Finally, you have a roadmap to build your business online.
Whether you own a digital business or a more traditional brick and mortar type business, lean in and play close attention as you read.
The same goes for those of you who aspire to run your own business but have felt overwhelmed by the process of getting started.
Because the beauty of the 6 steps I'm about to show you are their universal appeal. They can be applied to any niche. In any location. To any market worldwide.
Look, I've been in your shoes. Starting out is not easy.
But if a life filled with time and financial freedom is your goal, building out your business online can get you there.
Remember, you don't have to be great to start. But, you do have to start to be great.
So, even if you've failed in the past, right now is a chance to make a fresh beginning by understanding the teachings of each of these 6 steps.
Okay, let's do this...
Before you launch and build your business, you must take the time to validate your idea.
The first step is to investigate the market trends within your industry.
This investigation will help determine whether demand is rising or waning. But it can also provide excellent insights into some ideas you may not have already considered.
One easy way to do this is going to www.googletrends.com and insert your search query there.
For example, if you were in the weight loss industry and looked into the prospects of launching a coconut oil product into the market, here’s what you would find.
Once you’ve identified your niche, the next thing to look at is the existing supply of products and services.
You could physically walk from shop to shop investigating.
But why go through all that hassle when the largest retailer in the world is at your fingertips.
Yes, I am referring to Amazon.
Research the products and books on Amazon. Read the reviews to get ideas on how you might build your business by offering something better.
Also, take note of the brand names you are competing against in the industry. It’s also worth checking out eBay.
The final step is to confirm there is not only demand for your idea, but that it is a profitable niche worthy of your effort.
Type your niche into Google. What you want to see are paid ads on the page. It means competitors are paying for traffic, suggesting it is a profitable niche.
If there are no ads, you need to conduct further research on the size of the market and the level of competition.
Alexa is an excellent resource for this.
You can also use Alexa to find who are the dominant players for the keywords related to your niche.
Identifying these top performers is useful because there might be an opportunity to collaborate later.
The next key element to building your online business is to identify your target market and your ideal customer so you can perfect your marketing message.
Done correctly, people will buy your offers without you needing to sell to them.
The first thing you need to do is get specific on who your target market is.
An old Russian proverb goes; “If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one”. The same is true in business. If you try and please everyone, you run the risk of pleasing no one.
So, use Alexa again and enter your competitors domains names. One click of a button and boom, you’re ethically stealing your competitors insights.
From gender to location, age group, income, education and more. It’s all yours. Consider how much more targeted your ads can be with this information.
But, it’s still not enough. You must go one step further and get specific on your ideal customer.
Your audience needs to feel like you understand their biggest pain points. That you can appreciate their challenges and feel their desires.
And so, it’s important to create customer avatars as you build your business.
These are fictional images from your ideal audience. For example, if your niche is the weight loss industry, your customer avatar might sound something like this.
Once you have your avatar created, you are ready to pitch the perfect marketing message.
In doing so, remember one very important point...
Customers do not buy products/ services. They buy outcomes.
Perry Marshal summed it up rather well when he said:
So, the goal of your marketing message is to move your audience from their “current” state to their “after” state.
As an example, just think of how the health industry uses before and after photos. You are sold on the outcome. The product comes secondary.
To build your business successfully, you must obviously create a product or service.
However, you must also build a sales process to maximize the potential of these products or services.
This is known as a sales funnel. It’s a process that converts a visitor to a lead and subsequently a customer...all on autopilot.
So, even as you sleep, your business continues to operate and generate profit. Your funnel should follow a three-step process.
Just because you have validated your idea doesn't mean you should immediately start selling.
Your prospects are skeptical. The burden of proof is on you, not them.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
In your prospects mind, if they don't already know you, value means free.
Whether that's a free report, video, etc., is up to you. But, ensure it is something ofhigh quality.
Such resources are called lead magnets, and their ultimate goal is to pre-sell.
Your lead magnet needs to do three things:
To improve the conversion of your lead magnets, there are a number of strategies you can employ. Such as sidebar widgets, pop-ups, scroll mats and in-content calls to action.
For example, here is a simple pop-up Kissmetrics uses when a user is about to exit their site.
An excellent resource you can use to set these strategies up is Thrive Themes.
Disclaimer: You should assume any links to the Thrive Themes website are affiliate links. Meaning, I get a commission if you subscribe. Why do I do this? Because I use the platform all the time and love it. I have every confidence you will too. Okay, that's all. Just wanted to be as honest and transparent as I can with you.
One word of warning though. Deploy these strategies sparingly.
You don't want to destroy the user experience by having pop-ups annoy readers every two seconds they are on your website.
So, you’ve proven to your ideal prospect you can be trusted. Next, the goal is to convert that person into a customer. You do this by making offers of incredible value.
The first offer you can make is loss leading offer.
In the online world, it’s referred to as a tripwire offer. These are low-risk offers that convert prospects into buyers.
For example, Amazon's fire tablet is a loss leader.
As is Tony Robbins offer of a free copy of his book, Money Master the Game (plus the shipping cost of $7.95).
Now, here’s the thing. You lose money on each loss leading sale you make. But, the logic behind these offers is this...
It’s far easier to repeat sell to an existing customer than make a first time sale to a potential client.
So they key is to get your prospect to make some financial commitment.
To recoup your losses, you follow up with a self-liquidating offer (SLO). That is an offer that offsets the cost of acquiring each new customer.
Done correctly, SLO’s ensure you gain new leads and first-time clients for free.
Mike Dillard launched his business, Magnetic Sponsoring, in 2005 with a $29 e-book.
The book went on to sell over 100,000 copies and ensured Dillard was able to build out a huge client base, essentially for free.
Then at a later date, he was able to profit by marketing new business ventures and ideas to this audience.
One such idea was the Elevation Group, which produced $3.2 million in it's first week alone, ultimately reaching over 50,000 people across 60 different countries.
The final offer I'll cover that you should consider making is an Irresistible Offer.
Not to be confused with a special offer, the Irresistible offer is integral to the brand. It cannot be separated by identity.
After launching Dominos pizza in the 1960s, Tom Monaghan found himself in a fiercely competitive industry.
The company faced bankruptcy challenges and franchise disputes, but one promotional idea changed everything.
An offer that differentiated them from their competition. An irresistible offer the consumer simply could not refuse...
A promise to deliver your pizza within 30 minutes of your order. Otherwise, you got the pizza for free.
While competitors battled against each other, proclaiming to have the freshest ingredients and the lowest prices, Domino's focussed on the delivery.
In other words, while the others "zigged", Domino's chose to "zag".
The more competitive the niche you are operating in, the more important you irresistible offer becomes.
Loss leading and self-liquidating offers happen at the front end of the sales funnel. Meanwhile, your profits are made at the back end.
One of the most popular ways to maximize these profits online is through up-selling.
With an up-sell, you encourage the customer to purchase a more expensive model in the same product family.
Or, you entice them with better features to the original offer/ model.
This up-sell can occur before, during or after the first transaction takes place.
Apple does an excellent job at up-selling. From larger displays to more memory and enhanced connectivity.
The cross-sell is also an excellent way to maximize profitability.
This is where a company entices customers to supplement their initial purchase with products that complement it.
The most famous example is McDonalds, and their “You want fries with that” slogan.
Source: Digital Marketer
The important thing to note here is McDonalds makes a tiny profit from the burger. It’s the fries, soft drinks, etc. that make the cash register ring.
Another profit enhancer is the subscription model. A membership service with a recurring payment.
From Amazon to Netflix, companies are increasingly looking to build a loyal subscription base to produce recurring revenue.
The idea of a subscription model feeds into the a concept I believe to be the most important to maximize value in your business.
Check out this free video I created that explains this concept in more detail.
Any offer you make is worthless unless you have an audience that sees it. So, the fourth step is to generate traffic to your offer.
As an entrepreneur, you are well aware of the importance of traffic in your business. Indeed, it is the lifeblood of just about every business.
Yet, when it comes to generating traffic, you might be prone to repeating a common mistake...
...You try and generate traffic from too many sources, too soon.
Instead, your goal is to focus on, and test, just one traffic source at a time. Tweaking and optimizing as you go.
Once you have built a profitable traffic source, then it is time to add a second, third, fourth source etc.
The best place to start, is by finding out what your competitors are doing.
Simply typing your competitors name into Similar Web, throws up a wealth of valuable insights on their traffic sources.
From direct traffic to referred, search and social.
Once you've conducted your research, there are essentially two ways to generate traffic. Through organic and paid means, both of which you need to consider.
The approach to generating organic traffic is referred to as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
But SEO has changed dramatically over the years.
Old school tactics like link spamming, keyword stuffing and thin content, no longer cuts it.
Organic traffic today is about combining the best of SEO (social media sharing and back links) with content marketing.
The rise of content marketing is undeniable, and is increasingly leveraged by top brands and business authorities worldwide.
There are four primary forms of content you can produce; written, audio, visual and audio visual.
For example, you might write blog posts related to your niche and over time, Google will recognize these posts in their search engine.
The quality, relevance, etc. of the blog posts determine your ranking.
The benefit of the organic approach is it establishes authority. The drawback is the length of time it takes.
The results are not immediate, making the motivation to continue all the harder if you're already cash strapped.
In the earlier days of the internet, Google pay-per-click (PPC) was the only game in town.
So, in exchange for a click to your website or offer, you paid Google a fee.
Google PPC is still a powerful source of paid traffic, but it is expensive...
...Particularly in competitive niches.
Fortunately, there is one platform that continues to grow rapidly and offers smaller entrepreneurs an opportunity to acquire traffic at a reasonable price.
That platform is Facebook ads.
Facebook advertising has grown from $764 billion in 2009 to an astonishing 17,079 billion in 2015.
The reason business owners and marketers are flocking to Facebook is because it offers incredible options for targeting your ideal customer.
In addition, a paid approach like this means that unlike the organic approach, you can get subscribers fast.
The obvious drawback of any paid ad strategy is the upfront expense. But, if you build a solid funnel that covers the cost of each new subscriber, you've nailed it.
It's one thing to generate traffic to your offers, but's it's another to truly captivate these people and turn them into loyal fans and customers.
The 10k Community Challenge: Free insights on how to grow your community to 10k and beyond.
The reality is that most people who click on your ad, read your blog post or listen to your podcast, will not take action the first time around.
In fact, only 2% of website visitors typically take any action on the first visit.
If these numbers surprise you, they shouldn't. Think of it like dating. When you meet someone for the first time, you don't offer to marry them there and then right?
Nor do you invite them on a holiday, ask them to move in with you etc. Instead, you invite them on a first date.
You take things slowly. Get to know one another and determine whether or not you are a right fit for each other.
It's the same when building a relationship with your audience.
Just because they leave your website without taking any action the first time, doesn't mean they don't like you.
They just don't know how sincere you are. Whether you're serious about wanting to help or whether you're just another person in it for a quick buck.
Which is why very often, you need to repeatedly stimulate their interest, before they are willing to accept you as their truster advisor.
Jay Abraham refers to the process of becoming that trusted advisor as part of his pre-eminence strategy.
Having listened to Jay and others who have approached business in this way, it became clear to me that becoming a trusted advisor required two important actions for online business owners...
Get these two steps right and you'll have a loyal group of customers who value what it is you have to offer.
So, 2% of your audience convert at the first time of asking...if you're doing everything right.
It means 98% are leaving without taking action. Not because they don't like you, but because they don't know you.
A retargeting campaign looks to keep your brand in front this 98% after they leave your website.
So over time, they learn more about you and become convinced of your authenticity and the value you bring to the table.
Here's a snapshot of how it a retargeting campaign should operate:
The reason retargeting is so important is simple...
Consider some of the following figures based on research by Chango, Retargeter, Emarketer and Wishpond.
For any business owner, retargeting is a must. Combined with a good funnel, you should see an improvement in your ROI.
However, that ROI is primarily driven by the second stage of the strategy. But here's the thing...
...it has little to do with selling and instead focuses on nurturing.
Even after you retarget web visitors and succeed in converting them into a lead, there is still some way to go before becoming their trusted advisor.
The mistake most businesses online make is they immediately try to sell to this audience.
Again, think back to the dating example. The nurturing stage is date number 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. Again, you don't pop the question on any of these initial dates to you?
No! (well, at least I hope not because thats kinda creepy).
You engage with them. Find out more about who they are. And you do this in a conversational manner. Not with some hard-wired sales script.
Obviously, social media has changed the game in terms of engagement. But, there is still one medium that trumps all others from a business perspective...
Yes, yes, I know email is meant to be dead right? Or at least dying!
Don't believe it just yet. Based on past studies, email produces an ROI of $44.25 for every $1 spent.
The same study showed the ROI for keyword ads to be $17 and display ads to be $2.
But again, to achieve this level of ROI requires you to stimulate and captivate your audience. And the best way (possibly the only way) is through story telling.
Andre Chaperon has covered this brilliantly over the years. He suggests your email approach should be similar to that of a TV series.
Hence the reason he calls the approach a Soap Opera Sequence (SOS).
Chaperon advocates having one main plot (SOS) but many subplots to this story.
Each email then ends by opening a new loop, whether it be a dramatic twist to the story or a question that needs to be answered.
Just like you might see on Game of Thrones or other such TV shows.
Doing it this way, encourages the reader to revisit your email the next day for the conclusion of the twist or the answer to the question.
You are captivating the attention of the reader. Nurturing them as they slowly realise the value you bring to the table and why they need you in their lives.
One word of advice, though.
You should always look to relate the story back to your audience. Remember, it's about them, not you or anyone else.
So, always tie it back so they can make an emotional connection to your stories.
Once you're driving traffic to your offers, it is crucial that you track your analytics.
Then, make changes based on these results to build your business faster.
This is part of the iterative process.
Think of Apple and how their iterate their product lineup.
From the original iPhone to the latest model, the 6S. Apple has iterated to improve the product each year.
This process of innovation is everywhere.
Facebook are currently on the 66th iteration of their Messenger app.
The novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J K Rowling, was rejected by 12 publishers before it was accepted.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was dismissed 38 times.
The founders of Skype had made 40 investor pitches before they were accepted. Cisco made 76 and Google around 350.
Paul Sloane sums it up perfectly when he says:
“Many great products were the result of a long series of iterations. The first release is rarely an immediate winner. Innovation is a process of continuous improvement and sometimes of trial and error with multiple failures eventually leading to success.”
Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools you can use to track data from your website, landing pages etc.
It includes visits, time-on-site, bounce rates etc.
However, the tool does have it's limits, offering little in the way of behavior and optimization.
Hotjar offers a more comprehensive solution, revealing what users do on your site by revealing their clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior.
You'll also get greater insight as to which page in the funnel your users are dropping off and why people are abandoning such pages.
So, whether it’s through rejection or a desire to improve, iteration is something to embrace.
Track and measure your results. Listen to your audience to learn what doesn't work. Then tweak to build out what works.
Once you've successfully iterated, there is one final action required to maximize the value of your business...
Delegating involves removing yourself from the process. Hiring a team of personnel to carry out important tasks.
I'm sure many of you have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as thePareto Principle.
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
Or, you spend 80% of your time focussed on generating just 20% of your results.
In most cases, it’s because entrepreneurs try and do too much for too long.
Yes, in the beginning, being an entrepreneur is all about getting your hands dirty and operating across every aspect of the business.
But, as your business grows, you have to switch from entrepreneur to business CEO or else you're destroying value in the business.
You must adopt a different mindset as CEO. You must learn a different set of skills, from learning to leading, delegating, managing, hiring and outsourcing.
You could start with the optimization of the six business stages I have discussed here.
These example just scratch the surface.
The key takeaway being, delegation affords you more time to work on your business, rather than in it.
Whether you are a digital entrepreneur, an existing
Each of the stages borrows from strategies the very best companies in the world already practice.
From Amazon to Apple, Google and Netflix, the 6 steps position you to stand on the shoulders of these giants.
You see, the 6 steps themselves are based on the #1 business concept I've personally come across in my time as an online entrepreneur.
A concept every entrepreneur must know if they are to maximize the value of their business.
Amazon applies the principles of this concept better than anyone else to crush their competition, dominate their market and grow revenues at an explosive rate.
Having a comprehensive understanding of this concept can have a dramatic impact on your business too.
It will change the way you approach business online and in doing so, increase your lead flow and revenues in the short-term.
In the longer-term, as I say, you'll maximize the profit potential and value of your business.
In fact, it's so important, I created a special short video using Amazon as a case study for you to copy.
The video covers four powerful offers Amazon makes in their business, each of which you should include as part of your business online approach.
To unlock the video, simply click below and enter your details.
James is a digital marketing consultant and online business strategist. He helps coaches, consultants, and solo professionals market their business online so they establish authority positioning and predictably generate 5-20 high-ticket, new clients every month.