In a digital age where online shopping is the norm, and flexible work options are everything, it’s not surprising that many Australians are choosing to run online businesses.
There are some key considerations though when it comes to ensuring an online business is successful.
Choose a niche
Central to the success of an online business is being found on the internet and standing out from your competitors.
One of the best ways to do this is to choose a niche product or market. This will give you an important point-of-difference and provides focus for marketing efforts.
There is less competition for keywords and search terms for niche products or services, meaning your business is easier to find via search engines like Google. For example, ‘custom t-shirts for sports teams’ is a better target than ‘t-shirts’.
Create and secure your brand name
Once you’ve chosen a brand name you will need to check if the domain name is available.
Ideally you will want to secure both the .com.au and .com versions of your site.
Failing that, there are also other top-level domain options such as .biz, .net you can choose from. You may like to purchase several versions of your domain name to prevent others from using it.
Once you’re happy with your brand name, and you have checked that it’s not in use by another business, you should purchase the domain names straight away, even if you’re not ready to build your website yet.
Plan your website
While some online businesses choose to use a third-party platform such as Etsy or Shopify, it’s only appropriate for specific kinds of products.
In most cases you will want your own website and you should take the time to plan it.
You should research competitor sites for features and design elements you like or don’t like.
Key things you may need to consider include:
- An online shop
- Inventory synchronisation
- Secure payment gateway
- Product galleries
- Landing pages for specific products or promotions
- Opt-in forms
- Social sharing buttons
- Ability to update the site
- Optimised for mobile devices
- How many/what pages will you need?
- How will the customer use it?
- The look/feel
- Instant chat
- Simple navigation
- Upselling/cross-selling features.
You should have your wish-list and any questions on hand ready for when you develop your site.
Build the site
If you’re serious about your online business you should be prepared to invest in a high-quality site.
Ask for recommendations from other business owners or friends for professional web developers or designers that have worked for similar industries or businesses as yours.
Check the web developer’s inclusions/exclusions carefully. For example, does the price include hosting, content development, stock images, client changes, add-ons, security updates and maintenance? You should also find out what would happen if you wanted to move to another system, supplier or host at a later date.
Feature high quality content
Your content should be clear and concise and be written with your target market in mind.
Focus on useful content that is designed to help potential customers, not just sell to them, such as buying guides, FAQs, how-to articles, product reviews and regular blog articles.
Many online businesses use lead magnets with opt-in forms on their site. This is where visitors are offered a valuable piece of content in return for their contact details.
Lead magnets are a great way of building your email list, so you can provide prospective customers with special offers or updates, and potentially convert them to a sale.
Commit to marketing
You should invest in marketing activities, such as a reputable search engine optimisation (SEO) agency, to drive traffic to your site on an ongoing basis.
Strategies may include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google Ads and on social media, as well as, retargeting customers that have visited your site but didn’t convert to a sale.
Additionally, you will want an active social media presence on the platforms most frequently used by your ideal customers.
You should regularly monitor site traffic and actions, as well as advertisement performance by using Google Analytics, social media insights, sales data and other reports, and then refine your marketing strategy accordingly.
To give your online business the best chance of success, you should outsource activities that you don’t have the time, resources or expertise to complete yourself.
This article has been prepared by a third party, on behalf of NSF Nominees Pty Limited (ABN 29 053 228 667 AFSL 253129), trustee of Nationwide Superannuation Fund (Nationwide Super) (ABN 15 201 768 813), for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether it is appropriate to your individual circumstances.
As at the time of compilation, the information in this article is correct, and any estimates, opinions, conclusions or recommendations are reasonably held or made.
The information contained in this article should not be used or relied upon as a substitute for professional advice or as a basis for formulating business decisions. To the maximum extent permitted by law, NSF Nominees Pty Limited and third parties disclaim all liability and responsibility for any direct or indirect loss or damage which may be suffered by any recipient through relying on anything contained in or omitted from this article.