Starting an online business is a rough journey. You have to figure out a lot such as how many employees you need, and how to ensure the productivity of your workers.
It will take time and a sound budget to understand your audience and build up a customer base. Overall, the pressure that comes from the journey is immense.
Just like a brick-and-mortar business, online success for a startup requires strategy.
You need to have a plan in place to reach your target audience and catch their attention. So you need a strategy that will help you generate traffic, boost conversions, and drive engagement.
To help you frame a strategy for your business, I chatted with Jayson DeMers on my recent podcast episode. He’s the founder and CEO of EmailAnalytics and has run multiple successful businesses.
So, let’s take a look at some of the strategies you can use to grow your business online.
Strategy #1: Determine the Need You Intend to Fill in the Market
Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of coming up with a product and then looking for consumers to market it too.
This is a recipe for disaster as you do not know how the market will respond to the product.
A 2019 CBInsight report revealed that 42% of businesses failed because there was no market need for their product.
A successful online startup looks at the market first.
The trick is to identify an audience that has been unable to find a solution to a problem. This trick is how Jayson DeMers came up with the idea of EmailAnalytics.
Jayson got the idea while he was managing his first business – AudienceBloom.
He discovered that there was a correlation between productivity and email activity. Email activity meant everything for his business’ productivity.
But, as a young entrepreneur, Jayson realized that not all of his employees were honest. He needed an app that would allow him to determine how his team was responding to leads via email.
This is how the idea of EmailAnalytics was born.
Today, the internet makes it easy for entrepreneurs to conduct market research. You can do this by visiting online forums, business groups, or through your own requirements, which was the case with Jayson. These will give you an idea about the needs of your audience.
Strategy #2: Understand your Audience
Achieving success online requires you to understand your audience. If you fail to do that, then you will waste time, money, and energy marketing to people who are not interested in your product.
So, how can you understand your target audience as a startup?
Social media is a great place for you to conduct audience research. You can use it to identify the problems that your audience is talking about. Also, you’ll be able to see what type of content they are sharing as well as the brands that they are following.
You can also gather intel about your target audience by conducting interviews and surveys. You can send surveys to potential customers via email. Such surveys will help you build your customer profile based on relevant data, such as your audience demographics, behaviors, and values.
Never assume that you know your target audience.
Because if you make assumptions, you are likely to fail at convincing consumers that your brand is worth it.
90% of B2B marketers agree that it pays to put the audience first. If you want to succeed at marketing your product, then researching your target audience is a must.
Strategy #3: Create High-Quality Content
Great content can help you build your reputation online. It can also help you generate leads and build relationships with your target audience.
Before starting EmailAnalytics, Jayson’s first business, AudienceBloom, required him to prioritize content.
Conducting keyword research helped him figure out what audience need he was required to fill in the market.
One of the tools that Jayson used was the Ubersuggest keyword tool. Keyword research helped him identify keywords with a high volume of searches but low competition.
Once he transitioned from AudienceBloom to EmailAnalytics, things changed.
Still, transitioning from an internet marketing company to an SaaS company did not mean content was no longer important. Jayson still uses content marketing to engage his audience and build his brand image in the SaaS niche.
One of the ways through which you can use content as a startup is by talking about trending topics in your niche.
You can start out by using ideas from content that is already ranking well in Google. In other words, research what topics appeal most to your target audience and use them to develop better content.
There are a variety of tools online that can help you find popular topics, e.g. BuzzSumo. Such tools can help you find content that your audience shares the most.
Strategy #4: Spy on Your Competitors
If your competitors are strong and doing well, then there’s something they must be doing something right.
Instead of cowering before them, learn from them.
Spying on the competition is a tried-and-tested strategy for success. This is because spying helps you understand their strengths.
For instance, they could be offering exceptional customer service or personalized products.
Spying can also help you spot weaknesses that you can use to your advantage.
But, how can you spy on your competitors?
You can spy on them by following their blogs or checking them out on social media. Track their social media activities like product launches, updates, audience engagement, etc.
Are there other ways to spy on your competition?
Google Alerts is yet another way of spying on your competition. You can select keywords that will help you track every time your competitor is mentioned.
Google Alerts are not efficient enough.
But don’t worry. There are a lot of other tools out there for competitor analysis. You can use them to track their popularity, the software they use, and so much more.
Strategy #5: Be Disruptive
A successful startup is not one that reinvents the wheel. Rather, it’s a business that offers a new concept or idea that their competitors have failed to capitalize on.
Being disruptive doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with a new product.
You can be disruptive by changing your business model or the selling process. In short, you can change certain paradigms in your operations. And, these changes can help you stand out from your competition.
One way to be disruptive is to engage in conversations with your target customers. Be inquisitive and try to find out how you can disrupt your industry. This means digging deeper into your niche by asking a lot of “why” questions.
Extensive market research can help you figure out a successful way to be disruptive.
If you are a restaurant owner, you can look at Yelp along with other similar sites to spot what your customers want. Based on that data, you can launch your brand and disrupt your industry.
Ready to Grow Your Business Online?
Successful entrepreneurs are people who’ve managed to stand out amidst the stiff competition.
They achieve this through strategies such as using original content and spying on their competitors.
Additionally, they make it a point to understand their audiences and create products that can solve their problems. This can help them grow and sustain their businesses in the long term.
Are you an online business startup owner? If so, please share your story, tips, and challenges with us in the comments.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.