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6 tips to get your online business started

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Some 38m UK adults used the web at the end of 2012. Of those, more than 30m accessed the internet at least once a day, according to the Office for National Statistics. These statistics keep increasing, but why? Simply put, the internet has become a fact of life, whether it be for personal use or business reasons.

As the UK becomes mobile crazy, small firms can no longer ignore the significance of an online presence to hook new customers.

So what can small business owners do to ensure they’re using the right approach to the internet? These six tips should cover the basics.

1. Create a centralised hub

The most important part of having a website is the ability to tie all your online activity into one centralised hub. No matter whether you’re on Twitter, or if you’ve posted content on someone’s blog, what you do, advertise and sell, should always link back to your site. This way, people will know exactly what your business does, where it is based and how to contact you. Invest plenty of time and effort into a design for your website as it’s almost as important as your brand. Good graphics, 24/7 support and an easy to navigate site will work wonders for your business. 

2. Marketing your business

Astonishingly, 93 per cent of all internet traffic comes from a search engine, according to Forrester research. So, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) are your best friends. Content is king – the more you publish, the higher your site will be pushed up in the search engine rankings. Don’t forget to add Google Adwords into the mix as it is a great way to reach millions of customers through adverts relevant to what they’re searching for. Pay-Per-Click is also another cost-effective system to consider.

3. Offer something in return

The internet will do it’s best to lead customers your way, but it’s up to you to keep them interested enough not to leave within ten seconds. Free demo/trials, articles, tips, free workshops and  competitions are all great ways to keep them coming back. More often than not, a person will visit your site a few times before buying a product. 

Other useful strategies include:

  • Blogs; 
  • Forums;
  • Newsletters; and
  • RSS feeds.

4. Brand building

Your brand is possibly one of the most important aspects of your company. By providing an online presence, you give customers a chance to check out your company, its credibility, and products or services. It also gives people the ability to review. Some may consider reviews to be a double-edged sword, but customer’s almost always first flock to reviews to see what other customers thought of the quality.

5. Think multi-channel

You need to get your brand where your potential customer’s are, and that just happens to be social media. It’s crucial to have at least one account! As a small business, however, investing in social platforms you won’t use could be a costly mistake. Think hard about which platform is the best for you. Stuck deciding which is best for you? Then take a look at Real Business’s ‘Social media platforms explained through donuts.

6. Facilitate sales

All will be for nothing, however, if your customers can’t buy online. In essence, your website should be a virtual shopping cart. Customers want to buy what they want, when they want, all from their couch at home. Display all your products professionally and make the cash transfer a hassle-free experience by joining sites such as PayPal, Sage Pay or PayPoint.

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