Running an online business is a full-time job. And sometimes, you need help. This might come in the form of a developer to create the perfect site or an automated tool to help you stay on top of your online presence. Keep reading for five crucial but often overlooked ways to ensure that your web-based business doesn’t become a .com flop.

Web developer

Sure, there are plenty of tools out there that allow you to design your own website. And some of them look pretty good. Unfortunately, these cookie-cutter sites don’t stand out and probably won’t be consistent with your current branding materials. A good web developer can.

A CSS — or cascading style sheet — programmer is an individual with web development and design experience that can handle all the back- and front-end aspects of your site. This includes the framework and processing but also graphic design. In other words, they are creative and have technical skills that can take your website to the next level. If you hire CSS developers, they can help you perfect everything from your font to your navigation buttons, layouts, and more. CSS web developers range and cost from around $20 at the low end to $150 an hour or more for someone with many projects under their belt. A job board can help you connect to a freelancer if you are not ready to commit to a full-time person.

Social media marketing pro

Marketing your websites, products, and brand through Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media portals is not as simple as posting a deal and watching the dollars roll in. In reality, social media marketing combines marketing, social science, and business acumen to create campaigns that propel you toward success.

Creating a social media marketing strategy is not an easy task. It starts with outlining specific and attainable goals for your business. One example would be to acquire 500 new clients/sales in a predetermined time frame. First, your social media person will need to get to know your client base as well as your competition. Next comes determining which products or services to promote and then creating a memorable advertisement. The trick here is to remember that social media is not the place for a boring commercial-type intrusion. Your content has to be engaging, released to the right people at the right time, and then carefully analyzed before moving on to the next form of outreach.

Accessibility tools

Speaking of social media and web content, it is crucial that your content is accessible to all users. Although there are no laws specifically outlining ADA compliance, failure to ensure a pleasant experience for all visitors can leave you with less traffic and fewer sales.

Fortunately, if you have chosen the right developer, your visuals will already be simple and easy to look at. Although they can manage every aspect of your HTML web pages, your developer cannot do everything, and there are other issues that must be addressed. Videos, for example, should be captioned to accommodate visitors with hearing disabilities. Captioning — also called subtitling — your videos is fairly straightforward if you are familiar with video editing software. If you’re not or don’t have the time to devote to watching, transcribing, editing, and updating, then look for a service that can do it for you. Preferably, one that can ensure you are compliant with ADA and FCC standards and backs their work with a 100% guarantee. Keep in mind, too, that video captions make it easier for people to watch at work or in other places where the sound is disruptive.

Dream Host further asserts that non-video content must be structured correctly, void of tables unless necessary, and designed with resizable text, fonts, and colors that are easy to distinguish.

Reputation and review monitoring

You have to keep up with what is being said about your business. One bad review on the right site can tank your sales and lead you to put up a virtual “Closed” sign. Knowing what you look like when someone Google’s your business is paramount to your success. However, unless you have all day to flip back and forth between review sites and social media, you need a service to do it for you.

Rexly Penaflorida II of ReviewTrackers explains that there are three ways SBMs can get review alerts. These are via email individually, as a log of recent reviews, and as a snapshot summary. Having timely access to customer feedback gives you an opportunity to quickly address any issues. For example, if a customer orders a $25 T-shirt and your inventory numbers inadvertently got transversed and they receive a $3 dinosaur toy instead, they might be frustrated and post that you are running a scam. The longer that negative reviews are out there, the more potential customers will see it. In this case, you have an opportunity to publicly apologize, explain what happened, and then reach out to the customer to rectify the situation.

Data encryption and recovery (just in case)

When customers shop on your website, they are putting their trust in you that you have preemptively taken measures to ensure their data is safe. Their name, address, credit card numbers, and other personal information is a valuable commodity that criminals across the dark web will happily steal and resell.

Invest in online security and you will run a much lesser chance that your customers’ information will fall into the wrong hands.

A few ways to achieve this are by only collecting necessary information; if you are delivering digital goods, for example, you do not need to know your customer’s home address. You will also want to prioritize encryption technologies that make it difficult for hackers to tap into your systems. Remember, the best offense is layered defenses, and your business is best off when people who want to infiltrate it have to pass through an elaborate series of steps to make that happen.

Despite your best efforts, it is not always possible to keep data safe. It’s wise to establish a relationship with an IT firm that specializes in digital forensics and data recovery. This individual or team can help you identify weaknesses and regain control of your networks if they are ever compromised.

When your online operation is not accessible, is marketed poorly, or does not fully utilize all the tools available, you will suffer real-world consequences. These five tools can help you take your business to the next level and beyond by prioritizing the things that matter.

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