Before your startup goes online with the website launch, here are 5 practical steps you should follow if you want to increase your chances of success:
This is one of the most important parts of any business, and many startups fail to do this properly. Why? Because they simply don’t know the value and importance of it.
Here’s why defining your audience is critical to your success before you launch your website:
Can you see now how important it is to define your audience? So now you’re ready to do that, here’s what you need to do. Get out a piece of paper or pen, or fire up your word processor and do the following exercise:
Come up with your ideal customer. Name him or her. Let’s call him Bob Smith. Then write in detail everything about Bob:
Where does he live? How old is he? What does he do for a living? How much does he earn? Is he single or married? Does he have kids? What are his greatest pains and fears? Hopes and dreams? Barriers and uncertainties?
The more in depth you go, the more connection points you have when you craft your content and marketing messages.
Write at least 2 pages or more so you could hand this to someone and they would know exactly who your ideal customer is.
Targeting Tip: Remember to dig deeper when coming up with pains/fears and hopes/dreams. What is the underlying driving emotion behind it?
For example, if you think he is afraid of public speaking, then ask yourself WHY? It could be that he’s afraid of being judged if he makes a mistake. OK, dig deeper.
WHY? Probably because if he’s judged it means nobody will like him and he won’t be loved. What is this emotion? Fear. Great, so he has fear of not being loved or accepted by others.
See how the dig deeper method can get to the core belief system and emotions of your prospect? This is much more powerful than just knowing the surface characteristics.
This is the next biggest mistake a lot of startups make before going online. Knowing who you’re up against is super critical to your success.
Market research not only means looking at your competitors and their products/services in their current environment. Dan Kennedy, expert marketer, says it’s important to also know the history of the market – who were the competitors 1 year ago? 3 years? 5, 10, 20 years ago? Why did the companies who failed in the past fail? Why did the companies who are still around today last?
Most people start out with an idea, then try to find a market. This is the worst approach. Why? Because if there’s no market wanting what you have then you have no business. Instead, first find a market, discover the wants of that audience and then create a product or service around it.
How can you do market research?
You can look for magazines, blogs, books, companies, etc. If they exist then it means there’s competition, which is good! No competition is usually a bad sign.
One way to find competitors is to Google exactly what you think your prospects would search for. Then, see who is in listed in the top 10 results. These are your search competitors and are often different than your market competitors. But since you’re going online and so are your prospects, this is important.
Check out their products and services. How does your differ? How is yours better? What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? (i.e. why should prospects buy from you vs. your competitors).
The next step is to do proper keyword research. The reason why we say “proper” is because most startups, when they hear keyword research, think “let’s find the most searched-for keywords with the highest monthly search volumes”. Logical, right? Of course, because they want the most traffic…
This is a common fallacy that will end in frustration and little to no results. Here’s why…
These keywords are the ones most people are targeting and therefore the competition will be the highest, with only the largest websites and brands being able to compete for the first page results.
These keywords tend to be more general and less targeted. For example the keyword “dogs”. This makes it difficult to understand what the searcher is looking for.
Compare this with a longer keyword such as “dog training collar for golden retrievers”. We know exactly what the searcher is looking for. This allows you to create relevant content that the searcher will find useful and valuable.
So you’re probably wondering how do I get started with keyword research?
Firstly, you need a tool. You could use Google Keyword Planner like everyone else does, but that is fairly limited because it only provides average monthly searches and lately Google AdWords has been limiting their data for accounts that do not spend much on their PPC ads.
As an alternative, here are two tools that we use: Longtail Platinum and KWFinder. Both have additional benefits like being able to determine the competition level of each keyword – basically telling you how easy it is to rank for them.
Which one to choose? We’ll be creating an in-depth review for each soon, so in the meantime, check them both out and pick one. They are equally good.
Here are the keyword research steps in a nutshell:
These will be the root keywords that the tools will generate related keyword ideas from, so it’s important to think about what topics your prospects would be searching for.
For example, if a startup is offering iPhone Accessories, then some possible seed keywords would be “iphone accessories”, “iphone cases”, “iphone screen protectors”, “iphone earphones”, etc. Seed keywords can be more general than the long tail keywords they will generate.
Calculate the keyword competition for the long tail keywords you think are most relevant to your audience, and then export the data in a spreadsheet for later reference.
You want to find long tail keywords with low competition, but still enough search volume. Remember, on average, the 1st position of Google gets 30% of clicks, the 2nd position gets 15% of clicks, and third position gets roughly 10% of the clicks.
From these rough estimates, you can calculate how much potential traffic you could get to your site if you were to rank for these positions.
For example if a keyword has 100 monthly searches and you ranked 1st, you could get around 30 clicks (this will vary based on keyword, industry, and other factors).
If this keyword research explanation is not in-depth enough for you, then we’ll be creating a more detailed guide soon. Let us know in the comments.
Now that you’ve chosen your keywords you want to target, it’s time to plan amazing value-giving content. What do we mean by “value-giving”? We mean content that serves to answer a question, solve a problem, or genuinely help the reader improve their life without hard-selling a product or service. It must be useful and high quality. That is what Google is looking for and will reward you with higher rankings.
Here’s the general process for planning the content:
Come up with compelling, SEO-friendly headlines. Make sure your title tag element is the proper length (55 characters or less) and includes the long tail keyword.
Expert copywriters all agree that the headline is the most important part of any piece of copy. This goes the same with blog posts and pages. Apply the 80/20 rule here and spend 80% of your efforts crafting the headline.
Why? Because if searchers are not compelled to click on the title, then the content may as well not even exist.
For each keyword, craft an attention grabbing, benefit-focused headline that you’ll write content about.
Create a preliminary content publishing calendar. How many blog posts will you publish per week? Which ones will you publish when? How many social media posts? On which platforms?
The more clear you are, the easier it will be to execute when it comes time to go online. Use an Excel document or Google Sheets to plan this out.
And finally, the 5th step is to…
If you’re not familiar with the term “backend”, it means the products or services that you will offer after your customers have bought for the first time your main offer, product or service. Typically, backend products/services tend to have a higher value.
The key to understand here is that most of your revenue will come from your backend, because it’s far easier (and less expensive!) to sell to an existing customer than it is to generate a new one.
This step involves planning your backend offer(s) and revenue generating strategy. In other words, once you get a customer, what is the journey that you will take them on to lead them to the “promised land” or the ultimate result they were looking for when they came to you?
Here’s a simple example to illustrate this:
You’re a startup who sells a “smart” heart implant device that connects to your phone for real-time monitoring. Your audience are people aged 45-80 who have a heart impairment, are wealthy and are comfortable using technology.
After these customers have bought your heart device for $1,997, the backend journey could be that you offer them a dedicated medical professional for $397/month who monitors heart stats and provides ongoing medical advice and support.
Then the next offer could be a yearly “Healthy Heart Retreat” in a tropical location with the world’s leading experts and speakers about heart health for $8,997. And so on…
See how one product can lead to a lot more revenue in the backend?
You need to have this strategy in place and mapped out before you go online, because your website, landing pages, and marketing funnel will be based on this.
That’s it! By following these 5 practical steps before your website launch, your startup will be in a much better position to be successful online than those which just throw up a website and hope for the best.
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