If you decide to launch an online business, there’s a good chance you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you must do and the myriad of choices you face. Starting an online-only business, sometimes called a pure-play business since it has no physical presence, is a great option, since you can start it as a means to supplement your income before giving up your full-time job. This reduces your risk, something every new entrepreneur appreciates.
Starting an online-only business is something that more people opted for as a means to use their free time or a way to replace salaries lost during the pandemic. While this means that competition is fiercer than ever before, if you set up your online business right the first time, you have the opportunity to build a successful company.
The question then becomes: what does it take to launch an online-only business successfully? To help you navigate the overwhelmingly stressful facets of launching a business, here are a few suggestions for you to read through and consider regarding your new company.
Understand the importance of your website
When you launch an online-only business, you must understand that your website may be the most critical factor in your success and you need to make your website as perfect as possible before you even consider anything else. Even if you decide to offer your goods or services through a third-party platform, like Fiverr or eBay, you want a website that positions you as an expert, allows you to show off your goods and services, and offers the opportunity to someday eliminate the fees you pay third parties by selling directly from your website.
Your website represents the face and heart of your company; this means you need to put time, money, and effort into the website’s design to ensure the site looks professional, clean, and offers an excellent user experience to the types of visitors you wish to attract, remembering that different markets commonly want different user experiences.
You should take the time to study your competitors’ websites and answer these questions:
- What do their sites look like?
- What do they do well?
- What can be improved?
- What do I like about it?
- What don’t I like?
After answering these questions you develop insights that help you form a design concept for your own website. The only piece of advice you need to remember when it comes to designing your pages is that less is more. A clean and professional-looking site is not filled with all-singing, all-dancing features that slow down page-load times and negatively impact the user experience by offering more fluff than substance.
Embrace mobile-friendly design since 85% of internet users browse online via their phones and tablets, which is why your website must use responsive design to allow users to move seamlessly between devices. This wider ease of accessibility to your site means that more people will be able to share and view your website.
If the task of creating a website seems daunting, consider hiring an agency or individual with expertise in this area or check out my ebook that steps you seamlessly through the process of creating a website, using screenshots, videos, and offering links to needed resources. It’s free.
Ensure your website ranks in search engines
When it comes to making your online-only business a success, you must understand and implement effective search engine optimization, which involves understanding how search engines, like Google, determine which links show up in users’ search results and ranks the links based on perceived value to the user.
SEO can feel daunting if it’s not something you’re familiar with, but in a nutshell, SEO involves elements such as keywords, phrases, and the quality of content on your website – the more relevant and better quality your content appear to search engines, the higher your page ranks when users express intent related to your goods and services in their queries.
In terms of your SEO strategy, creating valuable content on a consistent basis is the most critical ranking factor, as that content drives other variables comprising the search algorithm that generates rankings. When it comes to what makes a business stand out – content is king, which is why it is crucial to ensure that the written material on your site is the highest possible quality.
If you don’t feel confident tackling SEO yourself, there are specialist companies like Click Intelligence that provide comprehensive SEO services and work with you to take the stress of getting your SEO and content marketing right; allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Focus on marketing
As an online business, marketing is extremely important to your growth. You need to take the time to craft a marketing strategy, likely focusing on digital marketing, and consider how to execute that marketing strategy to make your marketing as effective as possible.
The key to a successful marketing campaign lies in the effective use of online marketing tools, such as organic and paid social media strategies; commonly referred to as owned (your platforms), earned (those mentions from influencers and other users), and paid social media. However, you can’t just randomly pick the platforms you employ nor can you post without sufficient consideration of the message, the right platform to reach your target marketing, adapting content to the norms and rules of a particular platform, and posting on the appropriate schedule. Hence, you must consider several things such as:
- What platform(s) does your target market use?
- What time of day is your target market most active on each platform?
- Where and when do your competitors post updates?
Answering these questions gives you a starting point to form a solid social media strategy. There are also apps and planners online that can help you organize your posts and create a schedule to automatically update your chosen social media platforms with the content you queue up.
As well as utilizing social media marketing, it’s also a good idea to consider using many traditional marketing methods in your practices. PR is an excellent way to bring awareness to your brand through sponsorships at local events or even going renting a booth at a trade show in your niche to get your name to wider audiences.
With each marketing and advertising opportunity, consider your budget and how the marketing effort fits with your goals before committing to a particular course of action.
As you read in this post, starting an online business is not for the faint of heart, and you have a lot to consider; however, with the right amount of careful planning, an online-only business is easier than you think. Just remember that building a strong company with the potential for long term success takes some time, and you might occasionally slip up, but if you are patient and can learn from your mistakes, you are already halfway there to making it big.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.