If you are thinking about starting your own online business, you have probably heard lots of not-so-optimistic stats concerning small business failure rates. This can easily make you forget about your dream and decide against starting a business after all.
A survey by Gallup found that 25% of people in the US had thought about starting a new business but eventually gave up. The vast majority of these people (more than 65%), said their decision was influenced by the low odds of success of new startups.
This doesn’t have to be you! If you do everything right from the beginning, you can still become a successful business owner. Even if you don’t want to start an online business from scratch, you can still find an established small business for sale and work with already solid foundations!
In this article, we’re offering 5 tips and strategies that will help you start and run a successful online business.
Start with a Market
Many people make the same mistake when starting a business: instead of looking for a market first, they start by looking for a product.
You need to start a business that fills a certain need. Find a group of people searching for a solution to a problem but not finding lots of results. You can achieve this by:
- Checking out competitors. Visit their websites and see how they’re filling the demand. Then, use your insights to create an improved product for an already existing market.
- Doing thorough keyword research to find keywords with high search volume and low competition.
- Visiting forums to find out what questions people ask and what problems they are looking to solve.
Design and Build Your Website
Ready to design your website? Stop for a moment. Before you get all busy with the visual aspects of your business website, take a moment to think about the domain name.
Many business owners don’t realize how important the domain name is and don’t put much effort into the process of selecting one for their business. This is equivalent to choosing a poor location for a physical store. Think of your domain as your business’ virtual address and make sure to choose one that reflects your brand. However, bear in mind that finding the perfect domain name isn’t easy, so we recommend using a cheap domain name provider to cut the process short and make it more efficient.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect domain name, you can start designing your website. Remember, you’ve got no more than 5 seconds to capture people’s attention, so here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Keep things simple – select 1-2 plain fonts on a white background
- Use video, audio, and graphics only if they enhance your message
- Make sure the navigation is simple and clean
- Make it easy for people to buy; there should be a maximum of 2 clicks between potential customers and checkout.
- Include an opt-in offer to collect email addresses.
Rely on SEO to Get Traffic
Search engine optimization can help you create a robust, fast, and user-friendly website that ranks high in search engines. This, in turn, will help you attract more organic traffic and qualified potential customers to your website and eventually boost conversion rates. In addition, SEO can help you build brand awareness as search engine users are more likely to trust websites that are on the first page of SERPs.
If your goal is to build a strong online presence, gain new customers, and stay ahead of your competition, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your website support mobile-first?
- Is your page speed the best it can be?
- Have you done keyword research to know how people are searching?
- Does your content offer value to your target audience?
- Have you followed on-page SEO guidelines for all your content?
- Have you installed Google Analytics and set up Google Search Console?
- Have you claimed or added your business to social media platforms and reputable directories?
Take Advantage of Email Marketing
By building an email list, you’re actually creating a super-valuable asset for your online business. What does this mean? This means that you have a list of people who have agreed to get emails from you.
It also means that you get a chance to build a relationship with your subscribers and customers. Anyone visiting your website and subscribing to your list is already interested in your offering, i.e. is a hot lead, and email marketing is the best tool to follow up with these leads.
Not to mention, the response is 100% measurable, which gives you an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments and polish up your email marketing strategy to achieve maximum impact.
Finally, email marketing is more effective and less expensive than TV, radio, or print because it’s highly targeted.
Focus on Your Customers
No matter the size, every business needs a balance of new and repeat customers in order to thrive.
Customer loyalty is so important that the vast majority of businesses (over 90%) have at least some rewards or retention programs. Moreover, studies have shown that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost sales by more than 90%!
Customer loyalty is more than just a business strategy or marketing tool; it’s an essential part of a company’s management.
Regardless of your products or industry, following these 5 best practices will help you boost customer loyalty even if you’re on a tight budget:
- Create a community around your brand
- Set up a rewards program
- Solicit customer feedback
- Train your staff to connect with customers
- Encourage customers to be social
Once you’ve completed these 5 activities, you’ll have all the bases covered. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight but if you create a plan and actually use it, you’ll definitely boost your chances of success.