Steps to Building Successful Online Business
As somebody that has been into internet marketing for a good number of years, a lot of people ask me from time to time how to start, develop and grow an online business. I always tell them that being successful or failing in any online business depends on them, online business has a lot of similarities with brick and mortar business, the principles guiding them are basically the same and it takes a persistent and burning desire to succeed:
There are proven guidelines that anyone can follow to make it online, I have seen people that follow these principles and have made it, It also requires patience , and that is what I consider as a true test of success in any online business
Step 1: Find a need and fill that need.
Getting the market should be the first step to making it online, You need to ask yourself: What are the things people find difficult to get online? Are there products or services that are in demand which are still not readily available online? it could be need to satisfy your local community, it could be need to satisfy your fellow business men or even school mates. Websites like Facebook came out of the need to bring people together in a school environment, Google came out of the need to get the world’s abundant information and make readily available for the end users. This website (Directory-Nigeria) came out of the need to get the basic business information about different companies and organisations in Nigeria and make it available for all, this Financial information blog came out of the need to provide free and useful information to thousands of Nigerians that need it. A lot of people make the mistake of finding a product before they have a market and that is wrong unless people are actively searching for your product or services online, you’ll never make any sale. The key is to find a group of people with a common problem they’re trying to solve and then solve it, that is called niche market and in this business, niche market is the key.
Fortunately for us, the web has made it easy for market research; this can now be done through
- Online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
- Figure out which keywords a lot of people are using to search for solutions to their various problems
- The web has also made it very easy for us to check out who our potential competitors are by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re currently doing to fill the need.
After you’ve done this, use what you’ve learned to create a product for a market that already exists — you can do it better than your competitors because you are more informed.
Step 2: Design or build your website.
Once you’ve finally got your potential market and product or services, the next thing you’ll do is to build your website.
Remember to keep it simple. Don’t make it very complex or confusing, make it easy to navigate and at the same time, make it easy for your visitors to easily find what they are looking for. Your website should be your online store or service centre so ensure that it is customer friendly, there are so many websites out there, so you need to make in such a way that your visitor will have every reason to stay and read what you have to offer through your website. Always keep this in mind:
- Use a plain, sans-serif font, like Arial, on a white background for your website, it is more eligible.
- Make your website navigation easy, clear and simple. Keep it consistent throughout your site, a good number of Nigerian websites look scrappy, this is an area we all should improve on, just the way people will prefer to be in a nice new environment, like wise people love visiting websites that looks cool and professional.
- Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message and are helpful to the end user, they can be a source of distraction at times it’s important that you have this in mind, don’t make excessive use of it
- Include an opt-in offer in order to collect e-mail addresses for newletters
Step 3: Use search engines to drive targeted Visitors to your website.
people often ask me how do you get traffic to a brand-new site? The answer is Search Engine (Pay-per-click advertising), Search engines (Organic) Social networking sites like twitter, Facebook, Social bookmaking sites, Forums signatures just to mention a few,
Pay per click advertising has two advantages:
- The ads show up on search pages immediately.
- It also allows you to test different keywords, headlines, prices and selling approaches.
Not only do you get traffic immediately, but once you’ve figured out what keywords are working best, you can use them throughout your copy and code, which will help your rankings in organic search results. However, this costs money, hence you need to keep an eye on the expensis and revenue to ensure that the revenue covers the cost
On the other hand, Search Engines (organic) which is the listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms; as opposed to their being advertisements will not give you the traffic immediately. It takes time to develop, Search engines can be slow but in the long run, the benefit of good search engine optimisation cannot be over emphasised (SEO will be discussed in my subsequent articles) I get up to 50% (and above) of my website traffic through organic Search engines
Step 4: Establish a good reputation for yourself to drive even more traffic
People use the primarily to find information. If you continue to provide valuable information for people and other other websites to use and link back to you, then you’ll get more traffic and better search engine rankings. Just the way people see your website as a reputable source of information, Search engines like Google will also see your website as reputable source of. You can achieve this through:
- Giving away free contents like videos through Youtube, ebooks which is known today as viral marketing, articles through article directory, this can be done through social media.
- One thing I usually include on my websites is “send to a friend” links It has helped a lot to increase traffic
- Become an active expert and offering free advice in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out can also be a good way to gain reputation.
If you use any of these tactics, you’ll reach new audience. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours, hence increasing your website popularity and page rank. Search engines love links from relevant websites and will reward you in the rankings accordingly.
Step 5: Use the power of e-mail marketing to keep in touch with your visitors and turn them into buyers.
When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets your online business can have–permission to send visitors e-mail. Why is e-mail marketing so valuable?
- You’re giving potential customers something they’ve asked for.
- You’re developing lifetime relationships with people in your target market.
- The response is 100 percent measurable.
- It’s cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio advertising because it’s highly targeted.
- It can be almost entirely automated.
Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than e-mail to let you effortlessly follow up with those leads.
There are other Steps that you can take to build a successful online business in Nigeria , I decided to concentrate on these, I will highlight a lot more in my subsequent posts