Starting a new business online isn’t just about building a flashy website and stuffing it with keywords anymore. The hardball truth is, “If you build it – they will come doesn’t work for e-commerce. You can’t just make a website and do nothing else. No one will ever find you and one will ever care.”, says Stephanie Solheim of Grow With Meerkat.
With ever-growing competition, it takes more than that. This is where effective marketing and SEO come into play. Strong marketing and SEO strategies can help you make or break your business online.
To give you a kickstart, we have compiled the best advice from some of the established marketing experts. Read on for the best advice about selling online you’ll ever receive if you’re starting a new business.
Market Research Lays the Foundation of Your Business
Market research is crucial because it helps lay the foundation of your business. Right from understanding the gap in the market to truly knowing your target audience – their pain points, what exactly they are looking for, and fine-tuning your offer to reach their expectations, every entrepreneur must do thorough market research.
Some entrepreneurs skip this part because they are too eager to get into action and accelerate their business growth, or they find it expensive and unnecessary. They learn it the hard way, but the essence of long-term success lies in the initial homework of doing detailed market research.
Ashlynn Racquel of TubeScience says, “Have a solid foundation before just starting out of thin air. At least speak with business and marketing professionals to get insight on what to expect.”
To get a better and more accurate picture of the target market, use different methodologies, for example, SWOT analysis methodology, and go through every area – google trends, competitors, products, industry, etc.
Marketing and SEO Take Time.
With a healthy budget, SEO takes approximately 4-12 months to give quantifiable results. The problem with startups is that they underestimate the amount of money and time that it is going to take to be successful with SEO. They end up calling quits when they don’t see results soon, or even results that they were getting weren’t justifying the costs.
Taking a dummy 3-months timeline for doing SEO,
- 1st month – You do thorough research and discovery, audit your website and prepare a keyword strategy. In some cases, this might take less than a month.
- 2nd month – You start making changes according to the audit results. Sometimes, you are also required to overhaul the website at the same time. So, technically, “you’ll be doing SEO” but get results only once the overhauling is completed.
- 3rd month – You dedicate all your time to content creation – blogs, articles, whitepapers, FAQs, and so on. With a good content strategy, you might even notice some ranking improvements by the end of the third month.
You use the next months to constantly improve your content by building a healthy link profile, working on social management, and finally start getting conversions. Note that this timeline can be longer or even shorter depending on a lot of factors – time invested, budget, and so on.
“Marketing and SEO take time. Like up to a year, possibly more. However, that said, anyone who tells you marketing and SEO can’t be proven are just not good at what they do.” – Eric Ridenour of Launch Medical
The crux is to put your money into SEO for at least 6-12 months before even building any kind of unrealistic expectations. If you do this and keep your calm, you’re in for a long successful haul as a good SEO marketing strategy yields the best ROI.
Content is Everything!
High-quality targeted content helps you build an impactful brand presence, create long-lasting customer relationships, and ultimately drive sales. A developed content strategy helps with SEO and improves your search engine rankings.
Make sure that you portray your brand and content in a unique and identifiable style, voice, and pitch across all channels.
When you consistently create content that resonates with your target audience, it makes you trustworthy and credible as a brand. Terry Power of NC Digital Marketing says, “Focus on delivering value and you can make your customers your best sales weapons.”
It gives them answers to the questions regarding the product or how it is going to help them thereby removing all sorts of friction and making a quick and informed purchase. Original, well-research content also helps you emerge as an authority in your niche. It enables you to share the vision of your product rather than just selling the product. Renae Rockwell of Rockwell Copy says, “A fancy design will not sell your product, the words on the page will.”
SOPs From day one
SOP or Standard Operating Procedure chalks out each and every step of an organization’s functions across different levels of management. The goal of creating SOPs is to routinize jobs and communicate effectively within an organization.
You can use SOPs from the beginning of your online business for onboarding clients and team members, blog post creation, reviewing content, SEO evaluation, website quality control process, and more.
It does not always have to be a creative and fancy document. You can use simple templates available online or make one yourself in Google docs. To make an SOP document, you can follow the steps below:
- Determine the purpose of this particular SOP/ the problem you intend to solve with this SOP.
- Brainstorm various ways you intend to solve it
- Put everything in detail in an integrated document
- Share it with your team for queries and feedback (Do not skip this step)
- Take action on the feedback.
Using effective SOPs can make the whole process seamless and help your start-up generate 10x better results and that is why Alix McNeill of Zero Three Digital emphasizes on, “SOPs from day one.”
Leverage AI for Marketing
Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool for sales and marketing professionals. It provides you with the data you need to create value for your customers, and it can help you tailor your content to their specific needs.
With more and more marketers and customers aware of the opportunities offered by AI, we can expect to see it used more frequently in sales. That’s why it’s important to know how to use it effectively for your own company.
Bart Murray of F.L.O.W. Roofing & Restoration Lead System says, “Stop, don’t do it the old same way. Embrace AI and leverage the shit out of it!”
How can new Business Owners use Artificial Intelligence?
To do business online and create value, you need data. Use AI
- To smartly segment your target audience,
- Establish a relationship with them on their terms, and
- Deliver tailored content to each segment.
This way, you’ll stay one step ahead of the competition. We are convinced that AI is here to stay for years to come.
PPC or (Pay-per-click) is the cost that marketers bear for running ads for their brand across various platforms. Joshua B Allen of Heatizon Systems says, “PPC first, it keeps them happy and shows your skills IMMEDIATELY while all your SEO efforts kick in.”
PPC is one of the highly successful marketing strategies of all time. According to Statista, 20% of marketers claimed their ROI to be the highest with a PPC marketing strategy. With most people using search engines and social media, ignoring PPC is definitely not a wise decision.
Why is PPC Crucial for a new Business?
- It gives a kickstart to your business by giving faster and more consistent results.
- It directly contributes to your business’s primary KPIs and helps in generating revenue.
- By only paying for the clicks, you get greater control over your budget.
- PPC ads can be customized to target highly-specific audiences.
- PPC indirectly contributes to improving SEO performance
- It helps in getting tons of data which helps you become more granular with the audiences, ultimately increasing your chances of getting conversions.
Networking Network Network!
Networking is an essential part of growing a business both online and offline because it gives you the opportunity to showcase your business to other people and learn from their ways of conducting the business. As Jordan Pearce of Apprato says, “Network, Network. And after you’re done with the first 2, Network some more!” He adds, “Sometimes the best way of starting out is the good ole fashioned methods before the internet.”
Constantly getting in touch with new people will automatically help in:
- Building a business’ credibility.
- Increasing brand exposure — thereby boosting the website’s reach and improving search engine rankings.
- Bringing a lot of business via consumer referrals.
Inbound marketing content includes blog posts, articles, white papers, social media posts, and so on.
Inbound marketing helps you stand apart from your competitors by offering them exactly what they are looking for. Inbound marketing is not just about offering your product or service but showing up for your customers and creating content that aligns with their needs.
David Holgate of Rocket Website Design says, “Don’t forget to work on your own inbound marketing from the start.”
Tip: To create a kickass marketing campaign, combine both inbound and outbound marketing!
Sell With Integrity and be Authentic
“Learn to sell with integrity” – Shoaib Shephz Mughal of Marketix
The greatest entrepreneurs in the world are not the greatest because they are out there just selling their products by sleazy means. They are at the top because they have legitimate integrity. They provide immense value to their prospects and directly solve their problem by offering their product.
There are 3 important keys to selling with integrity that will take your business to the next level:
- Truly believe in your product or service.
- Never be dishonest — even if you are losing deals.
- Be grateful that your prospect wants to connect with you.
“Be completely authentic in everything you and anyone representing your business says or does. Once you’re consistent with that, grow attraction. Never chase”. – Chaz Boren of Boren Digital
The most important lesson for any entrepreneur who is starting a business online is to take help in any way – hire professionals, talk to your friends and coach in the same industry, and if possible, turn to your mentors too.
That is why David Holgate of Rocket Website Design says, “Hire much sooner than your intuition tells you to.” “Hire an attorney and an accountant. You may think you can’t afford it, but it’s absolutely worth the $$$ in the long run.”, is the mantra of Scott Allen of IronGate.
Do not try to be a jack of all trades. It will end up costing you your time and sanity. It is always better to “Take time to find good sources/people to learn.” says Jahir Rahyan of Jahez Group.
Even industry experts like Mike L Silverman of Silver Web Solution suggest, “Surround yourself with people much smarter than yourself.” and Doc Sheldon of Top Shelf Copy preaches, “Surround yourself with brilliance – never be afraid to hire someone who’s smarter or more experienced than you.”
Respect Your Team
Building a strong team is one of the most important steps in setting up your business.
Viktoria Altman of BSP Legal Marketing advises, “Be good to your employees, they will make or break your business.”
It’s understandable that the idea was yours, but the everyday efforts of the people who work for you are turning/have turned that into a reality. You all are working towards one common goal only.
Be a good leader and motivate them. Help them brush up their skills so that they can directly show improvements in the work they do for you.
A respectable and healthy work environment gives your employees a morale boost. It enables them to take charge and come up with creative and better ideas that ultimately help in the overall growth of your business.
Never Charge Less Than Your Value
Samantha Wilson of MGA Entertainment says, “View the national averages of services in your country (as well as specific areas) and start there. Don’t lowball the service and cause the market for your service to be at a far lower cost.”
Entrepreneurs often go through imposter syndrome and initially struggle with putting a dollar value on their product or service.
David Holgate of Rocket Website Design warns, “Be careful when starting out that you don’t charge too little. You’ll end up constantly putting out fires if you do, which will mean that you’ll end up with no time to scale or automate.”
Take Actions Without Wasting Time
So many of us have had amazing ideas that could quite possibly change the world as we know it, but we never end up doing anything with them. Why is that? One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur is that it requires taking risks. And let’s face it, most of us are just too chicken to take that kind of plunge.
But the industry experts suggest differently:
- Kari DePhillips of The Content Factory – “Just get started already. My biggest regret in biz is not getting started when I had the idea at 23. Finally got around to creating The Content Factory at 27. It’s never too late, but it’s rarely too early.”
- John Cody of Social Spike Marketing Group – “Your time is the most important/valuable thing, do not undervalue that at all/ever!”
- “Stop thinking and start doing. Make mistakes and be glorious and proud every step. Don’t let haters deter your fame and fortune. Be a Star, Be your Own Hero. Oh and eat cheap lunches and drink high caffeinated coffee.” – Jay Michael Raffa of Mobile Web Nerd
- “Take action! You can read and learn all the new tricks, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take action.” – Joshua B Allen of Heatizon Systems
Consistency is the key
“Consistency is what pays. You can look for all the gurus in the world, but until you show up consistently, your business will never reach its peak.” – Amber Powers of Powers Digital Marketing
Most people think that they can do more in a day than they actually can, and they think that they can’t do as much in a month. We also tend to think we can achieve more in a year than is actually possible, and that we won’t be able to accomplish much in a decade.
It’s common for people who have started working on their business, to feel like they’re not getting anywhere, and eventually call quits. It is crucial to remember that consistent work, even if it is for a few hours every day, will get you far even if you don’t feel like it will. The most successful companies/brands are not created overnight. It normally involves the hard effort of many people and long nights.
Do What you Think is Best
Yes, in the course of setting up a business, you might want help from people who are far more experienced and successful than you are but Daphne Jan Richard of The Sovereign Soul suggests, “Listen to advice but at the end of the day ALWAYS go with your gut. It’s tough for new entrepreneurs because you will have to do uncomfortable things, but don’t let someone talk you out of an idea that you’re passionate about. Even if it flops, the learning experience is more valuable than taking the advice would have been.”
“Understand HOW YOU work best and ignore how others work best. Way too much “be like this billionaire, which rarely works.” – adds Phil Drinkwater of Phil Drinkwater Coaching.
You might read an article on 10 steps for setting up a successful business online or watch someone preach about how they turned into a millionaire. Yes, that will give help you gain a vision, but in the end, the idea was yours and so is your business.
No one else but you would understand all the internal and the external factors when making decisions. In the end, those decisions will directly add to your business’s growth and success.
Get Over the Fear of Failing
Starting a business is scary!! Period. “Is my idea really worth it?”, “Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?”, “Will people really buy my product?”, “What if I fail?”, and a hundred such questions creep into every successful entrepreneur’s mind before starting out.
The good news is that they find answers to these questions too.
Will you get your big break with the first idea you had? Probably no! But with every failure, you will learn a lesson. If you keep applying those lessons to your business, before you know it, you will be on your way to setting up a successful business online. Craig Mullins of MRM conveys, “Learn to fail fast has always been my mantra.”
The best way to overcome the fear of failure is to address it. Pen down every negative thought or question in your mind and find answers. Embrace every failure and always think about the bigger picture.
Gabriel Murgu of Cambridge Digital Marketing says, “Don’t get scared of failing” and Nick Jordan of Workello says, “The only way to lose is to quit!”
To wrap up, Mj Manalastas of Globe Telecom says, “Have a solid business plan & don’t start a business that can’t run w/o your team. Don’t expect too much within your first months, dedicate it to the pure hustle and building your market presence. Lastly, shake it off and just be yourself.”