As a small business owner, you could be considering taking your business online. Or, you could have an online business that isn’t quite bringing in the sales and revenue you expected it would. Establishing and running an online store for your products involves some fine nuances that you need to study and work out if you’re aiming to be successful. Considering that around 1 billion people prefer to shop online including more than 200 million Americans, you can’t afford not to use this marketing channel effectively.
Here are some of the most common mistakes online businesses make and what you can do to ensure you don’t repeat them.
Small businesses typically have only a limited amount of finances that they can access and use. When planning your online marketing strategy, draw up a clear plan of the investments you’re going to make and check out a site like Credible that lets you compare loans. You cannot expect that your website will be noticed right away. Even the best-designed sites with the most compelling of sales pitches and interactive features may not work right away. It may be a while before the orders come in fast enough for you to earn back your investment.
Ensure that you’re aware of the cash-burn rate and that you have the staying power before you take the plunge. A good tip is to start small and add resources as and when you begin to see results. At the same time, never compromise on the quality and presentation of your website.
Unplanned Online Business Strategies
Many business owners commit the error of setting up a website and expect it to earn profits. But, the real aim here is for that website to attract traffic and convert that traffic into customers. Next, you’ll want those customers to come back repeatedly and preferably share your page with friends and family.
To achieve these results, you must have a detailed marketing plan in place. If you’re not quite sure about how to formulate it, bring in the experts. Begin by understanding your products and services thoroughly. Consequently, you’ll develop an understanding of who your target audience is – one that is most likely to be receptive to your marketing efforts. Work with your designers to create a well-conceived web page that is attractive and easy to navigate.
Unplanned and Confusing Website
When looking at a range of options and advertising elements for your website, it is easy to want to include as many of them as possible on the home page. You learn about analytics, conversion rates, how to optimize your website for search engines, social media buttons, discount offers, subscription offers, email newsletter signups, and so on. The possibilities are endless.
As a smart e-marketer, your objective should be making your website easy to understand and navigate. Customers searching for a particular product or service should be able to find what you offer quickly. They should be able to learn about the important features and place orders seamlessly with clear directions. Cluttering your website with too much sales talk and advertising will make the site confusing. Remember, customers rarely spend a minute or two on each site looking for a product or service. If they can’t find the product they need in that time, they’re likely to return to the search pages.
Ignoring the Human Factor for Technology
Look at your home page as your store. Place yourself in your customers’ shoes and walk with them through the site when they’re looking for what they need. Are they hounded with sign up and email address requests before they reach the product page? Do they have to wade through sales jargon to find the “Add to Cart” button? Do they find the payment options cumbersome?
If they do, you need to eliminate this online business mistake right away.
Unrealistic Pricing Strategy
When setting up your online business, you’ll be tempted to price your products and services to make them more competitive and thus, more attractive to customers. If you’re undervaluing your products and not making much of profit on the sales, you’re compromising on the staying power of the business. And that’s not a smart move. Focus instead on ensuring that your products are well worth every cent your customers pay for it.
By doing that, you’ll ensure that they’ll return to your website even if they’re paying more. Keep a close watch on the freebies and discounts you’re offering. Free eBooks, webinars, coupons and other marketing strategies are effective only so long as they don’t cost you more than you rake in.
Inefficient Customer Service
Granted that your online business is virtual and not a real store. Even so, you need to provide appreciable customer service. Just selling a product is not enough. You’ll want to create a loyal customer base that is likely to come back for more of your products and services. To do that, you need to provide excellent customer service. Aside from high quality, pay particular attention to the packaging and delivery methods. Ask for confirmations and send follow-up emails requesting feedback and opinions. Design easy-to-answer surveys so customers can let you know what they need.
Insufficient Social Media Interaction
In a world ruled by social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and almost countless others, ignoring what your customers are saying is a major online business error. Use these media to keep in touch with your clients and make it a point to review both positive and negative posts carefully. By monitoring these sites, you can learn about the small tweaks you can make in your products and services to make them better received. In addition, social media is a great tool to look for ideas for new products that your customers are looking for.
Make it a point to thank kudos and answer criticism. People like to be heard and acknowledged, but at the same time, remember to install the appropriate software to tackle spammers. You can also target different sites to match your marketing objectives. Facebook and Pinterest can help you boost sales while Twitter is perfect for establishing your brand. If you’re looking to build networks for your business, try LinkedIn.
Neglecting Mobile Responsiveness
Having a great interactive website is the perfect first step for online marketing. But, many business owners neglect to take it to the next stage, and that is, optimizing it for mobile responsiveness. Even as more and more customers prefer to surf the web and search for products and services on their mobile phones and tablets, you need to make sure that your site is compatible with all devices. Studies have clearly indicated that when customers find that a particular site is not mobile or tablet friendly, they’re unlikely to go back and immediately move on to a competing business site.
Unclear Revenue Sources
Even as you plan your website, marketing strategies, product pricing, freebies, and other elements of your online business, ensure that you plan for adequate revenue sources. Should you need added finances, prospective sellers of loan products are going to need you to explain how you intend to earn profits from the business. As explained earlier, you’ll need to develop a strategy for staying power while you wait for the enterprise to pick up. Work out alternate sources of revenue like perhaps, selling your products and services through other channels.
Focusing Too Much on the Competition
Many business owners spend hours scouring the internet for blogs and posts on social media sites to learn about the strategies their competitors are using. However, focusing too much on the competition takes away from the time you could spend developing your own moves. You cannot always assume that a business approach that your competition uses can also work for you. Simply because one size never fits all. Instead, create a unique identity, a USP for your online business that sets it apart from what the others are offering. Another useful option is to analyze your own performance, the profits you made and customer feedback to assess what works and what doesn’t. Use the results to plan future marketing approaches.
Ultimately, the biggest online business mistake you can make is to overlook that fact that online or offline, you’re running a business. You need to carefully plan every aspect such as finances, marketing, quality control, customer support and interaction, and so on. And, if you can avoid the significant errors that most business owners make by working with an expert digital marketing service, you can prevent failure and make a resounding success of your online venture.