There are many ways you can start an online business and there are hundreds if not thousands of business ideas that can help you get started, but 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. So how can you make sure that your new business will be a success?
If you’re launching a new business and have a product to sell you might think to sell on Etsy or eBay for example and these can be a good place to start with minimal risk. However, if your business grows you might find that selling on platforms like this actually eats away at your profit margin.
So if you don’t like the idea of handing over up to 20% of your profits, what can you do?
Start your online business
One of the quickest and easiest ways to start an online business is to get set up online. You may think that having your own site will end up costing you an arm and a leg before you’ve even made your first sale but it doesn’t have to be this way.
There are a lot of options out there to help you set up your own successful online business and here at EKM, we specialise in doing just that. Whichever ecommerce solution you choose, there are a few things you’ll want to do to help ensure your business’ success.
Get ready for selling
Before launching your brand new business, it may seem simple but you’ll want to ensure that you have a finished website and product to sell before launch. The worst thing for a new customer to see is an unfinished and unpolished site – it will probably give them a bad impression of your new business and they’ll likely not buy from you.
You’ll want to ensure that all your products are uploaded to your site and that they all have a good solid description of each item. Your product descriptions are arguably the most important part of your website; they tell the customer exactly what they need to know including the finer details that may make or break a sale. You’ll want to avoid using duplicate descriptions as Google will mark down your product on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. This also allows you to put your own branding and tone of voice in the description rather than the manufacturers standard description. We also have this handy guide for you to read if you’d like more information on product descriptions and how to make the most out of them.
You’ll also want to ensure that your product images are not only high quality but there are multiple views and colour variations for visitors to view. The images you receive from your supplier or manufacturer might not be the best quality and it’s strongly recommended that you take your own high-quality product images. This will allow you to stand out from your competitors who may be using the same images provided by the supplier or manufacturer. Having good product images can help increase your chances of a sale dramatically. You may already have some images provided to you by the manufacturer or supplier but if you’d like to take your own images there are a few tips to help you get the perfect product image in our product image guide here.
Create your social presence
One of the most important tools for new businesses to utilise is social media. There are many reasons why social media is an important tool to use but if you’re completely new to social media and you’re not sure how to get started, you can read our handy Social Media Guide to help you get set up.
Your social media accounts will work alongside your online shop, store or website and provide other platforms and different types of content for customers and potential customers to interact with you on. Social media can also indirectly help your shops Google rankings which are also covered in our Social Media Guide mentioned earlier; helping you to increase the amount of organic traffic being sent to your shop and helping you to climb the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings.
Social media can open up your new business to new audiences and can also be used to retarget customers or people that have visited your site, in order to encourage a sale. There are nearly endless opportunities when it comes to utilising social media and for most, it can also be seen as a trust factor during the consideration phase
Build your customer base
Once you’re all set up you’re going to need to build up your customer base. You could start with some social selling, sharing content and images on your business channels or asking friends and family to spread the word.
Another way to build a customer base is to create a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter where you can send updates and special offers to those who sign up. Encourage people to do this to receive exclusive offers or early access in order to obtain their information, such as their name and email address. You can then add these people to your ‘prospect’ list, and by sending them exclusive offers and content, build trust and confidence in purchasing from you.
Marketing is also another strong tool to create some brand awareness, generate traffic to your site and help to increase sales. Marketing comes in many forms and deciding what works best for your business can depend on a few things.
If you’re willing to spend a little, you could look into Facebook Ads to help market your new business. If you’re new to Facebook Ads, we have a really useful beginners guide to Facebook advertising that helps you understand the setup process and how to target your perfect audience. Alternatively, we have a team of in-house experts that can help you get set up and manage your accounts for you. We’ve found that this can really help our customers get their business off the ground and create a name for themselves. There are also more traditional forms of marketing such as printed advertisements too, but these are hard to track your return on investment.
No matter what form of marketing you choose to do, one of the top reasons why small businesses fail within the first 18 months is not keeping an eye on their analytical data and performance. Using tools like Google Analytics on your site will help you gain a deeper understanding as to where your visitors are coming from, what they’re doing on your site and what product/page is most popular.
Even this top-level information can help you refine your business activities, for example, perhaps you found that most of your site traffic was coming from Facebook you can increase the number of times you post in a day and perhaps up your advertising spend if the return on investment is proving to be good.