People in every industry and niche are scrambling to get their products and services online. The past few years have caused a shift in demand for online transactions. This isn’t a new concept; this is where we were heading long before the resent 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.
Over the past few years, there has been a rise in online business activity. It is estimated that 1.79 billion people bought something online last year. That should give anyone interested in starting an online business a good reason to pursue their desire.
But running a successful online business isn’t always easy. There are several key activities that need to be done for an online business to succeed. Before you even think about those activities, it is important to understand what you need to know before you even start.
In this article, we will list 7 things you need to know before starting an online business.
1. You Need to Choose the Right Type of Online Business
One of the first things you need to do when building a strong online business is to choose the right type of online business. There are several types of online businesses you can start, but not all online businesses are right for everyone. You need to look at your strengths and resources and see which one would work best for you. You’ll also need to see which one give you an acceptable return on your investment.
For example, you may want the convenience of starting an affiliate marketing business that doesn’t require any inventory. However, you don’t have the skills of building and marketing to an online audience and sell the benefits of a product that isn’t your own. You will have to decide to either learn those skills or to find another business to run.
Choosing the right business for you is the first step in building a sustainable online venture. It is important to not choose your online business because it is easy to start or because someone else made a lot of money doing it. You need to find the one that will give you the greatest opportunity to succeed based on your skills, talents, work ethic, and resources.
2. Choose the Right Niche
Once you’ve decided which business to start, you need to narrow down that decision to which niche you want your business to occupy. This means finding the right niche markets for your online business. A business niche is different than a type of business. Understanding the difference will save you some time and energy.
A niche market is a segment of a larger market that can be defined by its own unique needs, preferences, or identity that makes it different from the market at large. For example, you may want to start an e-commerce business. Great! But what will you be selling and to whom? You can decide to sell clothing but that is a very broad segment. Instead, narrow that down to something more specific such as graphic t-shirts for men who play basketball. Or perhaps, weekend dresses for plus-sized women.
The key is to know specifically who you want your customers to be. Then, you can narrow your niche so that your online business is the go-to spot. You can also do with all types of online business such as blogging, affiliate marketing, and even social media management. We have an article on finding the right niche for your online business here.
3. Understand Content 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.
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.
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.
4. Learn Some 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.
5. You May Need 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.
6. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Google launched its Mobilegeddon campaign in 2015. They knew where we were going in terms of smartphones and the increasing number of searches 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.
7. Prepare to Get 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 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.
8. Understand How Online Businesses Are Different
Online businesses are just like regular businesses in many ways. However, there are some key differences that you must understand. Depending on the type of online business you start, it may be years before you see results. Some types of online businesses such as affiliate marketing, e-commerce and publishing can take years to take really take off. Patience in any business is important, but online businesses can take a little more effort and patience. Especially if you are new to it.
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. 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. Once you’ve actually started your online business you’ll need to know what key activities you should be doing. Check out our article 7 Key Activities for Any Online Business to learn how to do just that.