The world of business has been turned on its head with the advancements and evolution of technology. The internet and its online platforms have opened up a world of possibilities for businesses to not only expand and grow but for new businesses and industries to emerge and thrive. Ecommerce and online-based businesses have, over the last decade, been catapulted into success.
But the proof is in the pudding. Statistics are showing the incredible growth of online business and retail and proving that the future of business is, in fact, online. In 2018, 1.79 billion people made online purchases, with 64% of Americans claiming that they would rather make a purchase online than go into a brick and mortar store. Expectations of online growth are so high that eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.8 trillion by 2021, and are simply expected to grow from there!
So, if you are looking to start your own online business, and also monopolize the boundless opportunities awaiting you, you will need to know where to start. In this article, we will provide you with a few guidelines for you to consider when kicking off your online empire. Below are four major points to reflect upon.
A Solid Business Plan and Strategy
The first thing that you need to consider when kicking off your online business is getting a business strategy and plan together. You will need to map out various elements of your business, what it will achieve and the financial goals that it will reach over a period of time. It is highly recommended that you hire the services of a business plan advisor to get your business off to the right start.
An advisor will be able to assist you with the blueprint of your business. They will finetune your products and services, and ensure that your brand aligns with what you are offering. Realistic goals and expectations will be set in order for your company to be allowed to grow at a steady but realistic pace. A great business plan will also be structured optimally to attract investors, buyers and partners to help you grow.
Content Strategies to Attract and Retain Customers
Content has been deemed one of the most important elements of the current online marketing world. In fact, research has shown that content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search. So, just what kind of content does your business need to attract leads and thereafter, convert them into customers? There are four pillars to your content strategy:
- Social Media;
- Mailers and;
- Content on your site.
Let’s start with the content on your site. This is vital for your website to be found by customers, as Google scrapes your website, picks up repeated keywords and then ranks your site according to various SEO ranking criteria that need to be met. When you are creating and adding to your site, you need to make sure that your content is not the only customer-friendly, but also meets the SEO requirements of Google.
The next type of content that you will need to look at fits directly in with your marketing strategies. This is regular content that gets published by your company that not only attracts customers due to its relevant and attractive pull but also informs and educates customers. Blogs and articles are important for both lead generation and SEO purposes and can be shared across mailers as well as your social media platforms for extended reach.
Email marketing is one of the key elements in your digital marketing. Mails that are sent out weekly, bi-weekly or even daily can be your biggest source of leads and sales. You will need to structure your mail in a way that includes attractive images, a content-based article, product or service specials, and call to actions. In this way, not only will your customers feel educated and empowered by your email, and are looking forward to opening your emails, but they will want to and trust your brand to buy from you.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
One of the things that any new business owner quickly learns is that there are not enough hours in a day. There are so many elements to running an online business and so many facets of digital marketing that you will struggle to run it all yourself. This is where online software and automation can make your life a whole lot easier. You will find that you will take some time to get to every part of the marketing process, but once you have mastered it, and implemented it, you will be able to automate it to move on to the next part of the business.
Let’s look at a few examples. Messaging and emailing could be one of the most time-consuming parts of a business owner or marketing manager’s day. Luckily, however, automation has stepped in to make this process quick and efficient. Emails simply need a format to be created and the content within them, altered for each email blast. There are various online tools that allow mass emails to be sent, and customized for your audience’s preferences.
The same goes for social platforms. There are a number of platforms to choose from that allow you to do things like Linkedin bulk messaging, ad promotion and automatic message response. Chatbots are a form of AI that companies are implementing worldwide onto their sites as well as their social media to keep their customers engaged. Should customers have questions, comments or complaints, chatbots are a great way to allow them to interact with your company until a point where a human can get involved should the issue be pressing or intricate.
In wrapping up, starting your business can be an overwhelming and intricate process. What you need to keep in mind is what your customers will want from their engagement and experiences with your company. So, from the moment you create your site, all the way through to the delivery of the service or product, you will need to create a customer journey that surprises and delights your customer. Make sure that your customer is kept engaged throughout the full process and keep innovating and implementing to keep them coming back for more. A loyal customer is worth more than 20 potential customers to your organization.