Introduction To Growing An Online Business
Growing an online business is a tough task. If you’ve come across this article, you probably already know that. Heck, if you have common sense, you know it’s tough. Growing an online business takes a lot of work. There’s so many things that can factor into your success or failure. The majority of them lead to failure. Not to discourage you at all, I’m just being straight up from the get go. Even though the weight of the world is on your shoulders, if you follow my guide on growing your business, you’ll have the opportunity to do it successfully. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme, there’s going to be some great tips, knowledge, information and help in this business guide. We’re going to touch on online business development, SEO, Social Media, Marketing and much more.
Before we get started, I’m going to do my best to cover and discuss growing your business in different markets. Every business is different, every business faces competition and your business can be dependent on the market and niche it operates in. Not to mention funding and other elements that determine the growth of a company. This article will cover online businesses, but will not be limited to just online businesses. If you’re not marketing your business online, it’s a great time to start.
Building Your Website
If you’re looking at growing an online business, you can’t do it without a website. The most important step to creating a successful online business is building your website. If you’re not familiar with web design, web development and hosting, you’ll need to become familiar with these terms and what they mean. Yes, you can hire a company to build your website but you still want to know and learn as much as you can.
The type of website you build usually depends on the type of business you have or plan to have. We’ve used a number of different sources to build websites for our clients. One of the most common used is WordPress. WordPress is easy to use, easy to learn and you can find thousands of reliable guides and information on building websites in WordPress. All reasons why I suggest you start with WordPress. You’re going to have a lot to do, simplicity is the key as you start into web development.
Building Pages, Product Pages and Content
Once you have the design and framework of your website complete, you should be close to adding pages to your website. If your online business has products, you’ll be planning to add these products to your website. If your business offers services, you’ll be planning to write content that defines your business services. In the process, you should begin the process of learning how to build landing pages, squeeze pages and considering email marketing for your business.
When you build pages to your website, there’s several key factors that you need to be aware of before you start publishing your pages. Most of these concerns are SEO related. Most business owners know a little about SEO, some of you may not. Get use to the terminology, SEO (search engine optimization) is a key factor to most successful online businesses. Organic traffic is a key element to growing an online business.
Leveraging Sales Funnels
While you’ll have several pages on your website, none may be more important than a successful landing page. If you have an online store with product pages, you’ll likely have less of a need for landing pages, unless you offer a special promotion or have new products. For online businesses that offer services, landing pages are going to be important. But in a sense, we all need landing pages, squeeze pages, sales funnels, what ever terminology you use. In many cases, a landing page can be your key to success or failure.
What is a landing page? According to the Unbounce and a company I trust, I credit them with the definition.
In the purest sense, a landing page is any web page that a visitor can arrive at or “land” on. However, when discussing landing pages within the realm of marketing and advertising, it’s more common to refer to a landing page as being a standalone web page distinct from your main website that has been designed for a single focused objective.
This means that your landing page should have no global navigation to tie it to your primary website. The main reason for this is to limit the options available to your visitors, helping to guide them toward your intended conversion goal.
There’s (2) types of landing pages, click through landing pages and lead generation landing pages. Click through landing pages uses the method of getting users to click to another page. They are common funnels for eCommerce platforms. Its often used to “warm” up a visitor, lean them closer to making a purchase. Lead generation landing pages are used to capture user data. In most cases, this is a name, email or phone number. This allows you to connect with potential prospects and market the leads you capture.
Techniques Used To Capture Leads
- Free Trials
- Free Gifts
- Free Consultation
- Pre-Product Launches
Testing Your Landing Pages
No landing page is perfect. In many cases, it can take us multiple times to format and write the correct script for our landing pages. A/B testing is the key. Having two versions of the same offer or deal can allow you to test the different copies to see which works better. Always be sure to track the data you receive. The smallest changes can make the biggest differences. This will allow you to fine tune your landing pages until they convert.
Building Your Social Media Profiles
Once your website is built and the foundation of your business is up, you need to go ahead and build your social media profiles. Social media marketing has a variety of different benefits that will help your business grow. Social media plays a role in search engine optimization, a tactic used to gain visibility in search engines. We’ll discuss SEO in detail later.
There’s actually thousands of social media platforms online. For now, your focus should be the main social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram. These are some of the most popular social media websites in the world and each can benefit your business as it grows. Depending on the nature of your business, some social media profiles may be a benefit, others may not. It’s going to be your responsibility to test different social platforms to determine the best social media profiles to use for marketing your business.
Social Media Marketing
Also known as SMM, social media marketing can be used to build your brand name, interact with customers, interact with leads, link building, sharing content, sharing photos and growing the exposure of your business. Social media marketing is also a benefit to your SEO as social signals are SEO ranking factors. You can never go wrong with A/B testing. A/B testing refers to taking two different positions to accomplish the same goal. The point is to learn what performs better. In SMM, we would be referring to your social posting.
For example, you may have two different ad types promoting the same offer. Copy A and Copy B would be different. One copy may include an image while the other copy doesn’t. The text may be different from one copy to the next. The smallest differences can make big differences, so A/B testing is always worth the time you invest to see which copy works better.
Social Media Marketing Resources
Building The Foundation Of Your Online Business
Once you have your website built and all your social media profiles built, you’re going to be ready to begin promoting your business. You’re in the process of building the foundation of your online business. While it’s a crucial time for your business, remember this is a journey, you can’t get there in one day. That likely goes for most of you. Some of you may be in the position to promote your business or products for a year before your launch. For you guys and gals, you’re in a totally different boat. And although this is probably a small percentage of you, we will discuss it in this article.
Pre-Launch Phase Of Your Business
Some of you may wish to go to the process of promoting your business, product or app prior to the launch of your business. There’s nothing wrong with this tactic. In order to promote the launch of your new online business, you’re going to need resources. The more reach you have, the more opportunities. So how can you build interest in the months before you launch your business?
There’s a number of different ways to promote your business, product or app before launch. The cost of doing so varies. Here’s some of the most common techniques you could use;
- Google Adwords
- Bing Advertising
- Yahoo Advertising
- Facebook Advertising
- Twitter Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
Do You Have A Network You Can Use?
These are just a few of the common techniques used to promote a business before launch. If you have an established website or blog related to your market, this is a great start. Perhaps you’re already have traffic, a following, social media platforms and email subscribers. These established sources give you the opportunity to start creating the buzz around your business. If you have strong business ties with others, you can ask them to help. Return the favor with a link, social shout out, anything to show appreciation for their participation.
What If I Don’t Have No Online Resources?
If you don’t have any online resources that can be used, you need to start establishing them now. You need to start connecting with thought leaders in your niche and market. Be authentic with any relationships you build. Networking is so crucial in business and at some point, you’ll rely on someone. You need to go ahead and start building your social media profiles. At the least, I would suggest Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If you’re in graphics or photography for example, of course you want to develop on Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr.
Some consider YouTube a social platform, I do. Others don’t, but videos are great for early brand exposure and giving you the opportunity to impress. You can make professional videos cheap with the right software and tools. Think about the users on YouTube, they number in the millions. That’s a lot of potential traffic for your business. You can also share your videos on your social channels as well as your blog or website.
Forums, Blogs And Email
In the early stages, brand exposure is critical. Most niches and markets have particular forums and blogs. These are great platforms to build relationships with customers, business contacts, dealers and potential partners. If you’re promoting on forums, you have to be aware of the rules, every authority forum has them. You just can’t go on there and start promoting your business. Some… sure, but the majority won’t allow it. The idea is to become an active member in the forums and then you can gain more credit and exposure for your business. There’s tactic involved, but it can help you grow your business.
Niche and market blogs are another great resource that can pay off for your business. There’s thousands of popular blogs online and most bloggers welcome comments. Again, there’s a need to be tactical here, you don’t want to drop your business promotion in your first blog comment. Rather, you should make an effort to take advantage of the traffic, audience and interaction. You need to know which articles to comment on and take advantage of. A great link builder would be the one to talk to in this case. Link builders commonly use this SEO technique to build backlinks from the comments to their website of choice.
When I refer to email, I mean email marketing. A great email list is an asset to any business, pre-launch or after. Remember what I said about your business contacts, you should start building those contacts now. This goes for everyone, B2B or B2C. It doesn’t matter if you’re building an email now that your business has launched or your a year prior, start building that list today.
Press Releases, PR, Media Outlets
If your budget allows, PR is a great tactic for growing your online business. This is especially true for those of you in pre-launch, but if your business just launched or you have a new product or app, PR is a great way to get the word out. There’s a few important things to keep in mind here, so let’s break them down.
There’s only a few times when I consider using press releases.
- Launching A New Business
- Launching A New Product/App
- Launching New Features/Software/Tools
- Pre-Launch Of Your Business
- Important Company News
Google come down hard on press release websites in terms of SEO and backlinks, so you do want to be careful whom you choose for your press releases and when you send them out. In business, timing is everything. I would suggest using press release services for every piece of content you have. If the reason falls in the categories above,it’s justified. The right press release website can broadcast your announcement to major media outlets all over the internet. While press release services can start at $99 or more, they are often well worth your initial investment if your budget can afford them.
It’s not a bad idea to have a PR in your corner. But again, this is going to cost you some money. The right PR can get your content to the right people at the right time. Strategy is important and an experienced PR or PR company can help you develop strategies based on your needs. There’s no denying the importance of reaching the right audience when it comes to marketing.
Media outlets often have a variety of great resources you can use to promote your business, pre-launch or after launch. From newspapers to magazines and social, media outlets can allow you to reach your market on many levels. Just as everything we’ve explained, one thing you can be sure of is the fact that you’re going to need a budget for any of these types of services. Never choose the first company you come across. Please make a genuine effort to research anyone you hire.
What If I Can’t Afford These Services?
I know that growing an online business is far from being affordable. It’s likely you don’t have a budget to pay for anything. If you don’t have money coming in, the last thing you want to do is send more money out, so I get it. You’ve likely heard it, you may even know it’s coming. It takes money to make money. That statement screams truth. In the end, in all that you do, it’s all about ROI.
Return On Investment
ROI is the most common profitability ratio. There are several ways to determine ROI, but the most frequently used method is to divide net profit by total assets. So if your net profit is $100,000 and your total assets are $300,000, your ROI would be .33 or 33 percent.
Over the course of 8+ years, I’ve worked with a lot of business owners, start-ups and small businesses. Nearly all of them never tracked their ROI. A common mistake that can lead to failure. Companies rate ROI in a lot of different ways, the example above is one of the most common. It’ll be your responsibility to value ROI for your business.
ROI When There’s No Monetary Value
Yes, the question of the day. How do you price your ROI when there’s no monetary value? There’s no right or wrong answer here. Technically speaking. Let’s use an example so you understand.
Jim is a freelancer graphic designer. He has his website up and he has a landing page that he directs traffic to. The landing page showcases Jim’s graphic work for logos. Since Jim charges different rates for logos, the ROI varies from one client to the next. On the exit, he has a popup form for visitors to subscribe via email. While Jim knows his exact ROI through Google Adwords because he knows how much his ads cost, there’s no set value for the visitors that sign up and subscribe.
In order to know his ROI for subscribers, Jim will need to add a monetary value to all leads that sign up via email. Most businesses use email signups to capture leads for their email marketing campaigns. These leads are often thrown into a sales funnel based on their behavior and interest of the offer. If you have a free app, every download has value.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is an online technique used to increase the visibility of your website. SEO is a broad subject, we could discuss it for weeks. There’s a ton of techniques and tactics used that are classified under SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of creating content that ranks in search engines to drive organic traffic to your website.
Our Guide To SEO On WordPress is a great start for anyone that doesn’t have much experience with SEO. While this guide is focused on performing SEO with a WordPress website, the same techniques apply to us all. This guide will walk you through step by step so you understand the most important aspects of performing SEO for your business.
There’s a variety of different SEO ranking factors that you need to be aware of. Search engine optimization is always changing, always evolving and if you don’t keep up with those changes, it can hurt your organic rankings.
Targeting The Right Keywords
Perhaps the most important part of SEO is targeting the correct keywords for your business. If there’s one thing you want to get right, it’s choosing the right keywords. Every business is different, you have different products and services. Every other online business in your market with the same products or services is your competition. Depending on the type of business you have, you may find that some keywords are highly competitive while others are not. It all depends on what market your business operates in.
If you’re an insurance agent, real estate agent, contractor, attorney or doctor, you’ll be competing in one of the most competitive markets online. This makes growing an online business that much harder. I don’t want to discourage you at all, I’m just being honest with you. These markets are among the toughest to rank keywords for. It doesn’t make ranking keywords impossible, but it does make it harder.
What Keywords Should I Target?
Well, this all depends on your business. If you’re trying to sell products, these are going to be keywords that you have a need to use. If you’re selling homes in Florida, you want to rank for keywords that describe such a service. You may consider using “Homes For Sale In Florida” or “Florida Homes For Sale.” If you’re selling Apple iPhones, you want to rank for keywords that would bring in organic traffic to buy that product, such as “Top Apple iPhones or “Apple iPhones for sell.
You also want to make sure that the keywords you target have traffic, ensuring the keywords are being searched for on a monthly basis. There’s a wide range of SEO software that is used to estimate keyword traffic. You can also use Google Adwords to determine which keywords have traffic and which keywords don’t.
You can search for keywords and monthly searches with Google’s Keyword Planner.
SEO And The Importance Of Content
In order to rank keywords high, you need to have content. Content can refer to pages, post, images an videos. Learning how to write SEO content would be a big benefit. Content is the most important SEO technique you can use. There’s a number of different ways to optimize your content and you need to become familiar with the techniques.
For example only, we want to rank for “Growing An Online Business.” This is the keyword we’re targeting in our content, the very article you read now. Growing An Online Business is the title for our article. Notice that our URL has that exact match keyword in it. The keyword we’re targeting is within our content, we use it in a heading as well. We also use that keyword in our metadata. The Yoast SEO Plugin allows us to do this. If you don’t have it, get it. It’s free. These are some of the most important elements of giving our article the opportunity to rank for growing an online business.
One Keyword Per Article
When you target a specific keyword, you should target one keyword per page. It’s ok to list multiple keywords in your articles, but only target one main keyword. All you need is one article to rank for any given keyword. If you target your keyword in multiple articles, they will fight against one another, it’s a very common mistake. Remember,
- Target One Keyword Per Article
- Use Targeted Keyword In Title
- Use Targeted Keyword In Sub-Titles (Sub-Headings) H1-H6
- Use Targeted Keyword In URL
- Use Targeted Keyword In Content
- Use Targeted Keyword In Metadata (SEO Title And Description)
Content Has To Be Original, Unique, Informative And Great
If there’s one thing I’ve personally learned over the years, if you want to rank among the best, your content has to be great. It needs to be original, informative, unique and have a purpose. If you want to receive your ROI with your content, make every article have purpose. Learn how to build your domain authority.
Think about it, if you’re just starting out and learning how to grow an online business, you’re at the bottom of the heap. I do hope you have online resources because they can make a world of different. But if you don’t, you have a long run. You’re likely competing against tens of thousands of articles. Not to mention thousands of businesses. It’s hard to make a name for yourself. In the end though, if you produce great content, you will get there.
The more you can add to your content, often, you’ll add value to the article. Learn how to add value to your content to give it the chance to rank first page. Adding helpful details and instructions is always a good idea. Adding images so readers can understand visually is important. Keeping your content clean and formatted is important. A table of contents for guides is useful. If you can add videos to your article, the more power to you. All of these can turn a good article into a great article. Better yet, when you cover your topic, make it better than anything else out there.
Link Building Backlinks And Internal Links
Link building is a sensitive subject. Some SEOs believe in it, other SEOs say no way. In the end though, we all find ourselves building links. Google has different views on link building compared to Yahoo and Bing. Yahoo and Bing says build all the links you want. Google says link building will lead to penalty. What qualifies as fair and foul is up to you to determine.
Backlinks are a major SEO ranking factor. This refers to when another domain links to your website. Google wants this process to be natural. The best way to build natural backlinks is by creating great content. Not good content, great content. When you publish an article on your website, share it via social media. You have to get your content out there for others to see. Here’s some great online traffic sources to get you started.
Internal links serve a number of different purposes. You want your readers to be able to find your content, products and services. You need to make sure they have clear paths to navigate your website. So internal links is an important user metric. Internal links can also be used to add value to your content. Just like this article leads to other content I’ve wrote, using this same technique adds important needed value to our content.
It doesn’t matter if you’re building backlinks, internal links or any type of link, always keep your links relative. When you build links, make sure they go where they need to go. If you build a link using the anchor text “Best Social Media Marketing Tips,” make sure that is what the article is about. You don’t want to mislead anyone nor get in trouble for building spammy links.
Every Link Has A Different Value
Every link that you have will have a value. There’s a lot of terminology regarding links, but we want to keep it simple. There’s two important things you need to know about link types, do follow links and no follow links. Do follow links pass value, no follow links don’t pass value. While no follow links don’t pass value from the link giving domain, you do get a little value for the link.
The important thing to remember, all links have some type of value. You’ll need link analysis tools to help you determine the value of links. Most SEO software provides link values. You’ve likely heard of Moz and Ahrefs, both provide values for links.
Online Marketing And Building Quality Traffic
Every business needs solid online marketing campaigns to grow an online business. If you have a brand new domain or young domain (12 months old or less) it will take time to establish value to your website. It’s going to take time to build organic traffic, build keyword rankings and build brand awareness. Domain age is a ranking factor. The older your domain, most often represents trust. The longer a site is online, the more a site becomes valued in Google’s eyes. (As long as you’re following the rules).
You’ll have the choice to apply free online marketing techniques or pay for your marketing and advertising. It all depends on your budget. Although it may be a free technique that is used, it will still cost you time. Remember, nothing is for free. Let’s say you’re in the technology niche and market. Your goal will be to find technology platforms where you can establish backlinks, a profile, comments, using a forum, listings in a directory or any other technique used to build awareness and traffic for your website. Again, this has to be done in a creative way, other authority platforms won’t tolerate your spam.
Since nearly all online business offer a service or product, the grade of your traffic coming into your website will play a vital role in your success. From my experience and based on case studies, organic traffic is often the top converting traffic. This is true but you do have to target the right keywords. Remember, your keywords should relate to your products and services. Building quality traffic is your goal.
Email marketing and list are often the second highest quality of traffic coming in followed by paid advertising. This can vary from one business to the next. Nothing is in stone. Your goal is to know the quality of the traffic coming in and where it’s coming from. Learn how to build your email list.
If you need help getting started with traffic, here’s some of the best online traffic sources.
Final Thoughts On Growing An Online Business
This is a lot of information to take in. I hope you find it useful and helpful. Truth be told, this is only a small percentage of growing a successful business. There’s nothing easy about it and nothing comes easy. But if you listen to my advice, if you put the time in, put the effort in, you can find success.
Be open to learning, take the time to read the helpful articles, watch the informative videos. The great thing, you have a whole internet of great resources from hard working business owners willing to share the success with you. If you did find this article useful, please do take the time to share it with others. We appreciate your support. If you have any questions at all, we’ll be more than happy to answer them. I truly wish you the best of luck growing your online business. To your success!
I know this is a lot to take in at the moment. If you have any questions or you’re ready to see how we can help your business grow online, feel free to contact us. We love hearing about your business and ideas. We’ll help you bring those ideas to life and develop a plan that has your best interest at heart. 304-752-3433 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.