7 Essential Steps to Launch an Online Business
7 Essential Steps to Launching an Online Business
As a do it yourself (DIY) online entrepreneur you don’t have time to waste building a website that doesn’t earn a profit. And if you repeat that process with the same results your company of one will soon dissolve into a company of none. In this article I am going to explain why almost 90 % of the websites lose money. And although this is a beginner to lightly intermediate overview, I also want to assure you that I will follow up on each subject in detail in the future.
This is a unique opportunity to not only learn from my advice but my mistakes. My goal is to enlighten you about the process involved in creating profitable websites and blogs online by yourself.
The majority of people create an online business incorrectly. They have an idea and then they create a website. Then they wonder how to get traffic. Even if they figure out how to get traffic to their website they are still missing several components like a sales strategy, effective email marketing and other areas I will briefly cover in this article.
1. Research Your Target Market
Making real money online with your website requires a target market aka a specific group of people. An example would be a car enthusiast or people who like to play online games. Creating sales online from your website begins with identifying your target visitors (potential customers). The best part is that you can find out if that site is a good online business idea without investing any money.
This is rough overview of how to research any potential target market online. Our research begins with a series of searches on Google. None of this information will cost you money but I guarantee you that what you are about to read has cost professionals thousands to learn.
The first thing we want to do is search with Google tools Adwords and Estimator. We want to discover if any keywords or phrases in our target market are actually searched on these Google search tools. Remember think like your customers. So search the most likely keywords and phrases buyers would use when searching for a product and or service.
Now we are going to locate our competitors. First enter the keywords and phrases of your target market (niche). If you’re interested in the baby healthcare niche for instance then you want to search Google for teething or infant care.
When the results show up I want you to look at one location for free listings and two locations for Google advertisements. The bottom left listings 1- 10 are the non paid listings. This area is commonly known as the organic (meaning free) listings. Websites listed here don’t pay to be listed and Google has indexed them by order of most relevant and authority (importance of site).
The right and the top left of your search results are advertisements and this is where you will find your competition. So keep searching until you see the advertisements. You are looking for a specific type of advertisement. You are only looking for online marketers who are trying to get people to their sales pages. They are easy to spot because they are not a major brand name and or corporation. Also you can tell if it’s an online marketer by clicking their “buy” buttons. The reason your doing that is to see who is processing their credit card sales. Online marketers are using companies like use www.PayPal.com, www.1Shoppingcart.com, www.Ejunkie.com, or www.Clickbank.com. Any sales pages with any of these payment solutions are more than likely online marketers..
These are advertisers using Google’s advertising service called Adwords. Each ad has a headline, description, and link to a sales page. Your competition is advertising according to the key word or phrase i.e. “infant care”. Once you see the advertisements by online marketers show up on the search results then click each of the advertisements links. The purpose of this strategy is to find out what your competition (online marketers) is trying to sell to your target market.
Then do a “who is” search on the internet in an effort to find out how long their sales page site has been in existence. You can use free domain searches at almost any hosting website.
An additional strategy is to write down and keep a list of the advertisers. You want to find out length of their advertising. You will begin to see that some of the same advertisements over the next 8 weeks or more. That means that it is highly probable that these competitors are making money.
The next thing you need to ask yourself is what exactly are they selling? And how can you sell something similar but with a unique selling proposition?
2. Clearly Define Your Unique Selling Proposition: Innovation meets Simplicity
Study your competition but don’t imitate them Imitating your competition is a big online mistake. Your visitors (potential customers) have to clearly understand the purpose of your site and why you stand out from the competition. What is your unique selling proposition? In other words how do you differentiate your websites products and or services from your competitors?
And what is your strategy to make sure your visitors (potential customers) clearly understand that difference? Successful websites are innovative and simple in their sales presentation.
The following is an example of how to differentiate from your competition. Let’s say your competitors are selling a $27 ebook on infant care. Then you should offer a $27 ebook and online video instructional on infant care with other bonuses like weekly audio tips delivered to their inbox. The amazing part is that video instructional and audio tips are easy to record. However the best part is that you are offering more value for the same price.
Another great idea is to brand your product line. A brand name can also lead to a loyal following and a great markup. The more you stand out from the competition yet relate to their customers the better.
3. Establish an Online Sales Strategy: Sales Anyone?
An effective online sales strategy outlines exactly how you are going to turn visitors into customers. This strategy also clarifies how you are going to do that repeatedly with your current customers. I strongly urge against creating a site without a clear plan to earn money. This is one of the top reasons why online businesses fail. They might have a great website with thousands of visitors who never become customers. Imagine opening a store in a busy mall with no cash registers or items to sell. The mall patrons walk in and within seconds they turn around and walk out.
The best way to establish a strong sales strategy is by researching your target markets buying habits. Find out when, where, why, and how your market purchases their products and or services. Also study the price ranges. Some customers make purchases only on Friday (payday). Also select markets only purchase during certain seasons i.e. Halloween products might sell higher between September and October.
Another smart online business idea is to target your markets preferred method of payment because their choices could vary. For example patrons from one of my websites only trust PayPal for their purchases. Also in certain niches purchasers outside of the United States trust Pay Pal more vs. other credit card processors. This is because of rampant credit card fraud. Apparently Paypal has been able to establish a trusting bond in countries like the United Kingdom.
Examine your money making strategies carefully. Remember, if you cannot solidify how, when, and where you will make money with your ideal website. Then you should not continue to invest any more time and or money. Know when to quit and go back to the drawing board.
4. Create an Email Marketing Strategy to capture your Visitors Information
Email marketing allows you to gather your potential and current customer’s information. Imagine having a store full of visitors that didn’t purchase anything. Wouldn’t you like to have an opportunity to reach them later for another chance to sell your online products or services? Email marketing allows you to continually build a relationship with your potential and current customers. Building relationships via email marketing can increase the opportunity of initial, repeat, and long term sales. The foundation of email marketing is getting the permission to email them.
The spam button is too easy to click these days when you receive an email in your inbox you don’t recognize. Gaining permission can begin with offering your visitors an opportunity to signup to your email list in return for a free gift. One of the best email marketing services out there is aweber because they make sure your subscribers confirm they want to receive the information you’re sending. That way both you the recipients and for instance Gmail understand that your emails are not spam because you have permission to send them to the recipient. There is an excellent book on the subject of email marketing ethically called Permission Marketing by Seth Godin I highly recommend. In fact Seth is offering (4) free chapters in return for an email signup.
5. Know your Hosting Solution: Servers you can trust
Hosting is the foundation of your website. And poor hosting will cost you a fortune. Your ability to stay online 24/7 is a priority. No website, no sale, no business. The worst thing in the world is to get a message or call saying that someone couldn’t give you money because they can’t get your website online. The best type of hosting is dedicated for Linux servers. That is because you control the server and most importantly you are the only person using the server. Another advantage is that you can start and run hundreds of websites on one server at no additional cost.
6. Understand Your Choice in Content Management Systems
Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla help even the most non techie person effectively mange their online content. The right content management system will help you automate, customize, and save a backup copy of your site. Also as I said in #5 the right hosting plan will make creating these sites very simple. If you need some direct instruction on how to do that then click here and get a blog going.
7. Create a Flexible Online Traffic Strategy: Search Engines, Social Media, and Beyond
Gaining traffic to your site is the easiest part of developing an online business. Google, Facebook, Ning, and Twitter are household names that offer free access to billions. Now more than any other time in history is the opportunity build a massive network that reaches millions. There is one key thing to remember when gaining traffic is to master just a few techniques then repeat the process. You for instance could for instance focus on search engine optimization (SEO), social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.), and social book marking (Delicious, Digg, etc) to gain traffic. You don’t need to do everything just specific actions repeatedly will build your results over time.
Repetition of these 7 Essential Steps to Launching an Online Business will provide you with an insider strategy. And this will give you an edge that more than 80% of businesses online neither know nor follow.