Success as an online business is never guaranteed. It doesn’t matter how good your idea is or how much time and energy you commit to making it work, the rewards are not always forthcoming.
By following a few simple guidelines with a track record of generating success, however, you can give yourself the best possible chance of achieving something special.
In this article Richard Dean from Caffeinated Projects shares the 7 stages to start an online business, attract visitors and convert them into sales.
Stage 1: Find And Exploit A Gap In The Market
The key to developing a product or service that people want, one which will make people part with their hard earned cash? Finding a problem without a solution that a large enough group of people consider important in their lives.
This type of market research has never been more simple thanks to the development, and increasing sophistication of the internet.
Online forums, keyword research, and taking a keen interest in the online content of prospective competitors are all great ways of trying to garner some of this valuable insight.
Stage 2: Produce Effective Copy
Much like with the wider journey towards online business success, there is a proven formula for copywriting which can be integral to sales:
Be sure to consider your product from the perspective of the consumer at all times.
Stage 3: Your Website
Your business website has a very short space of time in which to make an impression on potential customers, so it’s vital to keep things simple.
Here are a few top tips to help you navigate the veritable minefield that is web design…
- Use plain fonts on a white background;
- Simple navigation which is consistent across every page;
- Don’t overuse multimedia (images, audio, video);
- Make use of email subscription services;
- Efficient route to purchasing (no more than 2 clicks from homepage to checkout)
Stage 4: Direct Consumers To Your Site Via Search Engines
The simplest way to attract potential customers to a new website is the use of pay per click advertising. PPC advertising providers enable new businesses to trial headlines and prices, and discover which keywords are most effective at converting clicks into buyers. By distributing these words within the written content of your site, you can vastly improve standings in natural search results.
Stage 5: Reputation, Reputation, Reputation
The internet is the modern day encyclopedia. It’s where huge numbers of people go in search of all sorts of different kinds of information.
If you are able to position yourself as a provider of that information to other sites, then you will see a marked increase in visitors to your page as well as improved standing within search engine results.
All you have to do is make sure you position a link to your site within the information you're making available on other websites. The only proviso? The information you’re giving away must be accurate and useful.
Stage 6: Convert Traffic Into Consumers Using Email Campaigns
By opting in to a website’s email list, your visitors are revealing that you’re providing something they want.
Email campaigns allow you to generate a long term association with potential paying customers and their response provides you with a tangible gauge of how successful your marketing strategy is.
What’s more, marketing via email produces better results and costs less than radio, TV and print advertising which can often lack precision.
Stage 7: Boost Revenue With Back-End Sales and Upselling
Securing your first transaction with a new consumer is easily the trickiest and most costly part of sales. Consequently, repeat customers are king. Over a third of those who have purchased products from a business once will buy again if they are encouraged to do so.
Back-end selling and upselling are two of the most effective ways to provide this encouragement.
By suggesting items which complement a buyer's initial investment, issuing loyalty discount coupons for use on their next purchase, and by positioning relevant products on the confirmation page after a successful order, you are almost guaranteed to secure repeat customers.
As with all technology, the internet evolves at a frightening pace. Despite this, the fundamentals of starting and nurturing a profitable online business rarely change a great deal.
So, whether you’re a complete novice, or a seasoned veteran when it comes to this area, you can be safe in the knowledge that adhering to the 7 stages above will give you the best possible chance of making a success out of your current venture.