How to successfully launch an online business
Setting up any business can be quite daunting and for some quite nerve racking , especially when it's your first one, and you need all the guidance possible, now launching a website online has many points to consider, and it's no different to opening a shop in a shopping mall. All you need to do is have an action plan in place and stick to it with allot of patience. Now you have just invested in a thrilling new e-commerce website and your coming close to launching it on the world wide web, how to do build the awareness of your new business online and get everyone to know about it.
Simple: Launch your site on its launch day, and watch the sales fly in 🙂 – only if it was as simple as this, this assumption are of many new online business when launching on to the web. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was reality, but the hard truth is, it's not as easy as it seems.
Below are some guidelines you can follow and get your new e-commerce site to a flying start.
When launching your new business online, if no one knows about your great product, unfortunately you’re not going to get any sales. What can you do prior to launching your site on to the World Wide Web so that you get the traffic that will convert into sales.
A good old technique passed down by generation, and of course something that we all played at school. Chinese Whispers all it is telling few people around you about your product get them excited about it and get them to spread the word.
Prior to your launch date inform all of your friends, family, work colleagues, and basically everyone you meet. Start a conversation about your new business that your about to launch. Ask them to see if they would be interested in promoting your products and services to their friends and family, by offering them an incentive. You can offer them anything from a free lunch or a free product or anything else that would get them to talk about your new products to the others.
You may have a launching day sale that they could promote, or a competition such as a free gift for the first 100 sales that go through. Get excited and passionate about your business, this will show others around you that you are serious and you mean business. As we’ve all heard the saying “Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
By this stage you probably have retested your social networking profiles for your business, if not register them using this tool: 360 Name Finder which allows you to search all the networking profiles for an available name.
Once you have opened your account, you need to start networking and interacting with others, get some friends, share your ideas, help others if they have a question. Once you have built up some good followers on networking profiles such as Twitter & Face book, you can even give them a preview or a glimpse of your product, and if possible sell some products prior to your launch, to get some good feedback. This will ensure that if there is any consumer concerns you can get them fixed and attended to before your launch date.
Again you can also offer an incentive to your friends on your social networking sites.
On & after your launch
On your launch date and after your launch date this is when your main work starts to promote your product and to drive in as much traffic for you to cash in. And consider what cost effective methods can you use to get you the business you need.
Some may argue that traditional door-to-door leafleting does not work, and is waste of money and time. But I believe for a new business with low cost budgets it’s probably a decent option to go for to build your brand awareness. You don’t need to go door to door, you can distribute your leaflets in many forms such as:
- Leaving them on shop counters
- Asking the Free Newspaper to distribute them with their own run
- Standing in the town hall and handing them out
- Giving them out in events, and parties
- Leaving them on car windows at a large car park slot
- Hiring someone else to hand them out for you
These are just some of the methods I have tried and have worked fine in the early stages of my business. Handing leaflets out will not get you the conversion rate that you require straight away, it may take a while, even months, but being consistent and doing this religiously will start to bring in your numbers and also build your brand awareness. When deciding to go down this route of leafleting, having a good attractive design on your leaflet that catches users attention will be a plus point.
Newspaper and Magazine Advert
This will give your new business a great kick start if it’s done well, it has its advantages and also disadvantages, mainly due to cost, which is always a concern for new start-up companies, keeping cost low.
Some of the advantages of choosing this method:
- Allows you to reach a wider audience much quicker in a certain area
- Quick results, by placing call of actions in your advertisements, such as CALL NOW, or FREE GIFTS…etc
- You can purchase a frequency program, where your advert is printed every week, month or quarter.
Some of the Disadvantages of using this advertising medium to promote your new business:
- Can work out expensive
- Time limit, once the newspaper or magazine is thrown away, so is your add.
- Your add could be in the middle of other advertisers, and over powered by larger adverts, which can cause readers to easily miss your advert
You can use newspaper and magazine to promote your launch offer and have a good advert designed which will attract customers to call into your business.
Some say having an advert on the right hand has a tendency or a better conversion rate compare to positioning the add to the left, I’m not sure how true this is, but can see the logic, as you turn the page your looking towards the right. Try it out let me know your feedback.
Radio & Media Advertising
Media advertising is extremely powerful, everything around us runs on media, we tend to believe what we see on TV, listen on Radio, here on press conferences. If you have the budget in the beginning you can launch your new business by doing some media advertising, such as radio slots, TV ads. A really good way to do this, at a very low cost, and in some instance for FREE, is try to get some interviews with radio stations and TV shows, in the niche your in. You can listen and maybe even call in to talk shows and debates that are happening on TV and Radio, and give your opinion by sneakily prompting your brand.
This might sound funny or weird, but works to get quick results, which you could be looking for in the begging to get your business going. Hot pockets are basically small paper pockets which you can make at home, insert some leaflets in there and leave the pockets in public places.
How do you make Hot Pockets?
Its simple, few steps
- Buy a packet of envelopes and cut them in half, leaving you the a small pocket,
- Stick some a double sided sticky tape at the back of the pocket
- Put your A5 or A6 leaflets into the pocket
- Go to public places such as Bus Stop, Paying Machines, Public toilets…etc and stick them on for the public to pull out your leaflet.
- Make sure your leaflet has an attractive heading, which will draw in the public to take one, something like – (Pick ME UP or TAKE ONE…)
Before doing this technique, make sure that you check with your local council to ensure that you don’t get in trouble for sticking your hot pockets around town.
Directories & Local Listings
Now you have done all the outside work such as promoting at events, leaflets, hot pockets, let’s do the same online. Find some online directories such as yell.com, touchlocal, Cyber Web Bazaar and many others, you can find endless list of good directors online. Once you have found the directories, submit your website link to these articles, creating a small bio profile.
Second part of this exercise is also submitting your website to search engine local listings. Search results are now focusing more on local search results, for better search experience. Create an account with the below search engines and submit your local listings on them:
Google Local Listings: http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter
Bing Local Listings: https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx
Forums and Blogs
To build your brand awareness and to position your self in your niche market, you can use Blogs and Forums to your advantages, even though you may not have your own blog at this stage (something to consider, for the future), you can find some blogs and forums within your business industry, and also start to interact on them.
On Blogs you can leave valuable comments on blog posts, which normally link back to your website, the more you start doing this, the more you will become noticeable and others will notice you.
On Forums you can ask questions, help others answer questions, basically be a form of helping others in solving their solution, which will again build your brand awareness, and drive some good quality traffic to your website.
Search engine optimisation, this is a must for all online e-commerce site, and this will help taking your site to a new level. You can do this at any stage in your business, of course earlier the better. SEO is a process of optimising your website to ensure that it is found at the top of search results. Image how much more traffic you will get on your site if your website was ranked on the first couple of pages of Google or Yahoo, and even Bing. SEO is the process that will take your website to that level, you can easily hire an SEO Consultant who will work with you in optimising your site to ensure your website ranks well in search results.
When launching a business online, it’s no different to running any other business, and no such thing as free lunch, you will have to work to gain your traffic, credibility and awareness online, but once achieved the rewards are substantial.