When it comes to having a great online business, there are some core traits and characteristics of a business which is likely to do well online. As an expert business coach, I’ve worked in many industries, including online businesses.
Here are my views on what a great online business looks like and frequently does
How you approach your business, even if it’s a hobby business, should come across as professional. This is everything from the wording on your website or online listing, to the quality of the images and photos. Lack of descriptions, inaccurate information, poor quality photos (or not enough photos) all make for you looking the amateur. Your written content should elicit passion and encourage the prospect to take the next step. A big part of coming across as a professional business is perception; are you using a Hotmail email account for enquiries or are using your domain email is just one example.
Have a solid & well-structured marketing plan
Sorry folks, but just having a website or online store does not automatically mean you will be found. You will need a solid, well rounded and well thought out strategy and marketing plan. This plan of course needs to be documented. Your plan will have more than one or two marketing channels and will include additional things, such as getting great reviews as part of the plan. Your plan will be strongly focused towards digital marketing, including Google Ads, email marketing and social media posts and advertising. However, do not forget that marketing does not stop once someone places their order. Marketing is ongoing and overlaps strongly with both the sales and customer service facets of your operations. Naturally, you will need to allocate a suitable budget to your marketing activities. Remember the world has shrunk and when it comes to online, we are frequently competing globally.
Get help to automate it all properly
As with all businesses, we can’t be an expert at everything. Sometimes we need to outsource our bookkeeping, or our Google Adwords campaigns and remarketing or getting the website built. A smart business operator will know when something is beyond their skill level. Whilst most of us can learn most things with time, you need to decide if this is something you should be spending time on and do want to do? Balancing the books is not everyone’s cup of tea. Focus your time and effort on where it will give your business positive results. Remember outsourcing isn’t just for the easy tasks, it might be for the more mundane and easy or repetitive tasks.
Appreciate the value of email lists
When it comes to an online business, email is still very effective. It not only communicates to your new customer how their order is progressing, or confirming it will arrive today, but also allows you to upsell and re-sell to that customer. Once they have placed their order, you can email them a special offer, that if they reply within a short period of time, they can add certain items to their order (unless you have this function as part of the checkout phase), plus you can alert customers of specials, offers, new products. Sadly, some businesses think that if you email people daily you’ll get more sales, however, the ‘unsubscribe’ button just gets hit more frequently. Your customers will accept a certain number of emails before overwhelm kicks in.
Responding promptly is not only a sign that you take your business seriously and value your customers, but it also makes for a better customer experience. People will shop again with an online store where they have had a great experience, including how quickly or slowly you respond and fill and ship orders. Being organised, having your shipping methods in place, packaging on hand and stock ready to ship make the difference. I know businesses out there which are blaming Covid for slow shipping. Whilst it may add a day to the process, it should not add two weeks. Rest assured, your competitors are meeting customer expectations and, let’s face it, people are impatient. If one business states they will have it to you in 3 days and another business states 3 weeks, all other things being fairly equal, I know who I’d be buying off.
This is where your research is critical. You may have an idea which you think is pretty cool, but you need to ensure enough other people out there think it’s cool too. Product research and customer research are an important aspect of every business. Your product needs to either solve a problem or elicit pleasure. Remember the old saying: “Everything [in marketing and sales] comes back to either pleasure or pain.” Your product (or service) will either solve a problem and reduce (or even hopefully cut out fully) a pain that is being experienced or it might be something that gives pleasure, such as jewelry, a lovely dress or perhaps men’s cologne. Needless to say, excellent CTAs (Call to Actions) will be in place to help sell those great products.
Awesome customer service
You won’t get rave reviews online if you are slack with responding to queries, or take forever to ship, or worse, ship the wrong product. Businesses that get great reviews (and you want this, believe me!) provide great customer service, ship accurately and promptly and not only meet customer expectations but often exceed them. I recall buying dog food online and was pleasantly surprised to find a tennis ball in my package. A lovely handwritten note is unexpected. Next day delivery is awesome. One particular appliance online store keeps you fully informed with the progress of your delivery, with a text 20-30 minutes saying exactly what time the guys will arrive to install your new washing machine – and when they do so (ever so friendly and polite) they tested it to make sure it worked perfectly well. Remember a great business (online or otherwise) will listen to its customers and their feedback.
Know your numbers
This is relevant on so many levels. Firstly, consider your business bookkeeping numbers. Do you review your financial reports on a weekly or monthly basis? What about your marketing results? Do you review your website reports, ranking or Google Adwords / Facebook / Instagram campaign statistics and reports? What is your conversion rate like? Which products sell better? Which products have the better margin on them? What percentage of customers return within a period of time? Do you know what channels and days work better for you for your marketing? Yes, I know, many questions here. My point is that once you start to know your figures, then you can see what works better, is more effective and essentially duplicate and repeat what works. Some things will not work, and the smart business owner who learns that quickly will adjust their strategy in a timely manner.
When it comes to setting up a business, there is a multitude of things to consider. Some might appear minor, such as your returns policy, but if you haven’t given everything fair thought and consideration and started to build systems and processes in your business, then you will be travelling without a plan or map. When there isn’t a plan, that’s where we can sometimes take the long route, or worse, get entirely lost. I hate seeing businesses fail. If you like a complimentary sample coaching session, please reach out to me via my Contact page or ring me on 0411 622 666. Make a spectacular day!