How To Start An Online Business

There’s a proven order of steps that if followed, will guarantee success when starting a small online business. I’ve seen plenty of people start and grow thriving online businesses by doing the following things:

–    Finding a need and filling it
–    Writing a copy that sells
–    Designing and building an easy to use website
–    Establishing a great reputation for themselves
–    Using search engines to direct traffic to their site
–    Following up on their subscribers and customers with e-mail
–    Increasing their income through upselling and back-end sales

Anyone, from seasoned online entrepreneurs to newbies, can benefit by learning how to start an online business. Here is how:

Step #1: Identify a need and fill it


Finding a need is a MUST for your online business

Most of the people just starting out make one mistake and that’s why they always end up failing. And the mistake they make is that they put the product first and the market second.

To increase your chances of succeeding, it is advisable that you start with identifying your market. The trick here is to identify a group of people searching for a solution to a specific problem they are facing but are not finding any viable results. The great thing is that the Internet makes this sort of market research quite easy:

–    Consider visiting online forums to see the sort of questions people are asking and the problems they are trying to solve.

–    Do some keyword research to identify the keywords most people are searching for, but which there aren’t many sites addressing.

–    Research your potential competitors by checking out their sites and noting what they are doing to address the demand. Use what you learn and create products for a market that is already existing – and make sure that you do it better than your competition.

Step #2: Write Copies That Sell

Did you know that there is a proven formula when it comes to creating sales copies that take visitors through a selling process right from when they arrive on it to the instant they make a purchase? Here it is:

–    Arouse a reader’s interest by writing a compelling headline
–    Define the problem your service or product solves
–    Prove your credibility as a problem solver
–    Add some testimonials from people that have used your service or product before
–    Talk about your service or product and how it can benefit them
–    Make strong offers
–    Provide a strong guarantee
–    Create urgency
–    Request for the sale

When creating a sales copy, it is important that you focus on explaining how your service or product can solve (in a unique way) people’s problems or how it can improve their lives. To make this work, it is important that you have a customer mentality and ask yourself one question – what is in it for me?

Step #3: Design and build a working and effective website

Once you have identified your market, have a product, and have your selling process nailed down, you are ready for the next step – designing your small-business website. When designing a website for your business, it is important that you keep it simple. You have less than five seconds to capture that attention of a reader – otherwise, they will be gone for good. When designing your website, remember to:

–    Choose no more than two plain fonts. Make sure that the background is white
–    Keep navigation simple, clear, and the same across all pages
–    Only use videos, audio, or graphics if they will enhance your message
–    Incorporate an opt-in option so that you can collect your customer’s e-mail addresses
–    Simplify the purchasing process – make sure that customers do not have a hard time before they can check out. If possible, this should be a one-click process.
–    Make your website customer-friendly as it is your online storefront

Step #4: Take advantage of search engines to channel traffic to your site

One of the easiest ways to get traffic to your brand-new site is to use pay-per-click advertising. This form of advertising has two advantages compared to sitting around waiting for traffic to flow towards your site organically. The first one is these ads appear on search engine pages immediately and the second is that the ads make it possible for you to try out different keywords, as well as prices, selling approaches, and headlines. Not only will you be getting traffic immediately, but you also can use the ads to identify the best and highest converting keywords to use. Once you have identified the most effective keywords, you can then distribute them all over your website in your copy and code. This will make it easier for you to improve your organic search results rankings.

Step #5: Create an expert reputation

Everyone using the internet uses it to find information. As such, it is important that you provide the information you have to offer for free to other websites, and you will see more traffic flowing towards your website and improved rankings. Here are some simple tips for your consideration:

–    When sharing your information, always include links to your site
–    Give away expert content. Make sure that the information you create (articles or videos) is content people find useful and distribute through social media sites or online article directories
–    Consider including “send to a friend” links on all site content you deem valuable
–    Consider joining social networking sites and industry forums your targeted market mostly hangs out on and become an active expert

By doing this, it will be easier for you to reach new readers. At the same time, every site posting your content will link back to your site. The good thing is that search engines relish links coming from relevant sites and will likely reward you in ranking.

Step #6: Take advantage of e-mail marketing

Consider taking advantage of e-mail marketing as it has the power to turn potential visitors into loyal customers. By building an opt-in list, you create one of the most important assets your online business will possess. By opting-in, subscribers and customers give you permission to e-mail them. That means:

–    You have the chance to develop lifelong relationships with them
–    You are giving them what they have asked for
–    Response is 100% measurable

Compared to print, radio, or TV, email marketing is much cheaper and more effective as it is highly targeted. Any person that visits your website and opts in to your e-mailing list is an extremely hot lead and should be treated with respect. And there is no better way to follow up on your leads than through e-mail.

Step #7: Increase income through upselling and back-end sales

Developing each of your customer’s lifetime value is one of the most important marketing strategies when it comes to internet marketing. At least 36% of all people who’ve purchased from you before will probably buy from you again if you take the initiative to follow them up. Closing the first sale is without a doubt one of the hardest things to do – and one of the most expensive too. As such, consider using upselling and back-end selling to get your customers to buy again. Here’s how:

–    Offer them products that are related to their initial purchase
–    Send them electronic loyalty coupons that they can redeem the next time they visit
–    Offer them products that are related to their purchase on your “Thank You” page when they are done purchasing

It is important that you reward each and every one of your customers for their loyalty, and you’ll make them even more loyal to you.

The internet changes fast – one online year equals to about five real-world years. However, the principles of how to establish and grow a thriving online business have not changed at all. If you are just starting a small online business, just stick to this sequence, and you will certainly enjoy success. If you have been online for a while now, consider reviewing things to see if there are any steps that you have been neglecting or have never done before. You can never go wrong when you have the basics in check.

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