Starting an online business or developing an existing e-commerce business doesn’t have to be tough. Lots of resources are available to help you do everything from creating content for your website to building a long list of loyal customers.
Tips For Starting An Online Business
Use these simple tips to build a loyal following of happy, satisfied customers for your online business:
- Offer various ways for customers to communicate with you (including e-mail, phone, real-time online support, online forums, and social media).
- Make customers feel special by sending loyalty discounts and other exclusive offers to your registered users or frequent buyers.
- Send customers tips or brief articles that are fun or innovative or that show how to use your products or services to save time or be more productive.
- Give customers several payment options to make buying easy.
- Find creative ways to thank customers for visiting your site and for making a purchase.
Essential Website Resources For Your Online Business
It’s essential to have access to many different types of information for starting and managing your website. The following online resources can help you with everything from protecting your site by registering trademarks to operating more competently by buying postage online:
- Electronic Copyright Office:Register your site’s content.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS):Review filing requirements and deadlines; access and print forms.
- Internet Crime Complaint Center:Report online fraud and e-mail abuse.
- Patent and Trademark Office:Search the trademark database and apply for trademark registration.
- S. Postal Service:Print postage and labels from your computer, ship from your location, and access other tools and resources.
- Small Business Administration (SBA):Find financing information and loan applications.
Checklist For Launching A Website
The following checklist includes small but important details to help make sure that your website is functional and appeals to your online customers.
- The site map — the layout and structure of all web pages — is complete.
- The site map matches the web pages — exactly.
- Each website page is displayed and is fully accessible.
- Every link throughout the site works properly and opens the appropriate page.
- All media types load quickly and completely, and the images are crisp and clean.
- The content is free of misspellings and grammatical errors.
- Pricing information and product or service descriptions are correct.
- Pages with online forms or registration information function when you click the Submit button, and the information is sent to the designated point of contact.
- Text boxes or drop-down boxes on forms and other pages work correctly.
- Buttons or links for top-level menus work. These buttons, like the one that returns users to the home page, function properly on every single page.
- Special commands that are spelled out with coding language are displayed correctly when the site loads.
- The credit card processor or other payment service option is in place and working.
- All e-commerce-related functions, such as the shopping cart, operate correctly.
- Membership icons or logos, such as Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce member emblems, have been included.
- Social media sharing icons and other social networks are promoted on applicable pages across the site and are easy to see.
- The site has been tested for browser compatibility and screen resolution.
- The site is displayed properly in mobile formats.
- Contact information using the company’s e-mail address or phone number is clearly displayed and easy to find.
- Privacy, shipping, and return, and other use policies are clearly visible and easily accessible.
- The copyright symbol and current year are placed prominently at the bottom of every page.
Using Social Media To Promote Your Business
Social media is an inexpensive way to promote your website and to keep new and existing customers chatting about your business. Here are some quick and easy tips for using some of the most popular social networking sites to help drive interest and customers to your business:
- Facebook- Set up a business page on Facebook and post special offers (at least once a month) to all those who Like your page. Reduce your workload while expanding your marketing efforts on Facebook.
- Twitter – tweet interesting or unusual facts about your business or products and provide a link to that product page on your site. Send out short tips on how to use your services or products. Get more visibility by tweeting pictures and videos related to you or your business to your followers.
- YouTube – Create a YouTube channel for your online business, regularly add fun and useful videos, and then encourage customers to view and share your videos with others. Ask customers to submit video testimonials and post them on your YouTube channel.
- LinkedIn – Create a LinkedIn profile and add links to your website: Update your profile with new links, product reviews, books or articles that you are reading, or other information so that this information appears to all the people in your network. Join LinkedIn groups that may be popular with many of your customers, and frequently post questions or comments related to the products or services you offer.
- Pinterest – Set up a Pinterest profile for your business, creating one or more Pinterest boards with themes or product interests related to your business. Hold a pinning contest on your website by encouraging customers to pin an image of one of your products to their Pinterest boards. Offer a small prize to either a random pinner, or the pin that has the most re-pins.