Taking your business online for the first time can be an incredible challenge. Most traditional brick-and-mortar companies prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. The only problem is the old-fashioned way doesn’t work any longer. If you want to reach your customers, you have to connect with them on the Internet because that’s where they’re searching for you.
Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses struggle with this transition for a number of reasons. You may discover simple ways to build an attractive website, yet you may fail to find someone to manage your SEO efforts. Or, you may find it nearly impossible to understand programming, code performance, web design, and other scary things that could hold you back from creating a presence online.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, just know that it‘s possible to transition your offline business to the Internet. By developing a presence online, you’ll have an immense opportunity to reach new customers, connect with your existing rabid fan base, and ultimately discover the true power of the Internet as you watch your business take off like you’ve never imagined before.
Even though many of the things we mentioned today may seem scary, it’s worth it to overcome your fears. Invest in your online success, build a team of skilled web professionals around you and your business will boom in no time.
To successfully transition your business, please pay attention to the following suggestions and recommendations.
Key #1: Discoverability Is Crucial to Your Success
Like most good business owners, you will eventually invest a pretty penny or two to build an attractive, inviting, and well put together website. Building this site is certainly critical to your success, but it’s only one small step in the process whether you know it or not.
The Internet is not like the movie Field of Dreams. If you build it, chances are that nobody will ever come unless you actively promote your site. In a perfect world, building the website would be enough, but we don’t live in a perfect world, unfortunately, so you’ll have to flex your digital muscles and put a little elbow grease into getting your site in front of potential prospects.
You may be wondering, “How do I get my site in front of potential customers?” Depending on your business model, you can get a listing on Google Places, get listings in other local directories and have your website listed in industry related directories. To really turn up the traffic with highly targeted leads, we recommend learning SEO basics, or even better, you should hire a professional to rank your site on the first page of the search engines for targeted keyword phrases.
Key #2: Capturing Leads Is the Name of the Game
So many business owners focus on driving more and more traffic to their website, yet they fail to capture the contact information of these potential leads. This is a fool’s errand to say the least, because customers rarely buy from a website on first contact. In fact, it usually takes seven or eight contacts with a product or service before your prospects will pull out their credit card and make a purchase.
With that said, driving traffic to your site is certainly important. We do not want to underestimate the value of bringing massive traffic to your site. But even more important, you have to focus on capturing these leads so you can send email messages to prospects and market to them over and over again.
How do you capture leads? It’s fairly easy. Just add an email opt in box to your website. Most of your prospects will not sign up unless you give them something in return. So offer a unique and valuable free gift and they should have no trouble opting into your list as long as the tradeoff is worth it.
Key #3: Develop Relationships with Influencers in Your Niche
In the beginning, when you first attempt to establish yourself online, it’s going to feel like it’s taking forever to gain traction. And this is true because search engine optimization could take as long as a year before you start seeing large volumes of traffic from your first page rankings. You could spend a small fortune gathering data driving paid traffic on websites like Facebook, Google, and other sources of targeted traffic.
So, while all this is going on, it behooves you to begin developing relationships with influencers in your niche. By creating these partnerships, you’ll be able to work with other local and national business owners to drive more targeted traffic to your website through these potentially lucrative relationships.
Remember, approaching big time influencers in your market is never easy. But it’s worth it to reach out and offer to help them improve their business. Invest and leverage your outreach efforts. The law of reciprocity will make them feel like they owe you, so they’ll be willing to reciprocate the favor in return. From here, you can truly develop a real relationship and help one another for many years to come.
Key #4: Email Marketing Is the Fastest Road to Lasting Success
Earlier, we touched upon building an email list and marketing to your newly developed prospect database. The reason for building this list is it gives you the ability to market to your customers over and over again without any resistance.
As an example, many business owners like to set up pages on their favorite social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. While these resources are truly amazing in many ways, they aren’t yours and their terms of services can change at a moment’s notice and you could lose your entire fanbase even if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Don’t leave yourself susceptible to the mercy of another corporation. Build your email list and you’ll own those email addresses forever. Because the truth is your customers expect to find out about discounts, sales, product launches, new services, and more through email messages. They are expecting it from you, so give your prospects exactly what they want.
Key #5: Connect with Fans on Social Media
Even though your favorite social media websites’ terms of services could change at the drop of a hat, it’s still worth it to develop a fan base on these websites. Remember, Facebook has over a billion users on their site, so you’d be a fool to pass up an amazing opportunity to connect with people looking for your products and services.
The other good thing about social media is your customers hang out on these websites every day. So you can send updates about your business, share information about new products, let customers know about discounts and sales, and even give them a glimpse behind the scenes so they can get to know you better.
Just remember that social media is a tool and it could disappear at any time. So build a strong presence on social media and take every opportunity to gain the email addresses of your fans through these channels by offering them something unique, interesting, and enticing.
It should be clear that transitioning your business online isn’t going to happen overnight. But if you take these five keys seriously and build a team to support your efforts, you should have no trouble becoming a major authority in your niche if you follow our guidance and make the most of this opportunity.