What your online business needs to succeed is not only your website aesthetics and the emotions your colours evoke.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I truly recommend. This means I may earn a commission should you choose to make a purchase using my link. It’s okay, I know you’ll love them too.
It is not about the attractiveness of your Instagram feed and it’s certainly not about you dancing on TikTok.
Not that those things are not necessary. An attractive Instagram feed and a very colourful website can attract customers.
But you need to ensure that there’s a process on ground that helps you to maintain the customers, manage the backend and build stability into the business.
Bottom line is, you cannot afford to build a business that is aesthetically pleasing on the outside but standing on shaky legs inside.
When I started my online business, I didn’t understand these things, all my efforts were concentrated on my website and my Instagram.
I spent a lot of money on getting an aesthetically pleasing website and a cool Instagram feed, eventually, I shut down the website and had to refocus my Instagram.
The tools and technology available today have put some sanity into our operations; business management has not been as seamless as we have now.
It is up to you to make these new tools work for you and drive traffic to your business.
Before we go on, if you desire to grow an online business from scratch, grab this free ebook below.
So, without speaking too much grammar, what are the 7 things your online business needs to succeed?
1. A Website
The number one thing an online business needs to succeed is a website. That is actually what makes it an online business.
Having a website is a no-brainer, for a business that is predominantly online, it can be likened to a physical store.
Depending on the kind of business that you run, you can choose to have an e-commerce website, a portfolio website, a business website, or a blog.
It will be a huge pity if you chose a type of website that will not help you achieve your business goals.
Let’s take a look at all of the website examples I’ve mentioned.
eCommerce websites are those websites that allow users to shop for products and services, add items to their cart, download digital products, and so on.
A few things are important for an eCommerce website to be top-notch.
First, you need to use high-quality pictures of all the products that you sell.
The better the quality of the pictures, the better your chances of selling.
The next thing is your product description pages.
They are as important as the pictures because they both determine whether the visitor will add to the cart or not.
Product descriptions are also vital for SEO.
By including targeted keywords in your product description pages, you stand the chance of ranking top on SERPs.
If you wish to get the best of SEO, don’t stuff your product description pages with keywords, instead, weave them thoughtfully into the page.
It should be strategically optimized for search engines so that it speaks directly to your potential shopper.
The key is to think of the online buyer’s information needs first and foremost.
Once that is taken off the table, you can then start optimizing it for search.
The next bait is to include reviews on product pages.
This will bolster more sales because people will buy more of what other people have good things to talk about.
There are plugins that will help you upload customer reviews on your product pages if you use a WordPress platform.
Finally, ensure that your eCommerce website can be easily navigated, and don’t use too many complex designs that will get people confused.
Portfolio websites help in showcasing your professional work with the goal of winning clients.
If you are a designer, a writer, a public speaker, a videographer, an artist, a writer, or any kind of freelancer/creative professional looking for a place to showcase your work online, portfolio websites are great for you.
These types of websites exist to highlight specific skill sets and services that freelancers offer.
I see that some creative professionals use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and even Pinterest as their portfolio sites, but nothing beats having a place where you truly own and you’re not at the mercy of any platform.
A digital portfolio gets your name out there, generates credibility, and gives you a WOW factor if it is well-designed.
To showcase your work, you might use slideshows, galleries, or portfolio animations.
You can also embed videos depending on how you want to display your work.
One thing to note when creating a portfolio website is, you don’t need to showcase all the work you have done.
Pick the ones you think will give visitors or prospects that WOW factor and clearly express it there.
The purpose of a business website is to showcase vital information about your business that your audience may be looking for.
A business website provides an online presence so people can learn about a company, its employees, products, services, and culture.
The goal of a small business website is to provide information so customers can reach you directly.
If you want your business website to help convert visitors into paying customers, then you have to put a lot more effort into it.
For instance, the design has to match your company branding as well as your tone of voice, have easy navigation, direct to the point, and be very informative.
When I first started my online business, I started by creating a blog where I shared articles that fit into my brand strategy.
After many months of sharing articles on the blog, I eventually converted it into a website, a business website that is now the home base of my entire online business.
Blogs are regularly updated with relevant articles and photos meant to inform, entertain, and educate a person’s audience.
It is majorly a platform that an individual uses to voice their opinions, but these days, brands use it to reach their target audience.
So, a website is as vital to your business as air is to your lungs, you can’t survive without it.
As a business owner, it’s a 24-hour marketing tool for you because even in your sleep, it’s doing marketing for your business.
2. A Community
One thing about having a thriving online business is to have an audience who readily engages with your offerings.
Creating a community around your online business creates a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the target audience, and in the long run, is beneficial to both the business and its customers.
Communities can turn your followers into engaged evangelists, drive traffic to your website, help you retain customers, and increase your revenue.
The key to having a thriving community is to get people to communicate with each other on the platform.
When people in your community start to interact with each other, you’re building a thriving space for everyone.
But one hurdle many business owners face is building a dedicated audience or a community.
Let’s take a look at the different ways by which you can build a community around your online business.
Create a Facebook Group
One of the best and most reliable platforms on which you can create a community is Facebook.
By simply creating a group on Facebook, you can steadily build a community around your business.
Due to the vast number of people on Facebook, you want to determine if your group will be opened or closed.
An open Facebook group means that it is open for anyone to join, there’ll be no exceptions.
Content posted on an open group’s timeline is visible to anyone who views the group, there is little control over the content that is posted or the activity of people in an open group.
But a closed group is not as simple. It’s much more complex and you have to agree to a set of rules by the admin before you can join.
Also, your content is moderated first by the group moderators and if doesn’t go against any rules, it will be approved.
So, you can set up rules of engagement and have moderators who will review and approve posts.
That’s how I run my own Facebook group The Digital Entrepreneurs Community.
Other community-based platforms you can use are Whatsapp groups, Slack, Mighty networks, etc.
Start a Blog
Creating a blog around your business is a good way to create a community.
Contrary to what many business owners think, a blog is not only for ‘bloggers’.
There’s hardly any business that doesn’t have a website, talk less of an online business.
Every business owner who wants to build communities must have a blog.
Having a blog as a community is one of those things your online business needs to succeed.
But what most of them fail to do is to create a blog for their businesses.
A website is static, the content on it hardly changes.
But a blog offers enough information, personality, or authority to stand out from the competition.
Through relevant and valuable information that you share, you build a loyal audience who will then turn out to become customers.
Create Quality Content
Another way to build a community is to create quality content.
A few Instagram influencers that I follow have found a way to nail this. Through quality content, they’ve built a loyal following.
Your social media followers can also become the loyal audiences and members of your community only if your content is highly valuable and relevant to them.
One Instagram influencer does it well by sharing motivational videos with his followers, using real life examples from his life and that of those around him.
People can easily connect with that. If they receive real value from you, they’ll buy a product or service from you rather than trust another business owner they are less familiar with.
Many creators build up fanbases by participating in well-established groups, connecting with like-minded people, and sharing their best content.
Creating your own group really allows your own community to flourish and connect even more around your content.
3. An Email Marketing Platform
One of the best things you can ever do for your online business is to set up an email marketing system as soon as you start.
The benefits of starting an email marketing platform is that it helps you build your own database of potential customers early and you won’t have to rely on social media platforms.
An email marketing system is also a good way to build a community around your business.
When people join your email list, they’ve been prequalified as potential customers and you can continue to build trust by sending emails.
People won’t just give you their email addresses from the goodness of their hearts. You need to bait them.
Let’s take a look at the different baits that you can use to get someone into your email list.
Use Embedded Sign Up Forms
On your website, simply embed a signup form that will capture people’s email addresses.
But don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a lot of results.
People will hardly sign up with these forms, except they have gotten a high value information on your website and will like to know more.
So if you want this method to work, you need to deliver content that is remarkable and will solve your readers’ problems.
Use Popup Forms
Popup forms are somewhat intrusive, but if they promise to deliver relevant item into the reader’s email, then it can be forgiven.
But you need to know how to use them so that they don’t annoy your visitor and cause them to leave your website altogether.
Make sure that your popup doesn’t cover the entire page and it has a close button that will immediately take it away when it is clicked.
Also, don’t let your popup show up immediately the visitor lands on the page, they are still trying to understand what the page or the post is about.
Use Lead Magnets
Lead magnets or freebies are guaranteed to help get subscribers on your email list, all they have to do is promise to offer something really tangible.
Below is an example. If you input your email address, you get a free ebook.
A lead magnet can either be an ebook, a free trial, a webinar, free consultation, and so on.
It must be really specific and relevant to the visitor.
When you are sending emails to your subscribers, you want to create a system that allows you to reach them regularly.
You can choose to send out emails once or twice a week, but not too far apart so that you can remail top of mind.
Provide value first before selling.
One book that I recommed for anyone who wants to learn how to grow an email list is DotCom Secrets.
Just click on the image and you can get it.
Some of the best email marketing platforms are Flodesk, Mailchimp, Convertkit, Mailerlite, etc.
4. A Cloud-Based Platform
A savvy online business owner knows that having a cloud-based system is one of the things their online business needs to succeed.
I used to work in a digital marketing agnecy and everything we did was in the cloud.
Partly because it was a remote job and partly because the owner was business savvy.
Everything, from our social media creatives and our ad campaign details were stored in the cloud.
Having your data stored in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe location.
In case of a disaster, it ensures business continuity because all your stuff is in the cloud.
The best cloud-based platform to use is Google Workspace (not that I know of any others), but Google Workspace is your best bet.
And it is free until you reach your limit of 15Gb, where you start to pay a small amount of money occasionally.
Your presentation slides, your spreadhseets, your documents, etc. are safely and securedly store.
There are many benefits of using a cloud-based system in your online business and one of them is that it reduces your IT costs.
Your team can effectively collaborate on any project from wherever they are in the world.
5. A Brand Guide
A brand style guide is essentially an instruction manual on how a brand should be communicated.
It contains the standards required to represent your brand correctly both internally and externally.
Brand guidelines help businesses ensure consistency and demonstrate what the company is, what it does, and what it stands for.
Think of it as a document that contains the overall look and feel of how your brand identity.
What should you include in your brand style guide?
Information about your business mission, vision and values, guidelines on logo usage including color palette, file format(s), minimum and maximum sizes, contexts, spacing, and usage permissions e.g where it should and shouldn’t appear.
Your colour palettes, including it’s Hex codes, RGB and CMYK codes. Fonts and font variations, your text sizes (both print and digital).
Also, your brand’s tone of voice and grammar rules, design elements and imagery, designs of your business cards, letterheads and so on.
Read this article if you want to learn how to create a personal brand for your business.
And read this if you want to create a brand for your online business.
And finally, I have an ecourse that will teach you how to brand your online business and put it in front of the real people.
There, you’ll learn how to define your target audience, craft a brand story, write copies that sell and so on.