Online business, also known as eCommerce, is booming. Experts project that by 2017, 46.4% of global internet users will have made purchases online. With increasing numbers of consumers shopping online, it’s no surprise that new small businesses emerge online regularly.
In eCommerce, your business doesn’t have to be large to succeed. Many small online businesses don’t even have a physical storefront. The beauty of online business is its versatility. Of course, there are challenges inherent to eCommerce too, resulting in the overwhelming statistic that 90% of startup businesses fail.
If your small business is operating online with few results, consider these keys to success in the booming but the challenging eCommerce market.
Key #1. Put More into It
The foremost difference between small online businesses that fail and the ones that succeed is their approach. Successful online businesses operate as any other small business would. Their start-up is funded. Successful businesses investment in their own success.
As the old adage suggests, “you get what you pay for.” Small business owners who want to create legitimate, recognizable, relevant businesses online must learn from offline businesses and apply it online in their own success from the start. Common smart investments include purchasing:
- Professional, optimized websites
- High-quality photography and graphics
- Tracking, inventory, and sales software
- Consultations with advisors
- Legal advice
- Copyright for products and copy
- Experienced marketing expertise
Without putting your own money into your business, it is unlikely your customers will want to put their money into your business either.
Key #2. Focus on the Customer
Far too many online businesses are so focused on self-promotion that they neglect to connect with consumers. In the new age of the empowered consumer, success is dependent on making connections. Strategies for focusing on consumers to foster connection include:
Producing Consumer-Centric Copy
Landing pages, blogs, and any other web copy that isn’t a product or service description should be all about the consumer. Consumers need to be told that their problems are relevant to your business in order to see how your products are relevant to solving their problems. Empowered consumers look for information that is helpful to them before considering products, so be generous in producing copy focused entirely on being helpful to the consumer.
Using Pronouns Wisely
If your website features the word “I” or “we” more than “you,” your consumers won’t feel welcomed. Just like the content should be relevant for consumers, the way it is written should also be hospitable. Even professional tones must feel engaging and evoke a sense of trust in consumers. As the content flows, you can shift your pronouns to “our-” just be sure the consumer knows they are included in the statement.
Creating Space for Engagement
Social media marketing is about more than sharing your information widely. Your contact page, likewise, has a greater purpose than answering frequently asked questions or taking orders. Empowered consumers value the interactions they have with small business owners online through these venues. Be approachable. Share media that your clients will want to share too. Create promotions, contests, and even public thank you notes to engage with consumers and show that you value them.
Posting testimonials online is a strategic method of earning consumers’ trust. Testimonials lend credibility to even the smallest businesses online. They also prove that customer satisfaction matters to your company.
Key #3. Market in Multiple Online Venues
Setting up shop on Etsy, Shopify or another major online platform for small businesses is rarely sufficient for creating and converting consumer leads. Just as you would market your physical storefront in multiple venues, you must spread the word through PR for your online business in multiple venues online. It is recommended that small online businesses create listings and advertisements for:
- Yelp and other review sites
- Facebook and other social media sites
- Email campaigns
- Amazon and other sales sites
Establishing a web presence in multiple venues serves many purposes that operate as keys to success online. For example, a web presence on multiple websites leads to a higher ranking in search engines. A web presence also lends credibility to your small business while getting your information in front of more internet users.
Key #5. Incorporate SEO into Everything
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of crafting content, links, tags, and other online elements to make your business recognizable by search engines like Google. When your SEO strategy is successful, consumers searching for keywords relevant to your business will find your website listed at the top of the search engine results. For instance, if you make custom pet collars, the search term “personalized pet collar” will return a higher ranked link to your website.
You may be familiar with this concept. Many website developers mention “optimizing” the site they want to create for you to increase your business’ visibility. Truthfully, however, SEOs strategies must be incorporated into everything you do online. An essential part of your branding, SEO practices should be used in product descriptions, advertising, in reviews, and throughout your web copy.
Key #6. Use Your Data
One of the many advantages of conducting business online is that analytics data is usually built in. Everything from your website to your social media accounts to your review site listings is likely to have built-in analytics. You can also consolidate your analytics using a tool like Google Analytics for business.
Regularly checking on this data and allowing it to influence your online operations and strategies unlocks the potential for your business to boom. Use analytics to determine what consumer base you are reaching and what strategies offer the best conversion rates, for example. If a certain type of graphic is always met with more traffic, it would be wise to incorporate that form of graphic into more of your online marketing.
Data through analytics can also be used to inform your SEO strategy, highlight engagement success rates, and determine where you may need to invest more or less of your time and money. Don’t underestimate the power of making changes- online businesses are suited for adaptability.