Get Started Doing Business Online
Our economy’s lifeblood is its small businesses. They create most of the jobs and are more nimble than their larger counterparts, able to make decisions without getting tied up in meetings and committees, and able to change course quickly to stay ahead of the competition.
But small businesses often don’t always have the resources to do everything they need to succeed. This is especially true when it comes to marketing their business. But there is good news. With the Internet, small businesses can market their products and services effectively without breaking the bank.
Most small businesses have some form of online presence these days. They may have set something up through a free blog site or a social media business page like Facebook or a Google Business Profile. Others will go to Wix and assemble something there. And some will even go through the process of figuring out WordPress.
But then, in most cases, nothing ever happens. No one even sees their content. Even Google ignores it.
Their site just sits there and does nothing. Why?
Because there is a huge difference between just having a website and successfully doing business online.
Almost every small business owner faces these mysteries at one point or another. If you’ve spent any time exploring the world of online marketing, you know that there is a lot to figure out. The challenge can be so overwhelming that it can cause many to give up in defeat.
But marketing your business online can be pretty simple if you know what you’re doing.
We have broken the process of successful digital marketing into twelve components and three core categories; Getting Online, Getting Noticed, and Doing Business.
All twelve components in these three categories are the bare minimum you will need to experience any noticeable success online.
A well-built website is essential to doing business online because it allows you to showcase your products and services to your target audience.
Websites also allow prospects and customers to connect with you, building relationships while providing valuable, helpful content.
Those relationships can develop trust and loyalty with your customers, which can help you achieve long-term success.
To get your business online, you’ll need these four components.
1) Domain Name
First, you’ll need to register a domain name. This is the address people will use to find your website, so choosing something easy to remember and relevant to your business is essential.
2) Web Hosting
Once you have a domain name, you’ll need to find a web host. This company will provide space for your website on its servers. There are a lot of web hosting providers to choose from, so it’s essential to do some research and find one that offers the features you need at a price you can afford.
3) Website Design
Next, it’s time to start working on building out your website. We recommend building your website using WordPress, a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy to create and manage your website. There are millions of websites using WordPress around the world, including some of the largest brands on the Internet.
There are also a lot of themes available for WordPress that make it fast and easy to create a professional-looking website. And with the power of plugins, you can add just about any functionality you can imagine.
4) Content Development
You’ll also need to create content for your website. This can include articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and more.
Your content is one of the most critical factors in determining how well your website will rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Additionally, well-written, informative website content can help build authority and trusting relationships all while converting site visitors into customers.
There are a few different types of content, and each type is used for various purposes.
For instance, our core content is all the information about our company and its products and services.
And then, we have puller content which is the content on our pages, search engine optimized to reach our target audience.
Next, we have pusher content that is posted on other sites and links back, pushing our audience back to our website.
Once your site is built and filled with content, you are ready for the visitors to start knocking your doors down.
Wouldn’t it be great if people just automatically found your website and you had instant swarms of traffic? Although possible, it’s not likely. Instead, it’s time to buckle down and get the word out.
You can build a beautiful website, but unless people see it, it will not do you much good. Luckily, there are some things you can do to get your site in front of the right people.
Getting noticed is the second phase of the process. Some are going to plow ahead right through this phase, and some are just going to dabble in it. But the Getting Noticed phase is not something that you can simply dabble in.
This is the engine that’s going to take us to where we can get those results.
1) Targeting the Right Audience
We first need to identify who our target audience is – specifically – very specifically. Then we need to find out where they hang out and their questions, problems, and pain points.
How does our offer solve their problems?
Here, we will gather information that will be helpful in finding the phrases they are using in the search engines to find solutions. These phrases are called keywords. Keywords will guide us in the wording we use in the puller content we mentioned back in the Getting Online phase.
2) On-Site Optimization
Optimizing your website for search engines means making sure your site is easy for search engines to find and crawl.
We’ll be tweaking our web pages so that the search engine spiders will fully understand what our content is saying and be able to decipher what our pages are about and how to index them in their database. This includes using your important keywords strategically throughout your content.
That is the process of optimizing our content, or the SEO process, or search engine optimization.
To be effective, our pages need to be readable and understandable by both people, our target audience, and the search engines.
3) Off-Site Marketing
Not every piece of content that we create is going to go on our website. We’ll be taking some of it and publishing it in other places.
Those other places are where our target audience can be found, for instance, on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and even YouTube.
We’ll also post graphics, text, and videos to engage with our audience in groups and forums.
Now, many are tempted to post a bunch of marketing blab in these posts. But we all know that we ignore that stuff, right?
The content we’ll be posting is helpful content with value to help draw our audience safely to our website.
We’ll also be using other websites like Google Business Profiles, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, and other websites and directories that help us reach our target audience.
We’ll also need to build links on other websites that link back to our website. Backlink building is still a significant factor in search engine rankings.
4) Visitor Tracking
You need to track your visitors and analyze their behavior. This is how we’ll get reports of how people use our website, how they found us, what pages they landed on, and what they do once they get there.
Are they browsing around and reading articles page after page? Or are they coming to our website and then just leaving or bouncing? Bounce rate is not good for our search engine efforts.
I always say that analytics is like turning the lights on on your website. And without those reports, everything you do is just a guess.
Doing Business Online
The Doing Business phase is one of the most important but, surprisingly, often misunderstood or even ignored. But this phase is the main objective of our online presence—the reward for all of our online marketing efforts.
Up to this point, we’ve got quite a bit done. We built the site. We have our design and our content. We’ve determined who our target audience is and how we’re going to find them and bring them to our website
But one of the most difficult facts to swallow in Internet Marketing is that most people who come to our website for the first time are not ready to transact yet.
The average conversion rate of people who come to our website for the first time will be about 2% to 4%. 4% is really good as a starting point. Well…that sounds good. But that really means that 96% of the people who come to our website are not ready to buy yet.
Our visitors are in the research mode, reading and gathering information to make wise decisions.
And since we want to be the ones standing there when they pull the trigger, we also need to help them along that path, nurturing them.
Do you mean we have to stay in contact with them and build a relationship with them?
And the great news is that most of your competitors can’t be bothered to do this step. You see, the relationship-building part really annoys them.
Most just want the one-and-done. “Give me the 2 – 4% buyers, and never mind the rest! It’s too much effort to build a relationship with our visitors.”
But we are going to do things right. So the first step is to find out who our visitors are. And since they aren’t ready to buy anything yet, how will we do that?
1) The Hook/Lead Capture
The first thing we need to do in the Doing Business phase is a hook or lead capture. We need to offer them something of great value, for free, in exchange for their contact information.
This freebie needs to be genuinely free. It will be tempting to make it a coupon, a “buy-one-get-one,” or a sign-up for a free consultation. But no, it needs to be completely string-free and perceived by our prospects researching our product and service as highly valuable and helpful in their research process.
Remember, they’re not ready to buy yet. So giving them something that is tied to a purchase defeats the purpose.
Now, once we’ve made that exchange and know who they are and have them on our list, we will engage them.
We will be contacting them regularly. We will guide them through the process, nurturing them, and providing them with valuable tips and insights to help them make their decision.
We don’t want to be sending them marketing blab – constant marketing blab. We want to help them. We want to guide them, nurture them and consult them into a decision.
And then, every once in a while, we’re going to ask for the sale.
And when they are ready to transact, we will be the ones they see standing there with authority. We are the ones who have helped them. We are the ones who were still there when they were ready. We’ll be the ones they choose to do business with when it comes time.
Yes! What we’ve been waiting for! A conversion! A Sale!
The key here is to ensure that our conversion process is as easy and streamlined as possible. People will simply click away if our website is hard to use or confusing.
No one wants to jump through hoops to do business with us. We want to make it easy for them.
When done correctly, this will result in more sales and happy customers.
4) Customer Retention
Finally, we need a customer retention plan. Customer retention is an integral part of our online marketing strategy. Once we’ve done all the work to get them, we need to do everything we can to keep them.
We want to continue to engage and nurture them and build on the relationship. As they say, “it’s always easier to keep a customer than it is to find a new one”. So in our retention plan, we need to support the customer ongoing.
Obviously, nothing is guaranteed. There are so many variables to consider, such as the quality of your products and services, pricing, existing reputation, and a lot more.
But if you truly want to do business online successfully, a good place to start is by implementing all twelve of these components in these three categories.
Hopefully, this has helped you understand what it takes to actually do business online and given you some ideas for getting started.