Running a small business before the era of internet, you had a very limited choice of available options – you would go to your shop every day, meet the same people, sell or make the same things, stick to your routine and you wouldn’t bother dreaming of going big, no matter how well your business did. Today, having a choice to take the business online can make all the difference. Being online makes you visible to much more people, opens new opportunities to make some extra cash, and if you’re good enough you might outgrow your local market significantly and go global all the way.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to give up on the “offline” part of your business – you should decide to keep it if you think you’re doing just fine and don’t want to risk and lose what you already have. However, your online efforts might even help further develop this part of your business, by using all the benefits of different digital marketing strategies. This might be the way to get ahead of your competition, since owners of small businesses still aren’t too keen on using all the advantages of online presence to boost their brand and their sales.
Restructure the target market
The first thing to have in mind when you take your brick and mortar company to the web is that you need to consider who you’re trying to reach and use all the targeting tools available. Surely, if you’ve been running your business for a while, you have a pretty good idea who your customers are and their needs and preferences. However, if you’re judging only by your everyday face-to-face interaction with people who enter your shop, then you can have only a vague sense of who your target market might be. To really get to know them you’ll need to conduct a proper research, either through some kind of surveys or by employing all the digital tools and analytics at hand once the online part of your business is up and running.
Furthermore, have in mind that one of the goals of going online is exactly expanding your market, both in the demographical and the geographical sense. New opportunities will arise for you and you’ll have a chance to attract a completely different population who have never heard of you before. Therefore, don’t just rely on what you already know about your customers, but try to make an expansion plan and change your game a little bit. Once you have your targeting strategy all sorted out, segment your digital marketing efforts, try different approaches with different demographic groups and always track the feedback.
Choose the right channels
If you’re going online, there are several ways to go. The simplest one means you don’t even have to bother much with your own website – you can just use some of the e-commerce platforms, put your products out there, sit back and relax. But this alone probably won’t do much good. In order to really go big, you’ll need both a proper website and appropriate social media presence across the channels relevant to your business. Every social network has a specific type of users that dominate the network, so make sure you’re well acquainted with this before you start any kind of promotion on social media.
In any event, whichever channels you choose, don’t ever forget one thing – what sells your product to online users is not telling them to buy it, but delivering good and relevant content to these channels that will get people intrigued about your brand. Be patient and persistent because it might take some time for your digital marketing efforts to make a difference.
Having a top-notch web designer to create your visual identity is not just about choosing the right colors that go with your brand. Good web design is about functionality in the first place. Your website should be visually constructed and arranged in a user-friendly way, to make it easier for the visitors to handle it and with call-to-action buttons being visible yet not too aggressive or obtrusive. The design will affect your sales and conversions to a large extent and you should never go for the cheapest options. You might be worried about how to cover all these initial expenses, but if you know these efforts will get you profit at the end of the day, even taking cash loans is a reasonable idea.
Use the power of SEO
If you’re taking or even completely moving your business online, you need to make sure that people are able to find you using search engines, whether when they type in the name of your company or phrases related to your industry. SEO (search engine optimization) is employed with a goal to boost your search engine rankings – this makes you more relevant in the eyes of potential customers, more visible, and can generate a ton of traffic if done properly.
All in all, no matter how well your brick and mortar business is doing, taking it online should always be an option. In the times to come, people will certainly be relying more and more on comfort and simplicity offered by online shopping. You should get prepared for this and make sure to use the opportunity to reach the worldwide market on time.