An online business strategy extends beyond the simple idea of slapping a website on the word wide web, and then expecting the cash to come rolling in. The internet is a massive place. There are over 200 million active web sites out there, and it's growing on a daily basis.
Have you thought about making some money online? What I can tell you is that a lot of people dream of making it big online, but only a handful of individuals get it right.
I attribute this to one major misconception, the need to be a computer geek! Let's set the record straight:
You do not need to know how to configure a web browser to make it big online.
You do not have to be a website designer to make it big online.
You do not have to be a programmer to make it big online.
All you need is a basic understanding of marketing principles. With over 200 million potential competitors, most beginners literally get lost in the internet zoo.
So as they say, those who shout the loudest get the most attention. More accurately, those who market smartly get most of the internet traffic.
A web business is for all intents and purposes a marketing business. Too often, start ups spend most of their time designing pretty websites and the perfect product or service. As important as these things may be, little focus is placed on finding a 'hungry' market or people who would be interested in buying the product or service.
A profitable online business strategy looks at addressing five key areas:
A) Niche Market: There are over two billion people who use the internet today. Your business cannot be everything to everybody, which is why you must first identify a specific niche market that will be interested in what you have to offer.
There is another important reason – competition. Would you rather enter a playground dominated by heavyweights with the likes of Google or Microsoft, or enter a field where your chance of being the head honcho is good. Your goal is to own the pie, not to scramble for the leftovers.
Three questions need answering:
Who is your target market?
What do they want?
How will you encourage them to buy?
B) Killer content: People use the internet for information. As an online entrepreneur your job is to package whatever information you hold into delectable products and services.
There are two basic business components that work hand in hand, a website and a blog. A website is analogous to a storefront. This is where all the selling takes place. A blog is where all the relationship building takes place, where all the “free samples” are handed out.
Trust is a major factor online. Without trust, your chance of completing a sale is dismal. The key to building online relationships is to provide free good quality information on your blog, and to communicate with your audience on a regular basis.
Once people understand what you are all about and trust you, they will be willing to give up their dollars, on condition that they see value in your website’s content.
C) Unique offering: The best way to get people to buy from you is to make your offering or information stand out. Why would anyone buy from you if your product or service offering is the same as your neighbours?
How will your offering separate you from the rest of the playing field? If you rehash the same ol' talked about stuff, do not expect to build a loyal following. Your business must be able to clearly differentiate itself.
D) Marketing: Marketing is like a net or fishing rod. You need some way to lure or attract the ideal audience to your website. Beginners miss this point completely or rush over it.
Almost like building a water café in the middle of the Sahara desert, expecting people to ‘blow’ out from the middle of nowhere with their water orders. Not going to happen.
I need to say this again, ‘An online business is a marketing business’, and there are two general ways to attract visitors -Build free traffic channels or buy them.
How will you attract the right people to your storefront or website? What methods are you going to use?
E) Monetisation: This is probably the most important part of your online business strategy. Unless you are planning on doing this as a hobby, your website must be able to generate an income. It’s one thing to attract visitors to your storefront it’s another thing to get them to open up their wallets!
Repeat visitors to your blog are likely to turn into customers. This is why you need great content, to entice them to come back for more. It also builds trust in the process. So don’t expect the sale to happen on day one. It may only happen three months down the line.
Now that your visitors have ‘warmed’ up to you, give them exactly what they want in the form of a paid product or service. I believe one of the best and most lucrative ways to generate income online is to develop your own information products and services.
For example, writing an ebook in your area of expertise and selling it to a ‘hungry’ market is an excellent way to get started. The great thing about an information product is that people can buy, download and access their product in a few short minutes. There is no need to wait around for a middleman to courier their purchase.
►There are basically three main ways to make money online:
Sell your own products and/or services.
Sell other peoples’ products and/or services. This is known as affiliate marketing.
Profit from internet traffic. In other words, you build the highway, install a toll booth and get visitors to pay you for finding your website. In online terms, build a website/blog offering quality information, drive a crap load of people to your site, get other people to advertise on your site and when your visitors click on these links or ads, you get paid a commission.
►To recap, your online business model must address the following questions:
Do you have a niche market? Who is your audience?
What content or information will you communicate to people?
How will your business differentiate itself?
How will you attract people to your website or blog?
How will your storefront generate revenue?