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Be online start-up smart: Five expert tips

Digital experts are warning the increasing number of online start-ups to be careful not to make some basic branding blunders, as many battle to keep up with competitors and forget to focus on a number of website essentials that can help to build customer loyalty.

According to Reload Media senior digital marketing consultant Amy Scott, emerging online brands need to remember some basic digital rules when launching their offering.

“There are so many new platforms and tactics for digital marketing coming out of the woodwork it’s easy to for business owners to become caught up trying to out do each other and forget the basic needs of their customers,” she said.

Instead of getting caught up rolling out ineffective campaigns across all social networking platforms when they don’t have the resources to do so, Scott suggests SMBs focus on getting their website basics right from the outset, “because ultimately, this is what will build a strong brand and a loyal customer base.” Website basics include navigation and usability, search functions, purchase paths and branding.

“These new social media platforms have the capacity to be marketing gold for certain companies, but there is no point directing traffic to a website that does the brand an injustice,” she added.

Here are the top five branding blunders most commonly made by online start-ups and how to avoid them:

1. Not taking into account the customers experience online by not offering easy website navigability, search functions and purchase paths. Work with your web developer and test these elements on a control group before going live.

2. Failing to offer exceptional customer service in the online environment. This could be as simple as adding an online chat function, so customers can ask questions in real time.

3. Ignoring the competition. When competing in the online retail sector, it’s so easy to know who your competitors are, what they are doing and the various offerings they have.

4. Lack of split testing and conversion optimisation. Just like you would constantly merchandise a bricks-and-mortar store, an online retailer should utilise the stacks of data available to know how users use your website and split test various page elements to know what works.

5. Forgetting to do their research. Knowing how your customers will find your websites and product offerings is vital. Is your target market searching on Google or are they more present on social media sites? When you know this, you can ensure your website is suitable for these avenues with the right content and calls to action.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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