Starting an e-commerce business is no small task; there are many demands that need to be met, both temporal and financial, as well as several decisions to be made and other factors that need to align for your business to be a success. Whether you’re supplementing a traditional brick-and-mortar operation with an online presence or your business exists solely in the digital realm, it’s important to know the best practices to help your business grow. Here are five strategies for growing your business online.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, means structuring your online content in such a way to increase your business’ chances of appearing higher on the list of results for search engines like Google. It’s impossible to control search results completely, but there are small aspects that are in your control that can have a positive effect on your traffic, like making sure your website is mobile-friendly and maintaining a presence on social media. Other things to keep in mind when it comes to SEO are including concise titles, keywords, and descriptions in your posts. Remember, every business is different, so what SEO strategies will work for you will depend on the type of business you have. If you’re unfamiliar with SEO there are several tutorials and online courses you can take to learn more, as well as numerous SEO consulting companies to engage if your budget allows for it.
Build Your Reputation
One of the best ways to build the reputation of your business online is through customer testimonials. Positive reviews about your business are a sign of its quality and trustworthiness and are critical for your success. According to a 2018 consumer review survey by BrightLocal, 97% of customers read online reviews before they buy and 57% of people will only patronize a business with four or more stars. Not only are these positive testimonials almost as good as personal recommendations, they also increase the SEO ranking of your business – and, accordingly, its visibility in the online space.
Search engines rank business with legions of fans and lots of positive reviews higher, so the more customers who are singing your praises with five-star reviews, the more new customers are likely to find your business. This is especially important if your target demographic is millennials, as research shows that approximately 80% of them have written a testimonial and 95% of them read reviews for local businesses.
Invest Your Time Wisely
When you first start a business, you usually end up taking on a majority of the workload yourself, simply because you have to. As your business grows, there are more and more tasks that need to be completed, but there are still only 24 hours in the day. By utilizing tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, business owners can automate their social media posting, which is hugely important for an e-commerce business, but also very time consuming. There are also tools like QuickBooks, which provides accounting software capable of accepting payments, bill management and payroll functions. While services like QuickBooks aren’t free, their value comes from the time that you’ll save, which can be put towards other important business functions and ensuring that work is done professionally and efficiently.
Another option to consider as your business grows is outsourcing certain tasks in order to make your workload more manageable. Online marketplaces like Fiverr and Freelancer.com are convenient, easy to use, and help lead you to professionals with a variety of skills that can be hired for short-term work. As the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.
Get into Your Customers’ Heads
Understanding human psychology is a powerful tool in business and marketing. If you understand how people think and what they react to, you can reach them more effectively. From relatively simple things like what colours people associate with certain traits and emotions to understanding how to use language to affect the way people think of or react to things, psychology can be used to help grow your business. Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people conform to the actions of others because they believe those actions are reflective of the correct behaviour. Marketers, for example, use this phenomenon by showing their customers that people already like and trust their business. They do this by sharing their statistics, subscriber counts, and customer testimonials, among other things. FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, is a recently-coined psychological term used to describe the anxiety people feel about missing out on something trendy or exciting. Your business can take advantage of that to increase sales and conversions by adding scarcity or exclusivity to your offers.
Expand Your Global Options
For most entrepreneurs, their first target market is their immediate geographical area. However, one of the best ways to grow your e-commerce business is to appeal to a global audience, and the internet makes it much easier to do that than in years past. If you plan on making your online business global, it’s important you do your research on topics like how shoppers purchase goods online, when are seasonal sales peaks and holidays, local and international laws, and shipping and distribution logistics, among other things. Make sure you have an understanding of cultural customs, taboos and trends in a market or country before you try to establish an online presence there. E-commerce platforms like BigCommerce allow your online shop to operate in over 150 countries, display in almost any language, and accept payments in most currencies. Meanwhile, gateways like PayPal and Stripe allow users to pay in their own currency, simply and accurately, without transaction fees. PayPal Passport is also a great resource for finding more information on how to bring your business to the world.
By Marcus Medford | Contributing Writer