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How to set up and promote your own online business

By 123 Reg - September 22, 2021

Looking to launch and market your own online business but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how you can get a business website up and running and the methods you can use to get it seen by potential customers.

You can also download this free ebook on how to build your online presence and get started with digital marketing.

Hi everyone, my name is Camille Simpson and I’m head of product marketing at 123 Reg.I have been in the hosting industry for over 10 years now, and I have witnessed the growth of digital businesses and how easy and affordable it has become to showcase your business
on the World Wide Web.Ten years ago, people were paying thousands of pounds to build a website and even more to market it.With the rise of social media and software as a service, building an online presence has never been easier.

Today I want to talk to you about how to build an affordable website, create engaging content for your customers, and marketing your business effectively across key digital channels.

So, why do you need a website in this day and age?

A website is key to reaching customers 24/7 and allowing consumers to find you and what you offer.

Given the current macro environment with Covid-19, our online usage and online shopping have skyrocketed.

A website gives you the opportunity to educate your customers and let people know what it is that you do.

You can have a website for your personal
brand, whether that is for gaining new clients or showing potential recruiters about your career
history, you can sell your products or services, or just show information about your business and how to contact you.

The opportunity is huge. With over 62 million users in the UK accessing the internet, there is enormous potential to reach new people and engage with consumers.

For now, I want to begin by talking about how to build a professional website for your business you want to start by selecting a domain name that best represents your business and provides memorability for your customers.

Most of you will be familiar with dot com and uk domains like facebook.com or facebook.co.uk, but there are also a large variety of newer extensions like dot online, dot fashion and dot photo.

When picking your domain name think about how this compares to your business social handles and consider having something that matches, or is at least similar.

Also think about whether you want to have more than one extension to protect your identity as your business grows. For example, Google has google.com, dot uk and many more extensions as they choose to protect their brand identity.

Now, let’s talk about how to build your website and what content you need to show on your website to drive sales, generate leads, or whatever your main goals are for the website.

It is now super-affordable and easy to build a website yourself.

There are many providers out there which you can research to identify if they meet your requirements.

When picking a website builder, the key things key things to consider would be: what information or features do you want to include. As an example, do you need a blog or a booking system? Do you want to show visuals in a gallery? Or do you need to sell products or services online?

This will help you select a website builder that has the appropriate features for your business.

The second thing to consider is what information do your competitors have on their websites.

Knowing what information your competitors have will help you assess whether there is anything you need to include that you may have missed.

The third thing to consider is whether the website builder allows you to scale as up as you grow. Say you buy a simple plan that allows you to add information about your business and a way to contact you, but as you grow you need to add ecommerce.

Now, you want to make sure that the provider you select allows you to scale in that way. The last thing to consider is what unique features the provider can offer you and how reputable is the company.

So with that in mind, I’m going to talk going to talk you through some of the key elements you need to include on your website and how to build a site that provides a good user experience and positions your product or services in a great way.

When a visitor goes to your site your job is to give them a clear and concise overview of what your business is and what services or products you offer. It takes about 10 seconds for a visitor to form an impression of your website and 0.05 seconds to make a design opinion.

So first impressions really do count.

Ensure key business information is displayed on your site. Let customers know how to contact you, and your hours of operation if you have a physical store.

Use high-quality images that showcase who you are, your products, and what you do.

Having poor quality images can turn users away and present your business as unprofessional. 59% of users prefer a beautifully designed site, so the imagery you use on your site matters.

If you’re struggling for images, you can use free stock sites like unsplash.com to source free images that are relevant for your business.

Given that 86 of users want information about your products or services it is key that these are articulated on your homepage and linked to products and service pages that provide further information.

Your site should also contain an easily navigated site map. Your menu should allow users to quickly identify where to go to find the relevant information or buy your products.

Where possible, categorise your pages by having main headers and dropdown links underneath to subpages.

Showcase testimonials about your brand or business and any links to credible review sites.
This will allow users to get insight into your business or brand and make them more inclined to engage with you or choose your products or services.

Your site should always have a clear call to action, and by this I mean buttons that will drive your customers to act. This could be a buy button, contact us button, or any other buttons
that are going to drive action.

Ensure that these are laid out on your pages in a clear way. Use colours that create positive emotion. Red, as an example, is a colour that suggests warning and danger, so using this colour may not be a good idea for a button on your site.

The last two elements I want to touch on
are for your site are speed and SEO.

If your site loads slow this can cause users to abandon your site. Think about your experiences on slow sites and how long you waited before exiting. Fast loading sites are the new normal so please test your site before marketing it to your users.

You can check your page speed by using Page Speed Insights by Google this will outline your overall page speed score and what you need to do to improve it.

The last element to touch on is your SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation.

SEO is a series of tasks you will need to do to improve your ranks on search engines.

Though this does not affect the aesthetic look of your site, having a well optimized site will help potential customers find you quickly on search.

Necessities will be things like your page titles, good page descriptions and appropriate keywords so that when Google bots crawl your site they get a clear picture of what your site is about and they know how to categorize it appropriately on search.

At this point, I want to talk to you about creating content you can use on your social media and your marketing channels.

Creating content that is engaging and insightful will help to increase your following, drive customers to engage with your website and overall brand awareness.

One way to engage with customers and prospects is through blog content. Blog content is a great way to assert your authority in your industry or given field. It is an indicator that you are an expert and you have relevant knowledge that will encourage customers to engage further with your business.

Blog content also helps improve search engine rankings by having high quality content that is
relevant to your audience.

When it comes to social media, it is important to have content that resonates with your users, provides insights and engages them.

Thanks to many new apps it is becoming easier to create high quality content.

One of my favourite apps to create content would be canva.com.

It is easy to use it has great stock photos and you can select and different objects and images and add them to your design.

You can also resize your designs to meet the requirements of your various social platforms and all this can be done from your mobile phone wherever you are.

Another great tool is Vimeo Create, which also has an easy to use mobile app.

You can select a template and update the content with your own text, colours and visuals.

There is also lots of video stock you can use to create content that is relevant for your audience and you can create a video in about less than 10 minutes.

A great way to showcase your brand’s credibility is customer testimonials that show feedback from your products and services.

To highlight your legitimacy as a business and the value of your products you can create posts that highlight customer quotes in a nice graphic or tweet the text directly into twitter.

Ultimately, we all like to see reviews from other people when buying from brands or businesses we are not 100% familiar with.

So highlighting the feedback in a visually appealing way will help spark interest from your potential customers.

If you are a business offering a service like consultancy or therapy services a great way to showcase your authority could be an ebook or infographic that highlights your knowledge in your field.

You can use this to generate leads on various social platforms.

Quizzes, polls and competitions: these are some more way useful ways to drum up engagement for your business.

Content like this is light-hearted fun, it adds character to your brand and helps to build you a connection with your followers.

The last thing to touch on in in the content section is live video. Live video is an inexpensive way to share richer content about your business or relevant topics.

You can engage with people on a personal level and create an interactive atmosphere.

Consumers can ask questions to you on the spot and that really helps to show positive customer interaction and how well you communicate with your audience.

All in all there are a lot of free and cheap tools that you can use to create rich and high quality content.

I have mentioned some of them but there are also many more you can use so please do your research when looking at content creation tools.

And for the final section of this discussion, I want to get into the nitty-gritty of digital marketing and some of the key channels you can use to communicate with customers and potential customers.

One great platform you can use is Google My Business. This is a free service that allows consumers to find your business information and engage with engage with you via search and maps.
You can create a profile where customers can quickly understand what your business does and key information such as your opening hours and links to your website.

There is also analytics built in so you can see how people are interacting with your profile and whether they are selecting to call you, or go to your website, or book your services.

Moving on to social media, there are several different social media platforms and I want to talk a little bit about some of the key ones.

The first one to highlight would be Facebook. There are over 44 million people in the UK that are on Facebook, giving you a large pool of potential
customers to tap into.

You can create a shop, create groups, communities for your business, add events and so much more.

Facebook is a great way to build your brand loyalty build an email list and drive customers to your website you can also gain insights into your audience so you can personalize your content to boost engagement.

There is also Instagram, which can be linked directly with your Facebook business page. With over 27 million users in the UK, you can build a strong following presenting visual content that showcases your brand.

On Instagram you can share content in a
number of ways and you can also add products to the Instagram shop so customers can buy directly from Instagram.

To expand your reach, you can use paid advertising to reach your target audience. You can also segment users by age, gender, interest and location allowing you to share content with the right audience.

Other key platforms would be Twitter and LinkedIn which are great for sharing plain text content over visuals.

These two platforms are great for engaging with other businesses, showcasing your authority and raising your business or brand profile.

The last two platforms I want to touch on is Pinterest and TikTok.

Pinterest is a purely visual platform that is a source of inspiration for those looking for ideas, recipes, designs and more.

I’d say Pinterest is great for targeting a younger audience and with over 335 million active users worldwide this platform is great for those with creative businesses who want to showcase products or portfolio work.

The last platform to touch on is TikTok, which has taken the world by storm with its video-led content.

TikTok has provided much entertainment to many during lockdown periods, including myself, and it has brought in users from all ages.

TikTok is also being used by big brands like Prada and many celebrities like Gordon Ramsey, Jacqueline joseph and even the Beckhams.

When using multiple social media handles try and find social handles that are consistent on each platform so users can easily find you across all platforms.

Remember that not all your content should be focusing on hard sales, you should also add content that engages, educates and entertains your audience.

To summarize, social media is a fantastic way to help elevate your personal brand or business.

As you can see there are many social media platforms that your business or brand can be listed on so it is useful to utilize a social media management platform which you can use to manage all of your accounts, schedule your posts and review the analytics for your accounts.

Using a social media management platform
is great because you can schedule all your posts at once and not have to worry about posting
through the week.

Some platforms even allow you to view and respond to comments and serve automated responses and commentary to your followers’ posts.

Some of the other great platforms are Hootsuite, Zoho and there are many more. It just all depends on your budget and what features that you would like to manage your social media, but I would suggest just do your research and then figure out what works for you.

The next topic I want to touch on is local directories. If you are offering a service or local
business it is worth being listed in directories to improve your local visibility.

Many of you have heard of yell and there are many other directories which you can use to promote your business at 123 Reg we have listing tools which will enable you to publish your information to multiple directories in one go and manage your reviews to maintain your business reputation.

Another key aspect of digital marketing is SEO which stands for search engine optimization. SEO encompasses a multitude of different processes required to optimize your site for such rankings this would include adding the relevant keywords page titles descriptions and generally working on the structure of your site to enable Google to appropriately categorize your site and drive relevant traffic to your website.

There is also off page SEO, which is essentially all the things you do outside of your website to raise awareness of your site.

This would include things like social media blog content, videos and backlinking and for those of you who are unfamiliar with what backlinking is this is the process of getting other relevant sites to link to your business or brand.

By raising awareness and driving more users to your site, Google can assess your popularity and what others think of you to rank you appropriately in search.

And then there is email marketing, which I’m sure many of you are aware of.

We all get those emails in our inboxes from brands and businesses promoting their products and services.

Emails allow you to engage with customers on a personal level as you can leverage the data you have about them such as their spending habits and what time they open their emails.

There are many email platforms out there which offer free and pay plans some examples to mention would be Campaign Monitor,
Fresh Mail and Mailerlite.

The last topic to touch on would be paid activity on Google, Facebook, Instagram YouTube and other online activities.

When you are looking to scale your business, paid activity can enable you to reach more consumers and get instant results.

It’s also easily measurable to assess the value and optimise your ads.

With paid ads you can segment your audience by many different variables which change depending on the platform.

For example, on Google Ads you can target customers based on keywords whereas on Facebook you can drilldown your ads based on
Age, income, spend, interest and many more variables.

On the surface paid advertising can seem quite simple but it can be quite complex and it would be wise to do your research before doing it yourself.

So that sums up the highlights of digital marketing and some of the key ways you can raise brand awareness and convert consumers into customers.

I now just want to share a bit about me and some thoughts I have for those wanting to start a business or excel in your career.

After having my daughter in 2018, I decided to start a side hustle and pursue a personal passion to create a self-care and beauty brand where I sell products and organise empowerment events for women.

In 2019 when i went back to work full-time, I continued to work on my side hustle in addition to being a mother.

As you can imagine, I am continuously wearing multiple hats at different points in the day and
switching from businesswomen to mother, from day to night.

I was one of many during the lockdown period somehow juggling child care and working, with my daughter making many introductions to my colleagues and their children via Zoom.

Through the chaos initial overwhelm and
many late nights working, I was able to adjust, balance work and child care to the best of my ability and still complete many projects and
campaigns in the process.

With our fast-paced lifestyles and the many economic challenges it can be really difficult to navigate our everyday lives without constant disruption.

Therefore it’s really important to plan and have a clear direction of what it is you’re trying to achieve and more importantly why you’re trying to achieve it.

When building your business you want to have a clear vision of where you want to be in six months, 12 months and beyond.

Create a top line strategy that explains how you are going to get there and once you’ve done that what you want to breakdown is your goals and tasks that are going to help you get closer to those goals.

There are many ways of doing this you can do this the old-fashioned way by writing things down on pen and paper for those of you who like to see things visually a mood board may be preferable.

There’s also many digital task lists creators like monday.com for Teams, Asana and Trello.
My personal favourite is Trello, I use Trello to map out my personal tasks my work tasks and manage my teams.

You can create a checklist, set deadlines collaborate and so much more on Trello and all the other the apps I’ve just mentioned.

I hope this talk has been useful good luck with your endeavours.