Running a business online?


We are talking to more and more people who are interested in about running their business online. This isn’t as straight forward as you might think, not only is every business different but also the advice from marketing agencies (often conflicting) can be very confusing, this is just my views and a few pointers that you might want to consider if you are about to take your business online.

Everyone wants more clients – right?

Yes but not every business will get new clients directly from their website, email or text marketing, some customer purchases need more information, they need to ask questions, feel or experience the product or service – it’s a good idea to think hard about how your customers ‘engage’ with your business. Think about every aspect of the process before and after purchase and think about how this might be viewed from a potential customers view.

What is everyone else doing?

It’s always a good starter for ten to look at what the competition are doing. Your competitors have often spent considerable amounts of time and in some cases money – so what can you learn from what they are doing. It may also be useful to look at companies that do the same kind of thing as you do – what kind of functionality and content do they have on their websites. 

Think hard about what you want people to do – again this sound obvious but if the “call to action” isn’t immediately clear – and we are talking within the first 5 to 10 seconds you are making people work hard when they are on to the site – so if you want them to call you – put a telephone number prominently on the page, you get the idea!

Measure what you do – once you have a site that you think is hitting the mark, make sure you can test your belief, it needs to attract traffic but more importantly it needs to get people to engage with the important parts of the site – this may be a contact form or product information, your understanding of what is high value engagement will develop over time. You need to understand how people move through your site and what bits they like and what bits they don’t. From this “user flow” analysis you can make improvements to the site that will mean the traffic you do get converts into customers.

Now its working open it up – drive the numbers, when the site is performing as you hoped it would, then you can look at driving traffic. This is an important point and getting the site ready before hand is key – when you know what kind of traffic converts to customers you can more easily identify where you should spend your traffic marketing budget in order to get the best return on investment.

Track through the conversions / customers and loyalty, don’t stop measuring the engagement when they fill in a form, if it doesn’t convert to being a paying customer then it’s not worth having – track the engagement right through the purchasing process and throughout its lifecycle – wouldn’t you like to know that every person you acquire as a customer online is 4 times more likely to become a repeat customer than other marketing channels?

Invest and continue to innovate – like this blog it could go on and on and I’ve lots more to talk about which I will save for another time. It’s worth mentioning now, don’t stop learning or asking questions of the numbers – remember the online market is a rapidly changing environment and success today does not guarantee success for tomorrow.

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