Building a successful business is an incredibly difficult endeavor.
It takes years of dedication, knowledge, skill, and business acumen, and introducing that very same business to the online sphere is no different, yet, it poses its own unique obstacles.
In a nutshell, the biggest challenge most businesses face when going online is hammering out a sound business strategy that will optimize their online presence and make the transition worthwhile.
Taking a leap into the online realm is like going through the looking glass. It’s another world where everything is done differently.
There are countless new words, processes, metrics, big wins and potential failures to learn about, but this post is a great place to start the journey!
Why Is Strategizing For The Online Sphere Difficult?
It’s all well and good for us to tell you that the biggest challenge you’ll face when going online will be composing an effective strategy, but that doesn’t really help you out, so let’s start by discussing why this is the case.
Essentially, “uploading” your business is like starting from scratch.
You may well be a big-name brick-and-mortar outfit in your locality, but going online means you’re going global, or at the very least, national. You instantly go from a big fish in a puddle to a small, anonymous fish in an ocean.
To navigate this free fall into obscurity, you need a comprehensive plan.
One of the first concepts businesses need to wrestle with before making the transition to the online world is budgeting.
Going online can be relatively affordable for small businesses, especially if they’re taking a DIY approach to developing their online presence, but most businesses want to come across as professional, and that takes money.
So, you funnel some cash into website development, hire a professional to consult and create your primary online hub that customers can visit.
Then you’ve got to think about quality content, payment portals, product listings, hosting, domain names… the list goes on, and the dollars pile up.
All the while, this pricey venture is pulling in next to no revenue because, as we spoke about earlier, on the global scale of the web, you’re a relative unknown. What you need is an outreach strategy.
By outreach, we mean you need to develop an online marketing strategy, which is easier said than done. This will likely be the most confounding aspect of setting up your business online.
The days of putting your ad in the local newspaper and handing out flyers are well and truly in the can. To get your name out there and on as many computer screens as possible, you need to know how digital marketing works.
Business owners need to engage in perpetual research to figure out what the best ways to reach their target audience are, and this involves a lot of expensive trial and error, as well as stringent analysis of metrics you may have never even heard of before — We’re talking click-through rate, impressions, conversions, traffic, bounce rates, etc.
And be warned… digital marketing can get extremely pricey, so businesses will need an entirely discrete budget dedicated to outreach that can then be split into subsections and allocated to various different marketing avenues.
Our advice is to start out with a customer profile, which is a document you’ll put together that details your ideal client.
It needs to be as detailed as possible, including age range, most likely profession and interests, internet habits, purchasing patterns, pain points, geographical location, etc.
The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it will be to formulate an outreach strategy that targets them, thereby giving your methods value.
SEO is another technical aspect of digital marketing that will no doubt give you a headache (or 4) along the way.
It’s the process of optimizing your websites in accordance with the user and the search engines employed by the user to find what they’re looking for.
Quality SEO is a collaborative task shared by web designers, content creators, and site managers. Without high-quality SEO, your site won’t rank high enough on search engines to be found.
Establishing Your Brand On Socials
Social media may be problematic for the individual in many ways, but for businesses, it’s a saving grace.
Not only are these platforms free at a base-functionality level, allowing you to connect with potentially millions of people without adding to your transition fees, they give you a space to establish your brand.
Now more than ever, social media acts as a primary channel through which people will find your website, rather than the other way around, so telling the story of your business and establishing a strong and unique aesthetic via your socials is critical.
Sizing Up The Competition
When you go online with your business, not only are you suddenly a nobody, you’re surrounded by somebodies!
This is another reason you need an airtight digital outreach program and top-notch SEO, as you must insert yourself into the market by shouldering your way between giants of your industry in the online sphere.
You need to communicate the value of your business, products, and services to the public. The people need to know why you’re the one to go with, even though other big names offer a similar product/service.
Ad fraud costs businesses millions each year, and for a new business trying to find traction on the online scene, it can be downright ruinous, so another thing to bear in mind when composing an online strategy is business security.
The specifics of online business strategy will differ significantly from business to business and particularly from industry to industry, but most will have to juggle all the aforementioned essentials in order to minimize the initial period of obscurity and inactivity.
The quicker you can find your feet online, the more chance your business has of enjoying future success and growth in this space.
To give yourself a fighting chance of thriving in an online environment, set aside a budget for hiring specialist staff that can handle one or more of the disciplines discussed in this post.
This adds to the expense, but going online should always be thought of in the same way as traditional business growth.
It takes lots of money and lots of minds! It’s always a gamble, but with an intelligent and comprehensive strategy, you tip the odds in your favor!
If you are looking to take your business online or start an online business from scratch, then read “How Does Wealthy Affiliate Really Work”.