Planning to take your business online

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  • A digital strategy can assist your organisation in maximising the benefit of its online presence and minimise cost and effort. It can communicate the aims and objectives of your online activities to other people in your organisation.What is in a digital strategy?A digital strategy outlines what you hope to achieve using digital technologies and how you hope to achieve it. Developing a digital strategy involves thinking about your goals are and making choices between the range of available options. You can browse through this website to identify options available to you that can assist in achieve your digital strategy objectives. For assistance in crafting a digital strategy, you may find the toolkit on the Winning Business Online site useful.Developing a digital strategyDeveloping a digital strategy will vary depending on your needs. However, a simple step-by-step approach is useful.What goals do you have for your organisation? Examples may include attract more local, national or global customers, supporters and donorscreate value for your customers, supporters and donorsreduce your costsraise awareness about your organisationincrease your revenues and donationshave more targeted and effective marketing campaignsbe more aware of what your customers, supporters and donors are saying about your organisationdevelop better metrics and feedback from your customers, supporters and donorsensure that people can engage with your organisation, including on their mobile phonesWhich online activities would benefit you? Examples may include: establishing an online presencedeveloping richer and more engaging contentdeveloping a search engine and/or social media marketing strategyexpanding your use of digital communications tools internallydigitising the support of your customers, supporters and donorsincorporating e-commerce functionality for donations and salesoptimising your content for the mobile webimprove your metricsHow can your online activities help you achieve your goals? Examples may include: a cafe may want to use the web to drive foot traffic to its physical locationa giftware store might aim to increase sales outside its immediate geographic areaa furniture company may seek to reduce the number of returned products by providing online instructional videos for assembling itemsa community organisation might use an online forum to notify volunteers of opportunities to get involved with local eventsa charity might use social media to promote a fundraising initiativeYou can also have a look at the case studies on this site or the Small Business Online program for more examples of how online activities are benefiting businesses and community organisations.A checklist for your online presenceOnce you have thought about what you are seeking to achieve through your digital strategy, you could develop a checklist of your requirements. For example:provide up-to-date written information—for example, a website or bloginteract with potential customers, supporters and donors—for example, via a social media platform or real-time text chatcreate the opportunity for clients and community members to make word-of-mouth referrals online—for example, via existing social media platformshave detailed online discussions with existing customers—for example, via a discussion forumconduct real-time text conversations using software that enables live text ‘chat’ or  other customer relationship management toolsprovide a sales platform—such as via e-commercemake your web content readable on smart phones, perhaps incorporating design methods that cater to mobile internet usersIn defining the functions you want, you may find it useful to ask your client base for feedback, or survey them to better understand what they may need from your online presence. You can also discuss strategies with other business owners or community organisations in relevant online forums. Some of these include:•    www.homebusinessonline.com/community/forum•    www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums•    www.v7n.com/forums/online-business-forum•    www.youngentrepreneur.com/forumCCBYwww.digitalbusiness.gov.au is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution –3.0 Australia licence.
  • BenefitsSome of the benefits of going online include:Your online presence is like a digital shopfront, and increasingly this is the way people will learn that your organisation exists. More and more people are using search engines and going online to find things they are looking for; if you don’t have an online presence, then your organisation effectively doesn’t exist to these people.An online presence opens up a potential global pool of customers, supporters and donors, which can lead to increased revenues and fundraising.You are always open for business. Anyone can access your online presence at a time and place that is convenient to them.Effective use of digital technology can assist in reducing your costs.Your marketing can become more targeted.You can develop more detailed metrics and respond more readily to feedback. For example, by analysing what users click on, browse or purchase.You can learn more about customer, supporter and donor sentiment by engaging in social media.You can improve your organisation’s efficiency and productivity by using internal online communications tools.For all these reasons, your online presence is an important asset for your company. For example, it is usually considered best practice not to see your website merely as an online brochure but instead, as a dynamic tool to stimulate both direct and indirect revenues or donations for the organisation and promote awareness of your work.However, the pursuit of these objectives can cost you time and operational expenses. It is important to ensure that the expected return on your investment drives your digital strategy decisions.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FncmY4_90TM&feature=related (Kogan Industries Video)
  • CostsWhen comparing what reasonable returns you might expect from your digital strategy investment, the kinds of expenses to consider (although not all will necessarily apply) include establishment costs to design and deliver your online presence, such as website development and licensing fees, as well as operating costs such as hosting, licensing, ongoing content management and technical maintenance.Establishmentcosts to design and deliver your project may include: Developing your requirements or functional specifications.Developing technical specifications.Content development costs.Website and related technical development costs.Hosting establishment costs, such as migrating content from an old website to a new one.Licensing fees for any third party products or content.Marketing campaign development costs.Marketing costs to drive traffic to your website.Professional fees to reduce risk, such as legal exposure. See legal issues.Operating costs include all on-going expenses such as: Hosting—either a fixed or flexible cost, depending on factors such as bandwidth usage. See hosting services.Licensing—some licensing costs are recurring.  Ensure that you are clear on the fees for any licences that you enter into, including future and on-going costs, especially if they relate to usage or volume-based charges.Online service fees—these might include fees and charges for online payments, authentication services, or search engine optimisation services.Managed services—if you require security monitoring, high availability or secure connections these may incur additional web hosting charges.Ongoing content management—it is important that your content is kept up-to-date. Any social media element of your project will require effort to moderate and/or respond to user contributions.Ongoing technical maintenance—it will be important to ensure that the software you use for your project is up-to-date and reflects improvements and developments in technology.Marketing—investing in marketing for your online presence can help you get the most out of your investments.
  • GovernanceIt is important to identify who will have oversight of implementing your digital strategy. If you are a small organisation, you may find it easier to involve all relevant decision-makers in both the evolution of the strategy and the project implementation. A digital strategy that has the commitment of all stakeholders and reflects the long-term vision and overall strategic direction of the organisation is far more likely to succeed.It is likely that larger organisations will need to secure project oversight by senior stakeholders in the organisation. Having the most senior levels of your organisation engaged in the development, review and sign-off on your digital strategy should ensure that it aligns with organisational objectives. It is just as important to keep non-executive governors—such as board members or trustees—appraised of the process.Project managementJust as for any other project, it is important to ensure that digital strategy projects are:sanctioned by the appropriate managers within the organisationproperly resourced with adequate budget and skilled personnel to meet the desired objectives (whether you choose to develop and implement your digital strategy internally or engage specialist firms to deliver technical solutions)managed by a suitably empowered project manager with adequate support and authority to deliver the projectsupported in the long term, with plans in place to maintain continuous improvement including a review process of your website’s effectiveness using feedback or metrics
  • GovernanceIt is important to identify who will have oversight of implementing your digital strategy. If you are a small organisation, you may find it easier to involve all relevant decision-makers in both the evolution of the strategy and the project implementation. A digital strategy that has the commitment of all stakeholders and reflects the long-term vision and overall strategic direction of the organisation is far more likely to succeed.It is likely that larger organisations will need to secure project oversight by senior stakeholders in the organisation. Having the most senior levels of your organisation engaged in the development, review and sign-off on your digital strategy should ensure that it aligns with organisational objectives. It is just as important to keep non-executive governors—such as board members or trustees—appraised of the process.Project managementJust as for any other project, it is important to ensure that digital strategy projects are:sanctioned by the appropriate managers within the organisationproperly resourced with adequate budget and skilled personnel to meet the desired objectives (whether you choose to develop and implement your digital strategy internally or engage specialist firms to deliver technical solutions)managed by a suitably empowered project manager with adequate support and authority to deliver the projectsupported in the long term, with plans in place to maintain continuous improvement including a review process of your website’s effectiveness using feedback or metrics
  • After assessing your organisation’s goals and priorities and the costs and benefits, the next useful step in preparing a digital strategy for your organisation is to define—and, if possible, document—your requirements.Regardless of whether you decide to outsource the implementation of your digital strategy or do it yourself, defining your requirements will help you to make clear what you want to achieve and how to implement your goals. If you outsource the implementation, you can develop these requirements into what is known in industry as a ‘functional specifications document’. This acts as a blueprint document for any company you might contract for the work. Functional specifications provide the exact objectives against which contractors can quote and the means for measuring their deliverables. It is important that the document is comprehensive to avoid undesired outcomes resulting from things left unspecified.Things to consider in defining your requirements:Your goals—in most cases, online platforms are intended to open up new marketing opportunities, provide new service options, allow you to be always open for business, or enable clients or members, donors and supporters to have a single point of contact. It is important to make your primary goals clear, as these will shape your specifications, including scope, complexity and cost.Your budget—keep this in line with your goals. See the section on costs and benefits for basic guidelines on what to consider to build, upgrade or maintain your online presence.The functionality—you may wish to review the themes on this site to help you determine the functional requirements that you want for your online presence. By understanding generally what technical options exist, you can better define and outline your own requirements.Your timing—an important criterion, especially if you intend to use your online presence to communicate a product launch, tradeshow or specific marketing campaign. The overall project timing should include detailed task breakdown and milestones to allow you to easily track the overall development. If you outsource the design and development of your website, include references to  project timing as part of the overall contract.Your marketing objectives—these are an important part of your specifications, as they will define how you use your online presence to position your organisation and brands, generate traffic, and increase your revenues. See the online marketing chapter for more.
  • A small or medium sized organisation may not have all of the skills and resources necessary to manage and implement all aspects of its digital strategy. However, there is a strong and competitive supply of these skills in the marketplace.For example, developing a sophisticated website can be a complex task, depending on your requirements and expectations. Some of the tasks, including website design and development, can require specialist expertise. It may be best to engage specialist skills and resources to deliver any components of your digital strategy that fall outside the direct experience and capabilities of your internal staff. Even when you have appropriately qualified staff, it can sometimes be appropriate to outsource some activities, for example to allow the internal staff to focus on other activities. Using external specialists might also assist in ensuring that your website benefits from the latest trends and complies with current standards.Doing it yourself or outsourcingThere is no exact rule as to what you should do yourself and what you should outsource. However, in general you may want to consider the following:Skills and resources—evaluate whether you have the right knowledge, experience, and tools in your organisation to implement your digital strategy.Costs—compare the costs of doing it yourself with the cost of outsourcing certain online services. It is important to ensure that when you are obtaining quotes for the outsourcing of comparable activities that all costs are included in the quotations you receive.  Always get quotes from multiple suppliers and compare their offerings.Continuity—once you choose to engage with your customers, supporters, donors or suppliers online, they will likely come to expect this channel to always be open to them as a way to communicate with your organisation. Consequently, any digital strategy represents a long term commitment. Whether doing it yourself or outsourcing, ensure that you have a strategy for the long term continuity of your investment, including ongoing capacity to access and support your own content.Mixed strategy—in most cases, both doing it yourself and outsourcing of different activities will be required. Whilst you must take responsibility for developing your requirements or the functional specification (no-one knows your business and expectation better than you and this is what you will measure your contractors’ deliverables against), you might consider, for example, delegating the web design to professional experts and technical development to experienced HTML developers.  As noted above, it is prudent to be clear with your outsourcing partners about your expectations for the scope of ongoing support and maintenance of your investment.Outsourcing strategyWhen engaging outsourcing partners you should generally consider the following.Evaluation process—you can use the same set of requirements or functional specifications to request commercial offers from several potential suppliers. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate and compare their prices, responsiveness and customer service, the overall quality of their proposal, compliance with your requirements, additional suggestions, references and commercial terms and conditions.Location—While many overseas companies offer attractive pricing, consider what impact time differences may have on your ability to collaborate in real-time. Legal protection can also become an issue with companies located outside your own jurisdiction.Ownership—it is important to come to a clear understanding about who owns or controls the intellectual property that is used within your project. For example, you will probably want to control the rights to content, graphic design or brands that are developed by contractors for use in your project. Your contractor may want to control the rights to any processes or technologies used in the project. You will need to agree with the contractor about who is responsible for licensing any third party material used in the project and make sure appropriate permissions are obtained.Confidentiality—protect important information from being disclosed publicly by securing appropriate contracts with third party suppliers as well as your own staff.Legal—both parties should sign a legal agreement covering compliance with terms addressing specifications, deliverables, timing, variations of orders, intellectual property rights and confidentiality, among other things specific to your needs.
  • Just as running your organisation in the physical world raises legal issues, so too does your activity in the virtual world. The nature and context of the legal issues that arise for your organisation will depend on the specific type of activity.Developing an online presenceIf you decide to engage someone else to assist in developing your online presence or implement your digital strategy, you will need to give consideration to preparing a contract that outlines the respective rights and responsibilities of you and the developer. These could include practical matters such as a precise description of the work to be completed, a timetable for completion, costs, and a payment schedule. Legal issues may include ownership of software and content created for the website, who is responsible for licensing of third party software and content and warranties and indemnities.e-Commerce and fundraisingIf you decide to engage in e-commerce or online fundraising, it is important to pay careful attention to your legal obligations in relation to your customers, supporters and donors. There are specific fair trading and consumer protection laws that will apply to your organisation online, just as they do offline.In particular, these laws can require you to provide clear in statements—prior to the completion of any transactions—all relevant terms and conditions governing purchases or donations, the responsibilities of customers or donors and your policies for cancellations and refunds.You may find it useful to consult the Australian Guidelines for Electronic Commerce developed by the Treasury.For community organisations considering online fundraising, see the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) fundraising guide.The ATO website provides other important legal information and links to relevant state and territory resources.As e-commerce potentially opens up your organisation to transact with anyone in the world, you will also need to think about how the Goods and Services Tax interacts with international transactions.Domain namesDomain names are like any business name or brand that you use in the physical world–they acquire goodwill and are an easy way for people to remember where to find you online. You need to think carefully when choosing a domain name because the usual laws governing trademarks and business names apply.Website terms and policiesIf you decide to establish a website or have any other type of online presence, you may wish to consider developing policies that clearly explain to your customers, supporters and donors your terms for doing business or interacting online. These may cover issues such as the accuracy of the content, your liability for content or material presented online and the rights of your customers, supporters and donors when engaging with you online.In particular, it is important to give very careful attention to the privacy and security obligations on your organisation when collecting personal information from your customers, supporters and donors.Much of the online metrics and feedback that make having an online presence beneficial include personal information. It is good practice to clearly display your privacy policy and explain your security practices, particularly when inviting your customers, donors and supporters to register their contact details.You may need additional policies for other functionality on your site. For example, if you sell goods, you may need to consider having a sales and returns policy. If you host a blog or online forum, you may need a moderation policy outlining how you will review and manage customer contributions to the blog or forum.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website provides the following resources on legal issues relating to doing business online:Doing business with consumers on the internet;Dealing with competitors online;Trading online internationally; andUnfair contract terms law;Intellectual property and using contentWhen you are developing content for your online presence or marketing campaign, it is important to pay careful attention to where the content comes from, who owns it and whether the owners agree for you to use it.If you or your employees develop your own content, then you are free to use it as you wish. If you contract another person to develop material for you, as a general rule you need to make sure you have a written agreement that clearly states who owns the rights to that content. If you find content from somewhere else, for example, online or through a stock photo library, it probably belongs to someone else.Copyright law (subject to some exceptions) requires that you ask for permission before using it. You can check for any applicable license terms that you can find on the content to see if you have the necessary permission (for example, if it is licensed under a Creative Commons license then you may). Alternately, you need to find the owner of the content and ask for permission, which they may grant upon payment of a license fee.Marketing campaigns and spamWhen you engage in online marketing, you need to understand the laws that regulate spam. Read how you can avoid spamming others here.Using social media or third party platforms or toolsIf you are thinking of using a third party platform or tools, perhaps as part of your social media strategy or to set up your payment gateway, it is important to review the terms and conditions of use of that platform or tool and its privacy policy. These are usually accessible via a link at the bottom of the page. Reviewing these policies lets you know what your rights and obligations are in using the site but also the terms that you are asking of your customers, supporters, donors and community members if they engage with you via those sites.Engaging with customers, supporters and donors through social mediaSocial media offer the benefits of informal, real-time and more direct and honest engagement with your customers, supporters and donors. However, they can also raise legal issues precisely because of such instantaneous and immediate communication. Sometimes people do not think carefully before they type, post, publish, tweet or share. Sometimes people want to shock or vent. Generally, the courts hold that the usual laws against defamation, hate speech, offensive conduct apply equally to an online world as they do in the offline world.Your organisation should think about how it will respond or manage this issue when developing a strategy to engage in social media. If you host an interactive space you should consider developing a moderation policy.Legal resourcesYou may wish to minimise your legal risks by consulting with a lawyer before drafting or accepting any legal terms relating to your online activities, for example when engaging a website developer or other service provider. These sites will help you begin the search for a suitable lawyer:Law Council of AustraliaArts Law Centre of AustraliaFindlaw Australia
  • Planning to take your business online

    1. 1. Planning to Take Your Business Online<br />
    2. 2. Attribution<br />Some text and concepts in this presentation can be attributed to CCBY www.digitalbusiness.gov.au which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution –3.0 Australia licence. <br />If you are viewing this presentation online, the icons below will link to the relevant pages on the digitalbusiness.gov.au website.<br />
    3. 3. Overview<br />
    4. 4. Benefits<br />
    5. 5. The number of Australian Households online* <br /><ul><li>2008/2009, Source – “Quantifying the possible economic gains of getting more Australian households online”
    6. 6. Image CCBYSA from Flickr user jemswebhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/jemsweb/100532957</li></li></ul><li>2,095,006,005internet users worldwide **<br /><ul><li>**March 31,2011, Source – http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
    7. 7. Image CCBY from Flickr user flyingsingerhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/flyingsinger/86898565/</li></li></ul><li>Marketing and Web Metrics<br />
    8. 8. New sales avenues<br />
    9. 9. Costs<br />Domain Name<br />Hosting<br />Email Hosting<br />CMS (content management system) Licensing<br />Management Fees<br />Maintenance<br />…….<br />
    10. 10. SEO, Advertising and Marketing<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser igor tm http://www.flickr.com/photos/igorbrasil/4560541661</li></li></ul><li>Migration<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser pjanvandaelehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/pjanvandaele/4046391956/</li></li></ul><li>Cloud Applications<br /><ul><li>Image CCBYNC from Flickruser WanderingtheWorldhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisschoenbohm/4659700300</li></li></ul><li>Managing the process<br /><ul><li>Image CCBYNC from Flickruser Brajeshwarhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/brajeshwar/378641553</li></li></ul><li>Managing the process<br /><ul><li>Governance
    11. 11. Project Management</li></li></ul><li>Defining your requirements<br />Goals<br />Budget<br />Functionality<br />Timing<br />Marketing objectives<br />
    12. 12. <ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser dullhunkhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/3215402826</li></li></ul><li>Skills and resources<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser vizzzual-dot-com http://www.flickr.com/photos/vizzzual-dot-com/2364287644</li></li></ul><li>Should you DIY?<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser mikecattellhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecattell/4287886877</li></li></ul><li>Will you have continuity?<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser clairityhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/149702598/</li></li></ul><li>What’s in your toolbox?<br /><ul><li>Image CCBY from Flickruser skistzhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/skistz/398429879/</li></li></ul><li>Legal issues<br />
    13. 13. <ul><li>Image CCBYNC from Flickrintersectionconsultinghttp://www.flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting/4412472230</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Image CCBYNC from Flickruser selvahttp://www.flickr.com/photos/selva/1017439</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Image CCBYNC from Flickruser liewcfhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/liewcf/303284582</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Image CCBYNCSA from Flickruser 917press http://www.flickr.com/photos/917press/2583620793</li></li></ul><li>Links<br />digitalbusiness.gov.au<br />www.winningbusinessonline.com.au/<br />www.homebusinessonline.com/community/forum<br />www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums<br />www.v7n.com/forums/online-business-forum<br />www.youngentrepreneur.com/forum<br />www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/815391<br />
    14. 14. Planning to Take Your Business Online<br />

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