If you don’t have a plan in place, yet expect to achieve consistent growth for your Online business, you might as well forget it. Growing a successful Online Business is a strategic process that requires long term vision, careful planning, pin point execution and bucket loads of patience. As with all businesses, it is vital that you have an understanding of what it is you want to achieve, and have a plan to get you there.
One of the very first elements is a website that has been optimised for Search Engines, and has been put through its paces to ensure when traffic lands on the site, that its actually converted into a customer.
Here are five simple, yet key ideas you can employ to enhance your online business:
1. Always be on the hunt for Opportunities to Increase Sales
Fact – sales drive business and sales come from customers; therefore, the hunt for new customers should be task number one in an ongoing marketing plan that every online business owner should have, and adhere to. Task two is to manage the ongoing relationship with your new customers, offering new products, services and specials to them. The main goal behind this element is to have these new clients purchase more from you, and more often.
The final task is to offer your more expensive products & services to these clients. Bundling a number of products/services is a great way to do this.
2. Make the Best Use of Your Marketing Budget
After having identified your target market and primary audience, planned out all of your goals and developed a promotional strategy to reach new prospects & customers, the next step is to figure out how to make the most of your budget and get the job done without over spending. Even though the exact process will vary from business to business, the principle remains the same.
Your main aim must be to achieve maximum exposure for your product or service, as often as possible, to your target audience – after all there is no use in spending wisely, and advertising a great product, but all to the wrong target market. Studies show on average a consumer will see a promotion about five to seven times before taking action on the offer.
So instead of blowing your entire budget on a single opportunity to reach your targeted group, it is much wiser to get everyone’s attention with repeated and sustained promotions. Use as many different forms of advertising as you can afford and squeeze the most out of your marketing dollars.
3. Invest in a Virtual Assistant
This is an opportunity to outsource various redundant tasks to someone who is capable, reliable and trustworthy. The big advantage to you is you’ll have more time to devote to activities that generate income and help you grow your online business.
A virtual assistant works from his or her office as an independent contractor and is responsible for whatever administrative or operational responsibilities you assign. Compensation is typically either an hourly rate, per task or for larger and longer term projects, by retainer.
4. Use Email to Convert Visitors into Customers
Email marketing is one of the most economical and reliable ways to build a relationship with visitors, eventually converting them into customer. It is an effective tool for staying in touch and developing the level of comfort and trust that is necessary before prospects will agree to do business with you.
You can use email to convey your product knowledge, case studies, specials, and testimonials. The more you are seen to be an authority, the greater your credibility will become and the easier it will be for you to make sales. Plus, email is a very handy tool for keeping customers abreast of new product launches, sales promotions and the latest announcements about your online business.
5. Develop a System for Everything You Do
Be sure to develop methods and procedures that simplify and expedite important aspects of your business operation. Often these systems will evolve from trial and error, but when they have been perfected they should become standard practice.
The most efficient systems are those that get you to your objective as quickly as possible, as reliably as possible, and are efficient in their use.
The above ideas are critical to the success of any online business. Together they save time, money, effort, and provide a pathway to sustained growth and expansion.
Once you’ve decided to get your business online, you need a web site that is accessible to the general Internet public. This means that you need web pages on a computer that is connected to the Internet which can “host” your domain, hold your pages, and have the proper programs for feeding the public your information 24 hours a day.
This is what web hosting companies do and selecting the right host is important because you can waste valuable time and if you don’t get it right your customers may have problems accessing to your products and services on offer. With this simple overview you can avoid many of the pitfalls and make finding reliable a web site hosting company a more straight forward process.
First let’s look at our web hosting choices
Free Web Site Hosting Companies:
- Often requires displaying of some of the host company’s advertising
- Might not allow your own domain name
- Usually allows little space and the amount of data you can display in a given month
- Typically does not include your own IP (needed for secure certificates)
- Little to no support
- Usually geared to up-sell into higher priced hosing
- Best for personal pages only, not business
Discount or Budget Web Site Hosting Companies:
- Usually free setup and very low cost monthly fees
- Usually geared toward up-selling or marketing other items to site owners
- Usually limited space and transfer allowances
- Best for personal pages or companies that are not concerned by reliability
- Best for companies not selling products online
Full Service Web Site Hosting Companies:
- Competitively priced within group
- Full time support (24/7) either via phone or live web chat or both
- Tools for managing site such as creating email accounts, statistics, file management
- Additional applications like calendars, message boards, and shopping carts
- Usually clearly defined packages designed around tools, support, space and transfer requirements
- Typically provided as part of a fully customised solution
Why Select A Full Service Web Site Hosting Company?
The answer to that question is clearer when you think in terms of a successful business… both yours and the web hosting companies. Budget and free hosting companies are in the business of marketing upgrades or other items either to you or to your customers. Free hosting companies rarely allow the professional image you will need to establish credibility with your customers and their support rarely, if ever, come close to their claims. Even though there are good uses for free and discount services (like personal hobby sites), if you are looking for the lowest costs you should be sure to have the lowest expectations. As a business owner you may end up frustrated and spending more money to hire your own contracted support.
Budget Web Hosting Company Longevity
We recently reviewed budget sites that we searched for this time two years ago. Nearly half of them are no longer available, meaning they have closed down. We consider our client sites too important to trust to a company that is at a high risk of closure.
Some budget and free web site hosting companies promote special features such as unlimited bandwidth. Be wary of any hosting company that promotes unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that gets transmitted to browsers (web pages, graphics, audio). Bandwidth costs the web hosting company money. Ask them if you will need to upgrade if you have 10 gigabytes of transfer.
Full Service Web Hosting Companies
Which brings us to full service web hosting companies. Full service web hosting companies are so competitively priced these days that there is not much reason for serious businesses to ever consider the budget hosts. We recommend that you start right out with a professional host that focuses their business on satisfying your needs rather than having you go through the lengthy learning process of transferring from one host to another. Merchants not willing to invest a little time and money to get things right may be better served by staying within the bounds of their “brick and mortar” real world storefront. Business owners need stability in their hosting. Switching web hosting companies is not the end of the world but it is also not something you want to have to do constantly. This can be avoided by selecting a professional hosting provider that has ticks in all the boxes. You want stability in a web hosting company so that you can focus on making your site and business a success.
What to look for in a web site hosting company:
- Operating System and Program Language Capabilities – Look for a provider that has the capability to offer hosting services on either Linux and Windows hosting servers.
- Full Management tools including email setup, file management, web based security (to password protect areas of your site), FTP support (to transfer files), and reporting. See if the web hosting company are willing to provide you with an online demo of their web site management tool.
- Additional applications that can easily be added to your web site, like bulletin boards, shopping carts, calendars, and banner management.
- Fast connections to the Internet, so the public can get to your pages quickly.
- Excellent support and reliability. Some hosting companies actually *do* know that they make their money by keeping their web site hosting customers happy and well supported. Find out how their support works, the reliability of their servers, do they have a disaster plan?
Follow these recommendations and you will be well on your way to finding a reliable hosting provider.