How To Start And Run An Online Business
Article: 11. Building Your Online Business Web Site Part 1
Building Your Online Business Website
An online business website has virtually become essential for every business and industry. Whether you sell books, software, hair clips or automotive parts, an online presence has many advantages. If a business doesn’t have an online business website it is losing out on potential customers and also the chance to market itself in a unique manner. One of the biggest advantages of a business website is that customers come looking for the information and hence are already interested in the products or services you offer. Whether this opportunity is converted into a sale depends on how well your website has been developed. Let’s look at some more benefits of an online business website.
Benefits of an Online Business Website
- Create Product Awareness: Irrespective of the industry your business belongs to it is obvious that the more aware your target audiences are about your products or services the stronger is the likelihood of their making a purchase in the future. An online business website allows you to put forward all the relevant information required by your prospective customers to encourage them to place an order. The biggest advantage of an online business website is that the internet user is looking for information regarding your business and hence is already interested. This is quite different from conventional marketing where the prospective customers usually don’t come looking for information.
- A Global Reach: The internet has truly formed a global business community and you can reach out to customers irrespective of physical or political boundaries. Thus while you may be an American business you may be able to create a business niche and have customers from all across the world and not just from your own country.
- Open 24 hours: With your website, your business is automatically open 24 hours and customers can visit your website and place orders at any time. Also since most businesses processes are automated you are doing business even while you sleep at night. In a world where people barely have time to shop, ordering products and services online is a convenient way of organizing life.
- Business Information: An online business website may also be your way of ensuring that your clients and customers know who you are. Most business websites provide an ‘About Us’ section which may give a brief history of how the business was started and what makes it work. Whether you have traffic that is familiar with your business or knows nothing about it, this is your opportunity to make an impact.
- Reduces Costs: An online business website can help you reduce the costs of marketing your business and you may also be able to handle sales and purchases online. If yours is an online business then you don’t have to bother with hiring salesmen, a clerk or even an office. Your online business website gives you the opportunity to create content so that customers want to visit your website repeatedly to check out the latest offers.
- Marketing: Your business website is an effective marketing tool, as long as it is used well. By making the right design, content and web development choices you can market you website efficiently to your target audience. Online marketing is quite different from traditional marketing and should preferably be handled by experts.
- Brand Building: Create a brand name and reputation for your business with online and offline marketing efforts. Even if you choose to not sell your products or services, just the information you provide your customers can help you create a brand for yourself. The internet gives you an opportunity to communicate with millions and this is your chance to build a brand for your business.
- Customer Service: Since your website can be accessed at any time and from virtually anywhere in the world, this improves your customer service tremendously. People are effectively able to reach you and communicate their needs and requirements and in turn you can get back to them in minimum time. Research indicates that consumers prefer to do business with companies that provide efficient customer service.
- Get the Competitive Edge: With your business website you have an edge over competitors as you have a large and global audience and customer base and are able to organize your business in efficient ways. Even when you are on holiday or are traveling you can keep in touch with your business and your customers.
Issues to Keep in Mind When Building a Business Website
Identify a Website Goal and Objective
It is important that before you begin planning a website you know why you are doing so. It should not be simply because all other businesses are doing so. Every business website has its own goal and purpose and only when you are able to identify your goal can you move forward. Consider whether you are looking to sell products or services online or are you only looking to share business information and create a brand image. Are you looking at global clientele or only a local one? Do you intend to use your business website only as a marketing tool for your offline one or provide online sales opportunities?
Here are some of the things you may wish to achieve with your business website.
Your website may only want to provide crucial information about your business and industry and facilitate offline sales. If this is the case then the website would have to be design and optimized accordingly. It may also just be to provide business information so that if an internet user searches specifically for your business or industry they are able to find you.
An online website may also just be apart of your offline brand building process and may not offer online shopping. The idea is to provide the prospective customers information in a manner that builds up your brand and they associate your business with certain values such as quality, service, trust and commitment.
To Generate Sales Leads
If you aren’t selling online but want to generate sales leads you could provide all the information regarding your products and services. Thereafter customers can fill out a form or provide contact information so that sales leads are generated and can be followed up.
Online business can be rather profitable as you don’t have to handle customers yourself and only need to take care of the deliveries and customer services. As long as your website is well designed and works without glitches you can increase your online sales tremendously. Your website would have to be designed and developed accordingly for e-commerce, and thus the focus of your website must be clear before you begin.
Marketing and Advertising
A business website can be a crucial marketing and advertising tool but should be managed according to online marketing techniques. The purpose of the website may be simply to market products and services as opposed to selling them online. Alternatively these products and services may also be sold online. Before a marketing strategy is formulated it is vital to identify the target audience and your business website can help you do so. You can gain deep insight into your target audience simply by studying the demographics of your traffic. You may be able to identify interesting trends and clear up misconceptions. For instance if your target audience is rarely online you may either have to think of offline ways to get through to them or change the way you market online so that you also appeal to a different target audience.
Customer Service and Support
Rather than have a customer service center your business can save a lot of money by handling after sales queries and customer support online. This also gives the customers a chance to visit your business at any time of the day or night and make their queries.
Create a Community
You may also gain by creating a community of internet users who share an interest or goal. For instance if you sell baby products then your website may build a community of parents who may like to discuss parenting issues and also consider the products and services you sell.
Before You Begin
Prior to planning and working on your website it is a good idea to evaluate competitive websites and find out what they offer and how they go about it. Rather then follow suit you may want to identify a core strength or value of your business and build the website around that idea. This may be building your brand, focusing on a popular product or service or offering unusual content and design.
It is crucial that you identify and understand your target audiences before you begin construction and web development. The design, content and web development would be determined by your target audience and it is crucial that you spend some time on this issue and are certain of the audience you want to target for your products, services and information.
Once you have identified your target audience you will also need to consider the image you wish to portray to your audiences. Would your website be sophisticated, sleek and serious, or fun and colorful? This will be determined by your goal and objective and to a large extent by your offline business too.
11. Building Your Online Business Web Site Part 1.
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