Success for an online business may look different than it does for a brick-and-mortar retail store. That’s because the business model is fundamentally different. There are some major benefits to starting an online business. First, the upfront costs are usually much lower; it’s a lot more affordable to stand up a website than to pay rent. Online small businesses may even have a larger customer and client base, reaching across the country. Successful online businesses require different strategies and considerations than traditional businesses. Follow these online business tips to stand out and retain customers.
Website design tips
Your website is a core part of any online business success. It’s like your storefront, so put as much care into your website as you might into a brick-and-mortar store.
Creating a professional website helps to build trust with your customers. You can also use it to demonstrate the benefits of your products and offer customer service. It all adds up to more sales and online business success. When creating your small business’s website, keep these aspects in mind:
- Clear, concise pages. Pages with too many buttons, products or advertisements can be distracting. Keep information simple and limit the number of advertisements you place on one page.
- Working links and buttons. A broken link isn’t just a bad experience. It might also mean a missed sale. Regularly test links and buttons. That will help ensure that they work correctly and don’t lead to dead pages or an error message.
- Clean and consistent layout. Maintaining a consistent website layout makes your business look professional. If your layout or style varies drastically across different pages on your site, it can be confusing to customers.
- Mobile-friendly design. Since many people use their phones to shop, your website should be mobile-friendly. You can either choose a responsive design, which adjusts your website to a device’s size. You could also create a separate mobile version of your website.
- Easy to navigate. Your customers and clients should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Your products or services should be front and center. Don’t forget to include information on how to contact customer service.
You should also keep in mind the type of business you run when creating a website. An e-commerce site may require more upfront development and regular maintenance. A business that offers digital services may only need one webpage. While there are many free or low-priced online website services, you may want to consider hiring a web design professional to create your website and take your digital presence to the next level.
Protect customer information
Keeping records safe and protecting customer information is critical for your small business. Not only do you have a legal obligation to protect information, but security breaches will also cause customers to distrust your business. Restrict access to customer information to specific employees trained in cybersecurity best practices. You should also have a system in place to destroy payment information when it is no longer needed. It’s also important to keep your devices secure with a strong password.
Without a physical storefront to attract customers or clients, make digital marketing your priority. When it comes to digital marketing, the possibilities are almost endless. Before you start, take the amount of time and money you’ll need to invest into each consideration.
- Social media marketing. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts can help your business reach a large audience. Social media also offers the opportunity to directly communicate with potential customers.
- Email marketing. Once you’ve attracted your first customers or clients, ask them if they’d like to be put on your business’s mailing list. Then, you can send regular communications and stay in touch with them. You can use email marketing to send out seasonal promotions and sales. This channel is also way to connect with customers through regular newsletters.
- Affiliate marketing. When it comes to buying products or services, people trust other people. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that helps to build brand trust. But how can you get people to advocate for your products? It’s called affiliate marketing. Affiliates will promote and market your products to others, usually in exchange for a small commission. Some may even work for a product discount.
Research your competitors
Any good business should research its competitors. The internet makes it really easy to do so. Start by Googling your small business’s competitors and take a look at their products, services and web presence. You can also analyze your competitor’s social media channels and website. All that research can help you find ways to differentiate and get ideas for your own business. You can also use tools provided by Google to see your competitor’s website keyword usage and improve your search engine ranking.
Invest in a good internet connection
Although a strong internet connection is important for any small business, it’s especially crucial for an online business. Slow small business internet may cause you to miss out on potential orders and respond slowly to customer questions. Strong internet access will allow you to take online orders easily, answer any questions or concerns and update your website and social media regularly. CenturyLink Small Business Internet is reliable and fast, providing high bandwidth for all your internet needs.
Running a successful online business can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can make sure your small business stands out. Investing in a good website design and digital marketing can help you reach and retain customers. A strong internet connection will allow you to respond quickly to customers and keep their private information secure. For more tips on running your business, check out small business articles from CenturyLink.