eCommerce changed the way we purchase products and services. It gives the convenience of shopping without having to leave your seat. It’s no wonder why new and existing brands are taking their business online. If you already have one up and running, or you are planning to open one soon, you may want to first check some of the common mistakes entrepreneurs commit in their online ventures so that you can avoid going down the same path.
1. No Clear Product/Service Value
The quickest way to kill your brand is to have a confusing message as to what you are offering to the public. If you aren’t able to explain what your product or service is right off the bat, you can expect website visitors to move along to the next one without even giving you a second look. Typically, in presentations, you should be able to show the value of what you’re offering within the first 30 seconds. When translated to a website, the landing page should have content, whether text or video, that make it 100% clear what the customer will gain from making a transaction with your business.
2. Not Identifying the Target Market
Opening any kind of business when you don’t have the faintest idea on which segment of the population you will cater to is like wandering into a wild forest blindfolded with no equipment – you are unprepared. Research is a crucial step in the pre-operational phase of any business. The sooner you start gathering data to outline your target market, the sooner you can learn about their behavior and preferences. This can improve marketing materials and promotional content, further increasing your chances of sales conversion.
3. Short Marketing Period
One common mistake among small businesses is that they only start the marketing campaign when they are about to open their doors. Naturally, since exposure won’t start immediately, visitor count will most likely pick-up weeks or months later. This is why it is important to start marketing as early as you can. For any event, it’s better to have people waiting for the big day than only making noise to attract customers starting on the day itself. Marketing experts estimate lead time from six to twelve weeks to prepare marketing collaterals, landing pages, social media content, make a proper announcement, and have enough time to spread the word. This applies to major events not restricted to opening a business but also for giving promos and discounts or offering extended services above the usual package.
4. Leaving SEO Untouched
You may be wondering why your brand doesn’t show up anywhere on the first page no matter how specific your search tags are. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) steps into the spotlight. For the uninitiated, SEO is the process of boosting online visibility in search engines like Google and Bing. While there are many factors under SEO, there are 4 major elements that affect it; quality content, keyword targeting, link building, and user engagement. In a general sense, if you edit and tweak your website and fulfill the criteria in these elements, then you can expect better search engine rankings. Leave your website as is and you can’t really expect any change, especially if you’re not actively doing anything. It may take some time before you can fully grasp SEO. But once you understand it, you can make changes necessary to better position your website in search engines. Thereby giving your brand more exposure and visitors.
5. Forgetting About Mobile Users
It is estimated that the current number of mobile phone users worldwide is around 2.32 billion, and is forecasted to reach 2.87 billion by 2020. If you choose to be stubborn and leave your website in its outdated form, then you risk shutting out millions of potential customers. They sure won’t close a transaction with your brand if they find the mobile pages out of proportion for the screen and elements overlapping each other. More so if they find navigation to be a pain in the neck. Besides, taking advantage of this global trend is easy, just make your website mobile-friendly. There are tons of website builders which automatically make websites created under their platform responsive to mobile screens at no cost. If you have a little more budget, you can even create a standalone app for your store or service, especially if your offer is digital in nature.
6. Under and Overestimating Social Media
Social media is a powerful force for communications and marketing. A single post can reach thousands of users within minutes. With over 3 billion social media users, using the platform to promote your brand and get in touch with your customers is a must. While online businesses create and setup their accounts, some commit the mortal sin of abandoning them later on. This leads to outdated information should customers search via social media and gives the impression that your brand is inactive. When used correctly, social media can become an avenue for customer engagement and brand advertising.
That said, solely relying on social media is also a wrong practice. While it is great for making connections and brand awareness, you have to find ways to capture the customer’s data to create a database, and maintain the connection through email campaigns and the optional newsletter subscriptions. It’s safe to say that social media is only one piece of the whole puzzle. You need to make sure that you have all the pieces for flawless business operations.
7. Disregarding Customer Feedback
Gone were the days where a customer’s transaction ends right after they receive the product or service purchased. After sales, care is a major factor for customers in deciding a business’ performance. Moreover, with customer review sites and social media, it’s easy for them to let their sentiments be known, and it’s even easier for you to monitor and respond to them. Don’t play deaf to what your customers are saying. These comments and suggestions might be the exact changes you need for a better business direction. It’s rare for a brand to get everything right from the start. Why not incorporate the things your customers want and let them feel heard?
8. No Efforts to Understand Finances
You don’t have to be a financial expert to run your business, but it would definitely help knowing the basics. This is especially helpful if you are selling a physical product where you buy raw materials to create a finished product. You can have a better basis in setting the prices, and understand how well you are doing once the purchases come in. If you are running a drop shipping business, then it should be relatively easier since you only have to add from the base prices set by your suppliers. For services, it gets a bit tricky since it would most likely involve physical labor, which is a bit harder to quantify. You can base your rates on the present market and competitors. You should also know how to create forecast sales for the following years so that you can set target sales and plan your strategy.
There are many online sources to learn more about business finance. Shopify has a comprehensive yet easy to absorb article about the matter.
9. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
If you have yet to open your doors, then this is something you should keep in mind: the first few weeks, months, and possibly years, you cannot expect a lot of activity in your store. Overnight successes are a one-in-a-million occurrence and it takes a lot of hard work, time, and strategy to get traction and stabilize sales and customer count. That’s simply the truth of the matter. There are horror stories of entrepreneurs opening their shop and spending money they have yet to earn right off the bat, only to find out later that they haven’t really had any significant profit from the store. Not only are they not earning, they are now in deep debt. Be realistic in your expectations. Set an attainable sales target within a certain period of time, and most of all, don’t quit just yet. With a little bit of research, effort and patience, you’ll see your brand take off and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
10. Doing Everything Yourself
Operations, marketing, finance, customer service. These are the major elements that make up business management. Maybe you can juggle them all or maybe you can juggle them for a few moments before they take too much of your time and energy, and everything starts to fall on the ground. Why risk the latter when you can have people help you out with these processes? If you have family or friends that have some knowledge on these departments, perhaps you can ask for their help in managing your business. If you have a little budget to spare, you can seek professionals or freelancers in job hiring sites and outsource the responsibility to someone who can be a positive addition to your brand. You will need help in running your business. It doesn’t have to be a big team, just members who can do their functions successfully so that the whole thing runs like a well-oiled machine.
An online business can become a stable source of income, or a massive cause of headache. Hopefully, this article can be your guide on the things that you should not be doing and should avoid for your business. Good luck on your venture!