Getting A Website
Bringing A Business Online
This post is aimed as a guide for the handful of merchants yet to bring their bricks and mortar business online in any capacity, and for a somewhat larger group I imagine who rushed to get their business online a while back without giving the process full consideration.
1. – Establish your aims
Before embarking on any business activity it is common practice to establish a set of aims. Clearly this is a necessary process in order that we can evaluate the success of our activity and use these results to learn where we can improve future performance.
With plenty of hype over the opportunities and success stories on the web, it appears that some businesses rushed to get online without fully considering the benefits it was going to bring them.
Simply “having an online presence” is a perfectly legitimate aim for some businesses, one example being a small but highly popular restaurant in a village. This may sound like just having a website for the sake of it; however it’s much more focussed than that. With this one aim established it should now be obvious what you should do, which is essentially to get a small but well-designed website that gives your business a great image whilst requiring minimal cost and effort to set up and maintain.
If this is your plan then you should manage your expectations accordingly and understand that realistically only very specific searches will come up with your website. However, if you get your website right then it will still benefit your business significantly for a small investment by serving the purpose of an impressive online business card, whilst at the same time allowing you to get on with developing your established revenue streams.
Regardless of your aims though, the crucial thing with this point is that when you decide to spend more resources on your website you will have a clear idea of the potential benefits to your business of being online, and therefore what results to aim for next and where to focus in order to achieve them.
P.S If you are just looking for an impressive yet low maintenance online presence for your business, then you may be pleased to know that Sellr have now started doing custom built non-ecommerce websites. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info…
2. – Make a plan
With this previous example the plan was very simple; however most companies choose to go online with the aim of significantly growing their business and to achieve this requires a well-researched plan.
The plan will start with a budget and a timescale. I would recommend initially planning for a year. This is a good amount of time to build up your online profile and after a year you should have a clear idea of the potential business you are able to generate for your budget.
As with any new project there are unknowns, but the great thing about experimenting with growing your business online is that due to the very reasonable cost of setting up a hosted website, it will require very few sales to pay for itself.
The budget for your website for one year could be as little as £100, however if you are looking to actively develop this sales channel then you will need to invest money and time on top of this.
Once you’ve budgeted for your website you will need to add your nominated advertising budget to this. Realistically expect to budget at least £10 per day to begin with although hopefully you will be able to bring this down.
If you do not wish to invest in online advertising there are still other ways to grow your business online, for example selling on market places such as eBay or a direct campaign getting leads you already have to buy from your website.
It will be hard to accurately predict your expected ROI to begin with but at least you will know how many sales you need to make to break even.
Whilst these are the fundamental costs to plan for, don’t neglect the fact that it may take you a couple of months just to get your website up if you have a large number of products and limited time to spend setting it up. I quite often suggest to merchants who are time poor to pay someone they know to do it, although it is worth noting that we also offer a product upload service for £1 per product.
Equally, you should give the time and monetary costs of order fulfilment and customer service some consideration.
3. – Optimise
Before you begin your online marketing campaign make sure to read this guide here. One thing I mention is that the great thing about pay per click advertising is that you can constantly make alterations to optimise your strategy, whilst limiting your overall spend. To find a PPC strategy that works for your business you will realistically need to budget at least £10 a day over the first couple of weeks so that you have enough data to work with. Soon enough you will find an optimum amount to invest consistently to make this a cost effective way of increasing sales.
For a lot of merchants this is a solid plan. If you see the majority of your business always coming through offline channels then getting your website generating a steady profit to supplement this is a great achievement.
Once you have reached this stage and have a good understanding of ecommerce, you are well positioned to take incremental steps to continue to grow your business either through further advertising or other online marketing strategies such as SEO.
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