Business doesn’t work as before and many companies have to start offering their products or services online. That’s a fact. At the same time, many businesses were not ready for it and are a bit lost. This article should guide you on how to start selling your services or products online.
We will cover:
- What platform to use
- How to collect payments online
- How to get first traffic
- How to set up long-term marketing
- Who will do all this?
No matter if you’re selling products or services, you need a platform for it. It can be your own such as a website or mobile app or third-party – such as your Instagram profile or store on Amazon. From a long-term perspective, you want to be selling through your own platform. That’s the only way you can have control over all the data, customize it, etc. But it takes time to build it.
When you’re selling services…
…having a website is a must. You’re not a trustworthy company nowadays if you don’t have a website. You can build a simple website overnight without knowing how to code. Use services like Wix or Webnode. You want to make sure your company website is: trustworthy and allows people to send enquiries or order your services.
- The homepage should answer: what you do, for who and why should I trust you.
- Demonstrate your expertise and credibility.
- Describe your services and ideally prices (ideally have a separate page for every service).
- Include your contact details.
- Make sure all links work (silly, right? but at least 50% of company websites in UAE are not doing this).
- Don’t forget that most people will visit your website from mobile – make it easy to read and fast to load.
- And again – build trust!
When you’re selling products…
…you have multiple options:
- Start selling on marketplaces such as Amazon or Noon.com – that is usually fairly simple, you need no technical knowledge and can be the fastest way to start selling.
- Sell on social media – whether you use Facebook or Instagram shopping or you just post a picture of a product and ask people to leave their phone number, this can work. I personally see it as highly risky and I’d never buy anything this way.
- Build your website. Let’s zoom a bit on this:
Again, the fastest way is to use some ready-made solutions. There are 100s of them, the most popular is Shopify. It has an extremely easy setup, friendly designs and it’s quick to start option. Not the cheapest though.
We discussed this in a podcast episode with an e-commerce expert Julia Samodurova. Listen to it and read her Wartime guide to start selling online.
When you’re selling food…
…you probably already know your options. Aggregators such as Zomato or Deliveroo are easy to start, usually provide a good volume of orders (especially if you give discounts) but can eat 30-50% of your revenue.
One of the popular options nowadays is to build your own online order page through Chatfood. This Dubai-based startup helps restaurants to get online orders – commission-free.
For more on how restaurants can start selling online, listen to my conversation with Aditya Mujumdar from Domino’s.
Cash on delivery is
a king dead. Almost. With more and more people focusing on hygiene and safety, contactless and online payment methods see big growth. In the region where Stripe doesn’t operate and banks still live in the stone age, we have a few limited options.
- Payment gateways:
- Telr – that’s what we used for We Speak Digital. They are my favorite for easy implementation, transparent pricing, and fast tech support. However, they can not work with cloud-based hosting – which we have and we only figured that out after 2 months of testing.
- Network.ae – that’s what we are switching to.
- Stripe – probably most popular global option, not available for UAE-based business though
- 2checkout – a robust solution with the extremely complicated onboarding process and from my experience, poor support
“I’ve got a website, what do I do to get first traffic or transactions?”
It depends, of course.
But there are a few things you can do to quickly start. It won’t probably be perfect, but when you go to fast-food, you don’t go there for Haute cuisine.
Step 1) Implement Google Analytics
You want to do this before you get the first visit to your website to be able to analyze what’s happening.
Step 2) Get first traffic
I would recommend 3 ways to do this:
1) Use your network.
Share your website on social media. Send it to your friends and family. Ask them to create an account. Ask them to place an order. This will help you identify any bugs you left on the side (they are always there). Fix the most crucial ones (don’t try to fix them all otherwise you’ll never launch) and go to paid channels.
2) Launch paid search campaign in Google Ads.
But that applies only if you offer something people are actually searching for. If yes, you want to start super lean. If you don’t want to hire an agency or freelancer – and you didn’t get our Google Ads training – you will make many mistakes, but that’s still better than nothing. Make sure that from the beginning, you target only very specific keywords. Let’s say 4-10 keywords that are most relevant to your business.
E.g. if you are starting a grocery e-commerce startup, your keywords will be “grocery online”, “grocery delivery” etc. but not “e-commerce” or “shop online”. Also, make sure to use phrase and exact match only.
3) Launch paid ads on Facebook.
Again, you can hire a professional or learn how to do it yourself. Now, there are many ways how to burn a lot of money on Facebook and don’t get any results. It’s not something that would fit into one paragraph – in the end, I wrote a whole ebook about this topic. Here is one quick advice from my friend Bassem Sabr from Igloo: create a video specifically for Facebook Ads, that will answer most basic questions of your customers -who you are, what do you do, who do you work with. And then promote this video on Facebook targeting people who might be your target audience. Here is one such example from Igloo:
Now, this is very important: what we just described might be fast-food-marketing that will help you start. You will get the first traction. Is it perfect? No. Is it scalable? No. Is it going to work long-term? No way.
Please, read this again: tactics or steps we described above will help you start but not to grow your brand in the long-term.
For that, you need something called a marketing strategy. This article is already over 1,200 words so we will have to ask someone smarter to explain it for us:
Once you know your marketing strategy, once you know what is your brand about, what are your values, and what are benefits customers get from your product or service, you want to start working on other marketing channels. Social media, organic search, content, emailing, and so on. But about it, some next time.
You might be thinking: “This is crazy, how am I able to do it?”
Well, you don’t have to.
You’re hungry? You’ve got 2 options: go to your kitchen and cook a meal. Or go to a restaurant where you pay to someone who will do it for you.
With digital marketing, it is no different.
You can learn it and do it yourself. It is definitely cheaper. But yeah, the first meals probably won’t be Jamie Oliver style.
Or find a professional. Agency (here are 3 I think do a good job for their clients because I know and trust the people who work there: Wone, Digital Orks, Igloo) or freelancer, whatever you’re happy with.
Here, I would again use the food metaphors: don’t forget that if you go to the cheapest restaurant in town, you will probably not get the best service. You will probably not like the food. You might actually get sick out of it.
You know what I mean, right?
Featured Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
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