What steps should you take to start an online business that’s guaranteed to be viable? From what I’ve observed, these are the best practices followed by thousands of successful entrepreneurs:
- They identify and respond to a need.
- They write compelling sales copy.
- They create an intuitive, user-friendly website/ sales funnel.
- They know how to drive traffic.
- They establish their credibility as experts.
- They build an email list.
- They boost revenue via upselling and backend sales.
All those 7 steps are part of a simplified sales funnel. Whether you’re a rookie or veteran entrepreneur, these steps can help you start and maximize your online business.
Step 1: Identify and respond to a need.
How should you start a business? A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on the product first. Instead, a new entrepreneur should research their market first. The key is to identify a group who are looking for a way to solve a problem, and then focusing on the issue that has few (if any) existing solutions. The Internet makes this process easy, as you can find all that information online. How?
- Join online forums or social media groups and list the questions that people usually ask. Identify common problems or issues they are experiencing.
- Conduct keyword research for popular search terms that have few existing sites. Fewer sites = fewer competitors.
- Speaking of competitors, visit sites that already serve your target market and find out how they’re responding to their clients’ needs. Not only are you sure that there’s an existing market for your services, but you can also remodel their sales funnel to create a better product and sales process.
This step is extremely important and most people underlook it. Here is a great quote from Elon Musk you should keep in mind when thinking of a business idea: “You get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of problems you solve.”
Step 2: Write compelling sales copy.
Successful sales copywriters follow an effective formula in creating content that sells. They carefully guide site visitors through the sales process, from the second they visit the landing page to the time they finalize the purchase. And the key to successfully selling online is copywriting.
- Start with an attention-grabbing and catchy headline.
- Describe the issue or need that your product is designed to solve.
- Establish your expertise in solving the problem.
- Show testimonials from satisfied clients.
- Highlight the benefits of using your product.
- Make an irresistible offer.
- Provide a trustworthy guarantee.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Ask for the sale.
Your sales copy should emphasize the advantages of using your product and service. It’s also important to focus on what sets you apart from other vendors. Communicate with this question in mind: “How can this product make my client’s life better?”
A lot of companies recognize the importance of great content, so they have professional writers on staff. These copywriters can either be in-house people or freelancers. Either way, hiring a high-quality copywriter would eat up a sizable chunk of your budget, say $20,000 plus. Are you ready to spend that much money?
If not, the next best thing is to go the DIY route and brush up your skills with a paid writing course. Depending on the course design and your abilities, this method will probably start producing results (AKA sales from the copy you’ve written) in a couple of months or more.
If that sounds like too much work, there’s an easier way: Funnel Scripts.
Funnel Scripts is a great product from Russell Brunson, a genius in online marketing. He collaborated with a seasoned copywriter to produce customizable scripts based on his DotCom Secrets book, which can then be tweaked and applied to various sales funnels. Not only that, they also included other adaptable scripts for various marketing needs.
Step 3: Create an intuitive and user-friendly website/ sales funnel.
Now that you have a target market, standout product, and an efficient sales process, your next step is to design and develop an e-commerce website or a sales funnel. The key thing here is simplicity. You have a maximum of 5 seconds (often less) to catch a person’s attention. How do you do this?
- Select 1-2 plain fonts against a light background. White is a good choice, although you can choose any color that fits your brand image.
- Set up a clear, consistent, and simple site navigation.
- Use visual and audio assets (video, images, music) only if they add to your message.
- Ensure that you have a way to gather e-mail addresses using opt-in offers.
- Set up a quick and easy checkout system – it should take no more than a couple of clicks to make a purchase.
- Make a good first impression with an appealing and user-friendly website.
TIP: Depends on your product/ service you may consider using a sales funnel over a website and vice versa. Not sure what are the differences between the two? Check out my article about this in more details.
Step 4: Drive traffic to your website/ funnel.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the most convenient way to direct people to a brand-new website. Marketers prefer PPC over organic campaigns for a couple of reasons. First, PPC ads immediately appear on the top results, assuring that your product is the first thing that people see when they search online. Second, you can test and customize your campaign details, allowing you to get the best results by using the keywords that are proven effective in converting leads to sales. You can also use these best-performing keywords on other parts of your site, which will then drive organic traffic your way. When running PPC campaign on Facebook, you can actually target your audience by their interests and behaviors. Those information are extremely valuable for marketers.
In addition to PPC campaigns, you can also utilize solo ads to generate traffic. If you haven’t heard of solo ads before, don’t worry, you’re not alone. To put it simply, a solo ad is an email advertisement that you can send through the email list of another person. Sort of like piggy-backing into their system. For a fee, the owner of the email list can send your email to any subset of their email list. If done correctly, a solo ad can make the recipients click on any offers placed in the email. And hopefully from these clicks you get leads, and from these leads you ultimately get sales.
Solo ads, aside from being generally cheaper than Google Adwords or Facebook Ads (or other paid traffic sites, for that matter), are also less stringent on the things you can advertise. However, you have to be very discerning in choosing the right email lists as not all of them are created equal. While some email lists are legitimate, there are others that are built using illegitimate (read: dishonest) ways and do not convert traffic well, if any at all. Some of them even utilize fake bots to artificially inflate clicks. They are a waste of time.
Step 5: Establish your credibility as an expert.
The Internet is now the first thing that people consult for information, so why not harness it fully? Help out potential clients by offering free information on other people’s sites. The trick is to mention your site (and link!) along with each piece of free advice in a non-spammy way. Soon, you’ll see a guaranteed uptick on your site visitors and search rankings. What kind of freebies can you provide?
- Offer free, helpful, and effective content on social media or similar information-sharing sites. People usually find these useful: blog articles, videos, templates, e-books, short courses, checklists, etc.
- Include “share/send to a friend” links for useful content on your site.
- Position yourself as an expert on online industry forums and social networks. Not only will you attract new site visitors, but this strategy will also boost your rankings as people post your content (and links) on other sites.
If you want to step up and establish your credibility as an expert then I’d suggest you to read Expert Secrets, which is also by Russell Brunson. Inside, you’ll learn firsthand how building your personal brand can ultimately benefit your business. Russell also shows you how to cultivate a loyal following, who not only listens to you, but more importantly purchase your products or your recommendations. A very important skill in this era of “influencers”.
Step 6: Build an email list.
Some business owners believe that email marketing is a thing of the past. With the onslaught of social media and other forms of communication, emails seem less than impressive. What these people are overlooking, emails are still one of the most powerful ways of communicating. Think about it, every social media site requires their members have email addresses.
Before turning your back on emails, keep in mind that email lists still produce the greatest results. In general, email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, a whopping 3,800 percent ROI. There is absolutely no social media marketing that can lay claim to such high percentages.
An email list is one of the most important assets of an online business, and for a good reason. This means that you have your readers’ permission to send them updates and turn visitors into paying (and repeat) clients. As a result, you’re:
- Giving your customers something they’ve expressed an interest in
- Cultivating long-term client relationships
- Measuring all of their responses
- Maximizing your resources, as email marketing is more affordable, targeted and effective than traditional advertising.
Anyone who registers for your mailing list is a promising lead, and email is the best way to follow up with these potential customers.
To effectively manage your email list, you will need an email service provider. For that, I would recommend GetResponse. I’ve personally tried quite a few email service providers, and I can say that GetResponse gives you the best value for your money. Sign up for a FREE 30-day account here.
Step 7: Boost your revenue via upselling and backend selling.
A crucial online marketing strategy is to grow a client’s lifetime value. Did you know that 36% of paying customers will make a repeat purchase? That is, provided you make an effort to follow up after the first time they buy your product. That first sale is the most expensive and difficult part, but it will set you up for more income. How do you use upselling and backend sales to get past customers to make another purchase?
- Sell products that enhance or complement their first purchase.
- Send online loyalty rewards like discounts or freebies that they can use on their subsequent visit.
- Display related products on the “Thank You” page after they’ve bought something online.
Check out this exclusive FREE 90 minutes training by Russell Brunson on how you can boost your product sales by an extra 540% with his funnel “hack” secret. If you haven’t already noticed, I am big fan of Russell. In the presentation, he will show you his secret funnel strategy that have made him successful online over the years. If there’s anybody that knows how to optimize online funnels, and get the most sales possible, it’s Russell Brunson!
You will learn cool funnel-boosting strategies, like:
- How to Instantly Outspend Your Competitors
- How to Get The Best Sales Person On Planet Earth to Close Sales For You 24/7 Without Ever Complaining, Asking For A Raise, Or Taking A Break!
- How to Get The Exact Same Customers Who are Currently Going to Your Competitors Funnels to Start Coming to Your Funnel Instead!
This training was super helpful for me, so I wanted to pass it along to you for 100% FREE. I don’t know if Russell will ever take it down, but I’d recommend you watch the entire presentation while it’s still available.
Customer loyalty is key to having a lucrative and sustainable online business. You create loyal customers by providing high-quality products, a smooth sales experience, and attractive bonuses.
Given the rapid pace of the Internet, things are constantly changing all the time. However, these principles for starting a profitable online business have endured the test of time. So, if you’re just starting out in online business, your best bet is to stick to the process outlined here. If you already have an established e-commerce site, evaluate and improve your current practices based on these steps. It’s always a good idea to follow best practices and keep a growth mindset.
To be clear, I did not invent this entire process myself. I’ve gathered this through the few short years of making a full-time income online. And now, I am sharing this with the hope that it will help you get started in your online journey.
How would you like Russell Brunson to hold you by the hand as you launch for business online with the 7 steps mentioned? He will walk you through everything in details from how to come up with a profitable business idea, how to craft an irresistible offer, how to find qualified buyers into your sales funnel, and so much more… Click here to learn more.