Thinking of starting an online business? There are several essential steps you can take to create marketing campaigns that lead to success and guarantee your success. Let’s go !
1. Have THE right idea
Every successful business starts with having a business idea. And this brilliant idea must have all the right answers to several questions:
- What will your business consist of?
- Who are your clients ?
- What is your target market?
- What are your flagship products? / What services do you offer?
- Who are your competitors ?
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. You can find all kinds of good answers to fill the question bar. However, it’s important to remember your core values and the single main purpose that drives your entire business forward. Before every ” What is it” and “Who is”, let’s think about the one and only “Why”.
And remember that it’s not enough to have the right idea, make it great.
2. Know your market
Customers today want to feel like brands are talking directly to them. According to several studies on the subject:
As a brand new small online business, if you take the time to learn more about your audience, you can deliver personalized and engaging content right from the start.
3. Identify your audience
If you already have customers, you can use their data to create an audience profile. Useful data points to identify include:
- The age group ;
- The profession ;
- Family status;
- areas of interest;
- Spending habits.
How you collect this information is up to you. You can for example:
- Refer to social media marketing and use analytics tools on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram;
- You speak directly to their customers and inquire with them.
4. Choose a business model
When learning how to build an online business from scratch, it helps to know some proven online business models.
Here are six types of online businesses to consider:
- E-commerce: use a service like Shopify to create a website and sell physical products online;
- Affiliate Marketing : promote the products and services of other online businesses and receive a commission for each sale you make with this passive income idea;
- Coaching and Consulting: become a coach or consultant and sell your expertise, advice and support;
- Information products : consolidate and sell your expertise in e-books, online training, etc.;
- Independent : provide a service to other people and businesses using a skill you possess, such as advertising, writing, copywitting, designing, or programming;
- Software as a Service (SaaS) : Create software or an application and charge users a recurring subscription fee.
5. Choose a business name
Choosing your business name is an important step in starting your online business. For this, you will need to check if the name you want is available as:
- Company Name ;
- Domain name ;
- Username on each social network you plan to use.
If the name you have chosen is not available as a domain name or username on social media, plan for different permutations of the name and remember that many domain name extensions beyond the ” .com” are available.
Also check that your name and domain name do not infringe on any registered trademarks.
6. Develop a business plan
Once you know your idea is feasible, and you have your business name, develop a comprehensive business plan. Even if you don’t plan to secure financing for your business, at least not initially, a business plan still helps to spot potential roadblocks and plan for future growth and profitability.
The work you did in step one gives you a good base from which to develop your business plan. Several resources are available online to help you put together the building blocks of a solid plan.
7. Define your business finances
Many new entrepreneurs very often ask themselves the same question: “How do I open a business bank account?” “. After you have officially registered your business with your local government, you should have the tax identification numbers and other information required to open a business bank account.
As you grow, you may need funding for future projects, whether it’s a new product launch or marketing and advertising expenses. Having business bank accounts makes it easier for you to manage this capital, and track your income and expenses.
8. Study your competitors
The best way to start a small business online is to research any businesses that might be considered competitors. In order to launch yourself in the market, you must define your brand image and your positioning on it. Analyze your competitors to see how they are doing.
- Who are your competitors ?
- Who are their customers?
- What problem do they solve for people?
- What are their products/services?
- What are people’s reactions to their products/services?
This will give you an idea of who your target customers might be and get you thinking about how you could do things better than your competitors.
9. Design and build your website
Once all these steps are well defined, you are now ready for the design of your website. Remember to keep it simple because you have less than five seconds to grab a prospect’s attention. For it :
- Make your navigation clear and simple on the site, and the same on each page;
- Choose one or two simple fonts on a white background;
- Include an opt-in offer so you can collect email addresses.
- Facilitate the purchase: no more than two clicks between the potential customer and the payment.
- Make your website user-friendly, because it’s your online storefront.
10. Use search engines
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the easiest way to drive traffic to a brand new site. It has two advantages over expecting traffic to come to you organically:
- It appears immediately on search pages;
- It allows you to test different keywords, as well as titles, prices, and selling approaches.
Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to find out which keywords are converting the most. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site, which will help your rankings in organic search results.
11. Establish a reputation as an expert
People use the Internet to find information. Provide this information for free to other sites including guest blogging, and you will see more traffic and higher search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site.
- Offer expert content for free. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Relay this content via social networks or online article directories;
- Become an active expert in your target market’s forums and social networking sites.
This will reach new readers. Even better, every site that publishes your content will link to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.
12. Turn visitors into buyers with email marketing
When you build an opt-in list, you are creating one of the most valuable assets in your online business. Not only is email marketing cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it’s highly targeted, but it helps develop lifelong relationships with your visitors.
Anyone who visits your site and signs up for your list is a very interesting lead. And there’s no better tool than email marketing to follow up on those leads.
13. Choose a marketing strategy
When you’re ready to start promoting your business online, you need to choose a marketing strategy. There are several, but when it comes to learning how to start an online business, some are better than others.
Here are four digital marketing approaches you can use to land sales fairly quickly:
- Social Media Marketing: use social media to create and share content, interact with your target audience and drive traffic to your website to generate sales;
- Influencer Marketing: Team up with influencers to promote your products directly to their followers;
- Paid advertising: advertise on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube to increase brand awareness and drive sales;
- Direct awareness: Contact individuals in companies to present your services.
14. Increase your income
One of the most important digital marketing strategies is to develop the lifetime value of each customer. At least 36% of people who bought from you once will buy from you again if you follow up properly. Closing that first sale is by far the hardest part, not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to entice them to buy again:
- Offer products that complement their initial purchase;
- Feature related products on your “Thank You” page after purchasing them;
- Reward your customers for their loyalty so that they become even more loyal;
- Send electronic loyalty coupons that they can redeem on their next visit.
SIf you’ve just started an online business, follow these steps. If you’ve been online for a while, do a quick review and see if there’s a step you’re overlooking or never had time to do. You can’t go wrong with the basics.
Finally, it can take some time to learn how to start a successful online business. So don’t worry if your first online business doesn’t take off immediately. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs have failed multiple times before succeeding!
Do you want to learn how to design a sustainable business idea? Our training Design and promotion of a digital training offer offers a module that broadly develops the subject.