The list of parallels between doing business online vs off is quite lengthy. So lengthy, in fact, that it’s much easier to identify the (very) few ways that successfully launching a brick and mortar store is different than an online-only business.
One way that doing business solely online varies from the Real World is when it comes time to open your new business for business.
With an online-only business, you don’t have the added benefits of customers and potential customers driving by your soon-to-be-open brick and mortar location, watching construction happen, a neon sign go up, and a “Grand Opening on …” banner hung in the store windows.
You can’t flip around the “Open” sign on your first day of an online business to tell the world they can come inside.
Opening your business online – where you have to work to get people to visit you without the benefits of the Real World drive-bys – can be a bit tricky. Below is a list of 6 online marketing tools to use.
Announcing your Online Business is Open for Business
Website Your website is your online home. You need to plan for its development, know where you are going to place the information, products, and services for sale, and actively, properly maintain it over time. This includes branded imagery and all technological features and functions.
During the website build phase, it’s best to either develop your new online home on a test site until it’s ready for public viewing, or use a plugin to display an “Under Construction” message on your home page. The biggest mistake you can make here, though, is keeping your new website offline or unviewable for too long. Give Google time to index your pages, and give customers and potential customers time to get acquainted with you weeks ahead of your launch.
Social Media before Opening If you aren’t opening your doors for another 6 months, it’s probably too far in advance to begin your social media efforts. But if your business launch is quickly approaching, it’s best to become active and consistent on your brand’s new social media profiles in order to begin developing relationships, gathering followers, and educating people on who you are and what you have to offer them.
Social Media Ads Most every social media platform now offers some type of paid ad option. After determining where you’ll spend your social time (based on where your customers hang out most), look into those platforms’ ad options and develop a campaign or two ahead of your business’ launch, as well as a couple that soon follow your “go live” date.
Blog The biggest challenge with blogging for your business is usually to actually start doing it. Blogging for your business tops the list of things that business owners say they know is important and see value in, but rarely gets done. So if you’ve decided to blog for your business and are dedicated to doing so, be sure to start publishing ahead of your launch. Some basic, foundational posts that spell out the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of your business and industry are typically the best first posts to start with.
Email Ask any business owner when is the best time to begin gathering email addresses for an email newsletter, and they’ll either say, “From the start”, or “I wish I had done it from the start!”
Now that you’re collecting email addresses, be sure to work in your email “blasts” and social media campaigns to your larger marketing launch strategy. All of your marketing tools should work in together to help you achieve your business goals. Definitely plan for some “teasers” as you work up to your launch, along with important, relevant launch information and your other online properties like your social media accounts.
SEO Once you have developed a substantial amount of your website’s content, it’s time to establish your SEO. Results from SEO are not something that happen quickly. It takes time for search engine bots to crawl and index your site. And it takes time for those newly indexed pages to move up in the rankings. Establishing your SEO at the same time as – or shortly after your website is made public – is ideal.
Starting an online business has a unique set of challenges. But by utilizing several of the available online marketing tools, you can alert people of your pending launch, and help them to get to know you and what your business has to offer them, before opening for business.