Six Steps to taking your business Online
Gone are the days when starting a business meant setting up a brick and mortar store. Now, most transactions happen online. Being able to shop online, take online classes, reach and sell to your target audience online was already a convenience we millennials had adapted to. Thanks to Covid-19, online tasks are now a necessity rather than just a convenience.
Let us analyze why you need an online business. After all, lockdowns are bound to be lifted, normal traffic is bound to resume, the economy is bound to improve… someday. Why bother going online? Think about it this way – Any behavior can be turned into a habit if you regularly perform a task over a period of time, at least 21 days. Your target consumer has had over 6 months of time to adapt to the online lifestyle. During this time, he would have made peace with any quirks or found workarounds for any shortcomings of conducting business online. He now has come to love the convenience of conducting business online – no rush hour traffic, no queues, home delivery of all kinds of goods, no risk of meeting people.
Secondly, an online business is like having a store that’s open 24/7. It’s got much lesser overhead – in terms of not needing and maintaining a commercial space, not needing to hire store managers, security guards, etc., thus increasing your profit margins. So all businesses (big or small) need to establish themselves online if they want to succeed in this digital age. If you have a local business and are looking to take it online, here are the steps to take.
For the purposes of this post, let’s assume you have a viable business. One that solves a problem your consumers are facing and your business is profitable and sustainable. Here’s what you need to do next.
1. Invest in building a brand
Branding is the foundation for any kind of business. The power of branding is massive in this digital age. A lot of factors affect how a brand is perceived – right from the logo, design, promotional merchandise, customer service, quality of the offering, etc. If you want your brand to be memorable, invest in creating a beautiful logo, and ensure all your branding collaterals, marketing materials, stationery, etc. are consistent in color scheme, design, and look and feel. Further, ensure your brand aesthetics are in line with modern design trends. The main purpose of branding is to help get recognition, be memorable, increase the value of your business, and create trust within the marketplace. Focus on telling your story to your consumers. Show people who are behind the business, talk about the challenges you have overcome, and the passion with which you have created your business. A brand is after all, not just a logo, a symbol, or a slogan, it is also an identity and reputation.
“Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability” – Jason Hartman, Author of Become the Brand of Choice
2. Get a website!
Not (just) an Instagram account. Not (just) a Facebook page. Get a good premium website with a clean design and an easy to use interface. Your website should look professional and have a clear call to action. The design should be responsive so that it can be viewed on any device. It’s important to note that as of now more than 60 percent of the website traffic comes from mobile devices. For some E-Commerce websites, it might go up to 90%. Hence responsive website design is a must today.
Most small businesses assume that their Instagram page is sufficient to find prospective customers. Instagram/ Facebook no doubt helps with the right kind of hashtagging and influencer marketing. Social networks’ biggest advantage is that the regular updates help to keep your brand fresh in your consumer’s mind. It’s like having an advert on a big billboard on a road that you take often. When consumers, at any point in the nearby future, want to buy the commodity or service that you offer, your brand will be top of their mind.
But a website is still necessary to provide your customer with an easy and seamless shopping experience. A good E-commerce website design can save you loads of time required for back and forth WhatsApp conversations to make a sale.
To build a website, you would first need to secure your domain name. Once you have registered a domain, you need to lock in the same domain name/business name on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Your identity on all these social networks needs to be cohesive and easy to find.
The next task is to find a good hosting service provider. We recommend services like Bluehost / HostGator. Find a shared hosting space if possible to save on the expenses. Ensure your hosting service is reliable with at least 99% uptime so that your website stays online always.
Finally, build a website that’s easy to use with clean aesthetics that reflects your brand’s vision and story. Keep it modern and minimal. Most often less is more.
3. Content is King
Consistent, high-quality, and engaging content impacts the value of any business. It’s essential that your social media profiles and your websites have great, interesting content that will provide value to your consumers. Delivering a consistent consumer experience is part of building a strong brand. Your content should be a combination of photos, videos, graphics, and text that tells your brand’s story and displays your products in the best possible way to make its features and advantages obvious to the consumer. However, your content should not be only about your products or services. Instead, it should be about providing value to your followers by sharing knowledge, helpful tips, solving a problem they are facing in addition to showcasing your products or services that will interest them.
Good quality photos and videos can improve the quality of your branding, make your products showcase their true worth, and help make the buying decision faster. Invest in a good photographer. Having been Photographers ourselves, we cannot stress enough the importance of good visuals.
Great content creates space for people to pause and reflect, and that space is where transformation happens. – Jolie Miller
4. Optimize your Website for Search Engines
For any of our purchase decisions, we most often start with a google search unless we are already loyal to a favorite brand. In order to find new consumers who would be interested in what you offer, you would need to optimize your website to be found on search engines. You would need to rank high to the relevant keywords that matter to your business. This process of search engine optimization is just as important as having a beautiful website.
5. Be Regular on Social Media
Like we mentioned before, good quality content can make a whole lot of difference to your brand. At the same time, it’s extremely essential to deliver this content at consistent intervals. We recommend posting quality photos and videos at least once a day.
6. Ads to reach your target audience
Finally, in order to speed up your growth, you could try targeted ads. One of the biggest advantages (and disadvantages) of social media is that social networks record every move a user makes, his/her interests, the pages he/she likes, the posts he/she views and interacts with, etc. In this Data age, information is gold. Thus it becomes easy to target ads on social networks to your potential customers – that segment of target users who would be interested in what you want to offer. Of course, not all brands are grown with help of ads; our own primary brand “Neeta Shankar Photography” was grown to 400,000 plus followers organically over the years. But with help of targeted ads, one can achieve their goals faster.
All this may seem daunting and a lot of work. You may feel lost or unsure where to start. It’s quite a tedious task to come up with regular quality content for social media. It’s harder to design a user-friendly website. It’s even harder to build a brand. You may want to focus on your core strengths rather than the nitty-gritty of the digital presence. Most often the biggest challenge that small and medium businesses face is that the creative agencies are expensive and moreover they focus on just singular tasks like a product campaign or print ads. There are not many agencies that are a one-stop solution to all these needs. When working with multiple teams, there is often a huge disconnect between the web designer and the photographer or social media team. This is where we want to bridge the gap and help with all tasks necessary to run an online business with our content creation experience, photography skills, and technical expertise. Do reach out if you would like to increase your brand’s visibility or even if you just want to say hi. We would love to catch up!
A former R&D Engineer at a reputed IT firm, Neeta switched professions and moved into the role of a Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer and started her own company. Neeta Shankar Photography is today one of the best in the industry; offering beautiful, authentic, no-frills Wedding Photography and Films. Neeta Shankar and her team of photographers and cinematographers specialize in Wedding Photography & Films where they strive to create timeless memories for you which are candid, emotional, offbeat, and fun. They are based in Bangalore but have shot weddings in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata, Jaipur, Udaipur, and everywhere else because they love to travel! With the experience of shooting over 250 weddings over the last 8 years, Neeta Shankar is known for capturing sincere wedding stories and elegant portraits.