Building a Robust Online Presence: From Websites to E-commerce

Photo of author
Jeff Purcell

Over 30 years in business as an owner, restaurateur, and consultant, offering a unique understanding of business and marketing expertise.

Key Takeaways
  • Website Development Platforms: The article explores various website-building platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify, detailing their features, user-friendliness, design flexibility, and pricing. It emphasizes the importance of selecting a platform that aligns with the business's needs and budget.
  • E-commerce Platforms Overview: Businesses can learn about different e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce, considering factors like user-friendliness, scalability, payment integration, customization, and pricing structure.
  • Basic SEO Strategies: Essential SEO strategies like keyword research, content quality, mobile-friendly design, page load speed, and backlinking are highlighted to improve website visibility and search engine rankings.
  • Digital Marketing Basics: The article provides insights into various digital marketing channels, including social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, SEM, and content marketing. It emphasizes the importance of consistent engagement and personalized content to connect with the target audience effectively.
  • Email Marketing Fundamentals: Businesses are guided on building an email list, crafting engaging content, personalizing emails, avoiding spam filters, and analyzing performance metrics to optimize email marketing campaigns.

An Introduction to Online Presence and Sales

In the age of technology, having an online presence is not just advantageous but crucial for the survival and growth of any business. Whether you're a store expanding into the realm or a new startup, the online landscape offers vast opportunities to connect with a broader audience, engage with customers, and boost sales.

Let's look at the aspects of establishing and improving your online presence. We will explore website development platforms that cater to needs ranging from simple blogs to full-fledged e-commerce sites. Understanding the intricacies of these platforms will enable you to decide which one suits your business best.

E-commerce platforms serve as the foundation for sales. We will provide an overview of their features, advantages, and how to select the ideal platform for your business. Additionally, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of grasping Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles in today's world. We will discuss a few SEO fundamentals that can assist in boosting your content ranking on search engines, which improves your online presence and helps drive traffic to your website.

Moreover, we'll talk about the essentials of marketing by exploring strategies for promoting your products or services on digital platforms.

To effectively navigate the marketing world, it's essential to understand marketing channels, create captivating content, and measure your achievements. One such potent tool in the marketer's toolkit is email marketing. We'll cover some aspects of setting up an email marketing campaign. This includes tips on growing and managing your email list and crafting engaging content for your emails.

We'll provide you with summaries. Also, offer additional resources for further exploration. As always, our goal is to give you the best of both worlds – a quick handle on the key points with the freedom to dive deeper into each topic whenever you're ready.

Website Building Platforms

When building a website for your business, the great news is that you have plenty of options. Website-building platforms allow you to create and manage a website without coding it from scratch. They're like using a made-to kit to build a house and shape each piece of wood yourself.

Here are some points to consider when choosing a website builder:

  • User Friendliness: Look for a platform that feels intuitive and easy to use. You wouldn't want to spend hours figuring out how to add a page.
  • Design Flexibility: Some platforms provide templates and customizable designs. This means you can personalize your site exactly as you envision it.
  • Features: Consider what functionalities you need for your site, such as a store, blog, or reservation system. Make sure your chosen platform can accommodate those requirements.
  • SEO Capabilities: Good platforms offer SEO assistance, making it more straightforward for people to discover your website online.
  • Pricing: Costs can vary significantly, so finding something that aligns with your budget is essential. Remember, sometimes investing more can be worthwhile if it means getting the set of features.

Below, we'll have links to articles that provide insights into platforms such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. But for now, here is an “at a glance” overview of them:


  • Flexibility and Control: Offers extensive customization options with thousands of themes and plugins.
  • Learning Curve: Best for those with technical know-how or willingness to learn.


  • Design-Focused: Known for its sleek, professionally-designed templates perfect for visually-driven businesses.
  • Ease of Use: User-friendly interface for beginners, with no technical skills required.


  • Intuitive Drag-and-Drop: Makes building a website feel like creating art, great for beginners.
  • Feature-Rich: Offers various features and apps for different business needs.


  • Simplicity: Easy to use, offering a straightforward way to build a website quickly.
  • Integrated Marketing Tools: Comes with built-in marketing tools, suitable for small businesses looking to grow.


  • E-commerce Specialist: Tailored for online stores, with powerful tools to manage inventory, payments, and shipping.
  • Integrated Sales Channels: Allows selling on multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.


  • WordPress Integration: Perfectly integrates with WordPress, offering a seamless experience for those already using or familiar with WordPress sites.
  • Customizability and Flexibility: Extensive customization options with access to hundreds of free and paid extensions for everything from payments and shipping to marketing and accounting.
  • Open Source and Free: As an open-source platform, it's free to use, but keep in mind that costs can arise from hosting, themes, plugins, and developer fees.
  • Community and Support: Benefits from a large community of users and developers, ensuring a wealth of tutorials, forums, and third-party support options.
  • WooCommerce is particularly appealing to those with a WordPress site who want to add e-commerce functionality or those who desire high customization and control over their online store.

The online presence of your website serves as the impression for customers, so it's crucial to get it right. We've discussed a few of the most popular, but know that there are many website builders. Moreover, with the tools available today, creating a website can be quite enjoyable!

Please note that it is not the business purpose of this website to act as a review site for any of the products or services mentioned. We want to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision that works best for you. We aim to provide you with quality vendors to explore and compare quickly. Review sites are prolific throughout the web if you want to go that route, but we feel it's ultimately best to go to the source site so you evaluate directly.

E-commerce Platforms Overview

When venturing into the realm of e-commerce, it can often feel like taking a plunge into the end of a swimming pool. However, you'll be glad to know that there are e-commerce platforms, each catering to different business needs, sizes, and technical expertise. These platforms serve as the backbone of your store, assisting you in managing products, handling payments, and overseeing logistics.

Let's take a look at some factors to consider when selecting an e-commerce platform:

  • User Friendliness: Certain platforms are beginner-friendly, offering interfaces allowing drag-and-drop functionality and easy setup processes.
  • Scalability: As your business grows over time, your chosen platform needs to be able to grow alongside it. Look for platforms that can handle an increased number of products, higher website traffic volumes, and international sales.
  • Payment and Shipping Integration: Ensure the platform seamlessly supports your payment gateways and shipping methods.
  • Customization and Design: The ability to customize the appearance and atmosphere of your store is vital. Some platforms offer more flexibility when it comes to design options than others.
  • Pricing Structure: Understand the pricing model in detail before making a decision—this includes transaction fee charges (if any) and costs associated with add-ons or extensions.

Here are a few e-commerce platforms that you can consider:

  • Shopify: It's well known for being user-friendly and having features, making it an excellent choice for medium-sized businesses.
  • Magento: This platform offers customization options and scalability, making it ideal for those with expertise or resources.
  • BigCommerce: It balances ease of use and advanced features, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes.
  • WooCommerce: If you're using WordPress, this platform is perfect as it provides flexibility and a wide range of plugins.

Each platform has advantages and may cater to specific business needs better than others. If you're interested in comparisons and insights about these platforms, check out the articles in this section.

(Very) Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

red jeep

Before we even utter a word about SEO here (the operative word here is “basic”), it must be understood that SEO is a vast, frequently changing landscape and not a subject within our discussion's scope. With that said, we'll endeavor to scratch the surface and give you links for your continuing education on SEO. But remember, you're here because you've got an idea… even a dream to start a business. So stay focused on that. SEO is an exciting and never-dull skill set to explore; just get what you need and move on. So here is the 10,000-foot overview: OK… if you must, here is a link for you, but please bookmark it for later in your ascent… What is SEO.

In today's era, simply having a designed website or online store is no longer enough. The real challenge lies in ensuring your target audience can quickly discover and access it. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into the picture. Think of SEO as a compass that directs customers to the online presence of your business, navigating the vast wilderness of the internet.

To enhance your website visibility and improve its ranking on search engine results pages, here is a tiny sample of some essential SEO strategies to consider:

  • Keywords: It begins with identifying your potential customers' keywords when searching for products or services. Keyword research tools are abundant. Tools like SemRush and Ahrefs are industry standards (to name two) to conduct research and make keyword choices.
  • Content Quality: Search engines greatly favor relevant and valuable content. Regularly update your website with blog posts, informative articles, or enticing product descriptions.
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: With an increasing number of people browsing the web on their devices, optimizing a website for viewing isn't just a bonus; it's crucial.
  • Page Load Speed: Speed matters significantly in today's paced landscape. A quick-loading website provides a superior user experience and tends to rank higher in search results.
  • Backlinks: These are links from websites pointing back to yours. Earning high-quality backlinks can substantially enhance your website's authority, improving its rankings.

Always remember that SEO is more like a marathon than a sprint – it requires much effort and long-term commitment for optimal results. Yes, it's essential to have a working understanding of SEO; remember, you have a business to start, run, and grow.

Basics of Digital Marketing

Navigating the world of online marketing can feel like setting out on a grand adventure. It's vast, ever-changing, and holds the potential for incredible discoveries (aka new customers and sales!). Online marketing encompasses a range of tactics and channels, each with unique strengths and ways to connect with your audience.

Each of the topics below will be covered in more detail in specific articles, but for now, here are some basics of digital marketing of various channels to get you started.

Understanding Different Channels: From social media to email marketing, each channel offers different ways to engage with your audience. It's like choosing the right trail for your hike – some paths may lead to scenic views (brand awareness), while others lead to hidden treasures (sales conversions).

The key to successful online marketing is consistency and engagement. It’s not just about broadcasting your message; it’s about starting conversations and building relationships.

  • Content is King: This phrase is as old as digital marketing itself. Especially regarding website content has become even more refined today and transitioned to “Helpful Content is King.” Whether it's blog posts, videos, or social media updates, compelling (helpful) content is what will attract and retain your audience. Think of it as your map and compass in the world of online marketing.
  • SEO and SEM: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are about increasing your online presence in search engines. While SEO focuses on organic traffic, SEM involves paid advertising, like Google Ads.
  • Social Media Marketing: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be powerful tools to build brand awareness and engage with customers. Each platform has its unique environment, so tailor your approach accordingly.
  • Email Marketing: This is one of the most effective ways to communicate directly with your audience. It's like sending out personalized guides to your followers, offering them the necessary information.

Email Marketing Basics

When I first started (way back when) my venture into online/digital marketing, a friend and mentor told me that if his house was fire and he had only enough time to run in and grab one item to save… it would be his email list!

Embarking on email marketing is like discovering a direct trail to your customers' inboxes. It's an incredibly effective way to communicate, build relationships, and drive sales. Email marketing can be a powerful tool in your business's digital backpack, whether you're sending out newsletters, promotional offers, or personalized messages.

Here are some key points to get you started:

  • Building Your List: Your journey begins with building an email list. This could be through sign-ups on your website, at events, or from existing customers. Remember, quality over quantity – it’s about reaching people genuinely interested in what you offer.
  • Crafting Engaging Content: Like a good trail mix, your emails should blend helpful, engaging, and enjoyable content. Keep your content relevant and exciting, whether it's updates about your products, helpful tips, or exclusive offers.
  • Personalization: Personalizing emails can significantly increase engagement. Use your recipient's name, recommend products based on past purchases, or send birthday discounts. It’s like giving a friendly nod to each hiker on the trail.
  • Avoiding Spam Filters: Ensure your emails reach the inbox, not the spam folder. Avoid using too many “salesy” words, include an easy way to unsubscribe, and keep your mailing list clean.
  • Analyzing and Improving: Use email analytics to track open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. This feedback is like a trail map showing what works and what doesn’t, helping you refine your strategy over time.
red jeep shadow

See you out there!

The information provided on The Business Trailhead is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal, financial, or tax advice. Your personal situation is unique, and the products and services we feature may not be suitable for your specific circumstances. Please consult with a qualified legal, business, or financial advisor to discuss your individual needs and goals before making any financial decisions. We strive to ensure the accuracy of the information presented on the date of publication. However, offers and details within this content may change at any time without prior notice.