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How to Start a Business Online -7 tried and true steps for attracting visitors to your site–and getting them to buy.

There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online. I’ve seen thousands of people start and grow successful businesses by doing the following:

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with e-mail.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.

Step 1: Find a need and fill it

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you’ve learned and create a product for a market that already exists–and do it better than the competition.

Step 2: Write copy that sells

There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:

  1. Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
  2. Describe the problem your product solves.
  3. Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
  4. Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
  5. Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Make a strong guarantee.
  8. Create urgency.
  9. Ask for the sale.

Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people’s problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask “What’s in it for me?”

Step 3: Design and build your website

Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you’re ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention–otherwise they’re gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
  • Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
  • Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
  • Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
  • Make it easy to buy–no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
  • Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.

Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site

Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.

Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself

People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you’ll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information.

  • Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
  • Include “send to a friend” links on valuable content on your website.
  • Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.

You’ll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.

Step 6: Use the power of e-mail marketing to turn visitors into buyers.

When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them e-mail. That means:

  • You’re giving them something they’ve asked for.
  • You’re developing lifetime relationships with them.
  • The response is 100 percent measurable.
  • E-mail marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it’s highly targeted.

Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than e-mail for following up with those leads.

Step 7: Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling

One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer’s lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part–not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and up selling to get them to buy again:

  • Offer products that complement their original purchase.
  • Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
  • Offer related products on your “Thank You” page after they purchase.

Reward your customers for their loyalty and they’ll become even more loyal.

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven’t changed at all. If you’re just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you’ve been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there’s a step you’re neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can’t go wrong with the basics.

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6 Reasons Why Your Online Business Might be Struggling

 

6 Reasons Why Your Online Business Might be Struggling

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You started out with a fantastic idea, so why isn’t your business performing the way you thought it would? Let’s look at six common barriers to online business success.

#1) You targeted the wrong niche — or you didn’t target a niche at all.

Before you even think about putting up a website promoting your product or service, you need to be able to answer these questions: Is there a demand for my idea? How much competition is there for my product or service? Who are my top competitors? Do I stand a realistic chance of outranking them (particularly in the organic search results)? Last, but not least: Where is the industry headed? Is my product or service gaining momentum or is it on a downward trend?

After you’ve investigated these questions, there’s a good chance you might need to reevaluate your business idea, but don’t get discouraged. It’s not necessarily a bad idea — you might just need to put a new spin on your product. Maybe you need to target a smaller segment of the market. Remember, the more specific your niche, the better chance you’ll have of climbing to the top of the search engines and the less money you’ll have to spend on directly competitive forms of marketing such as pay-per-click campaigns.

#2) You don’t have a clear business model for your website.

While it seems like common sense to begin your business with a clear business model in mind, many new online business owners start with a vague idea at best when it comes to monetizing their website. This is not surprising if you’ve heard the hype surrounding online business and the false idea promoted by a handful of Internet marketers that online business is as easy as throwing up a website.

There are various methods of monetizing your website online. One of the most common of these models is selling advertising through Google’s AdSense program. However, in many cases, advertising revenue isn’t substantial enough to base your entire business model on. Consider other options: If you’re running an information site, you could consider offering an informational product such as an e-book. You could also charge a fee for premium subscribers to your content.

#3) You’re trying to do too many things at once.

Every online business owner knows that the Internet is full of distractions, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Keeping a day planner can be useful, but don’t abuse it by filling it in with an unrealistic amount of tasks to complete. Focus on one or two important tasks per day.

Next, combat distractions by eliminating information overload. Often, this comes in the form of excessive e-mail subscriptions. While educating yourself is important, don’t fall into the trap of spending many hours of your day consuming blog posts, e-books, and emails about how to improve your online business. Instead, get out there and work on your business, one step at a time. To join the ranks of successful online business owners you need patience, persistence, hard work, and above all, focus.

#4) You’re being a control freak.

Many of the most successful online business owners are expert outsourcers. While outsourcing might seem like the department of Fortune 500 companies, there are two very good reasons for small businesses to outsource: 1) To save time, and 2) To maintain an image of professionalism in every aspect of your business.

While it certainly helps to be a jack or jill of all trades in the diverse world of online business, it’s crucial to find the right balance. Time is your most valuable asset. With that in mind, it’s often a better investment to give up ultimate control in the name of saving more time to invest in furthering your business and going after your ultimate vision.

Being a control freak can also come at the expense of quality. If you’re not absolutely certain you can perform a task with proficiency, it’s best to hire a qualified professional to handle the job. This especially applies to visible elements of your website such as website design, logo creation, and content development.

#5) You’re not sure how to market your product or service.

The opportunities to promote your business on the Internet are unlimited. However, these strategies are easily missed if you don’t know where to look for them. As an online business owner, you have two options when it comes to marketing your business: Learn the tricks of the trade yourself, or hire an expert SEO or social media consultant to do the job for you. Just make sure it gets done properly, and remember time is your most valuable asset. Be sure to read “How to Choose an SEO Guru for Your Website.”

If you want to learn how to do it yourself, begin with a broad overview of the various advertising and marketing techniques that are specific to the Internet. Some of the big ones include pay-per-click, social media, press releases, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO). Educate yourself on each of these and find out which strategies work best for your own business by testing. Get help with some vital factors for SEO planning.

Finally, know that simply having the pillars of a smart marketing strategy in place is not enough. You have to measure your progress and continue to make refinements. You can quickly get started on this task by signing up for an account with Google Analytics, the free standard in web metrics software.

#6) You bought into the get-rich-quick dream.

The greatest barrier to online success is unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, this has become an epidemic due to get-rich-quick schemes promoted by a handful of Internet marketing gurus. It’s tempting to get caught up in the hype, but don’t. The best defense against this kind of toxic thinking is to avoid any kind of system that promises easy riches and, as they say, mind your own business — you’ll be grateful in the long run.

We hope you enjoyed this article on Business Struggling and it brought you value Your feedback is important to us. Please comment or tweet below.

Make it a great day!!

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

PS.  Are you a social sheep?  Click here to find out!

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Some articles that will bring you value:

http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-to-turn-around-a-struggling-business.html

http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/strugglingbusinesses/a/problem-2.htm

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The Shocking Reason Some Businesses are Still Struggling in the Online Marketing

The Shocking Reason Some Businesses are Still Struggling in the Online Marketing

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Why do you think so many marketers have a hard time cutting through the clutter and reaching more customers online? Take a guess before you read the next line because in a moment I’ll show you some data that might surprise you.

Do you think marketers struggle because they don’t have a social presence? Do you think it’s because their competitors are outranking them? Is it bad content? A poorly designed website?

Or what if it was something that very few marketers are even thinking about? Just take a guess at what the biggest obstacles are, and let’s see what the data says about how close you are…

The Naked Truth About Online Marketing

Go to any authority website or magazine and look for an article on business growth. I bet you my shirt that 99% of them give marketing advice. Everyone seems to think it’s about marketing. Could this be why only 1% of 1% of small businesses ever grow? The data suggests that if you want to grow your business, you might need to look to the internet for more than just marketing.

For starters, did you know that (according to MediaPost), 45% of B2B businesses are now using some kind of automation software, but less than 20% of small businesses have started automation in their marketing?  The study also found that small companies who use automation tools in their marketing are almost 50% MORE likely to report revenue growth.

Think about that one for a moment, are your competitors using automated marketing tools? Are you okay with them having something which you know will increase their sales? Meanwhile, are you trying to increase your sales by using out of date methods and technology?

So if you want to grow your business using the internet, marketing isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You also need the right technology.

That’s not that only paradigm buster either.

Depending on the stats you read, anywhere from 7 to 9 out of ten customers will consult online peer reviews before making a buying decision. Yet only 43% of B2B leaders believe their company could respond to a negative online review or post within 24 hours. More than 10% of companies stated that they don’t doanything to respond to negative comments (source: The Backup List).

Most marketers are obsessed with making sales, while customer service is viewed as an afterthought. But over a trillion dollars which are spent OFFLINE are spent by customers who claim that their decision was “web influenced.” (source: Forrester Research). What are those customers looking for?

Advertisements or peer reviews and high quality information? Do you think your customer service practices impact whether your customers leave positive or negative reviews online?

Do You Know What Your Customers Really Want?

Finally, e-Strategy Trends, reported that while 76% of marketers believe they know what their customers want, only 34% have bothered to ask. Are you starting to see the trends here? Marketers are still applying the same “in your face” direct marketing tactics and thinking that’s the key to business growth.

But the internet has changed the way people make buying decisions. If you want to stand out today, you need to educate your prospective customers, not just market to them. You need to take great care of your existing customers and watch your online reputation like a hawk.

If you’re not doing this, you might be one of the 76% of marketers who assumes that they know what their customers want. If you’re ready to team up with a company who can increase your positive online reputation and your rankings, you need to call MSI right now. Don’t just assume you know what to do. If you’re not growing today, chances are you won’t start growing until something changes.

We hope you enjoyed this article on Business Struggling and it brought you value.   Your feedback is  important to us & very much appreciated.  Please comment or tweet below.

Make it a great day!!!

Adele & Christina

Virtual Marketing Empire

Take action today.  These will help bring you financial freedom:

   http://thesocialsheep.com/

    www.virtualmarketingempire.com

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Remember: Success starts with the proper mindset.  Your invited Listen to our live daily calls!!  This is where it all begins!!  

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