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7 disasters your online business needs to be prepared for

By Will Stevens - October 20, 2016

How many hours a day do you put into building your online business? How many days have you spent building a company from scratch? What would you do if something went wrong? Would just one small mistake cost you a huge chunk of the progress you’ve made?

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the unexpected blows that can strike an online business, and explain how you can prepare for them. Remember, although it may seem like smooth sailing now, you never know what’s around the corner. Laying the groundwork when things are going well can help you prevent huge problems further down the line. Here are things you need to be ready for.

Your order process breaks

Imagine you’re a customer. You find a website selling what you want, add it to your basket, go to check out and then… Nothing.

What do you do? Do you hang around and try again? Do you email the website owner to tell them about the problem? Or do you head off and find another site that sells what you want?

The hard truth is, most people are going to pick the last option. Most people looking to buy a product want to do so as quickly and easily as possible. Eventually, a loyal customer might let the site owner know something’s wrong, but by the time that happens the site may have missed out on scores of sales.

To avoid this, you need to get proactive and use Google Analytics to monitor your site for you. Now, Google Analytics can seem a bit intimidating, but once you’ve got it set up it will provide so much crucial information about your website you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. If you need a helping hand getting started with Google Analytics, then check out the relevant course in our free Online Business Training.

Once you’ve got Google Analytics up and running, you can create an Intelligence Event that will alert you if your website’s goal completion levels drop below a certain point. You can learn to do that in this guide.

The alert might just mean you’re experiencing a slow day. But it’s a sign you should manually check every step of your order process so you can see if anything is going wrong and get it fixed straight away.


You get hacked

A hacked website can cause all kinds of problems for an online business. It can lead to your site disappearing from Google, your sales can fall and of course your reputation can be negatively affected.

It’s crucial you take action to ensure your website is as secure as possible. At the very least that means creating strong passwords so only you can access vital areas of your site.

You can get more tips on how to protect your website from hackers in this guide.

A social media crisis

When things go wrong on social media, they can go very wrong. What starts out as a simple customer service complaint can turn into a news story that casts your business in a bad light.
And to make matters worse, you can’t avoid this kind of problem by avoiding social media. People will be talking about your brand online anyway. And if you’re not on social media, then all that means is you won’t be able to influence the conversation.

You can learn how to tackle a social media crisis in this video.

Losing your Google rankings

Do you rank well in Google? Do those rankings send you a lot of customers and account for a significant chunk of your sales? What would happen if those rankings were to suddenly drop?
For many businesses, loss of Google rankings is a nightmare scenario, and one that can be really hard to recover from.

There are plenty of things you can do to help make sure your hard-won rankings don’t vanish overnight.

Perhaps the most important of these is to make sure you always follow Google’s guidelines. At the most basic level, that means not buying any links in an attempt to boost your rankings in the first place.

However, SEO is a complex matter and rankings can drop for any number of reasons. Because of this, so if you think your rankings have dropped, or are worried about them dropping in the future, check out this guide.

A crucial source of traffic dries up

We’ve already touched on the idea that relying too heavily on one source of traffic makes your business vulnerable, but we’ll look at it in a bit more detail.

If the majority of your customers come from one place, then you need to think about what would happen to your business if that source of traffic stops for any reason.

There are two things you should do here. The first is to diversify your traffic sources. That means if all your traffic comes from Google, work on your presence on social media and in other search engines. If all your traffic comes from Facebook, then work on your Google rankings. And so on.

Next, work on capturing the email addresses of people who visit your website and build an email marketing list. That way, if something does happen to one of your traffic sources, you’ll still have a way of getting in touch with potential customers.

You can learn about building your first email marketing list in this guide.

mobile email

Your customers are unhappy (and you don’t know)

What do your customers think of you? If you don’t know, then you could be running a huge risk. There’s only one thing worse than unhappy customers – and that’s unhappy customers you don’t know about.

If you don’t know what people think about your business, then you won’t be able to make positive improvements that will help you grow.

You can learn more about monitoring customer satisfaction in this guide.

Letting your website get outdated

A website that is state of the art won’t stay that way forever. If you don’t keep up with the latest design trends, you run the risk of looking like an outdated business to potential customers. That means they may be put off doing business with you.

On top of that, if you don’t keep up with Google’s guidelines relating to things like mobile web design, you might see your search rankings drop.

If you’re wondering how to tell if it’s time for a new business website, then check out this guide.

Summing up

Of course, every business is different and you might face a different set of risks depending on the sector you operate in. But whatever kind of business you’re running, it’s vital that you take steps to understand the risks you face and then make sure that if something does go wrong, you’re ready to put things right.