If I were to take an hour and write down all the things I could think of that were relevant to helping one build the digital side of their business, I’d fill the hour quite easily. If I were to take a day and make a workshop out of it, I could guide you through that day with a roadmap which – while still very comprehensive – would still be partially complete – give me about a MONTH and I’ll show you everything that you need to know about doing business online and we’d be just about there!
However, I don’t have a month and chances are, neither do you – so here’s my “top ten list” sharpened down to just 6… half a dozen things that if you did nothing else would make the biggest difference to helping you succeed online.
# 1 – Have a website filled with GREAT CONTENT.
Notice I didn’t say ‘nice graphics’ or pretty pictures or amazing layouts? I’m also not making any mentions of social sharing or SEO or blogging or fancy widgets. These things can ‘help’, but none of them on their own can guarantee your success any more than awesome content.
In fact, if you published the blandest website, but had awesome content, people would still find you and people would still share your content and customers would still pay you money to get more.
These days too many people place major focus on minor things. Yes, when you build your website, you need to make sure all the minimum ‘benchmarks’ are ticked… but then you must populate that puppy with the highest quality content that you and your team can get together. Do it once, then do it again, then do it again and again and again!
#2 – Set up systems to CAPTURE LEADS AND PROSPECTS.
I did some analytics analysis for a new client recently and found that their most popular landing page was an amazing article that someone had written 12-months earlier which was generating 8x more entry page traffic than its nearest rival; yet was responsible for only 0.08% of the website’s total monthly revenue (a site that turns over just under $100K / month)!
Why? Because the page in question didn’t ask people who visited it to do anything else – Whether your pages get 100 page views a month or 1,000… you MUST ask people to subscribe to your (whatever) so that you have an opportunity to follow them up at some point.
- Offer them an opportunity to download a free report / product guide / white paper.
- Ask them to subscribe to your weekly newsletter (and give them a good reason to do so)
The point is this, most people won’t buy from you the first time they ‘meet you’; unless of course you sell a fixed product range that is available all over the net and your price is lower than the competition – where your customer is already in buying mode when they arrive.
But that’s not most of us.
#3 – Backup your sh*t!!
There’s no real polite way for me to say that and get your attention at the same time; but you’ve got to back up your stuff and then back it up again on a super regular basis.
Let me share with you a horror story that I’ll never forget….
Back in 2003 when technologies were still in development and ‘cloud’ solutions were few and far between (they weren’t even called that), I’d been running my online business for about 4 years. At this time I had a customer database just shy of 20,000 people. I did what most people did and let my website handle the whole thing, only occasionally exporting my database to a .csv.
Then it happened. My computer crashed and the data on it was irretrievable. OK, no problem, “I’ve got everything online….”
Sure. But I didn’t download the data straight away and 5 days later – yes, absolutely true – the building that hosted my website in Dallas Texas burnt down! I kid you not, that’s exactly how it happened!
I lost my website, my client database and every frigging thing that I’d spent years building up. Suffice to say I was NOT HAPPY!
But it couldn’t happen again, surely?
Since that day I’ve always backed up to external hard drive a copy of everything digital my business has, updated weekly (now I also do a daily backup of active projects)…. just ONE backup.
Last year my laptop with all my current projects failed and required reformatting (and replacement mind you); and once I had the new one up and running for some reason I didn’t transfer all my backups to it.
A month later the external backup drive failed also.
OMG! Are you serious! Unfortunately, yes.
Now I have my data backed up THREE TIMES; two backup drives on my desk (duplicates) and the most important items up in “the cloud”.
But my point is this… just because it’s on my backup data drive doesn’t mean that it’s secure. Just because it’s in “the cloud” doesn’t mean it’s secure either (even though they say it is). Fires happen, buildings fall over and floods reign supreme (at least here in Queensland anyway).
You’ve got to have your digital assets backed up. And then backed up, and then backed up again… AND in different locations!
#4 – Use awesome incredible 15-digit passwords!
Here’s another top tip related to security, although this one is much easier to explain – just as it’s important that you backup your data and databases, you also need to protect all your online information and access points with mind-blowing passwords that are all but 100% hacker proof.
OK, a quick disclaimer, I’m not a hacker and I know nothing about ‘being a hacker’, but if the biggest websites in the world can get hacked, then no one is immune.
However, next time you set up an online password, do a Google search for “strong password generator” and make use of one of the free online tools that come up in the results. Set your password to be at least 15-characters long and to include both UPPERCASE, lowercase, Numb3rs, and Character$.
No, you won’t be able to remember them, so you’re going to need somewhere to write them down (I keep both a printed copy and a digital copy which is on my computer. I change the name of the file regularly and don’t keep it in “my documents”). Some may say that’s silly, but its 22 pages long and every password is different.
You should do similar.
Last month I had over 200 password hack attempts on my website. These are done automatically by bots, not real people… not one of them ‘got through’. You MUST protect yourself from these automated attacks.
#5 – Get out of the house (or the office)
Most people reading this probably have an office address somewhere away from the home, but the principle is still the same… get out of the office!
Yes, doing business online is ‘online’, but there is tremendous value in doing business ‘offline’ as well.
Get out of the office, get out of the home and get to local network meetings, events and industry functions. It’s not just about networking it’s about building relationships; putting your face to your name, showing people that you care and asking about THEM.
Whether these people are your customers or not, you can brand yourself as the industry expert for your sector by offering a simple smile and listening ear; Steven R Covey said it best in his 5 th habit,
“Seek first to understand, and then be understood”.
Once people tell you how their business/homes/hobbies run, you can then share how your business can help them. Swap cards, and keep in touch.
Refer them to principle # 2. Follow them up forever. Maybe they won’t buy from you, but they’ll be sure to refer others who will.
#6 – Promise what you’ll deliver and deliver what you promise!
Have you ever heard the sales phrase “Under-promise and Over-perform”? It means promise one thing, deliver it, and then do more! This is a key principle not only in business, but also in life!
Many people however, are always looking for the shorter route to success and so they often say one thing and do another (they over-promise and under-perform!).
When it comes to all things online, there is no greater way to lose business than not deliver on what you’ve promised. You’ve GOT TO DO IT every single day without exception. Just one bad word from a customer whom you’ve burned and your business could be in tatters.
According to a Zendesk.com study last year year, customers who’d experienced poor service or an online misdemeanour of some kind were 100% likely to tell other people about it rather than only 87% of those who’d experienced something good.
Don’t you love it how they need a study to tell us something we already know
The point being, you’ve GOT TO DO WHAT YOU PROMISE! And I’m going to suggest that you raise the bar by promising more than you usually do – to force yourself to lift your limits.
DON’T JUST SEEK TO ‘IMPRESS’ YOUR CLIENTS, BLOW THEIR MINDS WITH A SERVICE STANDARD THAT IS AWE INSPIRING.
This principle takes us all the way back to # 1, have a website filled with great content.
- Write a free report that is so good people will wonder why they didn’t have to pay for it.
- Give away so much value that people will feel guilty taking you up on your offers.
- And do every damned thing that you’ve promised to do – and then do more.
There are NO EXCUSES for not being successful online; the principles to online success are no different to those for offline success, it’s just that the tools we use to achieve our goals change over time.
Focus your time on the super important, not just the trending topics.
If your business is failing, social media won’t save it for you. If you’re not banking enough money to pay yourself a regular wage, SEO won’t do it for you either. These things are just ONE PART of an overall puzzle that makes up success… and these 6 principles when applied will help you more than any other.