Most companies launch their business online without putting much thought into the whole process. The internet can become your most powerful tool for revenue generation but if the planning, website design and marketing strategies are not executed correctly, the real and opportunity costs can be huge. How many times have you heard about people launching a new website that they are instantly unhappy with, only to throw the entire project away and start from scratch? Here are four questions every business owner should ask before getting started:
1. What is the best domain for your geographic market?
Firstly consider which country you are looking to target as your domain will affect your search engine rankings which in turn will determine how many customers find your website. If you are looking to get customers from Australia it is ideal to have a .com.au domain name whereas if you are launching in the USA, .com is optimal. Search engines rank websites by country so if you are looking for an international reach you would ideally have to launch a new website for each country to maximise your search engine rankings.
2. What is the primary goal of your website?
It could be to maximise sales or sales enquires, to generate advertising dollars through maximising page views or to grow a database for future marketing. Whatever the method, the key to the success of any website is to maximise the revenue generated from your visitors. It is crucial to establish the goal before starting the design and functionality of your website as everything on your website should be focused on maximising the conversion rate of your primary goal. If you have more than one goal, rank them in order of importance and use the website design to focus on them accordingly.
3. Once your website launches, how do customers find you?
There are so many ways to market a website, the question is, what is the most profitable way? In general, all traditional method of advertising like radio, television and print media are the least cost effective way to advertise a business as your ad must be seen on average six times before it is absorbed by each customer. Online advertising such as search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and social media marketing will get you the best return for your advertising dollar. The challenge is to determine the best may to maximise your website’s conversions at the minimum cost. This can be refined over time through testing new methods and tracking their effectiveness. The best thing about launching an online business is that you can track the effectiveness and profitability of each type of advertising. Every sale, every enquiry and even phone calls can be traced to determine which method is most cost effective. Start small and expand on the methods that are profitable.
4. What is the end goal?
Unlike traditional businesses where companies are valued at 2 to 3 times their annual profit, other factors can influence the sale price of an online business. Additional value can be found in the size of your member database and also the number of visitors to your website. Consider focusing on these elements as secondary goals when developing your website and marketing strategies to get the maximum value out of your business online.