The world of online has made the world significantly smaller and made communication easier. It has also made it possible for a whole breadth of new businesses and opportunities come into being that were not possible before. Suddenly a world has opened up where new markets can be easily tapped into and new and unique ideas made a reality.
We chatted to an online health product store that specializes in organic food, nature conscious beauty products and waste-free solutions. The site started five years ago when the owner found that the costs of opening a brick and mortar store was going to be out of his budget. Not only that, his concern was that getting feet through the door of something so unique was going to be a huge challenge in his area.
We delved into how he made use of the internet to start and develop his store into the success that it is today. We chat about things like creating a website, how to start a blog and the basics of marketing.
Create A Website
This may seem like an obvious first step, but he found that this was one of the most challenging stages for him. There are so many different options for you to choose from to create a home for your online store. You can create one from scratch, use a template based model or even buy an already established site.
He decided to buy a website and due to the nature of the site and the kind of traffic he was looking for, decided to use a broker to buy a site. By buying a website, he found that there was already some established traffic going to it, and he simply wouldn’t have to start from the ground up.
Not only had the site come with already established traffic that he simply needed to take over, but many of the basic problems that many companies find when creating a whole new site is irrelevant.
Site speed is one of the main headaches that most site owners face. Not only do you lose customer interest (most visitors drop off after three seconds of a site not loading), but bounce rates impact your SEO rankings. This is vital to keep in mind when you start your new site, whether you are buying or creating a site. You need to constantly be testing to see how long it takes to load.
Another thing that he came across was the flow of the site. He decided to go through the site from the customer’s perspective, using various entry points to determine the customer journey. This is a vital exercise that you have to be taking to ensure that you can convert your visitors to sales just through your flow. There are also a number of online tools to use to track how a customer acts on your site. From what they click on, to how far down the page they scroll, you can monitor the behaviour and make changes to your site to heighten the customer experience.
Build Up That Content
They say that content is king, and this has been proven to be true over the last few years. Content has become one of the highest driver of traffic to the site, and is it has been recorded that it delivers three times the leads of traditional marketing.
To generate traffic, he looked into how to start a blog, and added the new function onto the site. He hired a content writer who added one to two articles a day and started a mailer that was sent out weekly. He was highly particular about the content that was going out onto the blog and through the mailers. He wanted to set himself as the trusted source of information about health products and the articles were educational, informative and trustworthy news and “how to” articles that grabbed the reader’s attention.
Each mailer that was sent contained at least two to three interesting articles to drive the reader to click into the mail, and in between the articles, banners highlighting offers and new product launches. The more informative the mailer, the higher conversion rate was observed, with readers clicking on the CTA’s (calls to action)
Get Yourself Seen
Now, you have your site established which is fast, streamlined and easy to use. Your content being generated is catchy and interesting for your readers and customers. The next step was for him to start putting some effort and budgeting into marketing. The first thing that he looked into was social media and putting spend behind posts.
He started with the content that was being posted. Articles like the ones listing benefits of a product that was being sold, or a how to guide of using the product was posted and boosted. Not only did they generate a lot of interest but they were basically advertisements for the product being sold on the site.
Working with the content writer, they added savvy CTA’s into each article, making sure that the reader saw that they could buy the product and have it delivered directly to their door within 48 hours. They created the content plan around products that were going to go on special. Not only did the product get a full article written about it; it was posted on social media, sent out in the mailer and shared by readers to other potential customers.
The next step was to make use of paid search and adwords, and together with the article going out, linked this up to the promotion. He created specific adverts to be posted on both social, as well across search advertising the week’s promotion. The idea was for the article to be read, and if they were not converted by that, there would be banner ads popping up, reminding the reader that the product was on special. The search function also opened up the marketing to new customers who were not subscribed to the mailer, or to the social feeds to see the product.
Make Payment Easy
One of the last pieces of advice that he had for us was to streamline the payment and fulfillment function on the site. A happy customer is a loyal customer, and once you develop this mindset, you will find it easier to build up your fan-base. A company spends more money on trying to find new customers than to keep the existing customers, and he found that once the loyal base was established, it grew tenfold through simple word of mouth.
Once again, he suggests going through the payment process yourself. If you are spending more than five minutes trying to pay for a product on your own site, you should relook at your process. He recommends no more than two forms for the customer to fill out their details, and a swift, secure payment portal.
You need to ensure that you repeatedly highlight how secure the payment portal is on your site as the payment process is the biggest contributor to a site’s bounce rate. Many customers get put off and become fearful if they doubt, for even a second whether they will be fully protected when making a payment. He also recommends highlighting all associated costs from the outset, like shipping and VAT. If that is added only at the end, you will see a customer drop off almost immediately.
One of the biggest hints that he has for anyone starting their own business is to keep in mind the customer journey. You, yourself are a customer for other brands. You need to deliver what you would expect to your customer.