What Are The Key Elements of Successful Online Businesses and Startups?

Why does one business make it and another fail?

Lately I have been thinking about this in my effort to fully develop the last of our six websites. GWI.education.  I wanted to pull the best of elements of the business models from GrantWatch, GrantWriterTeam, YouHelp, GrantNews and MWBEzone and put it all into GWI.education (Grant Writing Institute).

Here are the elements, based upon my personal experience that work for online businesses:

  1. The director of the business must have a strong background in the business' niche market.
    If the director does not, they need to learn as much as they can or hire someone with the expertise needed in that market. 
     
  2. The market must have a demand for the business. 
    When we can see a void that needs to be filled, that's fantastic as is when we create a demand for something new that people have a need for. This might require educating people as to why they need your product or service. 
     
  3. People need to want to sign up for more info about your product or service.  
    Make it easy for people to subscribe to your list on your website, emails, advertisements and social media posts. 
     
  4. The words you use on your website should be the words people use to search for your niche. 
    There's an art and science to choosing the best keywords and phrases and how to use them. See our article on the keys to writing content for your website and blogs that attracts traffic to your website. 
     
  5. Fresh content daily is key to attract new traffic.
    A blog on your website, or adding and changing content on your website are great, but in edition to the fresh content, you need a way to get the content out to the public, like publishing it on social media as well as sending your list emails regularly, and drive traffic to your site. 
     
  6. Targeted emails from lists of people who willingly signed up, are your most productive tool for sales.
    In your emails, include information that teaches and benefits your readers in some way. Make sure that you have their permission before adding anyone to your email list. Then, in order to convert subscribers to your email to customers,  make sure you have a clear call to action. It might not be all in the same email. It's recommended to have a content schedule so that readers sometimes just get information, and at other times there's also an opportunity to buy.
     
  7. Online businesses need 2/3 income from repeat customers and 1/3 from new customers to survive.
    Work to keep your customers coming back. They say it takes three times as much effort and money to get new customers as it does to retain current or previous customers. Don't neglect relationships with the customers you already have. 
     
  8. Social media builds awareness and name recognition but it is not your sales engine. 
    Having a social media presence is crucial in today's market. In addition, you need an effective means to drive sales, like your email list(s) and advertising. 
     
  9. People want to speak to a knowledgeable human being – person to person customer service.
    Automate as much as possible, but have someone or a team who answer(s) telephones and set up a system for online chats, manned by real people, on your site. 
     
  10. Check the security of your website – often, a single link of http can render the entire page insecure.
    Make sure all the codes are working and that links lead to secure pages, especially on pages where people could be making a purchase. 
     
  11.  Watch someone navigate your site to understand where the confusion is. 
    That person can be a friend, family member, new employee or beta tester, it doesn't matter as long as they thoroughly go through your website and give you honest feedback. 
     
  12. Remind people when their subscription or the product has expired.
    Prioritize customer retention with timely renewal notices, phone calls and emails about the upcoming expiration of the subscription or product. Make renewing the service as easy as possible. Set up an autorenew system if possible. Always think retention versus so you don't have to think about regaining lost customers. 
     
  13. Ask people to subscribe to your service or buy your product in your marketing materials.
    People subscribe to email lists and services to learn more or stay up-to-date on the latest about topics that interest them. Many also want to reeive a special offer or gift such as a discount code or free ticket to an event, get access to free content like an e-book not available on the site. 
    Some people would rather get an email than having to remember to go to your website in case new blogs and content have been added. Conversely, emails can remind subscribers to go to visit the website to see everything new being offered or listed. 
     
  14. Incentivize your employees so they self motivative and evaluate their own productivity.
    Create a bonus plan with a clear structure so they have goals and know how to meet them. 
     
  15. Customer service with a smile always leads to customer satisfaction.
    A smile can be heard through the phone, chat and an email. 
     

Does your startup or small business have these elements? Am I missing any? Let me know  – write to me at https://www.grantwatch.com/contact-us.php, comment on social media post or call me at 561 249-4129.

About the Author: Libby Hikind is the CEO of MWBEzone.com.

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