If you’re thinking of starting an online business, there are some key issues and areas you need to address to get your dreams off the ground. Why are you starting an online business?
You need to clearly identify your reasons for starting this business. Are you appealing to a gap in the market that you’ve noticed or are you basing your business on your passions and lifestyle? Do you want to establish this business purely for financial gain or to, first and foremost, meet a consumer need or demand? It doesn’t matter which of these reasons you claim as your reason for starting an online business, it’s only important that you clearly identify your reasons and intentions. If you know why you are embarking on this particular journey, you have a greater idea of what goals you will put in place and the direction in which you’d like to be heading. A clear direction will feed into clear goals, and once you establish your business goals, you can construct an online strategy to achieve these goals. At that point on the process, you can then decide whether you want to go it alone or employ the services of an online marketing specialist to really give your strategy some additional drive.
Identify your target audience
You need to know your target audience inside and out. Without a clear idea of the group you are marketing to, how will you market your business towards them? Ask yourself questions about your ideal audience: how old are they? What gender are they? What are their likes and dislikes? What problems do they need solutions for? The more you know about this group of people, the more you can target your marketing efforts to entice their business and increase your sales success.
An excellent example is analysing the target market of a retail fashion store. It is a boutique store or budget friendly? Is it targeting young females or catering to the needs of tall men? The best way to determine your target market (and thus, how you will market your business to them) is by sitting down and putting yourself in their shoes. Figure out their likes, dislikes, their needs, and so on, and you’ll have a firm base from which to develop an online strategy for your business.
Create an enticing website
Unless you’re an accomplished designer, here is when you will almost definitely need to employ a professional graphic designer or online marketer to design your business website. This is a job for professionals because your website design will need to encompass a strong brand image, captivating content, and enticing design elements to tie it all together. More often that not, your website will be the deciding factor in whether prospective customers will purchase from you or make an enquiry – and you have about three seconds to make a positive impression. So copious amounts of text or headache-inducing graphics should be used sparingly, if at all. And remember, consistency is key; whether in the context of branding, font choices, logos, or colour coordination, always make sure you are consistent across all your brand collateral – both offline and online.
Take advantage of traffic generating tools
By traffic generating tools, I mean Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) resources. You can utilise particular keywords relating to your business and SEO tools to push your business’ website listing higher in search engine rankings. More people are likely to click on the first few search results and this gains your business increased online credibility and weight. Search Engine Optimisation is also a practice that is absolutely free to use. Pay-Per-Click Advertising, though not free, is a quick and effective way to get your business noticed on popular search engines. PPC Advertising positions your advertisements in the ‘featured’ areas on search engines and using PPC, you have a higher number of resources to monitor, track, and adjust your advertising efforts. Ever see those sidebar adds that creep up when you Google something? Those are feature ads, and your business could be the next feature.
Track, reassess, and refine your processes
Google Analytics and AdWords are paid advertising methods that enable you to keep track of your site rankings, visitor data, keyword performance, and much more so that you can pinpoint the successful and underperforming aspects of your marketing and advertising campaigns. You can track this information down to the smallest detail and modify elements of your efforts to achieve short-term goals quickly and efficiently. And I do mean down to the smallest detail; you can monitor which keyword is the weakest link in your efforts, how many clicks your links get on any given day, and how quickly people bounce back from your site. All of this information is exceedingly valuable when trying to build a strong online business.