Friday, December 11, 2015

10 Things Every Online Business Owner Should Know For 2016

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Tick… tick… tick… 2015 is winding down faster every day. Very soon, we will be welcoming 2016 and it’s now that time of the year when businesses start to revise their strategy and map out a way to conquer the New Year. 2015 was a great year for online businesses, with a total of $349.1 billion projected in total U.S. ecommerce sales (for perspective, that’s more than the entire GPD of Denmark in 2014).
If you want to succeed in online business in 2016, here are 10 factors you absolutely must take note of:

Prepare a Mobile Strategy

Mobile is quickly becoming one of the biggest forces we’ve seen since the internet, and its importance keeps growing on a daily basis. Research shows tha tmobile is expected to influence ecommerce sales to the tune of $76.79 billion in 2015, and that a quarter of all US retail sales, or a whopping $1 trillion+ in ecommerce sales, are influenced by mobile in 2015 alone.
Whether it is in form of direct sales, or the influence it has on potential customers’ research before doing business with you, mobile strategy can no longer be pushed back in 2016; it is getting to a stage where you either have a mobile strategy or see your sales slowly evaporate.
In an attempt to emphasize the importance of being mobile-optimized in 2015, Google updated it’s algorithm to start penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly;research shows that a massive 46.6% of non-mobile friendly pages were affected by the update.

Start Blogging

If you did not blog in 2015, you’re already way behind; research shows that a massive 77 percent of internet users read blogs and that small businesses that blog generate 126% more leads and have 97% more inbound links than businesses that do not blog.
It’s important to note that blogging does not just mean having a blog installed; you actually have to keep your blog updated. My next point addresses this.

Blog Frequently

Exactly how often should you blog in 2016? For a long time it’s been difficult to establish the right blogging frequency, but not anymore; the kind folks at Hubspot went ahead to survey 13,500+ of their users and came to the conclusion that more is better. Essentially, the Hubspot research established the following:
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts monthly got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 blog posts monthly.
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts monthly got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published less than 4 blog posts monthly.
It’s been established, and from a credible source, that publishing 16 or more articles monthly on your blog is the sweet spot. Now, develop a content schedule and start blogging!

Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Everybody keeps raving about content strategy, but research shows that a good number of companies utilizing content marketing aren’t recording any gains due to their content marketing use. Does this mean that content marketing doesn’t work? No, but the answer lies in something more subtle; a documented strategy.
Research by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs found that the success of your content marketing can be determined by the type of documentation you have; the CMI and MarketingProfs study found that 60 percent of companies that document their strategy get results from content marketing, compared to a minuscule 7 percent of companies without a strategy. In other words, having no content marketing strategy increases your chances of failure by 94 percent while having a documented strategy increases your chances of success by 60 percent.

Upgrade Your Website Speed

According to Aliesha from Umbrellar, “47 percent of consumers expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 percent will abandon a page that takes longer than 3 seconds”.
Take that! A whopping 47 percentof potential customers expect your website to load within 2 seconds, and as high as 40 percent of people will reconsider doing business with you if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load. While that might seem surprising, don’t be too surprised because our attention spans keep getting shorter, and recent research from Microsoft shows that our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish.
If your website is slow in 2016, you’ll lose a lot of business. Fix things by getting a good web host; for comparison, this article on Hosting Facts reviews dozens of web hosts by their average page load time and their data can serve as a benchmark when deciding on what web host to use.

Position Your Content Front and Center

After a recent leak of their “Quality Guidelines” document (a document handed to “Quality Raters” to help Google evaluate search results, the outcome of which eventually influences Google’s algorithm changes), Google decided to publicly release the document. One of the key factors Google uses to rank content is how prominent the content is on the site that hosts the content; essentially, content that is front and center at the top of your page will get ranked more than content that is hidden behind a scroll or ads.
By positioning your content front and center, you can actually guarantee that you’ll get more results from your content marketing efforts.

Speed Will Increasingly Drive Online Sales

We’ve examined the importance of website speed earlier, but it’s important to also examine the importance of product delivery speed; research projected same-day delivery revenue to increase to more than $620 million in 2015, a 6X increase from 2014, and available data shows that this will only keep increasing.
As our attention span keeps decreasing, and new technology keeps serving our short attention spans, we expect to get things faster; if possible, we want it “now and here”. Some of the biggest ecommerce giants, like Amazon, are cashing in on this by emphasizing same-day and faster delivery.
Focus on delivering your customer’s orders faster and you’ll be able to capture a lot more sales.

Indentify and Capitalize on Big Shopping Days

Black Friday, Super Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc, are big days that can result in a huge revenue boost from businesses that learn to capitalize on them. Data from Adobe’s Digital Index reveals that total online sales from Cyber Monday in 2015 rose to $3.07 billion, a 16 percent increase from the previous year; this beat expert forecast of a 12 percent increase in sales. This was dwarfed by a similar event in China, known as “Single’s Day”, in which a single company, Alibaba, generated a massive $14.3 billion in a single day in 2015.
Whether it is in China or in the U.S., available data points to the fact that big sales day are big sales day, and are often major revenue drivers for some of the world’s biggest companies. Grow your business by identifying these big sales days, preparing for and capitalizing on them.

The Customer is the King

With the advent of the internet, it is becoming increasingly clear that the customer owns the real power. Research shows that 78 percent of consumers have bailed on a transaction due to poor customer support, and that a typical business will only hear from 4 percent of its dissatisfied customers. In other words, if you suck at customer support it’ll cost you a lot of sales in 2016, and a very insignificant portion of your customers will reach out to complain.
Invest more resources and time into customer support and reap the rewards.

Embrace Personalized Marketing

Long done are the days when companies get away with being out of touch with the realities of their customers; whether it is with your email or marketing strategy, you can get more bangs for your bucks by developing a personalized marketing plan. Research shows that you can get up to a 208 percent increase in conversion rate from your emails by sending targeted emails over batch-and-blast emails. The same goes for every area of your marketing.
Focus on delivering a personalized experience for your users and watch your sales go through the roof.

Conclusion

How prepared are you for 2015? What strategies do you have for increasing your online sales? Kindly share your thoughts in the comments below.
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