During the early days of my online business development, I asked myself this question: “Is there a framework that I can stick to, that would guarantee my online passive income business success over and over again”? While I could find tons of folks discussing online business ideas, offering courses & classes and strategies, I couldn’t find a singular framework that would take the guess work out of this process.
Well, I knew I had enough reasons to start and continue my online business journey with a new product and/or a brand one niche at a time. However, over the years with a lots of experimentation, I realized that there is indeed a formula and a few tried and true principles that can lead to repeated online business success. Please note these are very much intertwined, so hitting one and missing the others wouldn’t work.
1. Mind the Gap
What am I talking about? Online or offline, no business could survive without some differentiation and competitive barriers to entry. Not only you need to find a gap where you could provide more value to your target audience than anyone else, but also need to dissect your customers into sort of micro segments and start with the most urgent problem first.
2. Don’t Find Customers for Your Products, but Find Products for Your Customers
What do I mean by that? Online business success can’t be created without eye balls or traffic that is relevant to your niche and that is one of the most difficult things to do given all of the competition for attention. However, once you have those eye balls, creating and selling products or services to that audience is far easier and monetization is something you can figure out on the way (i.e. your business model). Conversely, finding new customers each time you create a new product, would take a lot of effort and may not work out in the end. Internet is a very noisy place and standing out requires that you don’t go back to zero each time you create a new product (or service).
3. Speak Your Customer Language
When describing your products on your website (or on your product listing on another platform such as Amazon), you need to describe benefits of your products (or service) in your customer jargon.
4. Scaling up versus Scaling Out
For most of us, income from one online business may not be enough to quit your day job or pay your recurring expenses or bills (cash outflow), hence you will need to scale your online business success. Towards scaling, you will soon discover, that you have a choice to either stay focused by trying to scale up your business (for example, turn $5K/month into $10K/month) or create more products and/or businesses (i.e. private label brands) and scale out (for example, create multiple $5K products or businesses until you reach your financial passive income goal). Now, by definition a niche is a small market, which means scaling out (more products and/or more businesses/brands) will be needed.
If you’ve not found success, despite following above principles, you may be trapped in another set of dilemmas that I outlined here.
5. Your Online Presence (website or your product listing)
Your online presence could be a website or a blog or a product listing if you are using a platform like Amazon or Etsy or ebay. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
- You only have few seconds to grab your user’s attention (come up with a creative headline, problem/solution, key selling points or features etc.). You need to have a highly optimized landing page.
- You need to provide compelling reasoning for “why they should buy from you versus competition”
- You need to have social proof (testimonials, reviews etc.), no one wants to be the first one to try something out.
- You need to have a strong offer, a guarantee (e.g. 60-day Money-Back Guarantee) to make it risk free
- You need to provide compelling reasoning for “why they should buy from you NOW”, why not later (e.g. create sense of urgency with promotions)
- Finally, you need to have a consistent set of Call to Action (CTA) throughout your landing page, e.g. “Buy Now” or “Try Now” or “Let’s Get Started” whatever works.
- Perform split testing (A/B) until you are satisfied with the conversion rate. You can also hire professionals from Upwork to do this for you.
In an offline world, if you wanted to buy a pair of jeans, you would just walk into a store, if you find something nice within your ballpark price, you would just try it out. If you like the fit and style, and it is in the right ballpark, then there is hardly anything holding you back. if you have questions, there are store employees who can answer them pretty much on the spot. Now, you can just finish the transaction by handing over your credit/debit card to the cashier.
In an online world, there are many hurdles. You can sure try, but that requires you to fill up a form (sign up form), that’s off putting for most people and stands in the way of conversion. Let’s say folks who go past that and are interested in buying, then they need to provide you even more information (real first and last names, billing address, credit card information, shipping address if it is a physical product). All of the above can serve as friction to conversion (visitor to customer).
Last but not least, you need to start collecting your visitors emails, for which you can simply use a popup wordpress plugin or subscribe to a service such as Optinmonster. Building an email list of your visitors (i.e. prospects) is one of the surest way to succeed with online businesses. You can also sign up for a service like MailChimp (free until 2K subs), create campaigns and start to communicate with your audience more regularly. E-commerce conversion based on emails beats out all other mediums. You should also set up emails as follow up to your customers (welcome email when they make purchase, email with coupon when someone abandons a Cart etc.)
6. Traffic and Keywords
Offline or online, traffic is the lifeblood of any business. When you are starting out, there is no traffic to begin with – heck you may not even have an idea about what your top keywords are. An easy way to drive traffic to your website or product listing on a platform (say Amazon), is to simply buy Ads or Pay-Per Click (PPC). If you have your own website, you can go with Google Adwords to begin with. However, if you have a product listing on Amazon, it would be far more effective to buy Amazon Ads. Buying ads, any kind of paid ads, before your website (or product listing) is optimized is for conversion, is like gambling in Vegas. “Your online presence” section above, covers the key things you need to get right.
If you’re getting started, I’d recommend buying some limited amount of Google Adwords to drive traffic to your website, but even more importantly, get clued into what your top keywords are. Once you have an idea about your top keywords that are converting, you can go ahead and invest in SEO. I couldn’t overemphasize the value of SEO, since ranking higher (preferably page #1) organically is so much better and converts better likewise than paid ads (think about it, how many times did you click on a Google ad and ended up buying something from the website versus just clicking on something within the organic search results).
7. Business Backend
Backend means how you maximize your customer lifetime value (or LTV). Backend consists of your ability to cross and up sell products to your existing customers. Customer acquisition is tough and costly, so you want to leverage your existing customers and attach more products (or services) to them.
Online e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce allows you to easily build cross sells and up sells. However, you need to go further, i.e. feature related products on thank-you page as well as provide discount coupons to inspire cross and up sells.
8. Trust and Influence
Once you have the eye balls, you have to build trust and influence by consistently providing high quality content and solution to your audience. By building the trust and influence, you solve credibility (why you?!) problem, which is one of the biggest inhibitors to online traffic conversion. Busy yourself with producing content that serves your audience. If you have not already, start a blog and post YouTube videos to start the dialog, build the trust and hopefully one day become an influencer. You can subscribe to a social media platform (e.g. Drumup.io or Hootsuite) to easily broadcast your content to multiple social media platforms such as twitter, facebook, instagram etc.
These are timeless, tried and true principles and aspects of how you can succeed with online businesses. While these are not easy, I guarantee you that if you can get all of the above right, you will be well on your way to becoming a serial internet entrepreneur. Once you master those, you can pretty much rinse and repeat every single time with a new product and/or a brand.
Online Business Mastery Course - Lifecycle of an Online Business
Who am I?
I run multiple highly profitable six-figure online businesses. Last but not least, I discuss this topic and techniques in detail within my Online Business Mastery Course. You’re definitely missing it out, if you have not checked it out already. For a Limited-time, Module 1 of this course is available free of cost. Signup now to claim your instant access!
Feel free to drop your comments or questions below, I will be responding to them over the next few days and weeks.