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The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a new wave of online entrepreneurialism as some who have been made redundant or been put on furlough have decided to set up their own micro-businesses.
Even established firms are moving more of their business online, so they can boost their sales and offer their products to customers who may be unable or unwilling to hit the high streets.
A poor web presence and social media strategy can harm your bottom line at a time when online sales are becoming as important as physical transactions.
Unemployment may be rising, but economic crises often give rise to innovative start-ups.
Companies House figures show there were 176,115 new businesses incorporated in the second quarter of 2020, up by 3.6 per cent annually, which is the largest increase since 2012.
GoDaddy research shows 63 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop at small businesses during the pandemic and 67 per cent of these will continue to do so afterwards
Website builder and domain registrar GoDaddy has also seen a 14 per cent increase in ‘births’ of micro-business – defined as those with nine or fewer employees – during lockdown earlier this year.
The internet can be a rich source of customer generation whether you are established or just starting out. Here are five tips to ensure your online business clicks with customers.
Make a business plan
As with any physical or online enterprise, you need a business plan so you understand your market and the customer you are targeting.
Spend time identifying your niche and work out the costs of providing your goods or services online, as you may need to factor taking photos or delivery fees that you didn’t have to charge previously.
A message from the article sponsor: Make sales seamless with GoDaddy
Customers need to feel safe when paying online and your systems need to be designed to allow for different delivery and payment options, while also keeping track of sales and inventory.
It can be technical to design this yourself, but GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing e-commerce plan lets you sell online and manage the process all in one place.
You can take card, ApplePay and PayPal payments, offer discounts, set shipping rates, send text notifications and arrange in-person pickups.
There’s also an option to sell downloadable content.
Visit GoDaddy today for more information.
There are increasing opportunities online, with Office for National Statistics data showing internet sales made up a third of retail sales at the height of lockdown and now make up around a quarter, with food and household goods seeing the largest increases.
Additionally, GoDaddy research shows 63 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop at small, local micro-businesses during the pandemic and 67 per cent of these will continue to do so even afterwards.
With the prospect of more local and even national lockdowns, having a tangible business plan in place can help you quickly target the right customers
Pick a catchy website name
Your website address, also known as your domain, is your online identity. It needs to be memorable and easy to spell so customers can find you easily.
Similar to setting up your own business or opening a high street store, make sure there is no-one with an identical or similar sounding name so you don’t confuse your customers.
You won’t be able to pick a domain that already exists, and you can check for available names and secure yours with registrars.
Also think about the suffix you want at the end of your domain. The most common are .com and co.uk but many firms opt for .org or even .biz.
Don’t forget to include your website address on business cards letters, emails and marketing materials as well as somewhere on display if you have an office or high street presence.
The importance of a well-designed website
You wouldn’t want your office or shop looking untidy when clients or customers are visiting. The same is true with your website.
More people are shopping online, meaning your website needs to be user-friendly so customers can easily navigate and be encouraged to make a purchase.
This means using attractive words, images and layout that keeps your site ‘sticky.’
Use language to ensure your website gets noticed on search engines. This is known as search engine optimisation (SEO).
Most customers will start their search for a product or service via search engines so you’ll need a well-optimised website to get featured high in search results.
It is also important that your website has an SSL certificate. This encrypts any data sent through your website to keep customer’s payment data safe from hackers.
You don’t need to be an internet whizz to build a website though. Many busy entrepreneurs use templates and ready-made website packages so they can concentrate on running their business.
GoDaddy offers a range of Managed WordPress plans that will register a domain for you and let you build your own website using thousands of customisable templates.
There’s also an option for an integrated SEO tool to ensure you use the right techniques to get noticed on search engines.
GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing e-commerce plan lets you sell online, manage the process and keep in touch with your customers all in one place
Your website isn’t the only place you will attract customers online and just because you cannot see who you are selling to, a personal touch remains key.
Keep in touch with customers and clients using social media, email or even text alerts.
GoDaddy’s web tools let you send personalised email marketing and post content from your website to social media sites to expand your potential customer base and increase sales.
In fact, customers using GoDaddy Website + Marketing product have seen an average increase of 13 per cent in business revenue within 12 months.
Visit GoDaddy today to discover how they can help bring your business idea to life, or join a free GoDaddy webinar to learn more.
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