Create your website
Especially for an online small business, a visually pleasing, easy-to-navigate website is crucial. Keep in mind the kind of customers you’re trying to attract and what they want in an online experience. Should the tone be more relatable or informational? Are they mostly doing research online or will they want to order products directly from your site? If you already have an existing ecommerce website, be sure to connect your store to Mailchimp to maximize your marketing.
Think about your customers’ needs while planning and designing your new site—this inherently leads to effective search engine optimization (SEO). When you know more about your audience, you can create the content they’re looking for, driving traffic and conversions. The first step is to use the right keywords to improve your site’s search engine rankings and get your brand in front of the right audience.
For example, if you're selling women's clothing, your customers might be looking for you by entering phrases like "fashion retail" or "women's blouses." Adding these keywords strategically to your content may improve your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) and broaden your audiences. Google’s keyword planner will help you find the right words to use.
Choose a relevant domain name
For your customers to find you online, you first need a domain name. When you buy a domain name, you want it to be memorable for your customers. It should be as close to your company name as possible—an exact name if possible, or a logical approximation if your business name is already taken as a domain.
For example, you might be the only Rick’s Pizza in your town, but someone in another state has already registered rickspizza.com. Not to worry—you can pick something like rickspizzaboston.com or rickspizzarestaurant.com and customers will still be able to find you.
It’s also good to get some of your keywords into your URL. Using a keyword in the domain name can help a site to rank, but it’s not strictly necessary, so don’t force it if it doesn’t fit naturally.
Save money by building your own website
Web design can be expensive—up to $10,000 even for an online small business. You’ll save a lot by using a tool like Mailchimp's website builder that lets you customize and update your website. If you need to get your business and start selling online quickly, consider creating some shoppable landing pages, so you can get started selling and building an audience while you're creating your website.
On all of your landing pages, including your home page, you’ll want to create engaging content that will help your site rank in SEO. Follow SEO best practices, such as hyperlinking to other landing pages on your home page. Remember to use Google’s keyword planner so your site will appear in front of the right audiences.
What to avoid
Avoid building your website and forgetting it. Your site is your online storefront, and it needs to be in good shape. Once a month, check on what pages are doing well—driving sales, getting email list sign ups, etc.—and which are causing people to bounce.
You can get a lot of this information using Mailchimp's data and analytics tools. On your personalized audience dashboard, you can find out who has engaged with your content, what they've seen, and whether they've bought. With that information, you can refine your pages so they resonate with audiences.
Avoid testing your website on desktop only. Your customers are more likely to find you on mobile, and 88% of them won’t come back if they have a bad experience. That means your site needs to be tested and optimized for mobile use.
Grow your customer base
As a new online small business, you’ll want to attract the attention of new customers with lots of top-of-funnel content. That includes organic and paid social media campaigns tailored to your audience.
You can design these posts any way you feel will best show off your brand personality and products. It's easy to add your campaign images directly from Mailchimp's content studio. Make sure each post links back to your site, ideally to a page where they can buy products, sign up to receive emails from you, or both.
Once you start cultivating a list of customer emails, you can begin creating engaging email campaigns designed to target your customers’ interests. Start segmenting and personalizing these campaigns as early as possible.
What to avoid
Avoid buying customer lists. People on those lists haven’t signed up to receive emails from you, so they’re likely to mark you as spam. If that happens, you could end up paying fines up to $16,000, not to mention dealing with a damaged reputation.
Instead, use tools like behavioral targeting to personalize messaging for your existing customers and lookalike audience finders to find new customers based on what they’ve bought before.