There are all kinds of tools to help the online entrepreneur build and maintain a healthy and profitable online business. Some tools are “mechanical” in that they are hardware or software-based. Other tools are less tangible but equally important to your online business success.
What Tools Should You Use to Create a Profitable Online Business?
No two entrepreneurs will agree 100 percent on what online business tools and techniques should be included on any list to create a profitable online business. Some of the tools mentioned here may be very helpful, some not as helpful, and you will undoubtedly discover additional tools to add to your list.
Top 25 Tools for Building a Profitable Online Business
For the purpose of this article, mechanical tools are tangible. They are primarily software/Internet driven:
1. Website Development Tools – Many website developing tools are available online, offered by the leading Internet search engine groups. These tools enable you to build, test, and debug your website prior to launching it.
2. Website – A well designed, user-friendly website is absolutely essential. Don’t be lured by distracting images and gimmicky functions. Your quality website should make it easy for clients or customers to find:
- Services and/or products.
- Contact information.
- Links to additional resources.
3. Responsive Website – A responsive website extends the portability and accessibility of your e-commerce business. It is different from a traditional website and a mobile app because Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). If you check you will notice that this website is fully responsive.
4. Mobile App – The mobile app is a downloadable function “key” that gives customers quick access to your e-commerce site. It can also be an effective marketing tool for customer notifications and customer preference data gathering.
5. Social Media Links – Link your e-commerce website to your social media accounts with share plugins that integrate into your products and services pages.
6. Payment Gateway – This is the mechanism that enables your customers or clients to pay for your products and services online. Your gateway service provider should be able to provide ample client support (to you), fraud screening, data security, shopping cart integration, international credit card and global gateway acceptance.
7. Autoresponders – Deliver prompt acknowledgement of customer inquiries and comments, automatically triggered marketing messages, and send “Call to Action” messages.
8. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – Various companies, including some Internet service providers, offer SEO tools to help you develop and refine your site’s content to more effectively drive traffic to you e-commerce business.
9. Opt-In/Opt-Out – These tools give prospective customers the option to receive or not receive communications from your e-commerce site. “Opting” helps foster positive customer relationships, reduce the risk of your messages being flagged as SPAM, and helps you maintain a more up-to-date mailing list, which can prove to be valuable.
Important “Non-Tangible” Tools:
Growing a high profit online business takes more than having fantastic service or product(s), and an incredible e-commerce website. Here are some important non-tangible tools.
10. Knowledge – Know your product(s) or service(s) and your competition before you launch your business. Be able to knowledgeably and effectively convey how your service or products solve online business problems or fill a need.
11. DIY vs Contracting Services – Some entrepreneurs are sufficiently skilled at creating business-driving websites and attention-getting content. If you are not one of those individuals, contract services for:
- Building/maintaining/troubleshooting your website.
- Marketing support.
- Supplying creative, timely, informative content.
- Managing social media accounts.
12. Name It – Your business name is a tool. Think very carefully about the name of your company before you broadcast it. It must be unique, memorable, and able to evoke an image of your products or services. It cannot already be in use by another business or individual!
13. Own It – Be sure to register your company name, domain name, and your business. Registration is a legal tool to establish that you own your business and control use of its name, logo, images, content, and all its functions.
14. Build/Maintain a Quality Mailing List – Don’t let your email list build up with useless, out-of-date, non-working addresses. There are free list building tools that can help you manage mailing lists and turn them into productive marketing and shopping cart services. I am currently using Mailchimp for mailing list.
15. Website Maintenance – Regularly check the functions, appearance, and content of your website. All embedded media, hyperlinks, and plugins should work correctly, content should be engaging and current, and periodically updated to maintain visitor interest and enhance the customer experience on your website.
16. Performance Indicators – Identify Key performance indicators (KPI) that will help you track and measure your progress and key milestones.
17. Use Traffic Drivers – The Internet and social media provide many ways to drive traffic to your website including:
- Interviews and interviewing, including print and online media channels.
- Hosting/participating in webinars related to your area of expertise, type of business, service, products, etc.
18. Video Content – Embed brief videos in your website and social media accounts. Videos can be instructive, topic-related, or informal entertainment pieces to foster stronger customer relationships.
19. Network via Audio and Video – Build stronger relationships with colleagues, customers, and clients by using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) like Skype, Jive and Vonage.
20. Giveaways – Offer “freebies” and/or discounts on your website and social media accounts.
21. Responsiveness – Respond to client/customer feedback whether it is directly to the client or posted on social media. Prompt and courteous response is a powerful relationship-building tool.
22. Relationships – Relationships are also a tool. The Internet and social media have taken customer/client transactions to a more personal level. Relationships not only build brand loyalty, they help entrepreneurs better understand the needs, concerns, and interests of the people they serve.
23. Test, Adjust, Track – Monitor your e-commerce efforts. Regularly review what is and isn’t working in terms of customer/client development. Where are your clients clicking around on your website or buying, and what are they ignoring, and what are the new trends in e-commerce?
24. Collaborate – Network with other entrepreneurs with similar businesses and interests. Offer links to each other’s websites where clients/customers can view additional information that may be of interest or value to them. This is value-add.
25. Patience – The first step to becoming a profitable online entrepreneur is to make a start. The next step is to be patient – and keep working your business.
There is more to building a profitable online business than naming it, launching the website, and then sitting back and waiting for profits to roll in. These are just a few of the tools techniques that may help you along the way. Best wishes with your online entrepreneurial success.