Online business owner doing the books

10 Critical Elements of an Online Business

An online business requires continual assessment and improvement. You’ve done a great job by getting started and officially launching your business. That’s no small feat! Now it’s time to create systems to ensure the elements of your online business model stay fresh, relevant, and engaging.

Entrepreneurship can be overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with the 10 most important maintenance bases to examine and keep your business in tip-top shape.

1. Website & App Design

Your website and app need to mimic the experience of shopping in person. You’ll notice that your favorite retail store often changes their displays, decor, mannequin outfits or item placement. This keeps things exciting for the consumer and gives the store a chance to showcase new products.

Your company’s website and app are no different. Keeping their designs fresh with a design update once a year will ensure that your users feel like your app is relevant to their needs. We’ve all seen apps where it’s clear they haven’t been updated in quite a while, because both iOS and Android’s visual design tends to change from year to year.

Updating your web and app designs will communicate to consumers that you’re paying attention and the company isn’t getting stale.

2. Content

Content is still king, even in 2021. You should run a company-wide content audit at least once a year to ensure that the content your brand is putting out there is on message, consistent, and coherent.

Successful brands tend to run content audits once per quarter to ensure clarity and gain insight into what’s resonating with their audience and leading to sales conversions.

3. Testing

Now more than ever, your website’s performance should be considered a critical aspect of your brand’s overall strategy and outlook. Google and other search engines reward websites that are fast, easy to use, and free of errors. Conversely, a site that is slow, difficult to use, or full of errors and issues will be ranked lower in search results.

Fortunately, there are excellent tools to help you analyze and monitor your website’s performance on a daily basis. Our favorite tool for this critical element is GTMetrix. With GTMetrix, you can run a report on your website and receive a detailed analysis of how your site ranks with search engines like Google, and what steps you need to take, if any, to correct issues.

4. SEO

Once you have your content and performance nailed down, it’s crucial to let search engines know how to connect users to your site. This process is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. There are several considerations to keep in mind to ensure your site has excellent SEO, but you don’t have to be an SEO expert to stay on top of them.

Our favorite tool for SEO optimization is something called All in One SEO, or AIOSEO for short. If your website is hosted with Apptitude, your site is already receiving all of the benefits that this magical tool provides. If you’re not hosting with us, but you’re using WordPress, we strongly suggest using the AIOSEO plugin for your SEO optimization. We’ve been very happy with its ease-of-use, level of detail, and overall effect on search rankings.

5. CRM

Once a potential customer has found your site, you should take steps to ensure they find the content they’re looking for and are hopefully pleased enough with what you have to offer that they would like to make a purchase.

There are several approaches to guiding a customer towards a sales goal, and there’s no one-size-fits all tool to take care of that for you. But we recommend adding a way for your potential customers to connect with you and ask questions before they make a purchase. This can be through a 1-800 number, a chat box, or a Contact Us form.

Either way, once you have connected with a potential customer, be sure that you have a great Customer Relationship Management tool that gives you the best shot at turning them into a customer for life. Salesforce, Insightly, and Scoro are popular and effective tools that get the job done, and have flexible pricing to ensure you don’t overpay for something that you don’t need.

6. Social Media

Many consumers look at a brand’s social media before making a purchase. Whatever social channels you are on, make sure to incorporate links to your social media accounts into your website. This can include linking your Instagram grid or adding social sharing buttons.

The social media networks you want to target will vary greatly depending on your brand’s target demographic. If your target skews young, TikTok and Instagram will be critical elements of your brand’s social presence. If your target skews a little older, networks like Facebook and LinkedIn will be the networks you’ll want to focus your attention on.

Fortunately, most successful social media campaigns are very cost effective, requiring little to no financial investment to get things going. There is a substantial amount of investment of another precious resource however, and that is time. Be sure that you or someone on your team is devoting a portion of their time each workday to social media and your social media goals.

7. Cybersecurity

With ransomware attacks up over 148% in the wake of COVID-19, it’s critical that your company takes cybersecurity seriously. The best first step towards securing your website and app is ensuring that all information transmitted between all parties is encrypted using SSL. While that’s not all you have to do, it can help mitigate some of the most egregious issues related to business security online.

Next, ensure that you’re using defense tools such as Cloudfare and WordFence to shield your online presence from bots, hackers, and DDoS attacks. Using one, or preferably both, of these tools on your website will help block a large majority of the most common security vulnerabilities.

8. Analytics

Knowing the who, what, where, and hows of your web and mobile app traffic is a critical step towards understanding where your business’s strengths and weaknesses are. We recommend Google Analytics for this task. They have the most robust set of tools for tracking, analyzing, and reporting based on several different factors.

With a solid grasp on your analytics and traffic metrics, you’ll know what’s working, what’s not, and where to go next with your business.

9. Backups

Even with the best security tools and defenses, disasters will happen to every website and app eventually. That’s why we always recommend that you have a tool that does consistent, reliable, turnkey backups of your website and/or app code and content.

While the right tool can vary greatly depending on what sort of technology you are using for your online presence, when you partner with Apptitude for your website or app development project, we ensure that your data and content is securely backed up every single day.

10. Automation

There are several tools now that give you a huge advantage over the competition, helping to reconnect with customers and try to make a sale that might have gone inactive. The best thing about these tools is that they act seamlessly and instantly, without you having to lift a finger or get involved.

One of the best tools for this kind of automation is Mailchimp. Mailchimp helps you connect with your visitors and customers over email, and gives you a wide range of tools for staying in touch with them once they’ve subscribed.

Maintaining your online business is a full-time job in itself. As a busy entrepreneur, you need to focus on other things like growth and innovation. We hope this list has given you some clarity on what you need to stay on top of, as well as the tools you have at your disposal to do so.

If that sounds like too much to add to your plate, we’re here to help! Our website and app experts are here to take that load off your shoulders and ensure your online presence is the best in your industry. Contact us today for website design, app development, or assistance getting your brand launched.

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