First of all, you need to decide why you should go online. Proving the “social proof” you can say “Everybody going online, so I go online.” Or you may say “My competitors are already online. I’m already late”. You may come up with hundreds of reasons to go online. Most important thing is that you need to decide if online presence complements your business goals and fulfills its objectives. Get ready with the following before you launch your online business:
What’s your online mission? What do you want to achieve going online? What are the benefits for you if you go online? What objectives are fulfilled through online presence? Are your target customers Internet users? Is your business going to be 100% online?
Look at what others doing:
Before making your own online strategy, find out what are your competitors doing online and what are they trying to do. Find out what message they are trying to convey to their prospective customers. Are they successful? Visit the websites of other businesses related to yours. Learn how they are trying to attract customers and how they retain them. You can note the features they are offering and even rate them on their response, aesthetics, features, usability, content, traffic and accessibility etc. Also note what you like and what you don’t like in their sites?
Make your decision if your site is for disseminating information to prospective customers, product/service sales with online payment or providing customer support. But you can always put all of those together depending upon your objectives. Before designing your website, you should be clear on what will you offer. Website design and feature offerings depends on the type of customers you want to attract and what you want them to do.
Website development, hosting and running cost also depends on those all things you offer. On top of that if you offer online sales with payment gateway integration for credit cards verification, you may need to make your site very secure. For that you will have to invest more for Security settings like SSL, hacking proof measures and customer information privacy/confidentiality.
Launching website is not all, your target customers should know about your site. Press release, Search Engine marketing, Word of mouth, blogs and radio/FM/TV, email marketing and trade shows may be different channels for promoting your site. After successfully driving visitor’s traffic to your site, now your focus should be to convert the traffic to sales. A lot of hits and visitor counts does not mean that those all will be transferred to sales. Make realistic projections. Keep your supply chain ready for realistic sales.
Online mistakes cost you a lot. If you make mistake, you will be heard/seen by the world. Going online means you are going global. Be ready for that.
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