What (Systems) Do I Need to Launch an Online Business? (Part 1)

This is a question that many OBOs (Online Business Owners) struggle with. It’s normal when starting out to be overwhelmed by all the options. It’s also completely normal to continue questioning your decision months (even years) after you’ve made it. The truth is… there’s no magic combination. Many varying combinations of platforms can be used, and for the most part can work just fine. The most important thing do is to do your research, make a decision, and just run with it. You will always have some parts of your online business working beautifully, while other parts have problems. This is true no matter what systems you decide upon. So let’s take a step back and do a quick gut check. What exactly are we looking to accomplish with our systems? Enable our business yes, but to go a level deeper than that, down to the true WHY. We are in business because we want to fulfill our passion to serve people in the best way we know how. So that’s where we start. What does this mean exactly? We have to think about our customer’s journey when they are getting to know, like, and trust (and eventually buy from) us. Here’s an example to help ground us in this “customer-first” thinking. Let’s say you’re an author and you are planning to sell digital how-to books and videos. In order to decide what systems to implement, you need to look at your sales funnel from the customer’s perspective. This is what I call the “customer’s journey” and using this perspective will have a huge impact on your decisions about what systems to implement, and when. (By the way this is one of the cornerstones of my program, so you are getting a sneak peek into my paid content.) Here’s what your customer journey looks like.
Let’s talk about what’s going on here.
  1. Your customer sees your Google Ad. It looks interesting so he clicks on it and…
  2. He goes to your Opt-in offer page. He likes what he sees and so he puts his email addres
  3. He gets your lovely Thank You page telling him to check his email.s into your form and submits.
  4. He checks his email and finds a message from you, including a link to download the freebie you offered.
  5. He downloads the freebie and reads it.
  6. In the meantime he starts getting emails from you, every few days.
  7. Eventually he gets an email from you that gives him a new offer – your latest video course.
This is the basic funnel, so let’s stop and dissect it, looking at each step from a systems perspective. Based on this flow, here’s what you’ll need:
  • Google Adwords account (1)
  • Host for your opt-in page and thank you page (2, 3)
  • Email marketing platform (4, 6, 7)
  • Authoring program (5)
  • A way to convert docs to PDF files (5)
  • Video recording and editing software (7)
  • Membership software to deliver your digital course products (7)
That sounds like a lot, but consider that some of these are super-easy and require zero integration. For example you can use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to do all your writing. My software of choice is Google Docs — in fact I’m writing this post using it right now. You will also find that some of these systems can be bundled into a single solution. There are several good options available that allow you to manage your opt-in pages, email marketing, and membership site all from one place. However, the more robust the software package, the steeper the learning curve. Plus you will pay more, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 to $2,000 per month, depending on your needs. One thing is certain — you will need to work with multiple systems and they all need to flow seamlessly together from your customer’s perspective. This was a long post but I wanted to make sure you got this concept of the customer journey because it’s really really important to the overall success of your business. Next week we’ll dive deeper into exactly how to choose your systems, and I’ll also share with you what I am using. Hint: I was brought up by children of the depression so I tend to be fairly frugal… More to come next week. In the meantime, you will get huge value from mapping out your own customer’s journey like I’ve shown you today. If you have questions or need help, you can chat with me personally by joining the Tame Your Tech facebook group (<– click the link to join). Click here to read Part 2. Photo credit: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

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