6 Simple Steps To Take Your Offline Brand Online
You’re sitting in your office after a really long meeting thinking about the years you’ve spent building your retail business. Now, your employees and stakeholders are keen on getting on the digital bandwagon and moving this business online. The idea of taking your brand online is making you nervous. What if it doesn’t work out because you don’t have the expertise needed to build a successful online store?
If this is you, then consider this — Facebook has 1.4 billion daily active users. That’s the potential number of people you can reach by having an online presence. With consumers increasingly turning to the web to shop for everything from apparels, books, and movies to groceries and therapists—it makes sense that so many entrepreneurs are looking for ways to take their offline businesses online.
While this move to the online world may seem like a daunting task, it really isn’t. The notion of not being entirely familiar with building websites and marketing yourself through social media and other online channels can cause stress, but none of it is rocket science. Fortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day and your online business doesn’t have to either.
So how do you then start? Simple. No more delays. No more excuses. Now is the time to take your offline business online.
Make the shift to the WWW
Alright, so you’re sold. It’s time to roll up those sleeves and understand how to take the offline store online. The perfect marriage between your offline and online presence requires a bit of initial planning. Start by answering the following questions:
- Do you want to go cold turkey on your offline business and completely switch to online?
- Can you run the two businesses (online and offline) indefinitely?
- Do you want to gradually transition from your offline business to taking it online completely?
First understand what your objective is, then craft an action plan and then make the shift. On the Internet, you get to extend your reach and get in touch with thousands of people without having to rely on the uncertain marketing methods you used when you were offline. The benefits of being online are you can track your conversions – it’s cheaper and much more dependable.
If you haven’t been able to figure out how you want to go about taking your business online, don’t panic. You can make that decision after you’ve tested the online waters.
Pro-tip: When you make the transition, consider upselling your online services to your existing customer base. It would be silly to leave them high and dry, and they’ll likely be excited about your new venture.
Assess your online presence
Now even though you have mostly been an offline business, you may at some point have tried to spread the word online through different platforms. So make a list of all the online assets that you already own, whether or not you have been active on these accounts. Here’s how your list might look like:
- A website
- An email list
- Presence on social media sites:
Irrespective of the length of your list, you’re in a good place to start. If you have a decent number of online assets then you can spend time enhancing them. If you don’t then you can properly plan how you wish to go about building and maintaining them.
Get a kickass website
If you already have a website, great. If you don’t, this should be your first step. A website is like a roof over your head in the digital universe. Invest a significant amount of resources in making it nothing less than A-class.
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when building a website is deciding on the domain name. This is where it gets exciting. With the wide range of available domain extensions, you can pick the one that clearly defines your business. In the case of a retail business, it’ll be .STORE. Here’s why you should opt for a new domain extension such as .STORE:
- It increases the chances of availability of the domain name you’re looking for
- It’s very reasonable
- It firmly establishes the industry you operate in
- It looks different and helps you stand out
Build your online audience
Once you have a functioning website in place, you need to start establishing an audience of potential customers. You can either start by building your email list or build a following on social media. Which one you choose is up to you based on the resources available to you.
Another way to decide which way to invest your efforts is to ask your customers. Do a survey and see which online platforms are they most active on. If they’re not actively checking their emails and most of your communication is going to their spam folder then it’s pointless to invest there. Instead, you could go for building an audience on social media. In the long run, you’ll want to have both; but to start with one of the two options is good.
Building a social media following
While you’d wish to be everywhere and talk to everyone, the right step here would be to choose one or two social media platforms and completely immerse yourself in them. Figure out who your target audience is and on which platforms do they spend most of their time. That’ll help you choose the platforms.
Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
- Use these platforms to interact, engage and (maybe) entertain your audience. This is where you do your brand building that eventually helps with conversions (sale).
- Actually connect. When you’re using social media, be social. Make sure to follow others in your niche, engage with their content, and support them as much as you can. They’ll be much more likely to return the favor.
- Follow strict brand guidelines. Have a color palette, a tone of voice and a standard way of communicating so that you become recognizable and stand out.
Building your email list
People love free stuff. The key to building your email list is to offer something of value to your visitors. This could be a special promotion, an exclusive discount, a free product in return for their email address.
To start collecting email addresses, gate your free resource (a.k.a., hide it behind a sign-up page that requires an email address) and drive traffic to your page. Once you’ve driven traffic and people have signed up for your free resource, you can now start marketing to them directly via email.
For a retail business to stay relevant, it is important to constantly evolve. As an entrepreneur, it is important for you to identify the latest trends and developments and make the most of them. Crucial decisions such as choosing the right domain name, designing a user-friendly website, giving amazing customer service helps in the long run when conducting business online.
We also summarized the steps below to help you get to the quick solution!
- Get a domain. This is your door to your brand identity online!
2. Choose a hosting package that fits your business requirement:
a) Find a hosting plan to host your website (you have your own website builder/ developer)
b) With web design: Let our pros create for you!
c) With eCommerce web design: Let our pros create for you!
d) Build your own easily with Website Builder (no coding experience required)
3. Use a professional email with your domain name for strong brand identity. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Connect with your mass customer and boost your conversion from exciting newsletter offers with EBuzzzz Email Marketing solution.