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How to Maintain an Online Business


The internet has turned the online space into a playground for entrepreneurs. Starting a business has never been so easy, but you can start on a shoestring budget and scale to your wildest dreams online. That said, between you and success lies the challenge of management.

To maintain an online business, first, embrace social media use, and increase your customer’s access to your business using a high-quality mobile website. Then, manage and protect your customer’s data, and observe all laws and regulations. Lastly, build a strong brand, and you will achieve success.

In this article, we’ll discuss five key steps to maintain your online business. If you want to learn more, read on!

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Build a Social Community

If you have not caught on to the power and benefits that social media holds for businesses, here are some fun facts for you. There are over 3.6 billion social media users in the world. By 2025, this number will escalate to 4.41 billion. The social network is available on all corners of the planet, and it is the global village’s most popular digital hang out.

As people access fast internet and mobile devices, they spend more of their time on social media platforms. Data shows that the average social media user spends over 144 minutes of their day on these forums.

Businesses that realize the potential that these digital spaces hold have leveraged them to survive the ongoing global pandemic. As an illustration, when the lockdown and stay-at-home measures kicked off in the first quarter of the year, Moriarty’s Gem Art, a jewelry business, put its shutters down along with all other non-essential businesses.

To keep the business running, the family-run store had to adapt fast to survive the high small business failure rates that gripped the business community. They turned to social media, live streaming their gem show on YouTube. On social media, the jewelers would advertise the two-hour show to increase engagement.

Consequently, the small outfit sold its gems online and displayed its rare gem collection. Social media made massive business profits and helped them make an emotional connection with their customers.

Humanity’s need for social connection became even more apparent this year because of the need for physical distancing. Perceptive businesses saw the need to provide value, security, and safety when dealing with their consumers. This quick thinking is positively influencing their future.

A good example is the tourism and airline industry’s pivot to social media to spread messages and keep their followers engaged. Such moves have made all the difference in their recovery efforts.

Benefits of Social Media Platforms

There are tons of reasons you should build an active social media presence to maintain your online business. Some benefits of social media platforms and an active social community for your business are:

They Provide Access to Potential Customers

According to Fundera, over 64% of small businesses now have an online presence. The numbers of online shoppers have grown by 35% in the last few months as more shoppers look to e-commerce purchases to cope with movement restrictions due to the pandemic.

For this reason, a business can become a wallflower in the digital space, as competitive marketers strive to attract an online audience. Social media platforms are like a watering hole for the engagement of thirsty users. Use these networks to access your potential customer’s attention.

Do you know that over 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products and services while whiling away their time on Insta-worthy content?

They Help You Build Trust With Customers

The past dark era of false advertising has jaded the trust of most consumers. For this reason, most adults will not trust a brand that lacks real-world social proof. Reviews can enlighten buyers and make them know that your business is true to its word.

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This challenge has left businesses with little choice but to humanize their brands, and this approach fosters an emotional connection between the company and its clients. Your social media posts can help highlight your business’s values, your products or service’s benefits, and your company culture.

Thought leader podcasts, blogs, and profile updates or tweets could establish you as a go-to for industry-related information. Over 63% of consumers trust technical experts more than they trust a business’s word.

Social media will help you build trust, connect with your audience, and keep you in the buyers’ minds. Much of the social media community logs into their accounts at least once per day. Informative and entertaining posts will keep all these eyeballs on your brand, meaning that they will turn to you when they want to buy.

How to Secure and Maintain Your Social Media Presence

If you do not have a social community or presence yet, then start by securing all handles, URLs, and usernames that are perfect for your brand. The steps below will help determine the availability of your social media identity.

  1. Use tools such as knowem and NameChk to scour the internet and establish your business’s username status. Knowem verifies the use of names in the domain and social media databases. NameChk, on the other hand, probes bookmarking and networking sites and social media communities to establish username availability.
  2. Unpopular names are easier to claim using NameChk and Knowem. Use these tools’ premium service to claim your brand’s domains, usernames, and trademarks. If your name of choice is in use, add symbols such as dashes, underscores, middle names, or branding features to make it unique.
  3. A general rule of thumb is that shorter names are memorable and easier to type than longer usernames.
  4. Choose the social platform where your target audience is more likely to hang out. Data shows that 69% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook, visiting the world’s most popular social media platform at least once a day. 35% of U.S. teens flock to Instagram, while 41% of teens are on Snapchat, making it the demographics’ most popular network. 
  5. There are twice more men than women on Twitter. 66% of Twitter accounts belong to men. If your approach is video, then choose YouTube. If your content is heavy on images, go for Pinterest or Instagram.
  6. On the right platform, create your presence, and build an authority status. Build your email list, create value, stay active, and study your social media engagement data for optimization purposes. Ensure that the content on your profile is engaging and of high quality. Strategically leverage powerful strategies such as influencer marketing and social media advertising.
  7. When securing names, claim those whose identity borders your own to protect your identity. This strategy’s other benefit is the ability to branch out to niche social communities using your other identity. Secure your domain name, as well as it is the center focus of your brand identity and awareness program.

Make Your Brand Accessible

Most business owners go to great lengths when building their websites but often miss the boat when it comes to the site’s responsiveness. Do you know that over 57% of the traffic online is mobile-based? People are so soft on their smartphones that 50% of these gadget owners use them first after waking up.

The mobile phone gadget has become a part of life, so your website must cater to mobile users. Mobile shopping should be a key part of your digital marketing efforts. Not only are more people accessing the internet via handheld devices, but they are also using these gadgets to make purchases.

Data shows that 85% of buyers expect to find your mobile website of high quality as your desktop version. 57% of them will not recommend your business to their peers if they find your mobile site to be of inferior quality.

To manage your online business, ensure that you have a mobile site to capture more opportunities. Some other benefits of high-quality, responsive websites for your business include:

  • Google will punish your website if it is mobile averse. The world’s largest search engine has a robust algorithm mold that seeks and favors mobile-friendly websites, and it also punishes websites with poor mobile responsiveness. A mobile site will push up your ranking on Google results, bringing in more visibility.
  • Over 88% of customers that search for your business’s contacts using a mobile phone will call you within 24 hours of the search. Consumers are highly likely to spend $10 on a product when using their smartphones to browse. Tablet users will spend 50% more on purchases than smartphone users do. A mobile website can improve sales between price points and enhance your customer service and sales strategy.
  • A poor mobile website will hurt your business’s reputation and slow your digital transformation. Every progressive business is leveraging technology to speed up its goals, processes, models, and activities. For this reason, companies are building mobile management and marketing teams to help in digitization.
  • A mobile website will enhance the user experience, making the interaction between your visitors and your brand much more manageable. Google rewards excellence in user experience with better rankings. Make your mobile website easy and enjoyable to use, and enjoy customer loyalty and better SEO results.

Manage and Protect Customer Data

There has never been a more data-focused age than the one we are in. Massive business magnates like Google and Facebook mint the billions from the promise held within consumer data. Data will help your business increase sales, make better decisions, optimize your strategies, and increase speed.

For all its advantages, customer data management can be problematic, and failing to protect data can have catastrophic results. As an illustration, in 2016, Uber, the popular ride-hailing app, lost its customer’s private data to hackers. The data stolen included 600,000 license numbers and the personal data of 57 million customers.

This breach cost Uber a settlement cost of $148 million. The brand’s reputation suffered a massive image dent, especially since it tried to veil the breach. Other examples of businesses that have paid the high cost of data breaches include Equifax, Yahoo, Under Armour, and eBay.

In the U.S., data loss can cost your company a steep $242 per record and an average of $8.19 million, a figure that is twice the global average. All data loss and breach events are because of substandard data management practices. Your business has to employ thorough data collection and management strategies for success, to build trust, and for longevity.

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Customer data management is collecting, managing, and storing data through ethical and secure means. The practice will improve your processes, services, and products. If you collect and manage your data effectively, your business will enjoy better customer relationships and retention.

You will have more sales and a higher return on investment in marketing strategies. Below are some tips on customer data management.

  • Heighten your business’s data security efforts. Small businesses can crumble under the weight of massive fines if they cannot protect personal customer data. Some tangible steps that will help you increase data security include using customer relationship management platforms and having a data backup system in place.
  • Use ethical data collection practices to avoid breaking trust with your customers. In March 2018, Facebook divulged customer data to Cambridge Analytica, destroying user confidence in the platform. Be very open about your data collection by drafting a website privacy policy. 
  • Allow your customers to share their data when they wish to, through tools such as surveys and dialogue boxes.
  • Do not harvest or store more data than you need. You will overwhelm your analytics processes and put your business at risk if there is a breach. Data shows that businesses do not use 73% of the data they collect. Gather data that aligns with your goals through a systematic data collection process.
  • Use CRM software with GDPR compliance. The software will keep the customer intel safe, and it makes data management a breeze. You can use these platforms for analytics and reporting to help in process optimization. They will keep all your data in one neat corner and track all your dealings with the customer. This feature will give you a unified view of the buyer.
  • Back up your business data to ensure that your business survives data loss. Research shows that over 58% of small businesses are ill-prepared for data loss. Over 60% of these entities will close their doors half a year after such an event.
  • Train your employees on data interpretation and handling. Have a data-driven culture that helps thrust your company into the age of data. Have policies that limit access to sensitive customer information. Lastly, use a robust password protection process and maintain your server’s security features.

Build a Strong Brand

According to Sprout Social data, over 76% of online buyers say that they will purchase a business they feel connected to. 57% of them will spend more on your business if they have an emotional attachment to it.

While your social media platforms will go a long way in establishing a genial brand identity, it is not the only method. You need to build a captivating brand story. Tell this story across all online channels.

Second, build credibility to enhance word-of-mouth benefits. A robust social media presence can help increase your credibility, but you will need more long-term benefits. Encourage customer reviews on your website and Google to enhance your brand’s trust.

Click here for a free ebook to start an online business today

Third, watch out for the dirt. Manage your online reputation by providing excellent service and requesting your customers to leave positive reviews when pleased. You can build your brand reputation by:

  • Writing a response to criticism in an apologetic, fair, and polite manner
  • Monitoring your business mentions using tools such as Social Mention, Google Alerts, or Tweet Alarm (these platforms scan the internet for new reviews or comments, giving you the ability to manage your brand’s online reputation)

Meet Industry Regulations

Online businesses, like their brick and mortar counterparts, have to follow their regions’ registration laws. You will need to pay for a license to various government agencies and pay your taxes. Learn the tax regime of your store’s target demography so you can display it when selling your services or goods.

Taxes can be confusing, so seek the help of a professional when in doubt. The expert will help you apply for your tax I.D. and highlight any exemptions and regulations. Some other industry regulations that you may need to keep an eye out for include:

  • Copyright, trademarks, and patent laws to steer clear of legal complications
  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that, amongst others, prevents the collection of data from minors (there are products as well that minors cannot purchase from your online business)
  • Licenses such as professional, general, or product liability to protect your company from liability

Conclusion

There you go—all the major steps that you need to take to maintain a robust online business. Just like a brick and mortar business, you’ve got to put in the work, organize yourself well, and implement the strategies that bring results in your niche.

Use the steps above and watch your fledgling startup grow into a massive enterprise.

If you’re ready to get started. click here for a free ebook to start an online business today.

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