“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” – Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.
With more and more people jumping aboard the internet to make money, it sounds like anyone can do it. The relatively low entry barrier allows a simple start, such as creating a Facebook page to put your company or brand name out there in the digital marketplace. Not only can you potentially reach any online user anywhere at any time, you as a business owner can also work from anywhere at any time.
Let’s say you have already laid the foundation for your venture. You have determined your type of online business, identified the USP, registered the business, set up a website or other online presence, engaged a web hosting service, secured your domain name and contact details. Your website or page has content. Now you sit back and wait for customers, right?
Actually, no. The work shouldn’t stop there….. Before the business can make an impact, there’s more you need to know and do. Anyone can put a business online but not everyone succeeds at it.
Here are 7 tips to help you boost your online business.
1. Have a plan
Not having a business plan is like driving to an unknown destination without using GPS. Now you don’t need a formal 10-page business plan. The idea is to have a clear picture of what you are doing and where you are heading. Be sure to know things such as who exactly is your target customer, what you are specifically selling, how you are going to sell, and what are your customers willing to pay.
It’s also important to plan financial matters. How much do you need to operate the business? How long will your money last? What’s the plan if funds run out? Thinking ahead about such issues with solutions ready will help you prepare for any potential bumps on the road.
2. Build an interesting brand
Many entrepreneurs tend to focus on building their business. For long-term success, it’s also important to build a brand. An interesting brand will not only help boost awareness within the competitive online marketplace, it’s also going to establish a positive image and resonate with your audience. The more people are attracted to your brand, the higher the chances that they will actively seek it out and hopefully keep coming back.
When building your brand, think about how to make it attractive since the world is getting more visual. The rise of social media and millennial culture has made appearances and creativity very important so unleash those ideas and try something different that will help distinguish your brand from the rest. Make people want to visit your site and stay.
3. Compile a keyword list
If you haven’t done so already, make a list of all relevant keywords that relate to your site. Placing these in your content, such as on your main site, category pages, product pages or FAQs, makes it possible and easier for people to find your site via search engines.
It’s important to know how people are looking for the products, services or information that you offer so you can improve their chances of finding you and help your site rank higher in search results. If you’re selling walking shoes, for example, you’re going to need more keywords than just ‘walking’ and ‘shoes’.
To differentiate yourself from your competitors, aim for diversity in your keywords, otherwise, people are going to land on the numerous other pages that also contain the same words. Singular keywords can be too vague and competitive, therefore do add long-tail keywords as well, like ‘best walking shoes for travel’ or ‘affordable comfortable ladies sandals’.
To get a keyword list, start by typing in your general product name or service as a search query and you will see suggestions before you even finish typing. Take note of those words or phrases. Scroll to the bottom of the search results page and you’ll see more related keywords. Note those down too. Keep expanding and updating the list while sifting through to get the most relevant words and phrases for your site.
4. Ensure content looks professional
Appearances matter a lot these days and that applies to the content on your site. A blurry photo or incorrect grammar could jeopardise your image and credibility. Who would trust a business that barely provides any description of their products or services, or that posts pictures looking like they were snapped by a 10-year old?
You don’t really need to hire a professional photographer or proofreader unless you have the budget. Just invest some time and effort into learning how to make your pictures look more attractive and professional. Today’s smartphone cameras can produce amazing quality.
As for language, keep it friendly and simple to make things easier for you. Use bullet points and short phrases. Also, consider taking the help of grammar-checking and writing enhancement software to ensure you’ve high-quality content on your website.
If you’re selling physical products, show the items in use and from different angles. Name the images properly and state whether it’s a back view, side, top or bottom. See if you can include some keywords as alternate tags for your images.
Even if you’re offering something intangible like an online course or computer repair services, think about how your site can look appealing to your target customer.
5. Build a comprehensive FAQ page
A proper FAQ page saves time not only for you but also for the potential customer. You might not mind answering queries but you don’t want to be spending precious time every day replying questions via email, text message or social media. It’s likely that you’ll get the same questions being asked over and over again. The easiest solution is to ensure you have a comprehensive FAQ page. The potential customer can get an immediate answer to their question if it’s a common query.
You might also want to include answers to questions that people would ask when using a search engine to find something related to your offerings. You can add them to the specific product or category pages. The whole idea is to reduce unnecessary correspondence and messaging so that your time can be better spent on more important things.
6. Check out the competition
This means finding out what your competitors are selling and how they are selling so that you know why customers choose them over you, or vice versa. Are their prices lower? Do they have engaging videos or convincing testimonials? Do they have a stronger social media presence? The aim is then to offer something better, be it better price value, better online content, better customer service and so on.
If you have something to shout about, such as ‘free shipping within Malaysia’, include it in your homepage meta description which will appear in search results. Ensure your message or description is appealing enough to make searchers want to click on your link, not others.
7. Consider a mobile application
Malaysians seem to be constantly on their phones and more of them are discovering the convenience of online shopping. Numbers provided by Statista show that 40% of the population here made a purchase via mobile phone during the second and third quarter of 2017. Industry experts expect this number to keep climbing higher.
To make the purchasing experience more pleasant for this growing demographic, consider making your site mobile-friendly or create a mobile application. You don’t want to frustrate mobile searchers who visit your site only to find the text too small or they have to scroll horizontally or zoom in to see the entire content. Furthermore, if your site is mobile-friendly, Googlebot will detect it and label it as such for users to see in mobile search results, giving you an added advantage. You can learn more about this here.
If arranging for funds is an issue…
If arranging for funds is an issue, you may want to consider going for a personal loan. If that’s the case, you’ll be well-advised to compare some of the top PL options in Malaysia right now and settle for the one that best suits your interests.
And there’s more. Apply now for a Citi Personal Loan on Bbazaar (read details here) and get Tesco online vouchers worth RM50 if the loan is disbursed on or before July 31, 2018. This offer is only applicable for new Citibank customers. T&Cs apply.
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