It’s official. People prefer to shop online. With over 96% of Americans shopping online, it’s no wonder there are so many businesses going digital with their strategy. The days of brick and mortar businesses are long behind us as we march into this new era of online business. With everything from custom app development to grocery shopping being done virtually, there’s no excuse for not taking your business into cyberspace.
It’s common knowledge that running a business online is a smart decision in 2018, but does that mean it’s as easy as big-name businesses make it seem? There are a lot of get-rich-quick schemes targeting business owners looking to make big bucks online. The truth is there’s nothing easy about making it as an online business! Actually, competition for online businesses today is at an all-time high! Just review the Statistica stats below to see just how many Americans shop online regularly.
If the competition is so fierce, how do businesses succeed online? Is there no hope for small businesses who want to compete with big names like Amazon? The good news is that as this wild west of online businesses becomes more dense with these get-rich-quick marketers, there’s more room for authentic businesses to stand out.
Are you ready to launch your own online business? There are more tools than ever to build a website from the ground up. You don’t have to be a computer guru to launch a successful online business! Where do you start? How do you run a business when your customers are 100% remote? It’s all about your strategy. This guide will help you launch your online business from start to finish!
Why Should You Take Your Business Online?
First, you need to really understand what the fuss is about online business these days. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the trend towards online selling. It’s true, you really can buy anything online nowadays from exotic cars to pricey vacations.
So what’s making so many shoppers turn online? Two words: price and convenience. Shoppers want the best price and they want it on their own terms. If you’ve noticed the brick and mortar businesses in your town closing up shop for good, you’re not alone. The days of these businesses are over as shoppers finally transition to online buying for good.
This transition from in-person to online shopping has shaken up every industry across the board. Businesses have had to quickly adapt to these changes, and only the most adaptable will survive the shift to the digital sphere. This is good news for innovative businesses willing to try new things to stand out!
The challenge for businesses today isn’t how to take their businesses online. That’s the easy part. The real challenge is how do you connect with customers when they’re 100% remote? How do you build those same in-store connections that keep customers coming back again and again? Finally, how do you compete with brands like Amazon that have huge budgets at their disposal?
The answer is simpler than you think. No, it doesn’t involve the get-rich-quick or one-size-fits-all solutions you see on your Facebook feed. There is no magic formula for success that some businesses have spontaneously tapped into. Hint: it’s not about the business at all. It’s about the customer. Without further ado, let’s talk real strategy.
Design Your Website for Real People
We’ve all been to websites like that seem to be designed for some alien species or robot person. These websites read like cold, stale sales copy. They make users cringe and not worth anyone’s time.
First thing’s first. You’re a real person. There is a real team of people behind your business. Just because you’re creating an online business doesn’t mean you have to create a website like you’re behind some robotic mask. Break down these barriers between your business and your customers.
Your website needs to be designed by humans for humans. It might sound redundant, but it’s really something a lot of new online businesses miss the mark on. This applies both to your website copy and your design.
Tips for sounding human in your website copy:
- Keep your text simple and to the point. Don’t fill your website with useless information nobody wants to read!
- People care about stories. It’s how we process the world around us. How can you tell your story in a way that’s still interesting to your website users?
- Avoid unnecessary jargon. It can read as condescending in the wrong context! Instead, keep your website and sales copy at a low reading level so it’s easy to quickly digest by all types of readers.
- When in doubt, talk it out. Sometimes you don’t register the words you’re typing on the page until you read them out loud. Reading your text will help you determine if it’s natural sounding. Just make sure you’re alone!
Easy, right? If you’re ever stuck when writing content for your website, whether it’s for a blog post or a sales page, think of it like you’re having a conversation with your users. Who is your ideal customer? How can you speak directly to them in terms they understand and care about? That’s how you should approach all your content writing!
Now that you know how to sound human with your web content and copy, it’s time to talk about design. Your design is the first impression viewers will have from your website. That means it’s kind of a big deal. Whether you’re using a selling platform like Shopify or you built a service page yourself, you need your website to be easy to navigate.
It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing design idea in the world. If it’s not optimized for real-life humans, it will fail. Remember, your users aren’t robots who will click through every page until they find what they’re looking for. In fact, you only have a few seconds to make an impression before viewers click away.
Tips for designing your website for humans:
- Start with content first. Instead of designing your business website around complex visual elements, design your website around the content. What content are you delivering to your users? How can you keep the focus on this?
- Great design goes unnoticed. Your website design should be so seamless it’s hard to notice. You probably can’t think of the best-designed website you’ve ever visited. Conversely, you vividly remember the worst!
- Test. Test. Did we mention test? You’re not a good judge of your own design simply because you designed it. Before launch, have a third-party test your website to make sure everything works perfectly!
Designing your business website for humans is the biggest step in standing out from the noise of online business. Your customers visit a lot of websites and read a lot of content. How is yours different? What connections can you make? Your audience is tired of interacting with screens all day. Bring humanity into your design!
Marketing to Remote Customers
If you’re new to the world of online business, you might not even know where, to begin with, online marketing. Reaching an audience online is a lot different than reaching an audience in-person. For the sake of this guide, we’re going to talk about two leading types of online marketing: email marketing and content marketing. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think!
Email marketing is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll market to your audience through targeted, well-crafted emails! To get started, you’ll need a bulk email service that can accommodate your email list. Your email list is one of the most valuable parts of your marketing strategy!
Depending on your email needs, there are a lot of different platforms you can use. When you use your platform, you’re going to want to verify your email list is built with legitimate email addresses. You can do that all in one place with tools like ZeroBounce or Xverify.
Using these checkers helps lower your bounce rate and keep your emails from getting trapped in the dreaded spam folder!
You get a lot of junk mail in your email inbox. You know there are some emails you click on and some that you always delete. Your goal when your customers are 100% remote is to get your audience to open your emails. It’s not as easy as just writing an email and clicking send!
There are 205 billion emails sent every day. If that number isn’t heart attack inducing, we don’t know what is. So how can you get your emails actually noticed by your audience when there’s already so much noise?
Tips for email marketing that actually works:
- Personalize emails. Nobody wants to be addressed as Hello, You! Use your email campaign builder to add personalization to every email through first names and more.
- Warm up your prospects before selling. People can tell when they’re being sold to. If they’re new to your email list, they probably don’t care about your latest sale or your new products. They want to get to know you first! Warm up your email list with content-heavy emails that are actually fun and informative before you launch into your sales pitch.
- Optimize your emails for mobile. Most email readers nowadays are accessing their inbox from their phone! That means your emails need to be easy to read on all screen sizes!
Your emails are one piece to the marketing puzzle, and your content marketing is the other piece. People are getting smarter about how they digest new information online. They’re tired of sales-driven writing or media that doesn’t offer anything genuine.
Today, content is king. If you don’t have high-quality content on your website, your online business will never be competitive. Content comes in a lot of different forms. It can be an informative blog post, a step-by-step guide or even an entertaining video.
How you decide to integrate content into your business depends on your industry, but these tips will help you get started with a winning strategy:
- Include targeted keywords in your content. Your search engine performance (SEO) is impacted by your content, so make sure your online business is noticed for the right keywords.
- Solve real problems. How can your content help your users? What questions or concerns does your ideal audience have?
- Make sure it’s easy to read. People don’t have time to wade through thousands of words of content if they don’t even know that you’ll answer their question in the end! Break up blocks of text and use headlines to make your content easy to scan quickly.
Let’s look at a real-world example. Shopify is a leading resource website which offers free business lessons to people who want to start in the world of e-commerce. They are the perfect example of content marketing done right with their in-depth blog. They don’t just push their products on readers blindly. Instead, they write content that their ideal audience would find valuable to build trust.
Everyone wants to buy from a business they feel they know and trust. When you’re selling to 100% remote customers, you can build this trust through marketing emails and great content!
The Future of Online Business
If you want to succeed as an online business in this digital age, you need to always be looking forward. Online business is big business. In just a few years who knows what the industry will look like? Brick and mortar businesses will likely continue to close and more businesses will turn online to find new customers.
When you’re working with 100% remote customers, you need to make the most of your time. The world of online marketing is always changing as new platforms take over and old ones fade away. Track your time with a tool like OnTheClock.com to make sure you aren’t wasting time on methods that don’t work! Keep track of your conversion rates and analytics because, in this digital world, time really is money!
Standing out as a business online today is all about being authentic. It’s about connecting with your customer like a fellow human. It’s about really understanding what content your customer wants and knowing how to bring this content to them.
Are you ready to take your business into the 21st century?
If you follow this guide, you’ll build lasting (and profitable!) connections with your remote customers. How do you interact with customers in the digital age? Let us know in the comments!
This is a guest post by Samantha Tetrault, Samantha is a full-time content marketer from Orlando, Florida. She blogs about post-grad life and online marketing on her website, Samanthability.