You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the product and you’ve got the customers. Now how do you make all of these things work better in your online business? You speed them up while keeping them running smooth. We’ve spent some time looking at the easiest, most important ways to speed up your online business and we’ve put them together for you here.
Start With the Site
Outside of great customer service (which we’re just going to assume you’ve already mastered), there’s probably no single thing you can do that will have a more positive impact on your business than to have a great website. This is one area on which you absolutely don’t want to skimp. Find a great developer, get references from their clients and put them to the task of making sure that your site is lean, fast and effective.
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There are loads of things you can do to make sure that your new site is running in top shape. Many of them are up to your developer to get right, but some of them can be easily implemented yourself. Afraid of traffic spikes? Make sure that you’re using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to serve up static items faster. Consider a service like CloudFlare, which can help not only make your site faster, but also protect it from Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Even if you don’t have an enemy in the world, you’re not safe from a random attack, or an attack on your host. Make sure you’re protected.
Need to make some unrelated things talk to one another? Check out If This Then That (IFTTT) which we’ve described before as the “duct tape of the Internet“. The site has “recipes” that can help make sure your Twitter and Facebook profile pictures always match, some of them can send you a text message every time your business is mentioned on a social site. The possibilities of IFTTT are huge, and they keep you constantly connected.
Be Where Your Customers Are
Your customers almost surely exist in 3 places:
- On your site
- On Facebook
- On Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are easy. Just make sure that you have an account, you are monitoring for mentions of your company and you’re responding properly. But how do you talk to people who are on your site? There are great solutions for this as well.
Apps like Intercom are a must-have for online businesses. It allows you to find out who’s been on your site, view their social profiles and then connect to them directly. Want your customers to be able to ask questions and give feedback live on your site? Consider something like UserVoice. With a simple widget, you can allow customers to connect to you directly.
Make Buying Easy
There’s nothing quite so frustrating as wanting to buy something on a site, only to find out that I have to enter information 3 or 4 times, only to find out that the item I wanted has been lost from the cart, or even sold out while I registered. There are loads of options for great shopping carts, but how do you sort through them all? Fortunately, there are sites to help you do just that.
My favorite of these is Shopping Cart Reviews. The site allows you to really drill down into options (hosting, cost, operating system and number of items, just to name a few) in order to find what’s specifically best for you. Once you’ve found the cart of your choice, you can then get reviews from people who have actually used it before to find out any niggles that you might have missed otherwise.
Of course you don’t want to neglect your face-to-face customers either. The savvy business owner these days is traveling with easy ways to make sure that they can sell goods and products, even outside of their site. For that, there’s no faster way than Square. That little piece of plastic, which plugs into your iPhone, lets you accept face-to-face credit card payments at rates that are far better than what most providers charge.
There’s hardly anywhere you can go these days that you’d be completely off the grid unless you were specifically trying to do so. For online business owners, the ability to stay in touch with their customers and their company is paramount.
At home, at work and when you’re traveling, make sure that you have a way to stay reliably, quickly connected. Everybody’s options are different, but there are plenty to be had. If you have a smartphone, it’s worth the $20 or so each month to add a tethering plan, even for the lightest of users. That ability to be constantly connected can’t be stressed enough.
Got some more tips for speeding up your online business? We’d love to hear them in the comments.