The Small Business Tool Kit for Online Success

Wooden tool kitThe internet offers business owners a plethora of opportunities and a huge range of tools to help you make the most of them.

Here are some of the essential tools & functionality you need to run a revenue generating website.

Content Management System (CMS)

A Content Management System, or CMS, is a system which manages your website content. It is the functional part of your website that in the very least, allows you to update the pages and posts on your website. There are several different types of content management systems, and if you are starting out with a blog based website we recommend you use WordPress.org. It is a free, open source blogging application that can be customised to meet your needs.

Note – There are two type of WordPress, read this article to find out which type of WordPress is right for your business, and why we prefer WordPress.og.

Website Design & Layout

In terms of design, choose a theme that is easy to read and easy to navigate, with good clear titles and headers. If your content is predominantly text, then black writing on a white background is the easiest to read.

If you are using WordPress.org there are hundreds of good looking themes that you can use, you have a choice between a huge variety of free themes and premium themes.  You can also outsource the design and development to someone who is familiar with WordPress and can create a custom theme to meet your specification and requirements.

Website Copy

Think about the static pages of your website such “Products/Services”, “About Us” and “Contact Us” in the early stages of your website plan. Professional website copy writing takes into account keywords for optimising the website and the fact that people may either read word for word or skim through the text. If you want a head start consider learning more about web copy writing, or hire an expert like Mel.

Make sure you proof read and spell check your copy before you publish it. It always helps to have someone with a fresh pair of eyes proof read your new copy, checking for typos, grammar, logic and context.

Hosting

Your website is a set of files that needs to be accessible every time someone types in your website address. The host computer holds your website files ready and available to potential visitors 24 hours a day. Blogs do not require much bandwidth (i.e. space) so go with a hosting package that is cheap and flexible like HostGator. HostGator is affordable, hosts hundreds of thousands of blogs, and offers great support.

Building your Email Database

An email marketing service automates your email subscriptions.  Avoid retyping your new subscriber info into an excel spreadsheet by using a service that sends the information straight from your website into your subscriber list.  Similarly, people that unsubscribe can be automatically removed from your list.

Mailchimp is the best email marketing service I have come across for small business website owners and it is free if you have less than 1,000 subscribers. You can customise headers, colour schemes and fonts and the bottom of your emails are pre designed with everything required to help you comply with regulations on email marketing.

Payment Applications

If you are selling something on your website, you will need a means of accepting payments.  The most widely used service is currently PayPal.

PayPal does not do everything however and so you may need another application that helps you manage the tracking of your sales, distribution of product and your affiliate program. E-Junkie looks after everything that PayPal doesn’t cover as well as being an affiliate marketplace. At $5 per month it is an extremely useful and cost effective tool for your business online.

E-Junkie and PayPal are a great option if you are selling a few items on your website.  If you’re setting up a full e-commerce website with high value transactions, you might prefer to speak to your bank and payment gateway providers about the payment processing options and fees. Work with a website design and development company that have e-commerce expertise and carefully review their reference sites and back end system to see if their style of website will meet you needs.

Website Analytics

Understanding the behaviour of your website visitors is essential so that you can measure how your website is performing and whether or not you are achieving your objectives. Using an analytics tool will give you instant feedback on the actions you are taking and help you direct your efforts in growing the business.

Google Analytics is a free application that you can embed into your website to collect data about your visitors, your traffic sources, popular keywords, your most popular content and much more.

Those tools will give you a foundation for success with your website. Once you have the basics it is up to you to create great content and market it like crazy!

Got a question? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Happy Hunting!

Serena “Social” Star