Today’s post is a guest entry by Kayleigh Alexandra. Kayleigh is a writer for Micro Startups, your online destination for everything startup. She’s passionate about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.
Growing an online business is tricky. It’s a highly competitive market with little room to maneuver in, full of people promoting false promises of fast growth at a small cost. These types of solutions will only end up doing you more harm than good.
While it can be frustrating, the key to business growth is to have patience and stick with the more considered solutions that will end up teaching you a bit more about your business in the long run.
Here are a couple of tips on how to, safely, grow your online business.
Find Positive Influences
One of the first things you visualize when starting a business is your long-term goal. What we envision is often a business we would like to try and emulate. While finding your own niche is vital to earning success, having solid influences to draw inspiration from is a great way to guide your growth strategy.
Find examples of competitors and brand leaders you admire and see if any of their methods and ideas would suit your business model and aims. It can be anything from how they present their products to how they communicate with your audience. Although you should form your own path, taking influence from market leaders will help you to attract a similar audience who are familiar with their style and methods. Be careful not to copy leading brands outright though, as a user is more likely to go with the original than switch over to a cheap imitation. Instead, find small ways they can influence your decision making and growth.
Launching your business as a professional and efficient outfit is easier said than done, but it’s one of the best ways to establish yourself early and quickly grow your audience. If you aren’t operating at a professional standard, then users will take their business elsewhere. To grow quickly, create a sense of professionalism about your size and standing.
Make every step of your operation as professional as possible. For example, if you run an e-commerce store, make sure your customers are taken care of throughout the entire process, from landing on a product page to after the sale. This means investing in the user experience with tools such as LivePerson’s chatbots to guide them through the process and automated invoices like Wave sent directly to the customer after each purchase.
Professionalism is a combination of appearance and attitude. One without the other will turn off a user and make you look more incompetent than you actually are. Make sure the entire experience of visiting your website and working with your business is a positive one for anyone who visits your website, and you will see the residual growth.
Build a Core Audience
A dedicated audience is the key to finding success online. Ask any small business or Instagram influencer, and they’ll tell you their business growth relies on their most passionate fans. Building a core audience online is a vital step, but one that should be taken with caution.
Be careful not to cast your net too wide. Build an audience isn’t about trying to appeal to everyone you possibly can and see who comes along for the ride. It’s about finding a potentially dedicated group who will champion your brand to their friends and family.
One way to do that is to find target customer groups through the use of customer personas. From there, you can tailor your marketing strategy to win this engaged audience. It is more effective and worthwhile for a growing business to have a smaller, passionate group of advocates than to use expensive advertising to appeal to a broader, disengaged group.
Make Use of Social Media
Social media is such a powerful medium that if a growing business ignores it, they are just limiting their own potential. While a business’s impact on social media can vary from industry to industry, with some being more naturally suited to the platform, it should still be a part of any growing company’s marketing strategy to take advantage of its vast and engaged audience.
Use popular social media channels as a way to funnel people towards your website. You can do this from posting content, using free or paid advertising, and engaging with your communities to build a reputation. Using social media lets people know you exist and shows off your voice. If you use it right, it can be harnessed to grow your audience, develop brand loyalty, and promote new campaigns.
Create Quality Content
Remember when everyone told you you needed a blog on your website? Well, maybe it’s time to start using it. Create some videos and upload pictures as well. Content has the power to transform a website and develop an engaged audience. Filling your website with content is a great way to prepare it for growing your business.
It’s vital that all content on your business’ website, whether product descriptions of About Us pages, are of high-quality and engages the audience in a way that satisfies their need for information. Content is just as much about timing and presentation as it is the purpose and focus of the actual piece. Great content helps a business to establish its voice, demonstrate what it does and build a brand identity, giving color to the black and white lines that existed before it.
Up to 70% of all web traffic is mobile traffic now, meaning that if your website isn’t optimized for multiple platforms, you’re missing out on a whole host of potential visitors. Mobile isn’t just a benefit anymore; it should be at the forefront of your online business.
The first step is to have a mobile-friendly website. Make sure this version is as easy to read, click on and navigate as possible, with prominent text and large buttons suited for how people use the platform. People now shop, read, and sell almost exclusively on their phones, so as an online business, you need to trust they can use these functions and plan around them. A non-mobile friendly website will earn itself a bad rep amongst online audiences, which can sink your growth before it even begins.
Improve Your Website Speed
Nothing holds a website back more than its speed. Short-sighted design and poor content can be easily rectified and doesn’t have as big an impact on the overall user experience, but if a website is slow, it won’t even get the chance to retain a visitor.
Pages that take even 5 seconds to load see a significant increase in bounce rate, meaning your business and website has almost no time to impress. If your website is sluggish, the user will become frustrated and not just leave, but likely never come back. First impressions mean everything and are a crucial part of how you grow your business, so give your chance to make one.
Slow loading times can also have an impact on how your website ranks on Google. If Google’s crawl bots can’t read your webpages because the site is so slow, you will not rank highly on search results, and your hard work will mean nothing.
Growing a website isn’t as straightforward as following a few simple steps. It requires years of patience and slow development to attract an engaged audience. These tips will help your business and website get in the shape they need to be in to see the kind of growth you want to in the coming years.