If it wasn’t obvious before, the pandemic has made the concept of an online business an attractive one. People in every industry and niche are scrambling to get their products and services online because of the overwhelming shift in demand for contactless transactions. This isn’t a new concept; this is where we were heading long before the pandemic reared its ugly head. All signs point to digital solutions being the predominant method of marketing.
It was evident from the beginning of the “cable-cutting” trend in which more than one-third of Americans ditched traditional cable television for streaming services. YouTube’s meteoric rise to more than 2 billion active users per month represents a massive shift in the way people consume content.
The rise of social media and increasing dependence on search engines makes establishing your business online a necessity for maximizing your growth potential. So, where should you start? Read on to learn the top 5 things you need to build a strong online business.
1. Content-Driven Marketing
Everything you see online is a form of content. Content-driven marketing refers to engaging with your audience through content-based solutions. Purpose-driven content marketing is one of the most powerful concepts for businesses because it resonates within their target audience.
Be passionate about your cause
Today’s consumers are much savvier when it comes to marketing tactics. Producing a genuine, purpose-driven content marketing campaign stirs more emotions in the average consumer than simply purchasing a product.
One of the most successful content marketing campaigns to date has been Axe Body Wash. The celebration of confidence and empowerment their campaign encourages is a concept that everyone can relate to.
A successful campaign is built for the long-term and focuses on the interests and goals of the company and its clients. Creating content with a purpose that is relevant to your target audience is a powerful way to attract loyal brand advocates.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Whether you’re driving traffic to your website or competing to sell products on Amazon, your web pages must be optimized for search engines to display your products or services at the top of their search results. Google has proven to be the dominant force in providing robust search engine traffic. In doing so, they set the standard for how a web page should be optimized to be useful to a user. Although each search engine has a unique algorithm, the four underlying principles of SEO are essentially universal.
- Establish a keyword strategy-Keyword research is the new market research. Every keyword you consider using to optimize your page holds unique factors that determine the relevance of your content to your target audience. It also provides insight into the competitive environment you’re about to enter. The trend for successful optimization is to narrow the focus of your content to a specific audience so that your page not only rises above the competition, but the traffic your site generates is engaged with your content.
- Content creation-SEO and content marketing are linked in the sense that SEO cannot exist without content. The keywords your pages target must be supported by content that provides a direct answer to a user’s search intent. The sophistication of search engines has created the need for highly detailed content that leads users to their final destination by satisfying all aspects of their search intent.
- On-page optimization-Each page of your website should have a purpose that is clearly communicated to both users and search engines. There are multiple ways to drive traffic to your site from a search engine result page. The level of optimization for a keyword topic can be enhanced through resources such as structured data markup, SERP feature optimization, and rich results.
- Off-page optimization-Back-links have been one of the top three ranking factors since the beginning of Google. In fact, they were what initially set Google apart from other search engines. This concept is now universal, as the authority acquired from back-links is reliant upon the credibility of the links that point to a page.
3. Paid Advertising
Despite the long-term ROI being considerably less than organic search traffic, paid advertising still brings home the bacon. For example, paid ads on Google can generate $2 for every $1 spent. This, coupled with the fact that paid ads convert 50% more users than organic traffic, lends credibility to the notion that paid advertising has a solid place in the future of online business.
Paid ads give businesses instant access to traffic without the extended wait time that organic traffic generation requires. This form of traffic generation can provide website visitors who are already at the bottom of the sales funnel and ready to purchase. It’s not only good for newly developing websites, but for companies that have the budget for an additional strategy which produces a positive result.
4. Website optimized for mobile
Google launched its Mobilegeddon campaign in 2015 because they knew where we were going in terms of smartphones and the increasing number of searches that were originating from mobile devices. The campaign gave fair warning to all businesses that mobile-friendly websites would be a necessity to compete for top positions in search results. The Mobile-First update confirmed this trend, making the mobile version of a website the first version that is used in Google’s index.
Avoid providing a poor user experience
Think of how annoying it is to “pinch” the screen on your phone to zoom in and read small text. The need to scroll side to side to finish sentences and find buttons is also a red flag on your mobile-friendliness and can result in users leaving your site because of the poor experience.
In most cases, less is more.
Providing large buttons, easy to read text, and a simplified layout on a smartphone is the ideal way to get users to enjoy your website. Restaurant apps like Silverware and Tap Mango are perfect examples of how to guide a user through the purchasing process as quickly and painlessly as possible. Duplicating this level of simplicity on your site goes a long way for user experience and encourages repeat visits.
Want to know how your website measures up? You can test your website using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
5. Social Proof (social media, reviews, etc.)
We live in a society that places high value on transparency. Many companies are self-proclaimed leaders of their industry, which is why most consumers will check reviews before purchasing a product or service. Reviews provide social proof of the quality of your online business and can give potential clients a reason to convert into loyal customers.
Likewise, having a social media following that’s engaged with your content is an asset to your business because it builds trust and confidence in your brand.
Document your review strategy
Building real, high-quality reviews doesn’t happen overnight. Establish the way your online business can continually receive five-star reviews on Google, as well as in strategic review sites your potential clients are frequenting. Make it routine for you or your employees to ask happy customers to leave a review when you know they were happy with your service.
Always respond to negative reviews. Think of them as an opportunity to demonstrate your level of customer service, and that you care about every one of your clients.
Enhance the strength of your online business
The beauty of growing online business is that everything is measurable, scalable, and can be improved with strategic planning. Even if one method doesn’t work the way you thought it would, you can always tweak and optimize your strategy for better results. Take advantage of trends that are gaining popularity and grow your online business to new levels of success with more leads, new clients, and increased revenue.