How to Take Your Business Online

Taking advantage of the internet when growing your business is essential. There is infinite opportunity online and regardless of your product or service, having a strong web presence can be highly beneficial to reaching your goals.

Planning the online aspect of your business

Creating anything successful on the web is always preceded with thorough planning and strategy. Although it may be tempting to jump into creating a website, skipping the planning stage of the process will almost certainly lead to dissatisfaction, frustration and a low return on investment. By planning out your approach, you drastically increase the chances of attaining the goals you set.

 

Planning out a website

 

Why are you taking your business online?

This should be the first question that comes to mind when you consider taking your business online. TheĀ why question. This is generally the highest level question you can ask and it will lead into other lower level, more specific questions that you should be able to answer. This can be something as simple as wanting your customers and potential customers to find you online, or it can be something more complex and detailed such as an online tool, newsletter marketing, a blog and user registration. The possibilities that are afforded to you online are endless, so really think deeply about what sort of services you currently provide that could be delegated to an online resource, along with thinking about what new opportunities are available.

 

What sort of value do you envision providing to your users?

Simply put, why should your users care about the online aspect of your business? It is very important to address a specific set of needs. With the internet being so large and full of information, you can’t expect users to stick around if they are interacting with a sub-par experience. There are other websites or resources your users will find online if you are not providing a solid experience. When thinking about this, a great question to ask yourself is: “What do my current customers ask me most regularly? Can this information be displayed on my website?” Try to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think about what would be most useful to them. Finding this value is essential to creating an engaging online experience.

 

What are your goals?

Setting goals is extremely important in every area of life, with your online business being no different. Think about what you want to attain and what you think is reasonable. If you are building a website, your short term goals should revolve around providing a solid experience that properly conveys your services or product to the user, while your long term goals are likely going to focus more on generating a larger following and income.

 

Taking your plans online

After you have created a document that outlines your strategy, you are ready to enact these plans and bring them online. Your project could be a newsletter, ad campaign or online brochure, but here we will focus on websites as most of these initiatives will feed into a website.

 

Building a website

 

Simplify the online experience

Simplicity is key. The more complexity you add to your website, the more variables are introduced. These variables increase the difficulty you will encounter when trying to make a cohesive and user-friendly website. Think about the minimum number of pages that you absolutely need. Planning out this structure and keeping things simple will allow users to find exactly what they are looking for without getting frustrated. Each page should be unique and serve a purpose. For example, having two separate pages for “Lawn mowing services” and “Monthly lawn mowing packages” is confusing and difficult for the user. Amalgamate these pages and include the “call to action,” in my example being an offer on monthly lawn mowing packages, all in one easy-to-read page.

This concept of simplicity extends to the writing/text content of your website. It’s a fact that users don’t read much content that you put on a page (on average, about 20% of the content). For this reason, make sure to be very succinct, use lots of headings, subheadings and imagery. Creating a text hierarchy is absolutely essential.

 

Use consistent branding

Do not underestimate the effect that a visually pleasing website has on your users. Using all sorts of different font choices, colours, or logos is a big no-no. Strong branding creates a lasting impression on your users – what colour do you associate with Coca Cola? Pretty easy, right? They have stayed consistent with their simple branding for years. You want to have a memorable colour choice, logo and even personality to your website. Once this brand is solidified in their minds, other efforts such as digital marketing and remarketing will be far more effective.

 

Find a web developer or pick a do-it-yourself platform

To take your website online, you will need to build it. These days, there are options to do this yourself, but creating a professional website that produces the desired result is a skill that takes years of practice. Budget will almost certainly need to be considered, but the bottom line is that you will always get a better final product if you go to a professional. Choosing between hiring a professional or using a DIY program such as Wix, Squarespace or Webflow will be your first decision.

 

Grow your online business and generate income

The long term goal of your website is most likely going to be generating income and a following. This will take time, but the effort is worth it. There are many ways to grow your following and generate income, but knowing which path works best for you is very important.

 

Generating income from a website

 

Growing your following

You want your following to do most of the work for you. Once the ball starts rolling, it will become easier and easier for you to grow exponentially. It will be difficult in the beginning, but consistent output and effort will pay off.

 

  • Writing content: If you want continued engagement with your website, you will need to write fresh content and update old content regularly. Additionally, ranking higher in a Google search (search engine optimization, or SEO) requires this type of content output.
  • Starting a newsletter: It may seem tedious, but a newsletter can be one of your most effective marketing strategies. A dedicated following is far more likely to re-engage with you when you update them on new initiatives.
  • Advertising: Although you will have to pay for advertisement, it will almost guarantee you a boost in traffic. Taking advantage of this traffic to ensure they convert is the trickier part. See the above section on simplifying the user experience.
  • Word of mouth: Tell people around you about your new website! An in-person referral is extremely valuable. If you already have a large customer base or following offline, this is a great opportunity to translate that following online.

 

Generating income

A website can be more than just a middle-man between your customers and yourself. It can generate income for you and in some cases, generate most or all of your income if your business is exclusively online. From selling a product or subscription service to displaying ads on your website, there are many ways to generate income.

 

  • Selling a product: This is probably the most straightforward and traditional way to generate income through your website. Almost all users are accustomed to online shopping services, so offering a product online can be highly profitable.
  • Selling a subscription service: Selling a product that provides your users with recurring content is a highly scaleable and potentially profitable option. This money generates while you sleep, so finding the right approach here that optimizes your time vs profit ratio is important.
  • Running display ads: You can enable your website to show display ads, which are essentially banners around your website that generate income for you. To make money with this method, you need to have a lot of visitors hitting your website. Of course, ads will also have a negative effect on the user experience.

 

Next steps

Using the internet to market your business is one of the most effective ways to increase your revenue and following. With effective planning and foresight, you can create a revenue and lead generating website that works for you while you sleep.

So, what are the next steps? Think about why you are moving your business online and if it makes sense, define the value you can provide to your users and set some reasonable goals. Good luck!

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