If there was just one lesson entrepreneurs learned from the global spread of the corona virus pandemic in the early months of 2020, it was this: Taking your business online, whatever the size is not optional. It’s a best business practice.
It is a digital world and the online marketplace has become so central to business growth that you can only ignore it at your own peril as a business owner.
Why should you take your business online?
A lot of reasons. It can boost your business and helps you to easily compete with the bigger companies in your industry. It improves your image and gives you the air of seriousness even if you are a mall company. Having an online presence gives you access to a wider market. In fact, you will have a global reach and be able to receive orders from around the world.
With automated email system, chat bot and/or other similar tools, you are able to provide 24/7 customer support and increase customer satisfaction, amongst many other benefits.
I don’t sell anything online, you would say or so you think. You are missing. This is because the first port of call for any one looking for a product or service, is the internet.
And the beautiful part is that it doesn’t really cost much to take your business online. As a matter of fact, small business owners can easily digitize their businesses on a budget. Every business has a stake online, if you don’t claim yours, others will take your place.
If that got you and you are wondering how to digitize your business, here are the various ways to take your business online.
#1 Set up a website
Website is a great way of establishing your online presence. A website is your office or store on the web and it is a great asset with which you access the global market. But setting up a website needs planning, especially if your business has been a brick and mortar one all the while.
You have to clearly define your goals in terms of what you want to achieve with your business website: Increase sale? Develop new market? Enhance reputation? Offer better service? Or all of the above and more.
Answering this questions honestly and comprehensively will enable you decide on the kind of website to build and the level of skill you will deploy in creating it.
Building a website requires that you register a domain name and buy a hosting plan. Thereafter, you set up your website and load it with content. In online marketplace, content is key because it drives engagement, enhances closing and increases sales.
#2. Sign up with Platforms
Smart tech entrepreneurs who understand the limitations in the market place are setting up platforms to make things easier for others. Thus, if creating a website is not what you want to do immediately, no problems at all. You can still take your business online by simply identifying one the many ready-made platforms and hosting your business there.
However, to explore this option will really depend on the kind of business you do. Most of them are in the retail trade industry. Thus, if you a retailer, who find it overwhelming to create an online store, you can use ecommerce sites like amazon, shoppify, etsy and the likes to sell your goods.
These platforms do a lot of work to get your product in front of your customers, drive sales, and even help with fulfilment.
#3. Use Your Social Media Accounts
Social media has truly shifted from just being platforms for social interaction. It is now a true marketplace where transactions worth billions of dollars are conducted on a daily basis. Facebook, for example has incorporated online shops to the platform.
Thus, users can open online stores on Facebook for free, list their products and sell to the billions of users that visits the platform. In addition, social media platforms provide you with opportunity to drive engagement with your potential customers, again using quality content.
You need not do this yourself if you are not up to it. There are professional freelancers who have experience on how to sell and drive engagement with social media platforms. Seek them, engage them for the benefits of your business.
#4. Google my Business
Creating a Google My Business page is fast becoming one of the fastest ways of taking your business online at zero cost.
Google my business is a free tool offered by the tech giant, Google to help business owners list their business profiles on Google powered maps and search engines. So it is not only a marketing tool, it is something you can use to connect with your customers as well as drive engagement.
How does it really help? Listing your business profile on Google my business enables your business to come up on the search engine or google map when people search for products or services related to your business.
This helps potential customers to find, connect and engage with your business.
#5. Email Marketing
Another easy way of taking your business online is by the use of email and this is particularly so for small businesses. Simply put, email marketing is the use of emails to directly communicate, engage and promote products and services to your potential customers.
The process begins with deploying an email marketing platform, build a list of subscribers, write your copy (emails), plan and boost your campaigns and then follow up.
It is important that you follow professional procedures and avoid spamming. Ensure you use a legitimate method to obtain email addresses to build your list. Not everyone takes unsolicited mails lightly.
Write attractive headline and send engaging content to win the confidence of your potential customers. Thereafter sell and follow up.
Email marketing if properly done can help you create visibility, authority and confidence without even having a website. Above all, it can help you drive sales and generate a high ROI.
Now that you have set up your online presence, the business will start rolling in, right? No. Setting up is only the first step. Selling your products and services online needs some special kind of skills.
Don’t worry you do not need to have all the skills. After all in your brick and mortar business, you still have to hire some skill to help you do certain things in your business. So here too, you can outsource these skills to freelancers at very affordable cost.
Here are some of those skills
Content Creation and Copywriting
The most important skill you want to learn or buy on taking your business online is content creation and copy writing. Content is used to educate, engage and promote goods and services to potential customers. The whole process of marketing is driven by content.
Those who create these content are copywriters. Copywriting is a skill that is highly sought after at the online marketplace because content drives online commerce. Copywriters know how to craft words that drives traffic, convert website and platform visitors, boost click-through rates and ultimately drive up sales.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engines are the tools that discover, organize and present content based on a user’s query. There are many search engines on the internet but the most popular is Google. Any one searching for information, product, or service online will 90% of the time first visit the search engine, type in a query,
The search engine will review millions of website or content in the database and presents the most relevant to the user. It craws, indexes and rank online content.
Thus, for a business to achieve its purpose of going online, it must present its content in such a way that it is relevant to most anticipated search terms and presented in such a way that the search engines find it useful enough to present to users.
The process of writing and organizing content in the manner that is suitable to search engines is what is known as search engine optimization or SEO for short. It is an important aspect of digital marketing SEO and very critical to successful online selling.
Mobile phones and other hand held devices such as tablets account for the highest number of devices people use to access the internet. Far more than laptops and desktops. What this means is that if your website or content is not mobile friendly, you will likely not have an audience.
Beyond being friendly, your content must be responsive to all screen sizes. So when developing content or considering taking your business online, ensure that the platform is optimized for mobile devices.