Grow your business they said. It’ll be fun they said. While growing your business online is one thing any entrepreneur should do, it’s not without it’s difficult times. These days, growing a business is like a pandora’s box. Within each step there are more steps and demand more and more from you.
What worse is in some instances, you’re not sure what you should even do and feel stuck. One thing is for certain though, having a business online is a smart thing to do. Even before this pandemic spread across the globe, there are tonnes of benefits to doing this.
But the next step is how can we leverage this? Well, I’ve put together a short list of ideas to help you with this. Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or not, here are some of my suggests to grow your business.
Make Your Site Engaging
The first thing I’ll recommend is to make your site engaging. As a writer, I immediately think that engaging means having content that pops out that people want to be reading and spending a lot of time on my site. While that’s the case for me, engaging doesn’t always have to mean that to me or for others.
For example, engaging can be interpreted as interactive. If you provide tire changes or some other service, you can focus in on getting people to book you for a job. Thanks to online forms, you can make it interactive by letting potential customers fill out some information and send it off to you.
To me, creating something engaging means creating something that provides clear value to those who use it.
We can create little games to provide entertainment or even a bit of knowledge. Or maybe create a form and leave the customers to fill the information out so they can get what they need faster. Small things like this can help in so many ways.
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is a critical part of businesses. Even if you’re not a marketing expert, this is something you ought to pay attention to. In general, SEO is the series of factors that contribute to your site being placed higher in the search ranking system from major search engines. The more you optimize, the more you’ll climb the ranks.
This is a big deal these days as people are constantly searching for things and there is a huge difference in clicks on a page if you’re ranked at the top of the first page or ranked second. Think about it. When was the last time that you ever got to the bottom of a Google search result and clicked on the next page?
SEO is a big deal and experts have determined that there are over 200 factors that contribute to boosting your page ranking on search engines. With this in mind, I see SEO as something that can be very complex if you want it to be. If you really want to be digging into these factors and making tweaks where you can, that’s great.
But for the average entrepreneur who wants generally great SEO, I would be concerned about the following:
- The length and quality of articles/pages. Quality as in are you using run-on sentences? Consecutive sentences starting with the same word? Complicated words that are difficult for average people to understand? Quality can also be addressed as helpful content as well.
- Site security. Those with HTTPS at the beginning of their URL will rank better than those who don’t. This can also be indicated by a lock icon too.
- The site is mobile friendly.
- How quickly pages load.
- Backlinks from credible sources. On that note also consider internal linking as well.
- How long people spend on your page. You can’t control that but internal linking and generally being an engaging site will help.
- Optimized images. Grainy or low-quality pictures aren’t good.
- The age of your site. You can’t control this, but being an older site does have perks.
Of course, there are hundreds of other factors as well that only Google and other search engines know about and aren’t sharing with us. We do get a few insights here and there of course. Generally though, if you focus on these things and strive to make users happy, you’ll be developing good SEO.
Having A Content Marketing Strategy
Content is a very important tool to have these days. Pretty much every site you go to these days has a blog of some kind. It’s important that it stays updated and is filled with useful and insightful content. Most of all, engaging content too.
For that, you will need to lean on my own definition of engaging content a bit. Specifically, you want content that people want to be reading about. There are a handful of ways for you to do that:
- Hire a marketing team to put together a content marketing strategy for you.
- Do one yourself based on analytical data that you’ve gathered from your site.
Hiring a marketing team is easier and removes a lot of the guesswork. However, you’ll need to be able to swallow the expense and it could be pricey. Especially since when it comes to content, people’s preferences shift drastically so it’s not so much a one and done sort of deal.
For those looking to do their own content strategy, you’ll need analytical data. For that, you want to be sure that your site is hooked up to some analytics. I personally would recommend Google Analytics since they provide great depth and insight on your entire site.
From there, it’s a matter of looking at what’s getting the most shares. If you’re in a situation like me where people aren’t sharing much content, I’d go to measuring views.
At the end of the day, a content marketing strategy is an experiment of what’ll get people to engage the most with your content. There is no guarantee it’ll be successful, but it’s better to have a plan than devote hours to content that people might not even see or want to read about.
Grow Your Business With Social Media
Social media is a cornerstone to businesses. As much as social media can be harmful to individuals, it’s an important piece to businesses. It expands our reach for content as people can share the content on various platforms. It’s also a way for your business to connect with customers on a deeper level.
These days, the relationships people have with businesses play a critical role. No longer do people want business and customers to be separated by a corporate body. We see this time and again that people support businesses when businesses try to form relationships with those who engage with them.
All in all, businesses have become more community-oriented and being on social media can help foster that further.
While running social media can be complicated, the big thing is being able to post content consistently and making it engaging as well. Similar to the articles you’re publishing, this too is an experiment as well in terms of what’ll get people to engage with your content.
This was something I started to do but stopped due to recent events with this pandemic. I made a point of creating videos and attaching them to the articles that I wrote. I do plan to get back into videos in the very near future though. After all, video these days is incredibly powerful.
Even if you’ve never done video before, you don’t need much equipment starting out. The cameras on smartphones have reached a point these days where they are about as strong as a low-end point and shoot camera. Probably stronger if you’ve gotten the latest smartphones from this year or last year.
Beyond that, depending on where you’re recording, some microphones could help with the overall sound quality and from there you’re good to go.
Grow Your Business Through Online Communities
To drive home the fact that communities matter, having an online presence within those communities is important. You don’t need to be active on there 24/7, but generally using social media platforms for business purposes is helpful. Join Facebook groups related to your industry, same goes for Twitter. You can even try places like LinkedIn or Quora.
Being active and helpful is a way to build up further bonds with people and a great way to grow your business. That said, I would recommend you open up by providing guiding advice before posting links to your website. Unless the page is the one you own, it’s better to go that route before posting links.
Have An Affiliate Program
This one depends a lot on the business that you run but what this means is developing a referral marketing strategy. But wait, isn’t that like network marketing? Isn’t that illegal?
Well it’s a bit of a grey area when you think about in that way.
Affiliate programs are built around the idea that customers are bring you other people you can convert to customers. From there, you’re paying them some kind of reward. In most cases it’s a percentage of the sale.
The big difference between network marketing and referral marketing is where all of the sales are coming from. In most MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing), they rely on salespeople to recruit more salespeople so they can sell to those salespeople. It’s all one big loop and it’s pretty nasty.
Referral marketing is a little different as you’re selling products to more customer outside of the circle of salespeople. Your affiliates are more interested in selling the products on your behalf rather than built on recruiting others to then sell more to.
Another way to look at it is through the compensation. Network marketing companies have a pay structure where you even get a small amount from reps you didn’t even personally sign up. With referral marketing there is no structure. Whoever made the sale, gets the commission and it’s not passed down to any others.
How this helps your business though is that it creates a sales and marketing team without incurring heavy costs.
Again, every time they make a sale, they only get a small amount of the money of that sale. As long as you’re accounting for your other costs, you can see a lot of growth from this. Even if it’s cutting into your usual mark-up price, if the amount of sales increases you’ll see similar earnings at the least or an increase in sales.
FOMO or fear of missing out is another great way to grow your business in terms of sales and conversions. FOMO is a psychology term that means that people don’t want to be missing out on something. If something is in limited supply, people are more likely to want it.
An extreme case is Black Friday. It’s one of the few days where prices are lower and deals are absolutely insane. It’s the only time in the year where people will get to use and abuse those prices. As such, you’ll find droves of people and people camping outside stores for hours just to get a hand on those deals.
You can create that same sort of feeling by creating scarcity. Similar to Black Friday, these deals are scarce and people want to leverage them or else fear of missing out on amazing deals.
Whether you provide products or services, use of scarcity is clearly powerful. If you provide products, provide a limited supply of them or tell people you can only provide so much of a certain product. In terms of services, you can leverage it through your own time. For example, one way I can create scarcity is I only have so much time in the day to work on a select group of clients.
If you really love my writing and want me to write for you, you may have to act faster or miss out as someone else might hire me for a project that’ll demand more of my time. FOMO is good and creating some of it here and there is a great way in increasing your sales and thus grow your business.
Identify Your Core Audience
Another aspect to consider that I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t do is figure out their core audience. It’s the big answer to:
Who is your ideal customer? What are they like?
This is something so many entrepreneurs don’t know the answer to or provide some broad example. For example, according to my analytics, my reading audience is primarily male and roughly my age (28 at the time of writing this).
That information is way too vague for me to use. Especially if I’m trying to figure out what kind of content that age group is interested in. For many entrepreneurs who are at that point to, they’re not going to be able to figure out what is good and what’s bad.
So another way to grow your business is to spend time figuring that out.
To do that, analytics will help you out a lot. Google Analytics will provide some insight into those details and what people are reading. Through this data, you’ll be able to put together what your audience is like in a general sense.
Maybe my business related articles are getting a lot of views. This can suggest to me a lot of my audience is either entrepreneurs or people who want to start a business. Or maybe the articles on my health journey got some traction. In that case, maybe I should jump back to writing on that more since people are more interested in health and wellness.
The idea is to form a personality of what your customers are like. This allows you to better focus your efforts on all kinds of things. For me, it can determine what I should do to grow my email list and what type of content to write for the future. For others it can be what products to focus on or what kind of services to push and promote.
Obviously not everyone will fit into that specific archetype, but if you can get most of them and cater to them, you’ll grow your business more.
Charge A Fair Price
The last method to grow your business is to charge a fair price. Pricing is a tricky issue no matter the size of your business. My policy is to charge a fair and reasonable price. To do this, you need to be confident with your abilities and also indulge a little into comparison.
I remember a few years ago reading an infographic on price ranges for writers. I used that to determine the price that my work charges and haven’t changed it much then. It’s similar to a salaried job where it’s calculated based on the number of years worked and the overall quality of your work.
I think that speaking with other people within your industry or finding some pricing information will be very helpful for people. Particularly those providing services. Pricing products is a lot easier as it’s usually a mark-up percentage of the price that you paid for it. Services can follow a similar model as well for those that have multiple costs beyond labour.
All in all, as long as you are providing clear value and can point at several examples of that value, charging a fair price can be justified for customers. It’s all guesswork and there’s no clear formula for what price you ought to charge for.
Grow Your Business
There are many ways for you to grow your business beyond these methods. The key is to find the the methods that’ll move the needle the most. Looking back at my own business, I feel a lot of my growth has stemmed from using the methods that I’ve mentioned above.
There are definitely some that I could be using more of, but for the time being, the growth I’ve experienced is great so far. I believe that if you use these methods too, you’ll grow too.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon