9 Characteristics of the Most Profitable Online Businesses

Profitable Online Businesses
Think you're the next Mark Zuckerberg? It is possible (after all, Mark Zuckerberg did it) but if you want to be one of the most profitable online businesses, you've got your work cut out for you. Nine out of ten startups fail, a mind-boggling statistic for online businesses when you realize that two-thirds of the U.S. population shop online. What separates the winners from the run-of-the-mill businesses? Keep reading to find out.

1. Ease of Use

No one has the patience to navigate your dinosaur jungle of a website. No matter how good you think you are. In fact, 76% of consumers say the most important feature of a website is ease of use. Let's get real: you're not a brick-and-mortar. When a customer walks into Target, Target has however long it takes the customer to walk around the store to make a sale. You, on the other hand, only have a few minutes, if not a few seconds, to make a sale. You only have as long as it takes a customer to click away. And they will click away if your website is more complicated than a Victor Hugo novel. Use this to your competitive advantage.

2. Mobile-Friendly Website

And while you're working on ease of use, time to get your website mobile-friendly. Google has been reporting since 2015 that more searches happen on mobile than any other category. Oh, and if you don't have a mobile-friendly website? Be prepared to face the SEO consequences. It doesn't stop at mobile responsive. You know how annoying that form-fill section is when you're on a laptop. Multiply it by about 50. That's how annoying it is on mobile. Don't just have a website someone can pull up on their phone. Make a website someone can use on their phone. That's the first step towards making the list of most profitable online businesses.

3. Speedy Delivery

In the age of social media, people are impatient jerks. This applies to product delivery. The majority of consumers expect their product to be delivered by a specified day, or on a day they choose. Think about the last time you paid extra to get a package shipped faster. Think about how satisfied you were when it worked. Apply that to your business. Overnight delivery, next-day signed, before noon arrival, and other related options should all be standard fare for e-commerce sites.

4. Reliable Delivery Times

Oh, and by the way? When you tell a customer their product will be there the next day, it better be there the next day. Don't send it via pony express either. If you can get the package there but in terrible condition, your customers aren't about to thank you for it. You know what they're going to do next time? Order from someone else. If you can get the package there fast and in great condition? Congratulations, you found one of the golden tickets to customer loyalty and positive reviews.

5. High-Quality Images

You wouldn't buy apples without inspecting the apples for bruises or buy shoes without trying them on. Similarly, your customers aren't going to buy from you if they don't have good images of what your products look like. This is part of providing a high-quality online experience – making your customers feel as though they're in the store inspecting the product themselves. Besides satisfying the customer, it gives you a certain whiff of professionalism. If you're going to invest in high-quality images of your products, then it follows that your products will also be high-quality. Or, at least, higher quality than the guy with bad pictures.

6. User-Generated Reviews

Reviews aren't just for the theater. Your star-rating is the number one deciding factor for consumers. But don't get paralyzed with fear over a single negative review. Having an unfavorable review here and there where any customer could see them actually makes customers more inclined to trust you – it shows that you aren't censoring negative reviews. Now, a wall of negative reviews does not make you one of the most profitable online businesses. Balance is everything. Plus, if you're one of those fancy forward-thinking sites, you can use the best positive reviews for social proof. Brownie points to you for building a ravenous fan base.

7. Social Proof

That thing about a ravenous fan base? Time to get busy on that. This isn't just where you sell yourself one of the most profitable online businesses with the one product people can't live without. Social proof is like having a conversation with your customers – it's how you form a lasting emotional bond with them by getting your customer to relate to your brand. Think of the last time you responded well to an ad that read something like, “buy now!” Probably never, and if you did, you probably didn't go back. Customers are looking for a brand that feels human. Social proof is your way of making the customer feel a personal connection.

8. Wish Lists

What's so great about wish lists? Aren't those for kids writing Santa letters? Think of it this way: a wish list is you literally inviting your customer to bookmark a product that they're probably going to go back and buy later. And if they forget, the wish list is a reminder the next time they log onto your site. Plus, if the wish list has a sharing functionality, or if your customers show their wish list to friends and family, you've automatically generated free traffic. So basically, you're leaving revenue on the table if you don't.

9. Clear Price

Do you know what happens when someone can't see the price of something? They either assume it's a scam or that the price is so high that it's not listed, and either way, you've lost the sale. Seriously, don't be shy about showing your customer the price. It lets them decide whether they can afford it, and you always want them to say yes.

Building the Most Profitable Online Businesses

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