Running your business online
There are some steps you need to take to effectively run your business online. Research your competitors, find the web tools that will help support your online activities, and study the culture of the Internet itself.
Find out how it works and how other sites can link to yours to grow your business.
It’s important to have clear objectives for what you want to achieve online. The reasons can be numerous and varied. For example, do you want to:
- Sell directly to your customers.
- Help people find your business location.
- Make your systems remotely accessible to customers or staff.
Register a domain name and find a web host
Your domain name is a piece of your intellectual property – your unique address on the Internet. There are plenty of registrars online where you can purchase your domain name, such as Free Parking.
Pay for a web host to ‘rent’ you some space on their server. Often, web hosts will also offer domain registration so you can purchase both in one transaction. Before you decide which web host to go with, consider:
- Storage capacity – the total amount of data you can store on your host’s server.
- Server security – how well are malware, infected emails and other threats kept off the server.
- Domain-based email – do you want an email account linked to your domain name?
- Uptime percentage – the amount of time the server is up and running.
You can essentially build your website yourself, using pre-designed templates, or pay a web designer to create exactly what you want. Sites like Wordpress and Wix allow you to pick and choose the layout and design you feel fits your business type best.
You could also construct your own site from scratch using a program like Dreamweaver. It does require a knowledge of coding and a lot of spare time.
Alternatively, you can create your site content yourself then hire a designer to build the site for you.
Generate traffic to your site
Your online business will get lost in the millions of sites on the net if it isn’t promoted in a way that gets potential customers to it. Methods you can use include:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – placing keywords in the titles, headers, first sentences and metadata of each page.
- Advertising with Google Ads, Yahoo Advertising, and Bing ads – the three major search engines on the net.
- Setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account that link to your site, this is a great way to engage with current and potential customers.
- Keeping your content up-to-date on all these sources by letting your customers know what’s new with your business.
- Making sure the content you post online adds value to the customer experience.
It’s vital to attract the right people to your site. Consider what content is relevant and will provide value to your target audience. It could be information on your organisation, products or services.
If your products or services are complex, it may be worthwhile producing simple video content that explains how they work and why they’re useful.
Set up an online payment system
Customers expect to be able to pay online directly through a business’s website. The advantages of facilitating a checkout for your customers can include keeping them on your site and allowing them to purchase on impulse.
Depending on your business situation, you may look to get up and running online with a simple website template linked to PayPal. From there you can improve your site over time as your business grows.
Services like ASB CardPay also have the ability to help you unlock your business’s web-based sales potential by providing a secure, real-time credit card payment portal.
Find out more about ASB’s business banking services.