STARTING AN ONLINE BUSINESS
Author: Goran Cvijetic - *nbgteam
I am writing this article relying on many years of experience, studying and dealing with this field in general.
Go ahead and ask yourself how often you use the internet while searching different information, products and services. Then look around at how often your acquaintances use the internet.
Ask yourself to what extent your company is present on the internet, and then look at the competition and their online presence. Finally, ask Internet marketing professionals what the potential of your target online market is.
The Internet compared to other media
Today, all other means of advertising such as television, radio, billboards, flyers, attendance at trade fairs, all together are negligible compared to the power and capabilities of the Internet marketing.
The Internet is not just a means of advertising. Unlike all other media, online presence offers many more advantages and possibilities:
- Reducing operating costs
- Precise analysis of market potential and competition
- New markets and faster business development
- Targeted advertising
- Development of two-way communication with clients and potential clients
- Sales promotion through a personalized approach
Starting an online biznis – less investment and costs
Surely you have often heard phrases from companies that develop websites that by online shop making, it will work 365 days 24 hours a year, that the costs are significantly lower since the store "works alone", that you have no costs for renting space and workers, etc. Finding a space in a good location comes down to choosing internet domain.
However starting an online business or transforming a business is not something that should be taken for granted. It's not just about website or online shop making. The first question you need to answer is what and how you want to present and offer on the website, what is your target market and in what ways you will advertise the site. What’s the use of a website if no one visits it? What good is an online shop if no one buys from it?
Before website or online shop making, you need to do an analysis of the online market potential as well as an analysis of the presence and activities of the competition. You need a marketing plan.
Don't forget the employee training factor and whether your employees are internet literate and to what extent. Someone should deal with the site or web store. Someone needs to accept orders, to introduce new content and products, to publish actions and promotions, to answer questions, to post interesting things on social networks, to deal with Internet marketing. If you or your employees will not conduct these tasks, who is going to be in charge for them and how much will it cost?
Successful online business development requires dividing cost. If you are present in the market through physical facilities and online shops, you cannot form prices uniquely. The price of the product in the physical store should be influenced by the costs of the store, and the prices in your online shop by the costs of maintaining and developing the site. Since the costs of the site or online shop are usually lower, you should consider how to explain it to customers. Because, why would they buy products in physical stores at higher prices? This is actually the best way to develop an online business. You need to transfer customers to online shopping, which over time can even allow you to convert a complete sale to an online sale, close physical stores and significantly reduce costs. Many global companies have already done so. One of the best examples is Dell. You can no longer buy Dell computers for America and Western Europe in stores, but only on their website. Dell has thus reduced the costs of warehouses, stores, employees and administrative costs. In the case of Dell, we are talking about cost reductions expressed in millions on a monthly basis.
Keyword and competition analysis
Thanks to various internet tools, SEO experts today can perform precise analyzes important for developing and directing or starting an online business.
Keyword analysis involves finding the number of searches on a monthly basis for certain keywords relevant to your business, as well as the stability trend of those searches. However, the keywords with the highest number of searches are not always the ones you should choose. You should keep in mind the competition activity on those keywords. In most cases, insisting on the strongest keywords that most competitors are fighting for can cost you dearly and take too long. Everyone would like to be on the first page of Google, but not everyone can. There is only room for 10, except for results via paid ads.
Of course, one of the choices is to opt for paid advertising that can instantly put you on the first page of searches for a particular keyword. However, if your site is not well optimized and if the competition is high, it can cost you dearly and can even be unprofitable.
The right way to conquer the online market is an analytical approach; choosing the keywords with the best number of searches / competition activity ratio. So, I'm talking about bypassing the competition, i.e. discovering a marketing niche in order to reach potential customers as soon as possible and start sales. Of course, the ultimate goal is to bring the site to the first page of Google for the strongest keywords, but it's a process that takes time. And once your site really gets to the first pages it needs to be maintained and developed.
The website or online store should be designed according to the conducted analysis, taking into account the conversion of visitors. Quite simply, the visitor and the customer are not the same. I would rather trade a MILLION visitors for a THOUSAND of customers. What about you?
A well-designed website must reconcile SEO requirements with the comfort and movement of site visitors, because the ultimate goal is not only to shift the visitor into a customer, but also to attract the customer for new or repeat purchases.
New markets and faster online business development
By being present through physical outlets, you are limited to a certain space and traffic of people, which is not the case with the Internet. The whole world is offered to you in the palm of your hand, but with certain requirements.
If your aspirations are reduced to the territory of one country, i.e. one speaking area, then the only requirement you need to fulfill is the organization of transport. The organization of transport can be in your own direction or conducted by selected transport company. And when you accept the order, you just need to pack it and send it to the address.
However, in certain businesses, depending on your capabilities, product delivery can improve your sales and overall business. The product can be packed in different ways and different advertising materials can be sent with the product. The deliverer can be your seller, when he delivers the purchased product and tries to effect additional activity of the buyer on the spot.
If you want to sell abroad in different language areas, you need a multilingual site, but also SEO optimization in selected languages. Also with the development of a multilingual market you need people who speak and write in those languages so that you can respond and provide customer support.
The main advantage of online business development
Unlike all other media, the Internet offers the possibility of targeted advertising. When we talk about targeted advertising on search engines (Google, Yahoo), then it is advertising on selected keywords or phrases, i.e. the interest of users. For example, someone in Google search types "Women's high-heeled shoe" and your site appears in the first place of the search, there is a high probability that the user will click on that link and come to your site. If he finds a suitable shoe there and if the quality and price are appropriate, it is very likely that this visitor will become a buyer. Similar shoes should be presented on the same page of the site so that the visitor, if he doesn’t like the shoes offered, can look at other similar women's shoes with high heels.
Taking into account social networks and advertising through them, where in addition to targeting location, language and interests of users, gender and age can be targeted, which, depending on the specifics of the offer, can significantly affect the investment and profit ratio.
Online business development = customer development
Two-way communication via the Internet is being developed on the site itself as well as via social networks.
You can have a newsletter on the site as a basic form of communication. The newsletter is misinterpreted by most people. It is not a tool used for spamming, but it is a tool used for advertising with a well known client. Once a visitor to your site has subscribed to the newsletter or made a purchase on the site, you can quite legitimately inform him about promotions and discounts, because he wants to. Of course, these activities must be moderate and personalized to the extent possible.
Development on social networks, running a Facebook fan page, etc. is also misunderstood by the vast majority. Keep in mind the name SOCIAL, because they have not lost their original purpose. People hang out there and exchange experiences. So if you are only going to be present as a boring salesperson then you better not. A much better approach is to publish interesting content, current events, involve people in discussions, and only indirect and timely advertising brings results.
Wouldn't everyone like to have a highly visited site that is so automated to recognize the interests of the visitor, and to offer personalized content and a customized offer in accordance with visitor’s interests?
It was mentioned that the highest level of online store development is when the software actually replaces your seller and has a better effect, because it processes data from the database faster and more accurately and sends timely offers. Of course, this kind of improvement of the online store software can cost a lot. But if the store has a large number of visits, by accelerating conversions and improving sales, in the long run we are actually talking about reducing costs.
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