We have put together this article to help those who are starting their own online business. Starting your own business isn’t an easy task, and statistics show that half of UK businesses fail within the first five year with ecommerce having an alarming 80% start‐up failure rate. There are many different reasons why a business might fail; one of the most common reasons is poor preparation and planning. Mainly ecommerce start ups soon realise there is no real demand for the product or service that they are trying to sell. Many startups don’t do enough research beforehand and this can detrimental to the success of their business. We have put together a helpful article to enable your business can start on the best possible footing.
The first thing you need to do before you start a business is to come up with a USP (Unique Selling Point). You need something that is going to make your business stand out from your competitors. A common unique selling point includes highest product quality, low costs or a brand new product that isn’t available yet. You need to ask the question “What makes your business different from others?” Find a niche, have a look at competitors to see what they are doing and have a think about what you could do differently to make it appeal to people. Remember, you need to be different, unique and better, as this is what is going to determine your long term success.
You need to carry out effective research to see exactly what people think of the product or service you are offering. There are numerous ways you can do this research, a survey is the best method as this is inexpensive and it allows you to collect large amounts of feedback, so you can get a good idea of what people think about the product or service you are intending to offer. Interviews can also be a good way to gather information as people can provide a more in‐depth insight than what they could on a survey.
One thing that many people tend to ignore is what their competitors are doing. However, it is important to keep an eye on them so you can stay ahead. You can find out loads of information just by doing some simple Google searches. Look at where their website is positioned on the search results, also take a look at customer feedback and see what your competitors are posting on Facebook. Remember that knowledge is power, and if you have that you will gain an advantage over your competitors.
Setting Up Your Website
Every business needs a website, it is the best way to get your name out there. You can list all of your products and services on your website, your will act as an online catalogue to display all of your products or services. If you have the knowledge then you can set the website up yourself, otherwise you may need to invest in getting a website set up professionally. You need to ensure you update your website regularly with new products and updates.
Set up your business on all the relevant social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest and Instagram are great channels to showcase new products you are selling, if you product is highly visual it will thrive on image based social media channels. Having social media accounts for your business enables you to easily promote your brand, increasing brand awareness will act as a catalyst for generating conversions through social media.
Looking at the website and social media channels of your competitors is a great way to understand how they run, and then you can see how you can do it better. For example you can see if there are any special offers or discounts that your competitors are offering, perhaps they are running competitions this is a great way to benchmark yourself against your competitors. Have a look at customer reviews so you can see what other people are saying about your competitors. If you can stand out, then it will greatly impact your business for the better.
Images are important to include on your website, you want relevant images, for example show images of all your products. Your customers will want to see what they are buying, you must have high quality images that promote your company and it’s products/services. You also want to make sure that people can trust your website, if you take payments online then it is absolutely essential that you get an SSL certificate, this means payments are taken over a secured server and your customers’ bank details are safe. Thoroughly test your website to ensure everything works as it should, any errors need to be rectified before the site goes live.
If you want your website optimised so that customers searching for your products are more likely to find your website, you may want to contact a company that offers SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click) services. There will be a charge for these services but you can expect to see a great ROI (Return On Investment).
As your business grows, you will build up your authority which in turn should generate more customers. You want to make your presence known, as the more people who know about your business the more popular you will become. There are a few things you can do, for example you may want to set up a blog on your website and write posts related to the products or services you offer.
For example, if you sell mobile phones you could do a blog reviewing the latest mobile phones. You may also want to join some business forums so you can speak with other entrepreneurs. If there are any industry specific events then you should attend these to promote your business, you need to get your company across to as many prospects as possible. For example, if your business sells comic books, then you may wish to attend a comic event such as Comic Con. Some events will allow you to set up a stall where you can sell products whilst giving information about your business.
To expand your links across the business world you should set up a LinkedIn account, which is similar to Facebook but mainly targeted at business professionals. This is a great way to network with other people on a professional level. You can find many different opportunities this way, especially if you set up a LinkedIn company page. If your business grows to the point where you need to hire staff LinkedIn acts as a great recruitment channel.
It’s very important that you are an expert in your niche. You need to know everything there is to know about your business and the products or services you offer. If customers or other people contact you to ask for information about your products or services, you should be able to respond to them effectively and give them all the information they require. Experience and knowledge are both important to achieve this, and will prove to your customers that you know the industry well.
One of the most essential aspects of your business will be the customer reviews and testimonials. The more positive reviews you have, the more people will trust your business to deliver the results they are looking for. To get positive reviews you need to keep customers and clients happy, so you should strive for excellence and be the best. You can create a page on your website specifically to list customer reviews.
Creating a Marketing & Sales Strategy
It is important to have a marketing and sales strategy, you should have a clear idea about exactly how you are going to market your product, and you will also need to update your strategy when needed, staying up to date with trends is essential. The point of a sales strategy is to detail exactly how you will be getting your product or service out to your customers. Creating a sales funnel is a great idea as these are used to show the process your customers are taken through when buying your products or services.
You will be looking to reach as many customers as you possibly can, and one of the best ways to do this is through social media marketing. Marketing through social media can include the use of photos, videos, links and various other pieces of content to share. You should plan what content you are going to release and make sure people will be interested in it. You can market your business across all platforms including Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. If you business would benefit from creating videos then you can use YouTube.
Another important strategy is email marketing. This method is successful and does work. At least 91% of consumers check their emails every day, so it can be a great way to get your business name out there and advertising your products and services to a wider audience. You are also keeping your customers informed of any new products. Emailing promotional codes to your customers can be a successful way to increase sales. Finally, email marketing is inexpensive and can even be better than advertising on TV, radio or through traditional direct mail.
Lead nurturing refers to the process when leads are tracked and developed into sales‐qualified leads. It’s a marketing term used to describe building relationships with potential clients. Even if these clients are not buying your products it is still beneficial to build a relationship with them as it can raise the profile of your business and this will make it more likely that the client will purchase from you when the time is right to do so.
Upselling is when you provide opportunities for your customers to purchase more of your products or services, therefore making you a larger sale. Upselling is simple to do, just wait until a customer has purchased a product or service from your business, and then offer them additional products or services. This will make your business more profitable as well as satisfying your customers even further.
The steps in this article are important to follow when starting up your own online business; many businesses fail because they miss many crucial steps when they are just starting up. We have listed all the important points to minimize the risk of your business failing during the start‐up period. These steps have been written to benefit your business by helping you to gain as many customers as possible. If you are starting up your own online business then purchasing and downloading our complete guide is essential, it is a useful tool which goes into detail the steps listed above to assist you when starting up your business.