Creating an online business has never been easier. With the right combination of software and a great business idea, you can start up a venture quickly. However, if you want to create a profitable online business, you’ll need to follow some simple, but essential, steps in your approach.
Here are four of the essential steps you’ll need to take to ensure your online business goes from set up to profitable -- fast!
1. Get and maintain a list.
If you ask any online marketer today, they’ll tell you that having an email list is your most valuable asset -- yet it’s probably one of the least developed or pursued avenues of most startups. Don’t make the mistake of letting your email list building and maintenance go on the backburner. Start out with a simple, free list building tool such as Mail Chimp, which easily integrates into many online shopping cart services such as Shopify, or if you have the budget, begin with a more sophisticated email and customer-relationship management integration option such as Infusionsoft.
Related: How to Make Money Online: The Basics
Regardless of where or how you start, make sure you have a solid communication schedule and strategy to leverage your list and build trust. Then as you grow your online business, you can use your list as a direct sales arm to reach an already interested audience.
2. Optimize for search.
Most people don’t understand search engine optimization. That’s OK -- just know that SEO is an important tool for getting visitors to your site. You’ll want to build out organic SEO with industry standard practices such as page titles, keywords and links. These things can change month over month, so it’s important you hire someone who knows how to manage this for you and is current on all the best practices.
SEO will boost your site rankings and help drive traffic, which means more potential clients on your site. Try sites such as eLance or Fiverr to hire a freelancer who can help you with SEO for cheaper than an agency, and less headache than trying to figure it out alone.
3. Test, tweak and track.
One of the greatest things about having an online business is the adaptability. With a brick-and-mortar business it might take weeks or months to judge the efficacy of campaigns, but online you can test and tweak in real time. To truly create an online business that is maximized for profitability, you should constantly be testing and tracking your efforts.
What’s the effect of changing the color of a call-to-action button? Is orange better than red? What headlines get the most clicks? What are people drawn to on your site?
You can find out some surprising stats on testing from the incredible site Which Test Won? For some free and inexpensive insights into where people are clicking around in your site, check out SumoMe, which offers a “Heat Maps” plugin that actually tracks the highest areas of click actions on your site.
4. Make it easy.
A clean, uncluttered site that is easy to navigate will be more profitable than a confusing site. This is especially important during checkout. You need a clear, easy process. The better your online shopping cart, the better your conversion rate will be and that means better profitability.
According to the Baymard Insitute, nearly 70 percent of all online shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a lot of people ditching your products after they’ve expressed interest in purchasing. Up your conversion odds at checkout time by streamlining your shopping cart experience with a single page, frictionless experience. While studies and industry best practices may vary, by and large a shorter checkout experience gives the consumer less chance to get frustrated or change their minds.
Follow these simple steps and watch your online business become more profitable.