Providing a set of guidelines about how to go about building an online business from scratch can provide you with some insight about what actually is involved. You may be absorbed in the excitement of launching your lifelong product or invention to the millions of online users and have not given much thought to the mechanics of setting up an online presence.
Before you set up the mechanical infrastructure for your business, first convince your critical thinking part of your brain by doing some research. On the other hand, don’t spend months and months researching this point.
Testing Your Idea for an Online Business
Is your product or service something people need or want and not just you? Be very careful here. Just because you think Klingons from Star Trek are the coolest race of beings ever conceived, does not mean you will sell millions and millions of “Go Klingon!” T-shirts and coffee mugs online.
Your idea or concept should be tested first by setting up a test website. You are testing to see how many people are out there who may be interested in your product or service. Before you build an online business from scratch and put lots of time and effort into it, create a simple one page website that is designed only to capture someone’s name and email. This is known as a capture page or landing page.
In order to set up any website, whether it’s a permanent functional website with your products and other content or just a test site, you will need the following:
1) Purchase a domain name.
2) Hosting account where your domain name is hosted
3) A website that is designed to capture your prospects name and email address tied to your domain name
4) An autoresponder system so that you can set up automatic delivery of pre-written messages to prospects.
Some hosting accounts have auto responder systems, but not all. You will need to find one that you can insert a lead capture form into your website so that the form captures names and stores them on the autoresponder system server.
Once you have these 4 components, you can test your product or concept by driving traffic to the website. First, you must get them to visit your website. Once there, they must find it compelling enough to give you their name and email. This is called conversion.
The point of the landing page is to get their name and email, no more, no less. Once you have their name, you can then begin your sales process which is set up via your autoresponder messages or send them directly to a sales page.
Getting Traffic is the First Step to Building Your Online Business
Getting visitors to your site AND submitting their email and names is the hardest part of the process. You must market the existence of your site by using either free traffic sources such as article writing, video marketing, forums, Facebook, etc. or by paid traffic sources like PPC or Pay Per Click via Google AdWords, Yahoo or Microsoft advertising channels.
Relying on organic search results to get traffic or other free methods will take too much time for you to determine if your test concept is viable. Anyone building an online business should budget a certain amount of cash for paying for traffic in the form of pay per click ads. You need a certain amount of volume in the form of visitors landing on your page, reading your offer and testing your conversion rate.
Paying for traffic in the form of clicks by writing small ads targeting your audience and providing keywords that compel the searcher to click on your ad is how you can start to test your concept/product. Place a few test ads and monitor them over a period of days or at least to the point where you get 1,000 clicks.
You can set a daily budget for your ads so that you control costs. Sometimes your ad will be so ineffective that you must raise your cost per click in order for the ad to show up enough to get clicks. A very low budget will take more time to reach 1,000 clicks, but you can see how effective your ads perform this way.
Building Your Online Business Involves Watching Your Conversion Rate Like a Hawk
Once you get at least 1,000 clicks, how many submitted their name and email? You ideally want to expect a 1% – 5% conversion. If you got a 10% conversion, just think how many names you could collect if your marketing yielded 1,000 clicks per day or page views (coming from organic or natural search results). Paying for those clicks from an ad can add up and be costly to maintain over time, but if people ended up buying your product and your Return on Investment was good, you would probably maintain paying for traffic.