Tips for Starting an Online Business

Whether you are a “wanna be” start up or an already established bricks and mortar business, there is a lot of appeal to the idea of an online business.  Think of all those millions of people out there who could benefit from your product or service!

While there’s no doubt the opportunities online are attractive, success is by no means guaranteed. We provide some tips to get your online enterprise on the path to profits.

1. Find your niche

Too many people look for a product or service first and then worry about the market.  We suggest you turn that on its head.  Find your market first, by identifying a group of people who are looking for a solution to a problem.  Then tailor your offering to be “the solution”.

Even if you have an existing bricks and mortar business that you want to establish online, we suggest you “find your tribe” rather than attacking the mass market.

2. Understand the flow of your website

Setting up your website is obviously a critical step in establishing an online business.  You want something that looks good and reflects your brand image.  Although the look is important, it’s the flow and the content that really makes the difference when it comes to the bottom line.

  • Customers should make no more than 2 clicks before landing on a page where they can make a purchase.
  • Your layout and your words must all assist the reader to know what to do next.
  • Navigation must be clear and simple and the same on every page.
  • Use only graphics, audio and video that enhance your message.

3. Make it safe and easy to buy

People need to feel comfortable when making their purchase.  They need some confidence that your site is secure, and they want to be able to use their preferred payment method.

Make sure you get secure e-commerce software.  Don’t skimp here, since the ecommerce software will make a big difference to how secure your customers feel.  You can also consider an all-inclusive ecommerce web service like Shopify.

Set up a merchant account that allows you to accept all types of credit cards.  Your banks should be able to help you with this, or consider PayPal which accepts most credit cards and is familiar to online shoppers globally.

4. Focus on search engine marketing to build traffic.

Deborah Latouf has successfully transitioned traditional toy store Entropy into the most extensive online toy store in Australia.  Recently she was quoted in The Age newspaper with some great advice.

“Don’t think that having an e-commerce store is going to be more cost-effective than a physical one. Yes, you don’t have rent to pay, but you should be investing this saving directly into search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and website development. You certainly can’t just stop once your website is live – that’s only the beginning,”

Pay per click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a new site.  The ads will show up on search pages immediately.  Plus you can use your ad campaigns to test different keywords and headlines.  You can then use that information to adjust the wording on your website to build rankings for organic search.

5. Establish your expertise.

People use the internet to get information.  By creating articles, videos and other content that people find useful you will not only establish confidence and trust for your brand, you will also draw traffic to your site.

6. Follow up and upsell

We mentioned in point 1 the idea of “finding your tribe”.  Once you find them you want to do everything you can to establish and build your relationship.

Make sure you have an opt-in feature that allows you to collect email addresses and send regular communications.  Think of your customers as a club.

When customers purchase, offer products that compliment the original purchase.  Not only will this increase your sales, it is also helpful for your customers.  Consider sending electronic loyalty coupons to encourage customers to come back.  Always be on the lookout for ways to bring your customers back!

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