The following is a guest post:
At this point, moving your business online isn’t a trend. It is a channel that is here to stay, and if you’re not participating, your chances of success are probably quite grim. Businesses, including financial, retail, and other services are all making their way into the online world. Some, like Amazon.com, Zappos.com and INGDirect, are primarily or exclusively online-based. There are many reasons for this shift, such as less overhead costs and the consumer trend towards online researching, decision-making and purchasing.
When you go online, or incorporate online strategy into your business, it may seem like a pretty simple thing to do; however, it may not be as simple as you think. Below are five tips we think every online entrepreneur should know before diving in:
1) Whatever your idea, make sure your online presence reflects your brand. And to that, make sure you have a solid brand and idea first. Many online companies tend to find themselves going in many different directions with their online presence, which can be confusing to your consumer, so before you start, spend some time developing a mission, business goal, messaging document, etc. Start with the basics so you don’t find yourself confusing your customers.
2) No matter what your business is, clear and simple navigation is something that is 100% necessary. I’m sure you can probably think of at least 5 sites just off the top of your head that you have been to recently that have confused you and that you spent way more time than you would have liked to looking for what you need. Most people, if they are new to your site and don’t find what they need within just a few seconds, will leave. Make sure your site is clear, easy to navigate and has all the main components (e.g. login, logout, and all other important navigation) very prominently and clearly displayed.
3) SEO your site! It’s astonishing how many sites we go to daily that are not properly SEO’d. As an online business, you want to be easily and quickly found by your potential consumer. Do your homework. There are sites like Google AdWords that help you find great keywords for your site and analyze the competition so you can help get yourself found. Metadata, tags and keywords are essential to getting your business found!
4) Besides just the navigation, make sure that all the important components of your business are displayed on your site in an organized manner. The more you can share with your potential customer on your website, the better shape you are in, and the fewer questions you have to answer. Make sure all of your offered services are clearly stated, and any other relevant information that a consumer might ask, are on your site. It might be a good idea to brainstorm with friends and colleagues any anticipated questions or issues that a customer might ask or have. That way, you can address those on the website and ensure a clearer, more attractive presence.
5) All businesses, whether online or otherwise, need to involve social media. Make sure you have a social media plan, and a good one at that. Many businesses try to incorporate social media into their online strategy, but don’t get the most out of it that they can because it either takes a back seat to other matters or they hire an intern to take it over.
Once you begin social media networking, dedicate yourself to it. Many companies that do it successfully hire a full-time person to do it, just because there is so much potential for what can be done and how much it can contribute to a company. If you do not have the ability to have a full-time employee dedicated to social media, take a look and see what you can truly commit to.
If you choose Twitter, make sure you can commit to at least five meaningful tweets daily (including RTs). If it is Facebook, make sure you can commit to communicating with your fans/friends, and that you can post one to two meaningful posts per day. If it is a blog that you choose to incorporate, make sure you can commit to a steady and ongoing schedule. Fluctuation doesn’t work and will ultimately do more harm than good.
To learn more about how to act like an entrepreneur, as well as to find out more about how to use a new entrepreneurial formula called CreAction to work for your online business goals, please go to www.actiontrumpseverything.com for a free copy of the Action Trumps Everything online book.