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Small Business Center

The Essentials You Need for Building an Online Business

October 5, 2021

By Jamie L. Palmer, online business strategist and coach

I love talking about all the things and elements needed to build an online business successfully. I like to call it an online business ecosystem. It’s composed of these six core elements:

  • finance
  • mindset
  • technology
  • strategy
  • marketing and sales
  • implementation and action

Each one of those things has its own subcategory of things. Implementation and action, however, are kind of a vibrant thread that weaves through all the different elements within your ecosystem. When you think about building a successful online business, it becomes really important to understand how all of those different elements are integrated.

One of the things that I learned in my agency was: People would come to me wanting social media help, yet they wouldn’t have the next step in place in order to move forward. Ultimately, we would market like crazy but their goals would fall flat.

Fifteen years ago, I created a website for a woman with a day care business. It was one of the first WordPress websites I built. She really wanted to leverage the website in local Google search. One day, she called me up and was completely irate. “Jamie, this website just isn’t selling. I haven’t sold to anyone! I haven’t gotten any new customers!” At the time, whenever I was passing off a website to a client, I would show them: Here’s how to log in. Here’s how to get your notifications. Here’s how to get your contact form, which was also forwarding to our email address. I logged in to the website and discovered that she had over 30 unanswered contact-us-form messages in her inbox.

This is sort of what happens in the online world today. People market, but they’ll have either three or four calls to action or no call to action at all. There is no real singular focus and strategic intent behind the marketing that they are doing. What happens is that there is this disconnect and this gap between your ideal client and that next step you want them to take. The more gaps there are in your ecosystem, the more you’re going to lose people along the way.

Let’s go back to the day care woman. Parents were looking for day cares actively not in the middle of the day, but rather at night. They’d fill out the contact form and expect a call or email the next day. She was very much frustrated about that and wanted to turn the contact form off, even though it was the most visited page on her website.

I share this because you have to understand who you’re marketing to. When you can think about how this person thinks, believes and feels; what keeps them up at night; what makes them happy; what makes them sad; and everything in between, I think that it really becomes much easier to get to know them and to market to them because you know them on a deeper level. 

Ultimately, when people’s experience is your brand and your business, they should be shaking their head saying, “Yes, I want XYZ. How did you get inside my head?” That’s what you want them to feel. Understand what motivates them, understand what they believe the problem is, understand any potential products or services that they’ve tried in relation to your product and understand where they hang out online. All of these things you have to know on a deeper level. You might know the demographics, which is important, but you have to take it to a deeper level. Dig deep because it’ll give you an amazing foundation for success later on.

What is the client journey?

Often, I think we forget that we need to create that in-person experience online when we have an online business. We cannot presume that a prospective customer knows what steps to take next without us telling them. You ultimately want to guide them on this client journey.

Here are all the steps that they’re going to take, and yes, there may be some shortcuts along the way to get to the signature program. However, the fact of the matter is: Most people are going to need multiple touch points to go from prospect to client and raving fan.

An understanding of those steps, the content that will make someone convert, and the call to action needed is very important. That makes it really easy to ensure that there are no gaps. If you have a really solid, mapped-out client journey, then it’s easy to determine where the customers are. Then it’s easy to say, “This is the content they need in order to see that’s going to get them to that next step.” Figuring out what that next step is and marketing with that singular focus becomes easy because it’s just a process.

Publish content

You’re going to have to publish content. Often, people come to me and they’re completely overwhelmed by it and not sure how they should deal with it. Think of it in three ways: macro, micro and nano.

Macrocontent is long-form content. It’s YouTube, a podcast, a blog. It has longevity. It lasts for days, weeks, months or maybe even years. Microcontent and nanocontent are the social media content that you use to promote your macrocontent. Microcontent and nanocontent are generally the posts that you see on social media. Microcontent is asking somebody to take that next step. Nanocontent is typically the “comment below,” “engage here.” It’s keeping them on that platform, but it’s a piece of content that you’ve then repurposed from that macrocontent.

It makes a world of a difference because, as an entrepreneur like you, I don’t have a lot of time to sit and write social media posts. So when I can create one piece of macrocontent and then turn that into microcontent and nanocontent and parse it out, it becomes easy!

Make it easy to buy

Make it easy and simple for people to buy. People love to buy, but they hate to be sold. If you can make it as simple as possible for people to buy, you’re going to increase sales. Six years ago, I worked with a cookie company. In the beginning, I was hired to do social media, but only 30% of its clients finished checking out because the company had an eight-step checkout process! I came in and made a one-page, two-step checkout. Completion rates went up to 80%. Remember to consider that people love to buy but hate to be sold to. Take them through what that checkout process is.

You want to make it really simple for people to buy from you. Share your pricing. Be willing to do these things so that you can get them to move to that next step. When you make it too difficult to buy, people are just going to go somewhere else.

Be consistent

When I talk about consistency, I’m not talking about three months of consistency. I’m talking about being consistent for the next year, every week for the next 52 weeks, 80% to 90% of the time. Every year, I up my own consistency game. In 2017, I doubled the business as a result of my consistency in 2016.

If you’re selling a product under $100, you’ll probably start to see results from consistency efforts in one to three months. However, if you are not seeing results after six months and you’re selling a higher-ticket item, then it comes down to a couple of things.

  • How engaged is your community?
  • Are you sure you have the right people following you?
  • Are you running Facebook ads?
  • Are you emailing your list?
  • Are you showing enough value?
  • Are you speaking to the problem that the person believes they have?

All of those things factor into conversions of social media. If a prospect goes to your Facebook page, you haven’t posted in months and Facebook is one of the two platforms that you’re choosing to show up on, it subconsciously sends the message, “Hey, I don’t really take this too seriously,” and that is not a message you want to send.

I’m not suggesting that you have to post every single day. What I’m saying is: You should put up quality posts once or twice a week. Commit to it and make sure that you’re doing it each and every single week, no matter what, day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year after year. And then you’ll start to see results.

Starting and stopping is quite possibly one of the worst things that you could do. That or changing your audience. That is why it’s so important to get that ironed out in the beginning.

Ultimately, it’s not always the easiest thing to do, nor is it always the most comfortable thing to do. But it’s what needs to be done to be successful. The more you can get those foundational pieces and the more you can move into an ongoing marketing status, in which you just have this maintenance of what you’re doing, it’s a really cool place to be.

This article was originally published at https://www.outliermarketinggroup.com/2020/10/5-essentials-for-building-an-online-business.

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