11 Things You Need To Be Investing in Right Now to Grow Your Business Online

Grow your business online

There is a seismic shift in how you as a business should be creating, thinking and evolving in the 21st century.

It revolves around the virtual world that cannot be touched but it is as real as any physical object. It is such a big shift that many business owners are ignoring it because they either don’t get it or are afraid of it.

It’s also called digital technology.

Here is a tale of two retailers. In it we can see a glimpse of what the implications are of either embracing the digital world or just playing at the edges.

In the USA Nordstrom is a brand that is investing heavily in  technology and building its online brand assets. Over the last 3 years it has invested more than $2 billion in technology primarily aimed at making it easy for customers to buy online. That is 50-65 per cent of its cash flow. But sales have increased 50%. Its share price is up 200%. It is obvious that they get this social digital web.

The department store Myer on the other hand has invested very little in its digital presence and assets over the last two years in comparison. Its sales are flat and the share price is down 50%.

Which one would you invest in? Is business extinction a real possibility for one of them?

Hard assets and virtual assets

In the past retail was all about bricks and mortar street fronts. Investing in the physical location was a habit that has been with us for centuries. Buy or rent the shop and invest big in fitout, paint, walls, partitions, design and fittings. The budgets often go beyond hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. But it’s still the honeypot for the shopper to spend.

In traditional print media it was all about physical magazines, newsprint and mainly local distribution. It required hard physical assets and expensive printing presses. Now bloggers, online magazines and new breed news sites are producing online content without a printing press to be seen or a delivery van or a corner store.

But we are moving from an industrial age where the assets that were valued were physical but with the rise of the global knowledge economy the importance of virtual digital assets and technology is becoming paramount.

This can be broken into two online media asset categories:

  1. Owned Media: This starts with the website, online store and blogs
  2. Earned Media: This where you earn online attention and includes earned media from customers, fans and advocates

Why are these important?

Your brand can now be everywhere in a digital world. Google, Facebook and Twitter make that possible. Search engines can find you from an iPad in a coffee shop in Paris but your physical presence might be in Helsinki.

You are defined online: Online your content now defines you. That’s it. If your website has little content then it will position you as light weight and maybe not all that serious.

You are discovered online: Building online assets means you turn up in search engine results, be found on Facebook and other social networks as people share your content.

Trust is created online: Multiple views of your brand and content creates online trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that being seen 3-5 times online takes your rust factor to over 50%.

Global scale: A small brand can be global online. It means that you have worldwide reach without leaving your office or shop.

People buy online: This trend isn’t going away.

Content is consumed online: Entertainment, education and inspiration is expanding on the web.

So what are the 11 digital  assets that you should be building and investing in today to remain relevant, continue to grow and scale your business. Here is how to grow your business online.

Owned Media Assets

This includes the following:

1. Website

Websites are your digital platform and the customers gateway to your brand. It maybe a corporate site or an online store or both.

it needs to be well branded, easy to use, intuitive and designed for a social web.

2. Blog

Blogs are your content hubs and attract loyal readers. It’s role cannot be underestimated in positioning your brand as a thought leader in its industry especially in the B2B space.

In B2C the role of the blog is more about engagement, entertainment and improving search engine rankings.

3. Social media networks

Social networks aren’t strictly an owned asset but rented (you don’t own Facebook or Twitter as you are there on their terms and conditions) but they are are seen by the consumer as part and an also an extension of your owned brand platform.

Placing a stake in the ground with the major networks with your brand name is now an essential digital asset to start and keep investing in.

4. Content that you create

Content is now a multi-media asset that needs constant investment. It includes articles on blogs, infographics, podcasts, images, videos and more. The challenge is to create the best content possible that will beg to be shared and spread your brand online.

This is a constant marketing continuum that needs consistent and persistent feeding. It’s a hungry beast.

5. Email list

Email is not a shiny new technology toy like the social media platforms, but  it is still the primary business communication tool. Your email list needs time and patience to build. It also provides the means to reach your customers and prospects when you want.

6. Mobile

The rise of high speed wireless and the mobile phone and tablets has made information accessible from anywhere. It can be a mobile app or a mobile responsive website that adapts to any screen size for easy media consumption.

Ignoring this can reduce sales for online stores, engagement on blogs and the viewing on corporate websites.

Earned Media Assets

Earned media cannot be bought or owned, it can only be gained organically, hence the term ‘earned’. This applies to “word of mouth” offline and online, building followers, connections and fans on social networks, building an email list and ranking high in Google organic search for the key words and phrases in your business niche.

This includes the following:

1. Conversations about you

One of your key objectives should be to create conversation on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. You need to earn this by building your following and creating epic content that starts the conversation.

2. Content that is created about you

Brands that provide great user experiences create raving fans and advocates. These include Apple, Lego and Red Bull. They will create content for free that mentions your brand. Octoly research revealed that 99% of all the content is created on YouTube about some brands. That’s free marketing.

3. Search engine rankings

You don’t own search engine ranking but earn them. It’s built on the original premise that Google created in 1998. It’s called pagerank. If your content is so good that the New York Times mentions and links to you then Google sees that as search engine authority.

Keep building those with other websites and you have earned the right to rank high in search.

4. Partnerships

Online partnerships are earned.

People and other brands will want to work with you in online joint ventures because you have built and earned online authority. This includes reach, trust and social proof.

5. Influencers

As your earn online attention, influencers with large global online networks will also want to partner up. This is where it starts to get exciting.

It’s a long term game

The relentless pursuit of  building your online assets and earning digital authority will be the work of decades. It needs that mindset, understanding and vision of how the digital economy is panning out for the next century.

It’s not going away.

What about you?

Are you investing in building your digital assets? Could you do better? What do you need to work on today?

Look forward to your insights and feedback in the comments below.

Listen to this post as a podcast


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  • http://www.weboutsourcing-gateway.com/ Web Outsourcing Gateway

    Thanks for This, Jeff.
    Indeed online presence is the key to great marketing and that counts a lot already. Business and even individual can make something biger and better with online presence. credibility builder, trust, engagement are among others of the thing you can acquire from online
    to end, it’s obvious that online presence is a key to emerge in the global market.

  • http://www.myshop.com.pk/ Anoush Alexnder

    Thanks for such tips i have my online business but my site is not crawling as i want it to be have a look and tell me the plan http://www.myshop.com.pk/smartphone-mobile/samsung-mobile moreover thanks for guide me well with this post

  • Cheval John

    Jeff, this is a well written post. Yes, I am investing everyday in building my online presence and earning trust. It is something that is fulfilling and it makes you a better person.

  • wkhojoseph

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for this I am currently building my online presence and had see some good partnership is been form!

  • http://www.christovanzyl.com/blog/ Christo van Zyl

    Thanks for this Jeff. As it turns out these days the average Joe now has the platform and capability to become a global player, provided they do what you say and buy that platform, grow it and earn that credibility. Great post – thank you again.

  • andieshire

    Thanks for giving a brief explanation regarded to online business. Now everyone should be enlightened by your post and someday, one of your readers will give it a try to invest online. I found it useful especially for small time business owners who plan to make their business get better.

  • Shahriarbuzz

    Thanks for this Jeff, Digital is here to stay, and awesome podcast.