Local small business CEOs are focusing on strategies to bring their business back to life. I have visited with several, and I am very pleased to see the progress that is being made. I have devoted several columns to this task of reactivation.

In one column a few weeks ago, I suggested the following:

1. Revisit your brand and marketing strategy to establish an online presence that is strong and effective. And 2. Let your community know you are there. In my recent chats, I was asked to find some key selling tips for this online strategy. That was a good suggestion!

I found an interesting project done by Brett Farmiloe, who is founder & CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company that connects small businesses to customers through organic search. He enjoys converting insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Farmiloe commented that “the shift to selling online can be monumental for a business that had little digital presence before the pandemic.

"However, setting up an eCommerce site is challenging and, at times, overwhelming.”

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So, he asked several experts in the digital marketing field, “What is your best eCommerce tip for a business just getting started?” This full piece appears in SCORE’s content library.

Create an SEO strategy

When selling online, you don’t have the luxury of people wandering into your brick and mortar store by chance and making an impulsive purchase. When SEO is done right and a strategy is set in place, consumers can organically uncover an online retailer. It sounds scary, but SEO is a sure way to make sure that your target market can find you in a search engine.

- Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Pick the right e-commerce platform

E-commerce platforms are the backbone of any online retail enterprise, allowing the front-end and back-end of an online shop to work together efficiently. An E-commerce platform should give you all the features you need to start, scale and manage your online business. Spend time researching your options and find the one that best suits you and your business.

- JJ Hepp, Arrow Lift

Don’t send customers away

One of the worst no-nos I see on new online stores is prominent social media links, in either the website header or elsewhere on the home page. The minute someone sees that Facebook or Instagram logo, they’ll be distracted from buying from you and enticed by the engagement that social media brings. This means even if they click a link that takes them to your social media page, they’ll immediately get drawn into their own notifications and feed and forget about wanting to buy from you. If you want to include social links, keep them in the website footer and discrete.

- Reese Spykerman, Design by Reese

Invest in your website

In the world of online shopping, people aren’t going to type their card number into a website that features shoddy images and poorly written product descriptions. Invest in a reputable web developer to help build a website that works cohesively with your eCommerce platform of choice. Make sure they take the time to find professional product images, write some great content, and upload them onto your website in a way that is aesthetic and user-friendly.

- Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case

Live and breathe digital

The number one tip I would give you is that you need to be all over the place. You need to live and breathe digital. You have to know everything out there when it comes to running an online business. You need to have a website and social media pages. You need to be running ads, writing blogs, and making YouTube videos or post your product at online marketplaces. There are a lot of how-to articles to help you with your online business.

- Shari Smith, Shari Sells

Find your unique selling point

To be a successful online seller, find your unique selling point. Analyze your competitors and discover what they don't have that you do. When I was first starting, I realized that most businesses in the VoIP space lacked verified user reviews. As a result, a lot of potential customers were skeptical about their legitimacy. We made this a core part of our model, and over the years we have racked up more than 20,000 verified user reviews, which have helped instill trust in potential customers.

- Reuben Yonatan, Get VoIP

Make your website secure

When it comes to selling online, the most important aspect is security. Chances are, you will be using online payment methods to allow people to make the purchase in a simple and efficient way. Since you will be dealing with customer financial information, you need to ensure that your website’s security is excellent. Take all the right precautions to protect customer data. It is their trust that you want to keep after all.

- Will Ellis, Privacy Australia

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel

Use what's already available. Utilize Amazon to sell your best products. Let your offline customers know where they can now get their favorite goodies. Then, move to your own site slowly, after you've taken the time to figure out the best way to do things for your business. And even then, use what's already there.

- Vinay Amin, Eu Natural

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.