Follow this advice to achieve digital success for your new enterprise.
For every thriving online business there are dozens that fade into cyber obscurity. Rather than rely on luck, we ask the experts for their secrets to success.
Daniel Jovevski, founder of Switchmyloan.com.au and named one of Perth’s 100 Most Influential Small Business Leaders in 2013 by Nifnex newspaper, says the first step is market-testing your idea.
“Your product or service should solve one acute pain point that people face. Just like throwing spaghetti on the wall, find the one idea that sticks. Test, improve, and constantly feed information back into the feedback loop to build a better product or service,” says Jovevski.
“For us that meant creating a concept called ‘Rate Contender’ that allowed customers to put their home loan up for auction to the lowest bidder.”
Jovevski learnt the hard way that the second step – finding your customers – is more about “locating your tribe” than “attacking the mass market.”
“After spending a fortune on Google Ads, we realised we were targeting the wrong people, so we pivoted to a social media strategy that involved videos, hints and tips, and where we would all get on camera and engage with the audience,” says Jovevski.
“The results were surprising – our biggest fans were middle-aged women who started sharing our videos. From there we honed the marketing efforts to make our content easy to consume, and got people talking,” he says.
Shifting from bricks and mortar to online presented its own set of challenges for Deborah Latouf who transitioned traditional toy store Entropy into the most extensive independent online toy store in Australia.
“Don’t think that having an e-commerce store is going to be more cost-effective than a physical one. Yes, you don’t have rent to pay, but you should be investing this saving directly into search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and website development. You certainly can’t just stop once your website is live – that’s only the beginning,” says Latouf.
“Learning about e-commerce has been a huge learning curve for me, but it’s exciting because it’s always evolving and your efforts are nearly always measurable,” she says.
For online entrepreneur Fred Schebesta, listed in Anthill’s 30 under 30 at age 23, success might have come early, but not easily.
“Anyone who tells you building an online business is easy is lying – at times the struggle was immense,” says 32 year old Shebesta, whose comparison website finder.com.au now averages 400,000 views a month.
Shebesta shares his top five tips for online business success:
1. Find your niche
If you want your business to survive, you need to find exactly where you’ll sit in the market. We didn’t enter the market with any massive scheme – we just wrote a “student credit card” page because we saw no one else had. We received massive support and saw that people hadn’t had access to this information, and hence carved that groove.
2. Style your writing to sell (without screaming sales)
Too often companies go over the top with sales – it seeps through their content and the audience knows something is up. Instead, offer genuinely helpful content in the language of your audience (comparable to a love note). Engage with your audience to find their needs, then answer those needs. You should be focused on quality AND quantity, not one or the other.
3. Your biggest asset is your website – know how it flows
Analysing your site’s dialogue is arguably the most vital factor in your company’s survival. When we were starting out our traffic numbers were right up but the conversion levels weren’t eventuating. Revisiting our site we found the content was great but the call to action wasn’t clear. We focused our efforts on layout and design and made sure they all assisted the reader to know what to do.
4. Reinforce your decisions with insights
Use analytics to monitor your coverage. The difference between your traffic and conversion rates are people getting lost on your site. This goes back to knowing your site’s dialogue, but your statistics are the key indicators of how much attention you’re getting (and keeping).
5. Continuously be fresh and relevant
Traditionally many companies have used email marketing to increase their ongoing contact with audiences. While this can produce results, constantly improving the quality of your homepage and other landing pages is just as important. People need to know that if they engage with your service or product, they’re getting the freshest and most informed response.