Marketing is the homework that we do before we have a product
A year lived in the pandemic, it seems, we can no longer be surprised with anything, and now even the biggest skeptics are convinced of the need to move online. So today, we’ll continue talking about how to start an online boutique and shift your offline business to the digital world.
Looking for reasons why to open an online store? Read PART 1 from Landofcoder →
Part II: how to start an online business
Review existing digital channels
If you already have an offline business, you may have some digital channels. You may have social networks, email newsletters, stores on Amazon or eBay. So, first of all, you need to review everything you have and analyze how you can use it. Some of them can even be used as a starting point for building your online store. Say, you can start selling your products on the Facebook marketplace. Also, if you have an active audience there, it will be easier to convert them to customers, especially because SEO of your fresh website may take up to 6 months.
So yea, for the first step, you need to put together everything you already have in the digital world.
Define your target market
Next, you need to get clear on what your target market is. If you already have a business, you may have an idea of what your audience is. But it will be helpful to analyze this one more time before starting the project. For example, your online and offline audiences may have different ages or lifestyles. In this case, you will split your marketing strategy and use different approaches for those groups.
Choose your marketing method
There are 5 main marketing methods you can use to promote business online:
- SEO and content marketing
- email marketing
Each of them has its pros and cons, but for the best results, you need to combine several of them. We’ll cover the basics.
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process of improving your website the way it is more attractive for search engines and users. As a result, the number of users coming from search results grows. The main advantage of this marketing strategy is that it’s almost free. If you have enough skills or knowledge, you can do it by yourself, or you can hire an SEO specialist.
All popular e-commerce platforms provide users with the necessary tools like meta title and description. But unfortunately, this promotion method is very slow. For a new website, it may take up to 6 months before it reaches noticeable positions on SERP.
PPC (Pay-per-click) is an internet advertising model in which you pay to be shown in the first place in SERP by specific keywords. And every time the user clicks on your ad, it is debited from your account. Using this method, you can reach your target audience quickly and build brand awareness. But depending on your field, this promotion method may be pricey. The rate is set on the auction, so if you work in a branch with high competition, the bet will be high.
Content and email marketing
Content and email marketing go hand in hand with other marketing methods because they can hardly exist separately. For example, if you want to create a successful blog post, you need to use SEO tools like keyword research and metadata or even paid boost from PPC. Otherwise, nobody will see your content.
The same problem is with email marketing. To send newsletters, you need to have an email database that you can collect with the help of lead magnets and high-quality content.
The advantage of these methods is that they are pretty cheap but have high ROI.
Social media marketing (SMM) is another cheap method to promote your brand. Instagram and Facebook are often starting selling channels online for small clothing boutiques. So if you already have an audience there, it will be easier for you to draw attention to your new website by announcing it. But if you are just about to create an Instagram account, it may take time, money, and effort to get first subscribers.
After you have chosen your marketing strategy, it will be helpful to check your competitors and see what they have. Scroll through their website, notice interesting features you want to have on your website. Check their social networks and blog, analyze what content they publish and what feedback they get from users. Thus, you will have a general idea of what is going on in the market and how your online store should look like.
Cover your legal bases
Creating a new website connected with several additional laws you need to comply with. Depending on your target audience, it may be:
Moreover, when you start content creation, you also need to know everything about copyright, patent, and trademarks. For example, some images you find on the internet may be subject to copyright. So you are not allowed to use them on your website or in commercials. So we advise contacting your lawyer before creating your website.
Pick your platform
Finally, all the preparations are done, and we are ready to jump into website development. First off, you need to choose an e-commerce platform. Every platform has its pros and cons. And being Magento users, we can’t say that this platform will suit every business. So, do research and choose your best platform for an online store.
Build your store
Finally, you can start building your store. This process usually consists of 8 steps:
- make a research
- choose the hosting
- install and set up an e-commerce platform
- choose, install, and customize a frontend template
- fill up your website with products and payment methods
- install 3rd-party plugins, if needed
- fill in your store with details
- test, test, test and go live.
Summary: So, how to start an online boutique from home
To shift your offline business to online, you need to
- review existing digital channels and see if you can use them somehow to say a word about your new website
- define your target market and split it into target segments
- choose your marketing methods and channels for them: SEO, PPC, content marketing, email marketing, SMM
- analyze competitors and figure out best practices in the branch (to never repeat them :))
- cover your legal bases to avoid fines
- pick the most suitable e-commerce platform
- build your store, test it and go live
How do you choose a platform for your online store? Share your thoughts in the comments.