Dean RamlerWednesday, 29 February 2012 09:51
What are some affordable strategies to achieve online growth and protect the bottom line?
What are some affordable strategies to achieve online growth?
We have a pretty simple online business of selling vacuum cleaner parts and accessories. What avenue should I consider to increase growth without cannibalising profit?
Growing one’s business is the ultimate goal of all business owners and there are various strategies that can be employed to achieve this goal.
The challenge is to select the strategies most suitable to your particular market and business model, while always ensuring you are providing the absolute best service to your customer base.
To increase growth for an online business I would focus on these four key areas:
1. Creating or improving your website
Your website is your storefront and the single most important aspect of an online business. A great website should focus on providing the customer exactly what they are looking for via clear categories, good search functionality, and easy navigation.
Products should have fantastic and detailed photos, accurate and thorough descriptions, plus clear specifications. If you can get those aspects right, conversions should increase.
2. Invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
A key way to grow your business is to get more people to visit your site!
In the online sphere, you need to be found through search engines, therefore both SEO and PPC are critical; with SEO strategies helping you rank organically (i.e. free) via the search engines, and PPC being the paid version made famous by Google.
Both SEO and PPC strategies can be self-taught with plenty of useful info available online. They also require an understanding of what your customers are searching for. However, if this is not a key strength of yours, there are many great Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firms available that can be contracted.
3. Utilise social media
Social Media such as Facebook business pages and Twitter accounts are a great way to spread the word in a cost effective manner that will help you sell to a larger audience.
Set up a Facebook business page and run Facebook only promotions for your vacuum cleaner parts and accessories online store. For example, a promotion for half priced vacuum accessories for one hour only. This encourages people to “Like” or share your page, increasing its public visibility.
Twitter is another great way to communicate with your customer base and keep in touch with what they want.
In today’s fast paced business environment it is crucial to listen to your customers; if you do that, happy customers will spread the word!
4. Excel in customer service
Having a great website, social media presence and Search Engine Marketing strategy are all very important, in getting customers to your site and selling to them.
However, unless backed up by fantastic customer service and support, the whole system falls down.
Excellence in customer service is the single biggest factor between success and failure for retail businesses whether online or offline. So invest in your staff, train them up and treat your customers like kings!
Dean is the co-founder and CEO of Milan Direct, Australia's largest online designer furniture store with operations in Australia, UK and Europe. He was named in the top five fastest growing start-ups at the 2011 StartupSmart Awards. www.milandirect.com.au
Ask Dean or any other StartupSmart Mentor a question here.
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