Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

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Marketing for Online Businesses That Actually Works (and How to Pay for It)

By Quiet Light
| Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Jessica Larson of  

Having a successful online business demands a successful online presence. And the best way to grow that presence is through effective marketing. As online entrepreneurs, you’re familiar with the competition and innovation that surrounds you every day, as well as the necessity of standing out in the crowd. 

Luckily, this challenge is being met every day by online businesses in every sector, paving the path to success with marketing strategies that really work. As in, marketing that makes you more money than you spend to implement it. 

Marketing Strategies

Furthermore, the rise of online businesses as a reputable way to make a living has opened up a variety of funding options to online entrepreneurs. For those who want to take their business to the next level, it’s easier than ever to find the capital to invest.

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Marketing Strategies That Work

Always Be Researching 

Data drives performance. When it comes to developing a marketing plan, the best place to start is online. With a simple Google search, you can access a treasure trove of heavily-funded market research on everything from web design to advertising best practices to product promotion. Check out the following tips for inspiration on how to deep-dive into the numbers that matter to you:

  • Keep your website simple. Keep your website simple. A clean website with easy navigation can improve revenue growth by nearly 50%. Plus, simple designs are great at keeping the focus on the specifics of your brand. Don’t rely on gimmicky plugins and flashy colors. Instead, let your message and products speak for themselves.
  • For dropshippers, investing in retargeting is a must. Almost none of your customers will buy anything on their first visit. Enable retargeting ads for visitors who have left your site. These can improve conversion by 70%. Also, be sure to track the metrics: find out what pushed them to buy that item. You can even send out polls or include a questionnaire in the sign-up process. 
  • Research has shown that high-quality photography drives online sales. Some 75% of online shoppers fall back on visual confirmation when making a purchase. For item-based selling, such as Etsy stores, premium images are proven to complete sales. 

Never Stop Innovating 

The realm of online business changes literally every day. When trending terms drive the latest passions, innovation is key. For an online business, that means anticipating the future of both shoppers and investing in the technology to stay on the cutting edge. By focusing on strategies that meet customers where they are and drive them back to your products and services, you can maximize your marketing ROI. 

Marketing Success Strategies

  • Emails led to 23% of all sales in 2017, and they are one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there. Investing in a good CRM (customer relationship management) program can help you improve your email marketing by figuring out what your customers are responding to, when and how they are consuming your messages, and which offers deliver the most bang for your buck. 
  • About 43% of younger consumers find brands and make purchases via social media, so it’s more important than ever to find a way to engage younger shoppers on social media. Even if your brand hasn’t traditionally targeted the 18-34 age group in the past, you should start now. Their share of the online market is only going to increase, and they won’t be replaced until an even more tech-connected generation comes along.
  • Mobile traffic made up half of all Internet traffic in the first quarter of 2021, and that number will continue to grow. Ensuring you have a mobile-friendly website is crucial to growing your brand. Better yet, get your own app so that you can target customers with push notifications, send real-time updates via text, analyze sales data, and improve customer experience on the fly. There are affordable off-the-shelf options that offer quick customization without any coding.
  • If you also have a brick-and-mortar location, give your customers the option to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). Allow customers to browse and buy as they normally would. Then, direct them to the store for pickup. They don’t have to pay or wait for shipping, and you get the opportunity to sell them again when they get there. In fact, 85% of shoppers picking up their items at the store make additional impulse purchases when they’re there.

How to Pay for Them

Look for Grants

Grants are basically free money! They are typically offered by private corporations or government entities to help small businesses grow, which in turn stimulates the economy. The catch is that they often carry specific requirements. With that said, there are several grant avenues for online business owners.

  • If you own your businesses or are otherwise self-employed, then NASE grants might suit your needs. These growth grants are awarded from the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), which is a nonprofit that helps support small business owners. Their grants of $4,000 are awarded to NASE members to use for a variety of needs. 
  • Grants are also more accessible than traditional funding. Minority small business grants, for example, are geared toward historically underrepresented groups. For example, the Black Founder Startup Grant awards $10,000 and $5,000 grants to Black women for startup costs, including marketing. The grant also provides ongoing help and potential additional grant opportunities. 

Pro tip: Hire a grant writer. Technically, anyone can write a grant, but a professional grant writer will truly understand the ins and outs of the process. Not only do they know the voice needed to get your business noticed, but they also understand the fine print and legalese associated with some grants. Plus, using a grant writer increases your chances of grant approval by 60%

Turn to Loans 

For many small business owners, a business loan will be their main avenue of funding. However, to be approved for a loan at the best possible interest rate, you’ll need to meet certain qualifications. Typically, that means having solid financial records, knowing how to maintain good credit, and having a plan for how you will invest the money to grow your business.

  • SBA loans can be an attractive option for qualified businesses. They offer favorable rates and repayment terms designed to accommodate small business owners.
  • Online loans are another option, especially if you run a less traditional business. These loans are usually decided faster than traditional offerings, sometimes in minutes. They can be used to fund many business types and for almost any reason. However, they often demand sterling qualifications or collateral. 

Online business owners are at the forefront of a changing tide. Mobile shopping and eCommerce, in general, will continue to grow. The pandemic has already shifted shopping trends to rely on fully or semi-integrated online sales. With these marketing strategies and funding options, your online business has advantages and can grow to meet the ever-increasing demand. 

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