Today’s shoppers don’t need to walk into a brick-and-mortar storefront to build a connection with your brand. Instead, you can create the same effect with an online business using the following practical strategies for site design and operation, marketing, and customer engagement.
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Building and Running an Effective Website
If you want to build an entirely online presence, you must have and manage a website. An excellent place to start is searching for available domain names. It’s advisable to have several options in mind just in case your first choice is unavailable. You also might want to purchase rights for alternative forms of the same name (.com, .net, .co, etc.).
Choose the Right Website Provider
Depending on your tech skills, this can take several routes. For example, some providers offer simplified drag-and-drop systems that allow you to customize a template to fit your needs. These types of plans are very popular for small businesses. Plus, they require zero coding skills.
If you are a bit more tech-savvy or want a truly custom site, then it’s worth exploring WordPress hosting platforms. Numerous plug-ins simplify getting exactly the features you want in one seamless package.
Of course, if you want to take a hands-off approach, you can hire a designer to take care of this part for you. Just be sure you have the skills and resources to manage the site going forward.
Select a Point of Sale System
In order to sell products and services on your website, you’ll need to select a point-of-sale system. If you are unfamiliar with this technology, you can think of it as a digital cash register and credit card reader in one. However, the best POS systems do much more than process transactions. They also help track sales and relevant data to inform future business decisions.
When choosing a system, look for one that is customizable or geared toward your industry. For example, resellers want a thrift store POS system with features such as:
- Donation pickup scheduling
- Sales processing
- Donation round-up options at checkout
- Printable tax receipts
However, if you operate a professional service business, features such as appointment scheduling might be more relevant. Therefore, it is imperative to shop for and find a POS system with the features and tools you will use the most.
Utilizing Digital Marketing Tools
Once you are established online, use a digital marketing plan to generate interest and drive customers to your site. Think of this as banners and sidewalk flags that attract attention from passersby. You have several options to choose from, but it’s wise to remember that most successful plans incorporate elements of each.
Social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, are all excellent ways to share your business information for free. Set up one or two business accounts and keep them updated with relevant content. Be sure to share specials, contests, and news on these platforms to keep people engaged.
Search Engine Optimization
You want your web pages to rank well on search engines, which can take some careful planning. Search engines use algorithms to rank websites. The more you know about how they work, the better luck you will have using SEO to drive traffic to your website. However, a good approach is choosing target keywords and building content around them. Be sure to keep the user experience in mind because that will help keep visitors coming back.
Many social media platforms and search engines offer paid ad space. These are pretty affordable compared to other digital advertising methods, and they are typically based on how many views or clicks an ad draws. Facebook and Google are two examples of pay-per-click ads worth checking out when you want to increase visibility.
Effectively Engaging Online Customers
You’ll also need to develop a strategy to keep online customers engaged. The lack of direct, personal interaction can make this challenging. Overcome any obstacles by utilizing customer relationship management software. Look for a full-featured CRM that lets you truly customize the customer experience for the greatest benefit.
There are risks to running an online business just as there are with running a brick-and-mortar one. However, having a detailed strategy and the right business tools can help minimize those risks and lead you toward success.