The following is a guest post by Victoria Greene.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, you’ll find a wealth of articles covering how new business owners can get their brand off the ground. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed.
As anyone who has tried their hand at entrepreneurship will tell you, in the world of successful online business it’s all about growth.
Yet growing your business is not something that happens overnight, and it isn’t something you can simply throw capital at and hope for the best.
In fact if you hope to win over investors, there’s a good chance that they will want to see not only your plans for the long-term development of your business, but also growth projections based on that strategy.
So to give you a helping hand with this critical part of your marketing approach, here are the hows and whys of growing your online business efficiently, effectively, and organically.
Recommended reading: How I Plan to Encourage Entrepreneurship in South Dakota in 2018 and Beyond
1. Know Your Audience
They key to rapid growth is reaching the right people, and inspiring them to spread the word on your behalf. To do this, you need to know your audience inside out. What are their interests? Why does your brand matter to them? When are they online, and how are they using that time?
Now, you probably already have a fair idea of the answers to those questions. After all, they will have been important when you determined your niche and began to think about your branding strategy. But it is important to revisit those questions periodically, so you can be certain that you are still targeting the right people, and doing so in the right manner.
Depending on the channels you use most frequently, tools such as Twitter for Business and Facebook Analytics can provide you with invaluable demographics data which can inform your future decisions.
2. Curate and Create Quality Content
Your online business is more than just a sales machine. Your customers don’t want to engage with a faceless enterprise that fails to engage with their wider needs and interests. So to show that you are in touch with your audience and that you want to offer more than the core premise of your business, you need to create a strong content schedule.
Not all of this content needs to be created by you, as long as it is relevant and useful to your audience. Curating content is a fantastic way to flesh out your online profiles, without having to invest all of your efforts into creating original content yourself.
Just be sure to be selective about what you share, and always add value to these posts by including your own thoughts or insights about the content in question. For your content to be shareable, it needs to be unique and interesting, and to offer something that equivalent content does not.
3. Nurture Existing Leads
Growth isn’t just about generating new leads, but also developing those you have already acquired. The ability to efficiently convert leads is invaluable, but in addition to directly generating sales from these leads, by building and maintaining a relationship with your customers, you increase the chance of inspiring them to spread the word about your business.
Reach out to former customers, send reminders to those who left your store before completing checkout, and consider offering a discount or similar offer to encourage customers to return, or refer others.
Maintaining existing leads is every bit as important as generating new ones if your aim is growth. Email marketing is one of the best ways of retargeting your existing customers and not just maintaining, but developing your existing leads.
MailChimp is one of the finest examples of email marketing that you’ll find on the market and if you’ve used an online store builder to create your website, you’ll be able to seamlessly add it to your business. Check out this brilliant tutorial to see how MailChimp can help you make the most of your leads…
4. Watch the Numbers
To fully optimize your growth strategy, you need to have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. This means monitoring KPIs such as web traffic, bounce rate, cost per click and per conversion, to name just a few.
There are many ways to do this, from checking out the analytics data on your social media accounts, to measuring important metrics on your website itself. This should be done continuously, not just intermittently, as you need to be able to detect immediately when trends begin to shift.
If numbers suddenly drop off, or even spike unexpectedly, you need to know why, so you can react accordingly. Perhaps one of your marketing campaigns has fallen flat and you need to make amends. Or perhaps a new product has suddenly exploded in popularity, in which case you need to capitalize on that hype.
The more you understand about the digital interactions of your audience with your brand, the more effectively you can cater to their needs and ensure that your content is always hitting the right notes.
5. Integrate and Diversify
You hear all about the 80-20 rule and it can be tempting to focus all of your efforts on just one strategy. Yet while there may be one route that proves more successful for you than others, why sacrifice that other 20 percent?
A diversified strategy means growing your business by developing multiple areas of your business.
- Investing in products and services that have previously proven successful.
- Optimizing existing sales and marketing strategies.
- Developing new products or services according to market needs.
You can also be diverse in your marketing channels. Once you know where and how your audience prefers to consume content, you should focus on developing your presence across those channels. But rather than handling each channel in isolation, integrate your approach, and maintain a consistent, unified voice across all channels.
This will add substance and structure to your marketing efforts, making your brand more readily recognizable, and increasing your opportunities for growth by expanding the reach and impact of your brand.
6. Engage With Your Customers
Even with reams of great content, innovative products, and stellar web design, you will eventually find that your growth begins to slow. This is because what your audience wants above all is engagement. They want to know that there is personality behind the brand; someone they can connect with, who can answer their questions and acknowledge their feedback.
The other side to this is accountability. When someone has a complaint, or something goes wrong, your audience wants to know that you can be relied upon to respond in an honest and effective manner. Remember, everyone makes mistakes; it’s how you handle them that counts.
As with most aspects of a new business, growth can be slow at first, but don’t let this discourage you. The tips above will set you on the right path, and from there it’s all about the passion and commitment you put into your marketing. And the best thing is, the more your business expands organically, the faster it will continue to do so.
As your brand grows in familiarity and popularity, your content will become inherently more recognizable, shareable, and relevant. Just be sure to maintain quality at a high standard, and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry at all times.