The internet has permeated every part of modern business. It’s no surprise that these days, having a good online presence is vitally important for your business. Whether you run an ecommerce business or a traditional brick-and-mortar store, an online presence will benefit you. An online store will bring you a wider audience of potential customers, offering you an easy and inexpensive way to share information and giving you many more possibilities when it comes to marketing.
Thanks to these benefits, a lot of savvy entrepreneurs are only doing business online and leaving traditional storefronts behind. This can be daunting for small business owners who may not have experience with online marketing and sales. The switch from a standard shop and office setup to the internet world can seem difficult and scary. However, there are so many advantages to doing business online which far outweigh the fear and the learning curve.
A website lets you stay in contact with a huge number of potential customers (anywhere from hundreds to billions of people!) without the hefty price tag of traditional advertising spots and newsletters. A website is also significantly less expensive than a brick-and-mortar store or an office. On top of that, doing business online opens you up to a whole new audience of consumers. You can sell to people all over the world, not just the ones in your local area.
The way that you do business online will be different depending on your industry, your customers, and your aims. Your online presence might be purely for marketing purposes or you might set up a fully automated online shop. You might be marketing a service to a highly specific demographic or operating widely. You might provide free newsletters or samples to attract and incentivize customers. The options are endless.
Online businesses can vary hugely but there are some strategies which every entrepreneur should implement. These ten strategies should work for every business owner. Use them to help your business grow and thrive.
1. Create a great website. You’ll need a great website to do good business online, so don’t rush when it comes to creating your site. Make sure you’re working with talented, committed professionals who can work with your vision to build a website your customers will love. Your website should clearly express your brand, offer all necessary information about your business, and convince visitors to become customers with strong calls to action.
2. Understand your industry. You need to understand what’s happening in your industry online. Check out your competitors’ websites and figure out what they’re doing online. Peruse the websites of other professionals in your industry who may not be direct competitors. This will help you to discover online trends in your industry and pick upcoming opportunities which your competitors might be missing. Sign up to their newsletters, browse their forums, and read their blogs. Get involved with your industry online, as well as other companies which may be complementary to your own. Make sure you’re on top and ahead of your industry’s online trends.
3. Forget geographical barriers. The internet breaks down geographical barriers. You can sell to pretty much anyone anywhere in the world with e-commerce. By setting up an online store, your products are immediately available to millions more potential customers. If you’re running a service, you may not be able to sell it all over the world – after all, how can a plumber or a hairdresser work online? But consider the options available to you. Could you offer phone or Skype consultations? Write a monetized blog? Sell your professional knowledge in an e-book? Figure out what aspect of your business can be sold online and offer it to consumers all over the world.
4. Diversify your source of income. It is generally a good idea to branch out and find new streams of income in this ever-changing online world. Are you a baker? Create a blog and e-book of baking advice to sell online. Do you run a car dealership? Advertise your cars on your website and include a blog with information about cars. You can offer free information to bring in new customers and sell more extensive sources of information. Keep thinking about what you can sell. It might be consultation services, e-books, a video training course, affiliate marketing, or something totally different.
5. Get involved on social media. Social media can waste our free time but it is a huge boon for businesses. Using social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you can quickly make connections with millions of people globally. These sites are free and allow you to easily make connections from your current address book. Assess which sites would suit your business and figure out how you could best use them. Facebook is great for any business. Twitter is helpful for sharing links to your website and communicating quickly with customers. LinkedIn lets you make professional contacts. Instagram and YouTube are best for aesthetic content and marketing. For an efficient, cost-effective way to boost your business, use social media.
6. Start blogging. It’s true that there are some downsides to blogging. It takes time and writing skills and adds a separate sphere of technology and marketing. In reality, though, having a blog can be very advantageous. You can boost your SEO using a blog to drive traffic to your website. An informational blog can attract many readers who may be interested in your products. You can easily communicate with potential and current customers via a blog and build their loyalty. A blog is also a great way to express your brand. It may take some time and effort, but a blog is a strong marketing tool which you shouldn’t ignore.
7. Network, network, network. The internet can feel anonymous so it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to network online. However, this would be a big mistake. The internet is made up of billions of people making connections and you should be one of them. People who network well in real life will succeed online. Luckily, if you find real-life networking awkward or difficult, you’ll probably find that it’s easier online. A new networking contact could provide you with important insights to your industry, introduce you to a valuable customer base, or offer you a useful exchange of services. Get involved in conversations in comments sections and forums, meet new people, and grow your contact list by networking online.
8. Make regular updates. Don’t let your online presence become outdated. You need to keep updating your information online, for example if you change your business hours or phone number. Add information about upcoming sales or new products to your website and social media profiles. Leave comments on industry blogs and interact with customers online. Update your blog so search engines will rank you highly. You don’t want potential customers to come across outdated profiles and get a bad impression of your business. You also want people to know about your latest news, offers, and products.
9. Update and analyze your progress. Make sure that you keep your online presence current by maintaining your website and social media profiles. Remember to also analyze the performance of these online centers. You should track your marketing campaigns, website, and social media posts to see what works and what isn’t contributing to your growth. This will help you push ahead with useful strategies and readjust things that aren’t working.
10. Be charitable. People like businesses that give back to charity, the community, and their customers. Figure out a cause which aligns with your business and make an effort to champion and support it. It’s okay to publicize the fact that your business is donating or working with charitable causes. Offer a contest for your customers or newsletter subscribers to thank them for their loyalty. These efforts offer great publicity, help you earn your customers’ loyalty, and are positive for everyone involved.
Any business owner, entrepreneur, or online mover and shaker can use these tips to do good business online. Some of these methods may seem tricky if you’re adjusting from a traditional real-world storefront, but you’ll soon see the benefits of doing business online. Remember that all successful entrepreneurs know how to adapt and evolve to suit current trends – this is what online business is all about.
What are you waiting for? Get your business online! A La Carte Web Services offer expert online marketing services for small businesses. Contact us if you want to find out more or discuss how we can help your business.