A small business I provided some advice had launched a website in a space with low competition and high margins, and the results were pretty good for a small investment. They had knocked up a site, launched some paid search ads, put in some rudimentary processes for managing enquiries, and like the results. The problem was that the site had stopped growing.
What was missing was the kind of consistent maintenance and content creation to engage buyers, rank well in Google, and learn from your mistakes.
I find many people not familiar with the intricacies of online marketing and ecommerce are surprised that making a website successful can be hard work. Even more express dismay when they discover that integrating an online channel into an existing business requires a rethinking of all processes.
This is common in any business small or large. I think some people are sold on the internet fantasy of “build it and they will come” or think that the internet is technical stuff which is best left to the guy who runs the servers.
The fact is that online takes work. Like any business it needs to be planned and the plan needs to be worked.
Customers need to be identified and spoken to, marketing plans drawn up, search experts engaged, if you’re shipping goods fulfillment needs to be sorted out. Most importantly you need to know how you’re going to be successful. What are the metrics you will use to work out if strategy is working and what tactics you need to change?
I don’t mean to make it sound impossible but without a commitment to do the work, make mistakes, and learn, it is almost difficult to make an online channel successful. The secret sauce is not technical, it is an passion for learning. I remember listening to @sammartino, the founder of rentoid.com, talking about how he launched the website with no web design skills at all. What he had was a hunger to build something and make it successful. As an ex-web developer who can get caught up in technical wizardry, it was a very useful lesson in what really matters.
With passion, energy and a keen eye for solving customer problems, any online business can be successful. I recently helped a neighbour and friend fix her wordpress site she developed almost single-handed to launch her hanging glass vase business. I love this kind of enthusiasm to use the web as a tool to build a business. I’m sure that she will be successful because she understood she needed to put the work in to make it work.
I think there is a place for an ecommerce mentor who helps with strategy, measurement, optimization, and coaching. The future of small to medium business is in embracing online technologies to reduce costs and grow their businesses. They just need to be shown that the skills that made their existing business successful is all they need to make their online business successful.
How can you help someone be successful online?