Running Business
06 Feb, 2019

10 Tips For Running A Successful Online Business

In the past, you had to get a physical space registered to run a business.

Technology has since changed how business can be done, we’re in such a connected world so the barrier to entry is now lower and there’s an increase in competition.

Dropshipping, affiliate marketing, and blogging are some of the businesses you can use in generating an income online and here are some tips to help you with that:

1. Know And Analyze Your Competition

Since it doesn’t cost a lot to start a business online, you will have to face a lot of competition.

It could be a bad thing if most of them have more money than you and are willing to outspend you to stay on top and it could be a good thing if you’re avoiding their mistakes and learning from their strategy.

How To Conduct A Competitive Analysis

Here are some steps to take:

Step 1. Check For Their Customer Acquisition Channels

You should work to have a share of some or even all of your competitor’s customers.

So check if they’re using social media, what platforms they focus on and what their engagement numbers are.

Step 2. Look At Their Unique Value Proposition

If you could say what a particular competitor does for your market in one sentence what would it be?

Yep, that’s its value proposition and you should try to offer the same thing or an upgrade in your business.

Step 3. Use The Tools

There are lots of things to look for when researching a competitor and manual research will get you exhausted.

Tools like SEMrush and Ubersuggest are free for basic research and you should be using them.

2. Protect Your Brand’s Online Reputation

If you’re an online business, especially one that’s beginning to do most of the right things, people would start searching for you.

Everyone who has a business that’s doing well online has gotten a negative review about their company.

What you don’t want is for those negative comments to drive public perception.

Here are some things you can do about that:

Do A Quick Review

Google your business and your name to see what comes up. If you find personal social media profiles hosting negative content, you should clean up all of that.

Publish Regular Content

If there’s a negative review about you on a platform you have no direct access to, you should aim to kick those pages off the search results.

And the only way to do that is by publishing regular content and marketing that content.

When you have more positive authority pages in your control, you’d displace those negative posts off the results.

3. Follow The Trends

One week is a long time on the internet and if you don’t want to be left behind you have to spot the trends and move with them.

Here are some you need to be tracking:

Voice Search

More people are speaking to their devices to search for what they want online.

This means you need to change the way you do keyword research.

So if you sell hosting, stop trying to rank for “cheap hosting 2019” ‘cause people would rather say something like “where can I get WordPress hosting on a budget” if they’re searching with their voice.

Local SEO

Most smartphones can access your location with permission and this is an important tool your marketing team can use.

No one would import a cake from a store based in another country but if someone from your city searches for “bakeries near me,” only businesses that optimized for that keyword would appear in the search results.

Cybersecurity

Customers are beginning to look at what companies are doing to secure their data. And with regulations like GDPR, governments are beginning to do the same.

The first security step you should apply on your site is installing an SSL certificate. It’s very important if you’re a business that processes financial data.

Most web browsers are beginning to look at the security of websites too, if you don’t have an SSL certificate installed, Chrome flags your site as a threat and that’s a red flag especially for new visitors.

4. Use Social Media That Works

There are a lot of social media platforms out there but the truth is you don’t need your business on all of them.

Here are some things to consider when deciding on a social media platform that works for your business:

Identify Your Target Audience

Everyone on the internet can’t care about what you’re selling. So you should identify your target market.

Are they millennials? Mothers? College students?

If you’re not sure who to include and those to exclude from your target audience you can check out who your competitors are marketing to for a guide.

Identify What Kinds Of Content Work

Each social media platform has a content format that works for it. So for Instagram and Pinterest, that would be pictures, Twitter works with short notes and YouTube houses videos.

So it’s simple, identify the kind of content that would sell your business, confirm that your audience hangs around that platform and get your business registered.

5. Track The Right Metrics

When you start getting some engagement on your website, it’s tempting to install alerts for every single metric and track them per hour.

But that’s a waste of your time, focus on metrics that drive growth in your business.

Here are some you should be tracking:

Conversion Rate

This is simply the number of people who took the required action after being exposed to an ad, pitch or sales page.

So if 5 out of 100 people who got your eBook offer bought the book, you have a 5% conversion rate.

To know if you’re on the right track, you should find out the average rates in your industry or for a particular product you’re selling.

Very expensive items would have a lower conversion rate online as people would rather walk into a store to get it.

Customer acquisition costs and the average revenue per user are two other important metrics to track.

Here are some metrics you shouldn’t bother tracking:

Page Views

Your article can get referenced on a popular blog or forum and thousands of people land on your site.

That’s not really important for your business if they don’t engage with other pages on your site, especially the ones where you’re selling something.

Metrics that are midway between these two extremes are things like your bounce rate.

If you promote affiliate offers on your site, you should expect a high bounce rate on those pages if people are clicking on those offers but this shouldn’t be the case on an informational post.

6. Get Information And Experiment

Don’t be surprised to find more people willing to teach you how to run a successful online business than people running one themselves.

And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong in paying for information that’d help your business but you should do this after trying some things out yourself, not as a complete newbie.

Here are some things you can do:

Subscribe To Some Blogs/Podcasts

Subscribe to some of the top sites in your industry or search for recommended sites if you’re new.

Information overload is a thing so you don’t want to spend more of your time learning than actually doing.

Experiment

Nothing beats testing. As you read the top blogs in your niche, you’d get some differing opinions, the only way to find out what works is by performing experiments.

And no, don’t use your main business website to run experiments ‘cause if something goes wrong it could be more expensive to get it fixed.

You should have a few sites under your control to run these tests.

7. Don’t Be The Bottleneck

As your online business grows, resist the urge to be in control of everything, it’s a recipe for burnout.

Try to embrace outsourcing instead and here are some things you can outsource:

Managing Your Social Media Platforms

Social media is addictive so you should limit your use of it as much as you can and delegating the management of your business handles is one way to do that.

You should have a social media strategy to discuss with your manager and request progress reports you can monitor.

Content Creation

You’d need content for your product descriptions, sales pages and other pages on your site.

These pages play a huge role in convincing a reader to buy so you should hire professionals that can get the job done.

Administrative Tasks

Someone’s got to be in charge of some of the repetitive tasks in your business. Hiring a virtual assistant is always the best option.

There are other things you can outsource in your business but remember, the goal is to prevent burnout and not to keep you from doing any work.

So if you’re a good copywriter, you can focus on the content creation aspect of things while you outsource others.

8. Improve Your Website’s User Experience

It’s easier and cheaper getting a repeat customer to buy than acquiring a new one.

One way to do this is by improving the user experience and here are some things you can do:

Don’t Ignore Customer Service

Employ chatbots and virtual customer service companies to respond to your customers.

Improve Site Speed

Site speed is so important 79% of shoppers say they won’t go back to a site if they had problems with speed.

You should aim to stay below 2 seconds of loading time and you can do this by optimizing your images, reducing bulky code, upgrading your hosting and using caching software.

Use A Simple Design

You can go with something complex if you can pull it off but it’s generally safer to stay with a basic design template.

Use a lot of white space on your site, improve navigation so people can move from your homepage to other pages easily, keep your sidebar clean and don’t use pop-up ads.

Organize Content On Your Site

Try to put a layout or a table of contents on important pages.

Check your pages to ensure your outbound and inbound links are active.

This should be done regularly and it’s sometimes easy to forget so you should create a custom 404 page that provides navigation to other pages on your site.

9. Publish More Of Content That Gives You More Business

There are different types of content you should publish on your site but a huge chunk of that should be content that converts readers to buyers.

Look at some of them and how you can use them to sell your business:

Case Studies

Get a dedicated case studies page on your site. This is to attract prospects who want to know how your product or service would help them.

Include calls-to-action (CTAs) in these case study posts. I mean, the reason you’re writing them is to get people to buy from you, right?

What better way to do that than implementing a CTA that encourages them to take action?

Aggregate Reviews and Testimonials

If you have any reviews of your work that aren’t hosted on your site, you should get a copy of those on your site.

People are scared of giving their money to businesses they don’t trust and providing a testimonial from a customer helps build that trust.

10. Get The Niche Right

Every other thing in this post can be fixed if you get it wrong.

But if you get the niche wrong, you’d have to abandon the business because you’d be needing a new website and social media presence.

Here are two things you should consider when choosing a niche:

Choose A Topic You Care About And Conquer A Little Space

This means you can’t talk about blogging because everyone is already doing that but you can run a business that caters for single moms who blog.

This doesn’t also mean you’d never talk about blogging, it just means becoming an authority in blogging for single moms would give you a platform on which to speak about blogging.

Strike A Balance Between Your Audience Numbers and Your Product Price

So selling $1 fidget spinners sounds like a bad idea. Yes, there’s a large market for that out there but how many of those are you going to ship to make a profit?

Confirm that the product you’re selling is something people actually buy online.


Also published on Medium.