some useful platforms that you can use to drive traffic to your website. Of course, it is better to have organic traffic, but sometimes it’s very challenging to do so. Therefore, there are some ways to increase your number of viewers to increase your chance to convert them into customers. Using PPC (Pay Per Click) ads is one of the most popular ways among them. Search engines like Google are the best for it. But you can also use other options like advertising on Facebook and other social media. It actually depends on the category that you are working in.
- Create a professional reputation for yourself.
Why do people use the internet? Many reasons, but mostly, to find information. If you want to have a professional reputation, you should be the one who provides some of the information. So, just do it! Provide the information for free and you will see that people come to your website to get them. It’s your chance to have the people get to know you.
- Create some expert content like useful articles and videos and let people use them for free. Share them on social media and ask the people to share them.
- Always have an eye to show yourself as an expert in the industry by showing up in forums and the sites that your potential customer usually hangs out at.
- Follow up with the visitors.
When you can convince someone to let you send the person an email, it can be translated to some assumptions:
- They are receiving something useful from you; something that they truly need.
- You have made it through their life and there is going to be a long relationship between your company and them.
It is very pleasant to happen. If you ask the experts, they will tell you that a list for email marketing is one of the most valuable assets that a business can have. Email marketing is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to marketing. It also is more efficient than most of the other ways.
The next thing is it is very easy to measure advertising success when using email marketing. So, why not use it? You can turn some of your visitors into your hottest leads. Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing and follow up with your visitors with that.
- Use back-end sales to increase your income.
At least %36 of the people who have purchased from you once, will repeat the action if you follow up. Therefore, developing every customer a lifetime value is one of the most important strategies in marketing. To be honest, executing the first sale is the most difficult part of the process, also it is the most expensive one for you. It is where you use the back-end selling and upselling to make them buy again. To do so, there are some tips you can use to increase your income:
- suggest products that complete their original purchase.
- offer them coupons for their loyalty so they can use them to get discounts. They have been loyal to you and they deserve to be appreciated.
- suggest related products in every stage of the process, especially on the “Thank you” page.
Other tips you should consider
We talked about some important steps to establish a successful online business, but of course, they are so general. Other tips usually stay undiscovered and you have to find proper solutions for them. Here are some examples:
- learn laws about running an online business
Any country has its laws about running an online shop. Not knowing enough about the rules will make you a lot of challenges. Trademarks, zoning laws, and laws about shipping are some of the most important ones. These are very important factors to consider, especially for small online businesses that don’t have consultants. A simple mistake can ruin the whole idea of the company.
- Find the best source for your product
While trying to run your online shop, you should not forget about producing your final product. As you go forth, you will get more information. Therefore, you can find better solutions in the process of producing. Use the information and be ready to consider any changes in the chain process of production.
- Are you ready for shipping?
Shipping is one of the most important parts of a successful online business and, there is not just one way to execute it. conduct a study about it and find the best method.
main Types of online business
there are many ways to run an online business, but maybe the most important part is to choose one of them.
Here are some suggestions to start an online business.
- Ecommerce store :
Ecommerce has many forms, but generally, they involve having your website and presenting something to sell.
- Affiliate marketing :
If you have a cult, you can get to know them. After that, you will know their interests and needs. So, you can set up affiliate accounts with other companies that sell stuff your people may need.
- Digital marketing :
If you are not interested in selling physical products, you may consider running an online service like digital marketing. To do so, first, you must have the skill. Providing one of these services can be your way to success:
- Developing apps and websites
- SEO services
- Social media consulting
examplles of online businesses
There are many forms to work online, but running an online business is not just earning money using the internet. For example, many people do GPD or GetPaidTo activities which may be enough for paying bills, but not for living.
So, here are some serious actions you can count on to have something called “online business”.
It is mostly like working for a company, but you don’t have to be in a specific place to do your job. You are an employee who works from his/her computer. In this method, you can manage your time because you have a flexible schedule. Usually, a remote job provides you a steady income, but other benefits like health insurance are rare. The bad thing about remote jobs is that they usually require you to have a lot of experience and advanced skills.
Freelancers work for themselves, or other companies for a short time. They are also called contractors. The good thing about being a freelancer is that you can work for several companies and get paid hourly. But the bad thing is: your income is not consistent and you may struggle to find a new project for a long time.
Imagine instead of being a freelancer, you manage a team of freelancers to do your job. You still are responsible to find new projects, but you’re not the one who executes the desired actions.
As a referral, you have to connect buyers and sellers. You don’t own the company or the end product, you are just a bridge between two sides of a trade. For providing these services, you get your commission or funder’s fee. The good things about this type of online business are that you can have a strong passive income and it is quite scalable. And, the negative points are: it requires a complex set of abilities.
If you can manage it very well, you can think about taking it to another level by developing a marketplace. You just need to create a platform like an app or a website to take your business online.
If you can hold the attention online, you can make money. You just need to have a lot of followers that you can have an impact on. YouTubers and podcast creators are some examples of it. The best thing about this activity is that you can work for your passion and still have a significant income. But there are many challenges in your way like thousands of competitors and the time that you need to spend to increase the number of your followers.
Creating and offering digital products like apps and games is another option that you can count on as an online business. If you are an artist, you can sell your art as a product. It is a little hard to market, but it is much easier than selling physical products.
Your business is to sell physical goods. Of course, you don’t have to do it totally online, but you can make a part of it through the web. It is one of the most challenging fields of running an online business because of the costs of manufacture, storage, shipping, etc.
Using short-term strategies to gain profit from financial markets is called trading. This type of business is highly risky, but if you win, you can call yourself a wolf of Wall Street.
Betting, gambling, and Esports
You play games to earn money. It is fun, but just a small number of professionals can see it as their profession to make a living -and maybe a luxury life. So, if you think you can beat others in an online game, or you are lucky in betting and gambling, you can consider these activities as your main job. Good luck, you lucky person.
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.