Is Your Online Business Making This Mistake?

You have a good website, you are focused on your product, you work hard at the business and yet your website is not delivering the expected… What went wrong?

Mike Carlson (name changed) had a website that was perfectly in all aspects- it was running well, looked good and it was even on page one for some keywords. Yet he was getting practically no traffic and his conversions were abysmal.

Mike is no exception. There are plenty of entrepreneurs with online businesses who are unsuccessful in attracting traffic.

Mike just failed to plan well.

What Mike planned was that “I will sell this product, target this keyword and have an online shopping cart for 24 hour accessibility”

Mike failed to plan a strategy. He did not plan how to achieve his targets. He just planned what he wanted to do.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”,you’ve heard this before. This is particularly true for businesses and no prizes for guessing; this applies to online business too. If you have decided to do business online and you have no plan, you are doomed to fail. Online business plans must be focused on all business activities which will lead you to your goal, help you to reallocate your resources to optimum use, analyze and make corrections & adjustments to get back on track if you ever deviate from your goals.

In the world of e-commerce you need specific planning

- What ecommerce business do you want to start?
- Is there a demand for the product?
- Is it too niche to generate revenue?
- How much revenue do you plan to target in the first year of business?

The above questions will help you decide the selling price and the number of people who must purchase your product for you to achieve the target. Your conversion rate will more or less depend on the conversion rates of your industry.

Once you get an approximate figure you can calculate the number of visitors you wish to browse your site. Then to need a workable plan which will get the required number of people to your website. This means that you much finalize what phrases are being used to search for the product and target the ones relevant to your product and traffic estimations.

A proper business plan will establish your business goals and eliminate unrelated unnecessary activities. After asking yourself the above questions you have a clear view of what you want from your online business in a given timeframe.

Online business plans may differ but there are a few broad guidelines which all such plans should include. They are knowledge of your market, content management and integrating your website design with SEO. Once you have the idea of a niche item you want to deal in you need to find the market for it. Then you need to refresh your website content periodically for search engines to fall in love with you. Your website planning, development, management and marketing strategies should be integrated with your business model for perfect harmony between each other.

An analysis of Mike’s business was that he just started selling products outright, targeting low traffic keywords and not finding the right people or the right market. In fact he was selling niche products to a generic audience. He did not research and did not plan long term He just focused on the present.

Know your customers

Here is some basic information that is needed before you launch your online business:

1. Who is my prospect?

- Demographic information

a. Where do they live?
b. What is their income group?
c. What is their age group?
d. What is their family size?
e. What is their profession?
f. Psychographic information
g. What is their lifestyle?
h. What are their beliefs?
I. What are their radio/TV watching habits?

2. Product usage information

- What is their hot button issue that your products or services address?
- How do they use your products/services

a. How much?
b. How much money do they spend?
c. What are their expectations from the products/services that you offer?

3. What is my prospects internet usage behavior?

a. What percent of your prospects look for your product/service on the internet vs. Yellow Pages?
b. What keywords or key phrases do they use to search products or services that you offer?
c. What percent of your prospects purchase your product/service over the internet?
d. What makes them decide to buy on the web vs. in store?

The plan for online business is very different from the plan for normal brick and mortar business. This business runs 24×7 non stop and closes as and when you, the business owner wants.

Focus on the customer

- What benefits do my products give my customers?
- How can I maintain their satisfaction levels?
- Why will the customers buy my products?
- How do I reach my target customers?

These are some questions which should be answered by your online business plan. Traffic generation is very important for this business and you may opt for free (article, blog, forum marketing) or paid (solo ad, Pay-per-click marketing, SEO) methods to generate more and more traffic.

The goals in your plan should be realistic, measurable and appropriate to your skill level and time scale. Your plan should include the details such as start-up costs, labor needs product quality, competition, the size of your potential market, profitability, necessary product support, legal issues and regulatory concerns, associated costs like shipping, inventory and repeat business potential and cross-selling potential.

Keep asking yourself these questions…

- How many visitors are coming to the site?
- How many visitors are new vs. old?
- How long does each visitor stay on your site?
- What does each visitor look at?
- What graphics, words, pictures, etc are generating the most responses?
- Which search engines are getting you the best prospects?
- Where else are your customers coming from?
- How many pages does the visitor look at?
- What are your website rankings?
- How much money have you made from the average visitor?
- Who are your biggest money-making customers?
- If you use PPC is it working and paying for itself?
- Which links are bringing your visitors and are they converting to customers?

Last but not the least, online business should invariably be related to something you love to do. The product or business should have an attraction value for you which will help you to not get bored while the time flies. A majority of businesses fail during the first two years after inception, mostly because its owners are no longer willing to put in the work needed to make it grow. By picking an area in which you have a natural affection and aptitude in, you will increase the chances of making your online business more than just passing fancy.

So get going and don’t forget to fail to plan a complete strategy.

Copyright (c) 2009 Ajay Prasad