In these modern times, online businesses offer a great advantage over the traditional bricks-and-mortar store, but what isn’t immediately obvious is how you can continue to expand your business once it has become successful. While it’s easy to make the decision that you want to expand, the more pressing question remains: “How can it be done?”
The following are just some of the things you can doto take your online business presence to a whole new level:
1. GET YOUR OWN WEBSITE
If you’ve been operating your business through online sites like Etsy and Gumtree, your main choices for expansion are either to increase your product line, or to create your own e-store. If you decide to go for your own store, you will need to set up your own website. You can do this independently, or you can hire a web developer to help make it look more professional. Your website will become the place where you can effectively turn sales inquiries into actual sales – the only hard part is getting traffic.
2. GET SOCIAL
Operating an online business is complex and challenging, and expanding your e-business presence and sales performance requires taking your skills and knowledge of social media, public relations, and communicationto a new level. Social media marketing through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace is a fantastic way to get word of your online business out there to new audiences, and to generate more sales.
Social media websites are just the start when it comes to marketing your expansion online. Joining forums, starting a blog, offering a free newsletter, and starting a news feed are all great examples of tools you can use to generate interest in your store. Rather than be marketed to, consumers these days want to be educated, so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. So the more education you provide, the more loyalty customers will have in your brand.
3. DON’T FORGET YOUR CUSTOMERS
Even if you already give great personal customer care, expanding your business will increase your customer base, and thus create more ‘customer relations’ work for you. Before you expand, make sure you have a plan in place to deal with an increased demand on customer service.
You may want to consider setting up an1800 number that customers can call if they have any questions, or at least have space on your website dedicated to answering questions, either through a blog or via email. Throughout your expansion, always keep your customers informed and give them easy ways to contact you if they need to.
4. LEVERAGE YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMER BASE
Now that you have a new e-store and you’re generating more traffic towards your products, it’s time to turn potential customers into actual ones. If you’ve got great rapport with and enjoy a dedicated customer base, it may be time to leverage that social capital.Online contests and incentive prizes are a great way to get your customers and followers to help you promote your business.
For example, you could offer product prizes for the ‘best customer review video’and share all the submitted reviews and feedback on your website. This not only shows your customers that you care about what they think, but it also gives you an opportunity to improve your product line.