While the world gets more digitized, the number of Internet users keeps on growing. Back in 1995, less than 1% of the World’s population was connected to the Web, but today we have 40% – that’s huge. It’s without a question a domain with great potential for doing business, many online businesses being currently live on the Web, and that’s a great thing. It means people are used to do business over the Internet, opening more and more opportunities by the minute. But are you up for it, to build a kickass online business and grow it constantly on the plains of Successville?
You don’t have to be gifted as Richard Branson to achieve success, just be always aware of the good and the bad of your company. You can run a SWOT analysis to highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business, but is your data defined from mere assumptions or is it close to accurate?
Remove your Charlie Brown-typed psychical outfit and start your online business by obtaining the appropriate data. Here are 8 things that will get your online business running.
1. Do an accurate research of the market you want to target.
This article would be pointless without an example, now would it? Back in 2005, Evan Williams and Biz Stone – two of the founders of Twitter, had the intention to launch a platform for creating, browsing and sharing podcasts. However, Apple created podcast support for iTunes later that same year. What did you think happened next? Instead of giving up, the two conducted a research on existing social networks, after they came up with the idea to create a platform that lets people share short messages of what they are doing – Twitter. Yes, marketing research involves spying your future competitors, not only doing a profile on your potential consumers.
Now how would you do an accurate marketing research, you’d wonder. Well, marketing research can be conducted in various ways, but the easiest way to achieve results at no or very low cost is by surveying people online. Yes, you read it right. Create an online marketing research survey and share it with the targeted crowd. If you’re selling a software that simplifies accounting processes, target accountants and accounting firms on social media groups, communities and forums. You’d be amazed of the information you can collect and the opportunities that this type of data can create for your business.
However, keep a balance between the quality and quantity of the gathered data. Surveying a large audience could create a situation where data of bad quality is stored. Not everyone is fond on completing a survey with lots of questions and they might give some dummy answers, just to finish the survey. What you can do in this case is either by adding less questions to the survey or by compiling a report with all the entries and accepting a margin error. The idea is to capture a marketing trend at the end of the research.
2. Don’t share your pricing plan without doing your research
This also applies if your online business has been running for some time and you were thinking on changing the pricing levels, but it’s not mandatory to act in that direction. However, if you’re just launching your online business, don’t ever create your pricing without doing a research first. If you’re the first one on your market – hey, congrats! However, chances for that to happen are very low. Start by researching your competitors. Next, create a pricing survey and share it to your market. See if people would be willing to pay you that amount of money in order to benefit from your services.
3. Create a smart segmentation of your market.
This comes as an extension to your marketing research, although you don’t have to do it from the start, but remember to do it after the first wave of customers roll in.
You have defined your market, but dividing it into segments might get you more conversions. Share a consumer demographic survey with your customers and learn about their identity. You can later use this information to target new customers. This also helps you improve customer satisfaction by targeting your customers with tailored promotions.
Share a consumer demographic survey every now and then with your customers to keep track of their needs, but use a business demographic survey to understand demographic trends and what will bring new clients to your online business.
4. Keep your website fresh and improve usability
It’s no secret that the best way to turn visitors into customers is to have a thorough navigation on your website. And remove distractions that will keep the visitors scrolling up and down until they leave your website. Your visitors landed on the website because they were looking for a service or product that you offer. At least that’s how an online business should be reached through organic and direct traffic.
Hire a specialist in UX and SEO to keep your website visible on the search engines, keep its message clean and make the design so appealing, that people would want to do business with you immediately. However, if you lack the budget to pay a specialist, you could start by adding a website visitor survey to your homepage with a very simple approach: Ask for feedback regarding your website in terms of design and usability. You may never know what useful information you can obtain from those that actually took the time to look around through your web pages.
5. Working as a team comes from feeding job satisfaction.
You might start your online business all by yourself or with a small group. As the business will grow, you might hire new people to your company. Keeping a happy environment between your working colleagues is, thus, essential. Nothing will be ever done on time and with results if conflicts persist between two or more co-workers, or if a certain employee loses interest in the job for other reasons. A job satisfaction survey automates the process of constantly monitoring the satisfaction level of your staff. Survey your employees every three or six months in order to improve management and team spirit.
6. Be open to your customers through constant live interaction and have them love you.
Don’t assume that if people turn to doing business online, they are open to any kind of interaction or any at all. It’s not enough to have a contact form on your website or an email address specified in the footer. A phone number will only keep the line busy and many customers could have the impression that they don’t count if not answered. People love people, that’s a fact. Be there for them regarding any question they have.
Hire customer support! They are the angels in shadows that keep your customers happy with any inquiry they have. You can implement a live chat support system on your website. Your customers will be relieved to know that a real person is on the other side of the messenger box, willing to give assistance on the spot. However, remember to keep track of customer support performance. This can be easily done by creating a tech support satisfaction survey and sharing it with your customers, either after each ticket or after a certain period of time. You could survey your customers regarding customer support satisfaction every six months, for example.
If you cannot afford hiring new staff at the moment, customize your contact form in a way that will help your customers submit their inquiries faster. Instead of using just a plain text box for email and another for the content of the message, add a drop down list between the two and fill it out with frequently asked questions. Depending on your business, you can also add a documentation page on your website that will provide most of the answers.
7. Customers will leave, but learn from your losses to improve
Nothing lasts forever, maybe only love. Your first cancellation request might get to you too hard, but learn from it, because any action we make on Earth comes with a reason. So is cancelling a service or returning a product that needs a refund.
Every customer has a reason for doing business with you and leaving you at some point. You cannot stop this from happening, but what you can do is learn from the mistakes and keep improving until less and less customers cancel. Whenever you receive a cancellation request or have to give a refund for a product you sold, send your customer a cancellation survey with some basic questions, such as what is the reason you cancelled our service or what would you improve to our product. You can even automate this process by adding a cancellation button on your website that will trigger the cancellation survey on click.
8. The safe word is: repeat
It’s not intended as a joke! Your online business will last as long as you show interest in it. And by showing interest I mean analyzing your current stand and looking out for new opportunities. Sure, it sounds vague enough, because this is something that comes from within every entrepreneur, it was never intended as a step. But nevertheless, you have to keep this in mind as an unwritten law. Success is never accomplished by only guessing. You need some data.
You might have noticed that I’ve suggested the use of online surveys for your business, to cover each aspect that I’ve mentioned earlier. I haven’t told you about other methods, because we passed the time when the traditional way was the best. Now we can obtain quality information within minutes, online surveys being the best way to do it. With 123ContactForm you can create any type of online survey that gets your the results you need. And they are very easy to build, due to the engine’s user-friendly interface and multiple features. My recommendation would be to start with 123ContactForm as your trusted partner in helping you acquire the data that will get your online business running.
What do you think of these ideas? Let’s talk in the comments below.