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Four Tricks for Running a Successful Online Business
by Joo Swee Keong | Head of Web and Online, eBusiness at Maxis
It’s exciting times for online business owners in Malaysia, especially considering the rapid internet and mobile penetration in the country. According to We Are Social, 71% of Malaysian adults own a mobile device and 81 million Malaysians are active mobile users and 47% of them use mobiles to shop online.
All these numbers actually translate to huge business opportunities for e-commerce and digital native businesses. But, there are a few key areas that business owners need to keep in mind to ensure a successful online endeavour. Here are four:
A Well-Knit Website
What’s crucial for an online business is building a user-friendly website. Businesses often tend to over-do things while trying to ensure they are creating a good website. But what customers really want is to scroll through a website that’s easy to navigate and understand. For example, placing call-to-action buttons--‘buy now’, ‘add to cart’, ‘free trials’, ‘download the whitepaper’ etc.--in the right areas can make a lot of difference when it comes to user experience.
Wordstream points out that when businesses are catering to digital native consumers, they can try and experiment with CTA buttons. Small arrows or graphics in and around CTA buttons can significantly impact click-through rates.
Columbia University carried out an experiment where participants were asked to choose one chocolate from a box of six and one chocolate from a box of 30. The experiment revealed that participants were more happy and comfortable choosing one from a box of six and not the latter. What does this imply? It’s always a good idea to display less items on a website rather than clutter a website with too many options and end up confusing a user. Also, choosing the right colour combination and having some amount of white space on a website is never a bad idea.
Cross Platform Presence
It’s no secret that your potential customers use all sorts of smart devices to buy products online or gather information about products using the Internet. Hence, as an online business it’s crucial to ensure that your brand’s content and website are available across smartphones, tablets, phablets, laptops and desktops.
Just ensuring presence will not be enough though. Successful online businesses make sure that their brand’s voice is uniform across disparate platforms. Developers must also keep in mind that their organisation’s website is extremely adaptable to multiple screens and operating systems.
Relevant and Personalised Content
No matter how beautiful a website is, if the content appears to be irrelevant and vague to its audience, then it is bound to fail. Imagine a website that helps people invest in mutual funds. They’ve got the back-end right--from developing a fantastic website to coming up with an extremely interactive design. But, when it comes to content, all your brand messaging comprises self-promotional articles that fail to draw the attention of a customer.
Instead, if your business promotes agnostic topics like--three things you need to know before investing in mutual funds or why these four bonds outrank others when it comes to ROI--the number of leads that can be generated (using content) will be significantly higher.
Another important aspect that distinguishes a successful online business from others is content personalisation. But this can only be achieved if you have tools to understand user behaviour. Thanks to technology, there are analytic tools available in the market that help businesses delve deep into a customer’s mind.
Here’s an example of personalisation: Instead of saying--Hi there, we noticed that you are planning a vacation soon, here are some destinations you might like--it’s always better to say--Hi Boon, we noticed you want to explore Australia on your next vacation. Here are top five places that are worth your time.
Apart from that, in order to create high levels of personalisation online businesses should invest in software tools like Rich Relevance, Personyze, Apptus and others to increase click through rates. These tools increase the chances of grabbing the reader’s attention towards different content types.
A report by Experian Marketing Services revealed that including personalised product recommendations into transactional emails can generate a 20% increase in revenues.
Riding the Social Wave
Here is why online businesses need to spend time and energy on social media. According to Marketing Interactive, Malaysian citizens view social network sites 14 billion times a month, that is almost 731 times per person. Also, Malaysians have an average of 233 friends on Facebook per user which is nearly 80% higher than the global average. And 70% of Malaysian users refer to a brand’s social media presence before making a purchase decision.
Today’s social media savvy customers recommend products and solutions on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Quora among others. And in most cases, such recommendations are taken seriously because such content is perceived as organic and more revealing. According to modernmarketingpartners.com, 68% of consumers trust online opinions from other consumers and 88% of consumers trust online recommendations as much as a friend’s suggestion. So, if a customer shares positive feedback about your products and services on a platform like Facebook, you can safely assume an increase in your customer base.
A mobile-first approach makes it easier for businesses to enhance customer engagement, boost user experience, and increase the overall buyer experience. Morgan Stanley revealed that since 2014, mobile devices have witnessed more active internet users than desktops. Google’s Consumer Barometer 2015 revealed that 52% of Malaysians access internet using smartphones. Another report by statista.com pointed out there will be 13.7 million smartphone users in Malaysia by 2019 and that by the end of 2016 the country will boast of having more than 11 million smartphone users.
For most business executives, it’s almost impossible for a week to go by without being told that having a digital strategy is vital for the future success, nay, the survival, of your business.