If starting an online business is in your future, this is a great guide to check out. Our Influence 100 Authority, Makarand Utpat get you on the right course with his sage advice!
Some of the most successful business ventures we see in this day and age have started off in the online realm. You take a look at the successful businesses like the Dollar Shave Club and you can only gawk in wonder and awe of how such a brilliant business might have started off and become such a huge success story.
If you are wondering how to start your online business, have the motivation to do so yet you are unsure of how to go about it, you are at the right place.
While every online business is unique in its own way, there are few steps you should follow in order to make sure that you start your online business and grow it to become successful in today’s world. It does not matter if you are a highly experienced entrepreneur or a highly motivated new kid on the block, if you follow these steps and persevere, you are going to start your online business and make it a success. Here are the steps:
Look for demand and fill it
Setup website with a personality and a theme
Write content for your copy that attracts and sells
Leverage the power of SEO
Create a reputation for yourself as an expert
Don’t forget social media marketing
Take advantage of landing pages
Utilize the power of email marketing
Make repeat clients
They seem simple enough, don’t they? Let’s get started:
Look for Demand & Fill It
Everybody recognizes that having an online business today can be a lucrative opportunity. That is why quite a lot of people get into it head first without much regard to what they should be going for when they start.
Plenty of entrepreneurs make a simple mistake – they think of the product they want to sell before they look for the market that they will be catering to.
Your first step to start your online business is, therefore, to perform market evaluation and industry research to weigh in on whether there is an appetite to consume your products or services.
The key is to find something that people need a solution for (but not getting anywhere) what they have been looking for. Use the internet to your advantage. Contrary to the popular belief, crowded niches are the best since it shows that there will enough demand and that there is a bigger piece of the pie for your expertise. You can check out what’s being searched by conducting a keyword research. Make Google your best buddy.
Once you have a bit of an idea about what it is that people want, you should scope out your competition, if there is any. Look at what the potential competitors have been doing to address the challenges in the marketplace. Study it and look for any openings in terms of unique advantage you bring to the table.
Setup Website with a Personality and a Theme
You have researched the market. You know the expertise you possess. You have your product or service.
Now, start thinking about the online presence your business will have. At the core of the online presence is, of course, your website. Even if you are starting off as a small business, you do need a good web design. Don’t discount this effort.
It does not have to be too fancy but should have a consistent theme that speaks to your target audience’s desires and needs. What is really important is that your website should grab the attention of visitors and that it should be easy for them to use.
Do not go crazy with fonts. Two good fonts reflecting your business should be more than enough.
Navigating your company’s website should be easy.
Don’t flood it with graphics and videos. Only use what will look good with your brand’s message. Sometimes less can be more, you should remember that.
Use opt-in offers so that you can build up an email list.
Purchasing process should be as simple as humanly possible.
Your website is the first impression to your customers. Make the first impression count.
Write Content for Your Copy that Attracts and Sells
This step is purely about the sales aspect of your business. From the moment your potential customers arrive to the point where you make a sale and close the deal, there is a bit of a formula you can make use of:
Reel potential customers in with an enticing headline
Clarify problem or a need your market has for which your product (or a service) offers a solution
Let your target market know that your brand exists and that you are eager to solve their issues, challenges and pain-points
Show them proof of your good word with testimonials from your customers who’ve used your services and how they have been benefited
Make an enticing offer that they cannot refuse
Create an urgency for your product (or service)
Give them a guarantee about the quality
Make the sale
What is really important when you’re drafting your copy is to look at it from the point of view of your potential customer. Don’t wear your CEO hat but rather, wear your customer’s hat.
Think about it.
If you are in their shoes, would you not want to know what’s in it for you? So always focus on how your product or service is the best solution to solve your target market’s challenges and pain-points.
Leverage the Power of SEO
Most of the online traffic that websites receive is through the search engines. People routinely make use of search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing with Google being most popular) to look for solutions to their problems. i.e. remember that, there is already an identified need when people are searching.
This is the 4th step, which is, to make it a point in setting aside partial funds for SEO. These include white hat techniques such as making publishing high-quality content, incorporating optimal keywords (and not stuffing it), external link building, linking internal pages or blogs, making it mobile responsive, incorporating keywords in the images you are posting in blogs, ensuring faster page loading, etc.
Stay away from the black hat techniques where someone guarantees you overnight results or uses black-listed techniques. Google can slap you breaking your business’s back in no time. So be conscious and vigilant about who you deal with.
SEO doesn’t happen overnight but over time, it will help make your website rank high in searches. This will get you a massive increase in traffic to your website that will in turn mean more leads which means more sales which means more business. The internet is a beautiful thing, search engines are the rainbows and SEO can get you to the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.
Create a Reputation of Yourself as an Expert
Search engine are used by the people to find information of all kinds. We’ve already established that.
You have a solution which people want, right?
Start providing value-added information in the form of blogs, vlogs, testimonials, case-studies and white papers. Leverage content marketing tips and techniques.
You’ll start to see better results in terms of SEO rankings and you will start building a reputation for yourself as an expert in your field. The content you produce and publish will reach out to your target audience and since you will be including the links to your own website, you will drive the traffic to your website.
Don’t Forget Social Media Marketing
With 1 billion websites over the world, your website becomes a needle in the haystack. I talked about employing SEO strategy which will help your website gets discovered. However, SEO is not an overnight strategy and does take time.
Complement SEO by running marketing campaigns using Facebook Ads or Google Ads. The results will be faster and you can adjust your efforts quickly if something doesn’t go right.
Take Advantage of Landing Pages
The average attention span has been dropping consistently from an estimated 12 seconds (in 200) to 8 seconds today. The landing pages serve the purpose of anchoring a person’s attention quite effectively.
A well-designed landing page can boost conversion rates by as much as 15%. The reason being that the landing pages are different from the normal content such as blog posts, articles or case studies.
A landing page can stand on its own (completely separate from your website) where you offer specific options for your prospects to take action on. i.e. not too many buttons, not too many choices, just the simple design.
It offers compelling call-to-action asking prospects to take specific action with a primary goal of “Give-and-Take”. “Give” comes in the form of you offering some kind of immense value. This is called lead magnet. You can think about lead magnet as some kind of an asset (e.g. free eBook, infographics, blog, article, checklist or cheat sheet) that delivers significant and immediate value to your prospects in exchange of them giving you their contact details such as first name and email address or asking them to sign-up for your webinar (this is what you “Take” from them).
Utilize the Power of Email Marketing
Remember the opt-in offers you setup in your online business’ website? Yeah, the email list that you have collected through will become a valuable asset for the continued success of your online business.
This is the 6th step. When your customers opted-in, they essentially gave you permission to send them emails. Use the power of email marketing to reach out to your customers and establish a healthy working relationship with them. Follow up on leads. Answer emails.
Make Repeat Clients
The last step is to make more sales. While it is important for your brand to consistently look for opportunities to drive more traffic and acquire new customers, don’t forget your existing customers. It is equally important to look for ways to satisfy their needs and their challenges. Remember, it is far cheaper to retain existing customers and reap benefits than to acquire new customers.
Build a strong business-customer relationship and turn those one-time buyers in to life-time clients by using backend selling and upselling.
Update them on new offers, show them new products that are relevant to those they have already purchased from you, and give regular discount coupons. Incentivize your customers so that they become loyal to you to the point ‘till death do us part.”
I have outlined 9 steps in the simplest manner possible. This is not a comprehensive list but should serve as a good start.
Remember, you are starting off a small business in a vast online world. Follow the steps to the best of your ability but at the same time, don’t forget to bring in your passion, drive, enthusiasm, dedication and unwavering attitude to support your marketplace. That is where magic will happen. It will allow your business to stand out from the rest.
Get the basics right and everything else will fall into place. Best of Luck!
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