How to Make Your Online Business Successful
This is the last in a series of three articles dealing with the “How to” of online business. In the first article, the future of online business was discussed. This article will look to provide you with strategies to prepare your online business for that imminent future.
The future can be a daunting place while shrouded in mystery. However, even if you knew what the future had in store, would you be able to prepare adequately for it? This is a pertinent question that all online business owners must ask themselves. Being properly prepared for the future of online business will all but guarantee the success of your business. So, just what steps can you take today - to make sure that your business thrives tomorrow?
Personalised Customer Experience
One of the biggest trends expected to take over online business in the coming years is the implementation of a personalised customer experience. We touched on this in the first article and take a more in depth look now as we ask, what exactly are the best methods for doing so without coming across as either annoying or a stalker?
Providing a personalised customer experience requires collecting data about each and every single customer, which can be a fairly controversial task. For example, Facebook has been widely criticised for analysing messages sent on the site and then showing personalised ads based on the general content of your messages. Many people saw this as an extreme breach of privacy. As a result of this negative response it seems that the most prudent way to collect data about your customers is by:
- asking them to fill out a short profile about themselves on your site in which you can learn their age, gender and basic interests
- conducting short surveys while the customer browses the site.
This information will then allow you to identify your target market and advertise appropriately.
These basic forms of customer personalisation are effective in the short run but are likely to be insufficient in the future, as technology progresses. In order to truly stay ahead of the game, it may be worth your while investing in more advanced techniques. One such advanced method involves tracking your customer’s cookies to see what they have searched for on other sites and then catering your ads and general website in line with this. For example, if a person has been online recently searching for a TV, then your website would automatically advertise TV’s as they land on your page (that is, if your business sold that product).
Another approach expected to make waves in the future is location tracking. This involves changing the layout and primary advertised goods on your web page, based on the customer’s location. These methods may sound unrealistically complicated, however, there is already software being released on the market that will perform these actions for you.
The future of online business is expected to be characterised by an increase in customer expectations with regards to the level of service they receive. It may be worthwhile for your online business to invest in things such as live chat feeds, where customers receive live face-to-face help with a specialist if they so choose. It is personalised service such as this that could ultimately give you the edge over your rival.
In today’s world, technology is advancing at an extraordinary rate. Given its prevalence in society, it is imperative for online businesses to keep up with the latest trends in order to remain relevant. So what is the best way for your online business to stay in touch with your customers? The answer to this question is undoubtedly, “create an App”. The emergence of applications (App) for mobile phones and tablets has been something of a phenomenon in the last decade, as they have effortlessly integrated into the general public’s life. By its very nature, an Application constitutes the best platform to quickly and efficiently communicate with customers.
An App for your business will allow regular customers to order goods on the move as well as providing them with information on such things as product specials and sales. Furthermore, an App provides an exciting platform for business to customer interaction. With an App a business could, for example, host exciting competitions in which customers could win great prizes. This kind of interaction creates social activity, which in turn can attract new customers to your business and strengthen existing customer relations.
Another technological sphere in which online businesses should invest in is utilising applications to streamline business processes. Due to the ever-increasing power of applications, many mundane aspects of business, which used to consume your time, can now be completely automated. A good example of this lies in social media. Posting consistent updates that need to spark both debate and interest is taxing work. However, apps now exist that completely automate the process for you, posting scheduled updates, following back people who follow you and replying to messages. This form of business application is but the tip of the ice berg, as there are now systems that can automate every aspect of your business from supply to delivery, while also collecting important data and trends from customers. More and more of these applications appear every day, with a quick Google search sure to provide a whole list of available options.
In the first article of the series it was established that the future of business is online and thus, the e-commerce sector is about to become inundated with entrepreneurs trying to grab themselves a slice of the online moneymaking pie. So how should your online business deal with this added competition?
To answer this question, one must acknowledge that online transactions are becoming more and more commonplace; therefore, some of the moneymaking methods employed in the early days of the Internet will cease to work. For example, going forward, it is highly unlikely that your online business will be able to charge a delivery fee on goods and still remain popular with customers.
Due to the impending saturation of the market, online business will soon become a game of inches in which sites selling the same products will constantly try to undercut each other’s prices for increased market share. There is not much specifically that you can do to stop this; however, you can make sure you win the war. Taking the time to streamline your online business to cut unnecessary costs will enable you to sell your products at a reduced price. This streamlining process can involve:
- evaluating the efficiency of the service your web host provides
- determining whether your current domain name is worth the money
- whether your advertising is effective
These are just some of many streaming options; notwithstanding, it makes sense that all online businesses should leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of reducing costs.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of the increased competition in the e-commerce sector is the difficulty an online business faces getting noticed among the chaos of all the other sites attempting to sell the same goods. It is for this reason that marketing your online business is so important – how you effectively market your online business will be the subject of the third and final article in this series.