The first steps to setting up your online business.

The first steps to setting up your online business.

You have a compelling product idea, a solid plan, and even some startup capital. You are chomping at the proverbial bit to get your online business off the ground. So, what steps should you take to transform your beautifully conceived idea into a full-fledged success? Let’s dive in. 

Give the people what they want.

In your personal life, has there ever been a time when you’ve had a brilliant idea that you were really excited about? You took it to your group of trusted friends, sure that they would react with the same eagerness. What a shock it was when no one else seemed to be able to match your enthusiasm for the idea.

You definitely don’t want to risk the same thing happening to you as a business owner. To prevent this dreaded but very real possibility, be sure to do your research. Confirm that your product or service addresses a problem that people are currently having difficulty solving.

Fortunately, the internet is brimming with helpful information in this regard. You can join online forums in your subject area to get the lay of the land. Conduct keyword searches related to your product to find gaps in availability or other chinks in your competitors’ armor. Finally, take a peek at your rivals’ websites to learn what they are doing well, what they could do better, and what their level of customer frustration might be.

Come up with a sales pitch.

Long before you get into the nuts and bolts of webpage design and online payment processing, you need to know what you will be selling, how you will be selling it, and to whom. The only way to solidify this plan is to compose a sales pitch that, in one form or another, you will use throughout your pages. Be sure it contains these important elements:

  • Grab the customer’s attention with a gripping headline.
  • Focus on an existing problem.
  • Explain why your product or solution is uniquely positioned to solve the problem.
  • If possible, include testimonials from satisfied customers who have already used your product.
  • Make it known that the product is available right here and now.
  • Provide a guarantee that the product will work.
  • Encourage the customer to act now by creating urgency.
  • Offer enticements such as free shipping or doubled quantities.
  • Include a call to action/ask for the sale.

This paradigm is tried and true and is an excellent way to organize and communicate your thoughts and excitement about what you have to offer.

Make smart website design choices.

When it comes to websites, simplicity, transparency, and ease of use are critical. Save those fancy bells and whistles for other projects. Keep the following “easy access” tips in mind:

  • Use a white background.
  • Pick only one or two basic fonts.
  • Navigation should be clear and uniform throughout all of your pages.
  • Augment your sales pitch with graphics or audio, but don’t do anything extraneous.
  • Capture customer email addresses with an attractive opt-in strategy.
  • Make the purchasing process fast and easy, with no more than two clicks between product selection and checkout.

If you are a tech novice or are not sure of the ins and outs of website creation, don’t be shy about hiring a pro to take care of the details for you.

Drive traffic to your new site.

Even the most amazing site that features the product of the century will fall flat if no one knows about it. You need more than luck and urban legends about overnight success to spread the word about your burgeoning business.

Using pay-per-click ads via search engines is one of the most effective strategies that small to mid-sized businesses can use to attract customers to their websites. In effect, you actually buy visitors, paying a fee each time someone clicks on your site. However, once they are there, you reap the benefits, including immediate access to higher positions on the search engines and the ability to test which of the keywords they use tend to result in sales. Once you have this precious information in hand, you can integrate it into your entire site, allowing you to work toward that coveted top search engine positioning organically, without having to shell out extra bucks for it.

Create and cultivate your own online brand and identity.

In addition to coming up with a site that people will visit, you need to establish your credibility as an expert. This means making your brand a household name, at least in the mouths of your target customers.

This is where freebies come in. Although it might seem counterintuitive, make a huge effort to create information-rich articles, videos, and blogs that provide new and compelling information about your subject area and paint you as an expert worthy of trust. Then use social media and article directories to distribute this content far and wide.

Another strategy is to follow the crowd. Find out where your customers go and what influencers they follow and tag along. Gradually, you can insert your own thoughts and content and become a sought-after insider on these sites.

Launch an email marketing campaign.

That opt-in offer on your website serves a pivotal purpose: To allow your customers to voluntarily provide you their contact information. Once you have that, you have all you need to cultivate a dynamic, lifelong relationship with your most interested group of buyers. You can even use analytics-based tools to measure which offers work well and which do not.

After the initial sales, the goal is to make your business a valued part of your customers’ lives. To do so, encourage an ongoing sales relationship, taking note of the product they originally purchased, while offering them items and services that enhance it. Repay their loyalty with coupons, promotions, and discounts. Finally, reward them for referring friends and family.

Of course, there is much more involved in successfully establishing yourself in the ecommerce space. Details such as choosing the right online payment processing vendor and determining what currencies you will accept are just two of the many questions you will ultimately need to answer. However, the tips we’ve covered here will provide a lasting foundation on which you can build an enterprise that meets your customers’ expectations, while increasing your profits.