We see many startup online businesses, some successful, some not. What makes a successful online business?
Type of business
There is no doubt that some products and services are easier to sell online than others. Consumables with popular brand names, products that every body knows, are easier to sell online. Unknown products are harder to sell. Consumables bring repeat business because they always need to be replaced.
Names that include a search word relating to the products have a better chance of being on page 1 of Google than others. Domain names like tbc.com won’t rank as high as texasbabyclothing.com even though the initials mean something to the owners.
Domain names should be easy to remember, but not just to the owners. Names like jhmtoys.com are not as easy for a visitor to remember as jackstoys.com. It’s better if the names can be pronounced.
Visitors talk to other potential visitors.
As well as being easy to remember for a visitor, domain names that include search words help Google to list them higher for a search.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Some factors that Google uses to rank web pages are:
1) Domain name.
2) Search word in the meta title.
3) The number of times the search word is on the web page.
4) Whether the search word is also in a heading or hyperlink.
5) The quantity of information on the web page.
6) The quality of information.
7) The time it takes to load the web page.
8) Whether the page is responsive to all devices including phones.
9) How popular the website is. That means how many other relevant quality websites are linked to it.
Search engines are there to provide visitors a list of web pages in order of relevance to a search query.
The position of a website in a search can make the difference between success and failure of an online business. A website on page 4 of Google is unlikely to be even visited if its competitors are on page 1
The layout of the website should help visitors find information that they want quickly. Some have the product categories on the home page. Some have only specials on the home page with product categories on the first inside page.
The customer’s attention must be quickly gained and held. A menu of product categories and other information like delivery charges should be at the top and sides. Duplicate menus can be also at the bottom of a page.
The norm is to have categories click through to products. Then a click on the product should open to a larger picture and a full description.
There should also be a search box for customers to find the product they want quickly.
Some products are easier to sell online than others. If customers can see exactly what they are looking for, that’s a good start.
Products are easy to sell if popular and can be seen in stores on the street. It’s only the price and delivery that need to be compared.
It’s not so easy if the product is specially designed and only available online. That means full and exact descriptions with good quality photos.
An example that puzzled us was a website selling wedding gowns with descriptions as little as four words and just a small picture, with prices ranging up to nine hundred dollars. Surely a customer would want more information before spending that amount of money.
A better example we know, also clothing, has descriptions of a hundred and forty words per product. They get eight hundred visitors per day and a high sales volume.
Product images should be sharp with a clear background, preferably white. They should not be fuzzy. They should not have a background that distracts from the product.
We recommend business owners look at their websites from the point of view of a customer. Customers are looking for information. Each product is an opportunity for a sales pitch.
Business owners should also know their products sufficiently well to give very full descriptions that answer all possible customer questions.
Online customers can get frustrated and go elsewhere very quickly.
The quality of interface with the customers helps make an online business successful.
Customers must know that they can easily get answers to their queries. This can be by a chat dialog box, an FAQ section, prompt email responses and general attitudes to customers. It’s important to have a local phone number prominent on the web page.
Personal service to customers can be a critical difference between online businesses.
Successful online eCommerce businesses are those that:
1) Are on page one of Google through good SEO.
2) Sell consumables.
3) Have popular products.
4) Show large product descriptions.
5) Have good website navigation.
6) Have good customer service.
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When prospective customers visit your website, you obviously want to obtain their information so you can build a relationship with them and provide them additional information about your products or services in the future. This process is where they OPT-IN, and it actually needs three elements.
The 3 Elements of the Complete Opt-in Process are:
Landing Page This is the 1st page users will see in the process. It will have a graphic of your lead magnet, a compelling headline, some benefit based bullets and of course – a place for people to enter their name and email address.
Thank You Page This is the page that users are taken to as soon as they successfully enter their name and email address. This is a tragically underutilized page by most.
Email Autoresponder This is tool that has the ability to automatically send out email.
We just asked for some contact information so we need a place to store it. YES, you need an email autoresponder and here’s why. If you don’t have an email autoresponder, you will physically have to email your lead magnet and all the follow-up to each person that requests your lead magnet. That would be a ridiculous waste of your time – it is extremely important that you sign up for an email autoresponder if you don’t already have one.
There are tons of options out there but the most popular ones are:
So here is what the entire process looks like when it’s all laid out, but let’s step through what happens in each phase of the process.
Step 1 -Your steady stream of perfect prospects hit your landing page and have two options – either they go away or they fill out the form.
If they go away… they got away and we’ll get them another day.
If they stay and fill out the form, 2 things can happen:
If the person submits an error like a bad email address, or forgetting their name an error will appear on that page and ask them to fix it.
If the data that was submitted is good – the web user will be automatically redirected to Step 2 – The Thank You Page.
This redirection from Landing page to thank you page happens almost instantaneously. I’m sure you all have seen this hundreds of times. At the same time that redirect is happening, the data from your landing page (name, email, etc) is ALSO being sent to your email autoresponder (Step 3).
Once somebody fills in your landing page form, they are redirected to the thank you page (usually to consume some more content) while at the same time their data is being sent to the email autoresponder.
Once the contact information is stored in your email autoresponder, you can then follow-up with you prospects and hopefully turn them into customers eventually.
An all-encompassing content marketing strategy, white hat organic SEO practices, consistent link building efforts and solid social media marketing, well, this sure makes for a killer digital marketing strategy.
But hey, too much of it all, and you’re only doing what the rest of the world is doing. Today, let’s try and look through the things a little differently.
Let’s deal with a few questions first.
Do you remember when exactly was the last time you ran a competitive analysis? Don’t mind me asking it, but have you ever done it at all? If your answer is a big, naive no, then perhaps you don’t have any idea how your digital marketing strategy stands compared to your competitors.
Let me tell you a secret, peeping over your competitors can be an unexpectedly wonderful can massively help you find your own shortcomings and in the process, help you get better at the game. I’m sure you’ve heard this saying countless times before – keep your friends close, and your enemies, even closer. And in the realm of online marketing, this is one quote you need to live by.
See, every business that exists on this planet has at least a competitor who’s aiming for the bigger portion of the pie. So doesn’t it make sense to know how your competitors are sailing more smoothly than you when both of you are dealing in the same products or services. If you look at it closely, it’s quite a creative way to get a better understanding of your target audience. Once you’re familiar with the tactics, you can formulate some really killer strategies.
So here are some of the things your business competitors can teach you about digital marketing.
Target audience and traffic: I’m sure that you think that you have a fair idea of who your customers are and where they come from. But a simple analysis can determine whether any of your competitors is attracting more traffic than you or not. It they actually are, it would be a wise idea to go for the strategies they’re going for.
Content that matters: It’s a misconception that anything that’s original, it sells. Within an industry, there is only a limited type of content that gets shared. It could be anything – blog posts or weekly quizzes and surveys or Q&As. Perhaps your competitors know it better than you do.
You also get to know what doesn’t work: The best way to progress is actually to learn through others’ mistakes, don’t you think? Your competitors can also go wrong. So it’s a good idea to constantly monitor their marketing campaigns and learn what catches the eye and what just doesn’t work with the masses.
The key here is to learn from those who are better at this game. And once you’ve figured out the key players, you make their good moves better and avoid their failures.
Are you willing to invest in a more long-term and reliable organic traffic source for your website? Then let’s look at a search engine that can assist you in increasing your traffic.
Interview an Influencer or Get Interviewed by a High-traffic Website
Have you heard of Tim Ferriss, the author of the Four-Hour Work Week?
His podcast is nowadays a staple content type that he provides to his viewers. Tim’s show has world-class performers who share their insights on a variety of topics, and he is well-liked on social media. Do Tim’s fans enjoy the show? So far, the show has received over 50 million downloads. On most days, it’s the most popular business podcast on iTunes.
Interviews, whether on video or audio, are inherently conversational, lively, and engaging. The great aspect is that it’s a win-win situation for both sides. The interviewer is exposed to a new audience, while the interviewee is able to provide his website visitors with new fascinating and authoritative information. You can ask an industry influencer to share your interview with their followers on social media if you interview them. Consider the organic traffic you’ll get from their social media followers, which number in the hundreds of thousands. Consider the level of interest generated by a prior Derek Sivers interview on the Tim Ferriss Show. Derek shared the show’s URL with his 283K followers on Twitter. It won’t hurt if you establish a relationship with the influencer as a result of the interview.
Similarly, being interviewed by a high-ranking website can result in a significant increase in search engine traffic. Harsh Agrawal’s blog, Shoutmeloud, received 35,000+ views in a single day after he was profiled by YourStory. That was the blog’s most popular search engine traffic source (with 600,000+ monthly visitors). Because interviews provide consolidated value, they can be used as a long-term lead generating source for your company. Consider how many bloggers you’ve learned about through interviews on YouTube and other high-authority websites.
You may also conduct a Reddit AMA if you have a very compelling storey to tell. Mateen’s AMA got about generating $85,000 in profit by selling TeeSpring shirts/hoodies received 2000 page views. He also boosted the number of visitors to his website on a daily basis.
By registering as a source with HARO, you can also answer queries from journalists. On HARO, Christopher from Snappa came across this question from Inc Magazine about the future of content marketing. He swiftly responded with a thorough response. He was mentioned in Inc a few weeks later as a result of this. HARO is an excellent strategy to have your brand mentioned on authoritative news sites such as Entrepreneur and Inc. Those backlinks will enhance your search engine traffic and increase your marketing strategy by improving your reputation in Google’s eyes. Contact an SEO agency to find out how you can do this and how they can manage it for you while you work on the bottom line of your business.