Online businesses offer several advantages over traditional brick and mortar ones, but they require no less preparation and even have their own unique challenges. The primary advantage of an online business is the significantly reduced overhead, but you will still need to address the core concerns of any business: building your brand and driving customer traffic.
Whether you’re starting an online business for the first time or looking to expand your online presence, the most important thing to get right is your web storefront.
- Create a Website or Etsy Shop for Your Online Business
Whether you choose to build a website or open an Etsy shop, growing an online business requires you list your products somewhere. You can set up an Etsy.com shop in a single afternoon since its set-up wizard creates a “shop” interface that builds sellers’ web presence without having to build and host a website. If your business model can sustain an individual website, you can use a more tailored approach. The latter option lets you shape the content as much as the look of your website so that ultimately your branding is tighter across all of your channels. Whether you choose to hire an agency or a freelancer, building your own website requires more maintenance and investment. If you don’t want the hassle of hiring someone, you can always build your own through Squarespace.com.
If you’re just starting out, an Etsy shop might be the right choice as you learn what works for your business. You can always connect your website to your Etsy shop, as many online clothing shops do.
- Build A Digital Marketing Strategy
Whether you’re running all of the marketing operations yourself or you’ve hired a team to help you, a digital marketing plan can provide you with a map to follow. Online marketing strategies generally include some combination of social media, email marketing, and search/display ads. Most online businesses maintain a budget to support ad campaigns through Facebook Ads (includes Instagram) or Google Ads, which helps them reach new customers, especially when ad campaigns are aligned with holidays or special promotions.
Keep your marketing approach flexible by reassessing your strategy regularly as unforeseen market fluctuations and business needs arise.
- Invest in Excellent Photography
Have you ever noticed when you’re shopping online that you tend to glaze over products that don’t have clear pictures? Perhaps they’re too blurry or not bright enough, but for online commerce businesses, great photographs sell products.
If you’re just starting out and want to save money by taking photographs yourself, make sure you’re shooting with a DSLR in RAW. If you’re not yet Adobe Photoshop savvy, hire a photographer or graphic designer to clean up your photographs through Upwork.com or Freelancer.com. Alternately, you can also use the Weebly Photo Analyzer to tell you how to improve your photographs. Send your products to them and Weebly will even photograph them for you for a fee. If you’re scaling up, hire a professional photographer with a distinct look that echoes your product.
- Website Analytics and SEO
Web analytics can give you crucial insights into how people are finding your products and who ends up buying them, which you can use to inform your SEO strategy. Squarespace, Etsy and Facebook all have built-in, but basic marketing analytics tools that give you general insights about how your business tactics are working and if your efforts are converting into sales.
However, if you have your own website, you’ll want to consider using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools, which give you more in-depth insights. Similarly, SEO is a set of techniques that help your website rank higher in organic web search results. When used properly, SEO makes your products and blog posts more visible via search engines like Google.
- Create a Brand Identity
Building a brand identity takes time. You want your customers to believe that they’re buying an idea rather than simply consuming an object. How you frame your business’s story or mission can help customers connect with your brand. Similarly, echoing your message across all your digital platforms – from advertisements to emails – tightens and magnifies your narrative. Many people who shop online today believe the brands that they buy communicate a lot about who they are.
However, you choose to create an online business, know that there are several options for your current business situation. You can scale up or down depending on what resources you have available. Whether you are using a more DIY approach or hiring people to help you, creating an online business has many layers that require constant maintenance.
Consider these insights on how to create an online business from Clothing Shop Online!