If you want to launch an online business, there are several things you’ll need to do to be successful. Sure, it’s key to have a great business idea — but you also have to know how to monetize it. Not sure where to begin? Try following these four simple steps for how to start your own business online.
- Find your niche. Is there a product or service you can provide that doesn’t already exist? If so, it could present a worthy business opportunity. Another option is to try to improve upon something that already exists. One of the best ways to come up with online business ideas is to do market research on keyword searches and competitor analysis. If you can fill a prevailing gap, you’ll have a better chance of developing a reliable customer base.
- Create a great website. What makes it great? If your website is easy to use, enjoyable to browse and provides a clear understanding of what you’re selling and how it benefits your customers, it’ll be a slam dunk. To accomplish this, keep the navigation, imagery and language simple while conveying the extent of your expertise. To increase your credibility, consider adding a guarantee, testimonials, case studies and/or product reviews. Then give your website the “put yourself in your customer’s shoes” test. Keep working on your website until it’s obvious what you’re selling, why your customers should buy from you and how it will satisfy their specific needs.
- Invest time and money in marketing. To attract and retain customers, focus your efforts on advertising, email marketing and establishing a good reputation. Skip the print advertising, which is costly and often yields poor results, and instead try digital pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. PPC advertising allows you to test out keywords, pricing and sales strategies in a much more cost-efficient way. In addition, driving traffic to your website through PPC ads allows you to create an opt-in offer to collect email addresses. Once you have an opt-in list of subscribers, you’ll have a captive audience for marketing your services. You can then provide that audience with special offers, invitations and important information via email.
Another way to attract customers and establish credibility in the process is by providing information for free. How? By sharing articles, blog posts, white papers, case studies and tips through social media. You can also seek opportunities to be interviewed by trade publications, podcasts and even on television as a subject matter expert for your field.
- Encourage loyalty through customer rewards. While making that initial sale may be the hardest part, it still takes some effort to keep your customers coming back for more. There are several ways to do this. In addition to offering discounts to returning customers, you can make them aware of when new items become available and also suggest related products that complement their original purchase.
As your online business matures, it’s a good idea to review these steps regularly and make sure you haven’t missed an opportunity for growth. The more you repeat these four simple steps, the more chances you have to improve your results and the easier it will be to take each step forward.