Online Business Basics
What is e-Business?
Using Web/Internet in some way to generate profit, eg:
- Promote a physical business, eg Web site for a café
- Sell physical products online, eg books, English food
- Sell e-products, eg e-books, information product
- Sell own product/service
- Sell someone else’s product/service (affiliate)
- Sell ad space
Unlike physical businesses that occupy unique space, the Web is an all or nothing medium. Every site can be every user’s site of choice for a given purpose. Each space will tend to be dominated by one big player.
However, the Web plays host to billions of unique visitors, each with unique needs & interests. It allows these to be satisfied by the micro-niches of many millions of providers, ie the long tail.
In order to dominate a sector operators must be supremely efficient. This means abandoning traditional inefficient rigid corporate hierarchy in favor of flexible networks of individual “job ownership”. The "big dogs" rely on numerous partners / affiliates to drive business. Smaller players can provide greater specialist depth and expertise than possible from big dogs seeking to be all things to all men.
- Is business online/offline (is Web site the business, or a marketing channel for a physical business)?
- Do you provide a product or service? NB: if you’re doing the service earnings are capped by your available time; products much easier to scale up.
- Sell own product/service or someone else’s (or both)?
- Is product/service digital/physical (digital easiest to scale up, eg can sell unlimited copies of ebook with zero marginal cost).
Building a Web Business Web
Web business must begin with a sound strategy:
- Why does this site/page exist?
- Who is it for?
- What reason does visitor have for coming here?
- How will visitor find it?
- How can I make it easier for relevant visitors to find?
- What do I want visitor to do?
- How can it encourage desired action?
- How does it make money?
Site should have a specific purpose, eg:
- To inform
- To (help) solve a problem / improve life in some way
- To entertain
- To educate
- To promote change (activism)
And specific (prioritized) desired action(s) of visitors, ie: if someone lands on the page what do I want them to do, eg:
- Buy product
- Click through to merchant (pre-sell)
- Click ad
- Join mailing list
- Bookmark site for future visits
- Explore site further
- Like/share on social media
Who is site aimed at? Who is most likely to benefit from site? Who is most likely to perform desired action? Eg, age, gender, location, common characteristics.
Each page should also have specific purpose, desired action(s), and target audience. Different pages likely have different purposes, desired actions, and target audience(s). Page target audience likely to be narrower than (ie subset of) site’s.
Optimize pages for:
- Conversion (maximize desired action rate for visitor on page)
- Search engines (optimize rankings and relevance for engines)
Some pages will be ‘traffic magnets’, some will be optimized to produce desired action.
Keep site/pages fresh - Web is a living medium.
- Good way of staying on radar of relevant prospects.
- Encourage sign-ups with free gift.
- Provide value, don’t just hard sell.
- Don’t overdo mailings.
Success of Web site depends on:
- Quantity of traffic
- Quality of traffic (relevant to site, openness to take desired action(s))
- Effectiveness of site at producing desired action(s) (‘conversion’ rate)
- Value of desired action(s)
- Cost of attracting traffic (eg PPC)
ie, to improve success:
- Attract more traffic
- Attract better traffic
- Improve site’s conversion rate
- Increase value of desired action(s)
- Reduce cost of attracting traffic
- Organic search
- Paid (eg PPC, adsense, facebook)
All forms of marketing begin with putting self in shoes of target audience, eg:
- What might target audience (for page/site) type into search box?
Visualize typical target visitor.
Do supply/demand analysis for key terms (Google and AdSense tool), eg:
Term quality = No. of searches / √ No. of results
(NB: Term consists of one or more words; square root reflects amount of garbage in results)
Use tools, eg Google Analytics, Webmaster tools to provide information. Monitor how info changes in response to site / marketing changes.
Longer-term aim is to generate all traffic from organic sources.
Aim to get as many visitors as possible, relevance less of an issue as seemingly less-relevant visitor can be serendipitous.
- Select term(s) according to page theme and potential term quality.
- Optimize page for selected term(s), eg title, H1, text - but don’t “stuff” pages, keep it natural.
- Do this for both new content and existing. As lots of existing content need to prioritize pages with greatest potential - eg currently producing traffic/revenue.
- Eg: create broker pages pointing to existing content.
- Block search engines from ‘free content’ to avoid penalty.
- Links on quality sites
- eg provide articles / guest posts
- Likes on social media
- include like buttons
- active social media presence
- add value, don’t hard sell!
Relevance essential. Deleterious to pay for someone with no chance of producing desired action.
Necessary for revenue to exceed costs.
- Google - by keyword (subject)
- Facebook - by demographic / interest
- Ad copy
- Attract max no. of relevant visitors
- Avoid attracting non-relevant
Finding / Choosing a Niche
- Identify genuine need / problem (& solution)
- Try to be unique within niche
- Try to genuinely provide value to visitor
Finding / Choosing Product/Service(s)
- Genuine belief in value of product/service