How your online business can grow on any platform
Starting a business can be daunting at first, with an online business even more so. The first step to an online business is creating a website that is relevant to your business, industry and customers. There are many factors to consider at this stage of the process, such as design, content and delivery of your website.
There are many options for easy-to-use website builders. These are fairly straightforward and they allow anyone to create great websites. They require no coding or technical knowledge, nevertheless you are able to create a website that is relevant and professional.
Another option is to build a website from scratch, using a programming language such as PHP and html. This allows you to create a website that you envision. Of course this can seem impossible but with time and effort you can learn to code and build your website from scratch, and be able to update it effortlessly.
Building Your Website
Whichever route you take they both have their advantages and disadvantages, of which we’ll go through their biggest and most important for each side;
In regard to website builders, your biggest advantage is that you do not need any prior knowledge of coding to be able to build a website. They offer a wide range of services that you can use to build your website, these range from website themes, colours, images and pre-built templates. They offer ease of use, and can save you time.
On the other hand, their biggest disadvantage is that they are part of a subscription based service. Where you pay a fee per month perpetually to have access to your website and for it to be live on the internet. Plus there are other costs involved such as the type of service that you require that give you extra perks. Inherently, you do not own that website, you own the content you have created that you place on that website, this includes pictures, articles and the domain name etc.
In regards to starting from scratch when building a website. Your biggest advantage is that you own your website and everything on it. Because you are building it with code, you can create what you envision, and can create something unique that can stand out. A lot of the payments you make are one-time payments during the creation of your website. The only cost you do pay for on a regular basis is the cost to have your website hosted on a server, so that it can be accessed on the internet, which can be quite low and you can buy space for years at a time, making it very low maintenance on the server side.
On the other hand, their disadvantage is they can be significantly more costly than website builders during the initial building stage especially if you decide to build a website with more features etc. More so, coding is required to build from scratch, which means you either have to learn it yourself and then build your website, or you have to hire a knowledgeable person/organisation to build it for you.
There is no wrong or right choice but depending on your business and industry, you will need to take into account what you will be doing on your website and what your industry standards are, and most importantly what do your targeted customers expect and value; taking the time to figure this out will increase your chances of surviving and of growing organically.
Design and Web Developer
Design is an important feature for modern websites. Most customers expect a certain level of design and professionalism on the websites they visit. It has to be aesthetically pleasing while being relevant at the same time.
The design of your website should be planned from the start. You will need to know the layout of your website from the start and plan exactly how you want customers to perceive the website, and how all your pages link with each other for your visitors convenience.
Planning the layout of your pages, and the content for each page is an important design step. It’s important to create pages that are insync and compliment each other, and most importantly that do not confuse you visitors with layouts that are not user-friendly. Something as simple as this can cost you regular visitors and even business, as they go to your competitors.
Using social media
Every online business should have a social media presence that is kept up to date at least once a month, and more whenever possible. Keeping your social media account up-to-date helps to let customers know that you are still in business and they can contact you for and can expect a reply. The easiest way to provide value on your social media is to give free help and tips, or share industry information, or things your customers might be interested in; it doesn’t have to be grandiose or in your face. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective.
There are many reasons for a social media presence, it gives your customers somewhere to go get in contact with you, to give reviews and recommendations and areas for you to improve upon.
Most industries can also benefit from advertising on social media to reach your customers directly. This can lower your budget costs and increase the effectiveness of your marketing plans.
For more on using social media to advertise check out our article
Social media advertising made simple
When it comes to SEO it is every online business’s best tool. There is Technical SEO and normal SEO. both of which will be explained below.
Technical SEO involves the technical side of your website, it ensures that your websites code is free of any errors, and that your pages are coded properly and do not contain any duplicates pages and/or information.
Normal SEO is using research data to find out what content you should have on your websites to attract more visitors. Research directly from what customers are searching for on search engines, and what they’re talking about on forums, social media etc.
Using Customer Reviews/ Case Studies
Finding a way to showcase your talent/experience is a big must especially if you are a service based business in a competitive industry.
There are many ways of doing this and the more you’re creative, the more it will help you stand out. Customer reviews and case studies are for your advantage, especially if they’re bad reviews because they show you areas of improvement. You can integrate them as part of your website, or you can sign up to reviewing websites such as yelp, for example. However, if you want to keep things simple if you’re just starting your social media page on facebook is usually enough for most small and online businesses to give their customers a chance to give feedback.
If you're a new business and don’t have reviews to showcase. If it’s a service you are providing you can showcase why you are qualified to do the job you are charging. A few simple ways of doing this is simply by showing your knowledge of that service and your industry. You can provide short tutorials or articles on your website to help your potential customers become a little bit more knowledgeable and in return they will take this as proof of you knowing what you're talking about.
Although customer reviews and case studies are the norm, a lot of customers only trust them as a last resort and others not so much. In this modern day, online business owners should take care to make sure that they put in as much creativity in their online presence as possible because there is simply too much competition to leave it to chance.
Whether through traditional email, or using databases, or linkedIn (sales navigator), you should find a method of reaching out to prospective clients. You will have to make a choice of whether to take the cold approach of reaching out or a warmer tactic, whichever you decide it will have an impact on the success of your marketing campaign.
In terms of options for reaching out to prospective clients, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms to reach out to persons of interest, this could be people in certain industries or specific positions within companies. You are able to seek these key individuals out and reach out to them in a professional manner. It’s designed for warm leads and not for cold approaches, as it is a direct email messenger.
These are the basics of how to grow your business online. There are many steps to take and to learn. Taking the time to learn each one of these factors in great detail will greatly increase your chances of success in the future. The most important aspect of any business is and always will be the plan and the level of thought that has been put into it. So take the time to leave as little as possible to chance. Your online strategy should incorporate all the things mentioned above. Of which, you should be very clear on the time you will need to put in, and the work you will be doing and the desired results you should expect as well as the realistic result.