Many small companies don’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars per month growing their online business. Usually, they’re looking for strategies to do more with less. The good news is that a lack of money doesn’t mean you can’t attract new online customers. In fact, there’s a lot you can do without spending a dime. All it takes is some creativity and a little elbow grease.
If your small business isn’t producing the revenue to retain a professional agency (yet), we’ve put together this handy resource to get you started. With these five tips, you’ll grow your online traffic, boost your sales, and ultimately take your business to the next level. Soon, you’ll be earning enough to hire an online agency to do it for you.
1. Implement SEO strategies to drive traffic
When you begin building your business online, one of the best ways to attract new customers is by showing up in internet search results—preferably at the top of the page. Some studies show that ranking on the first page can increase your website traffic by as much as 50%. However, in your website’s early days, achieving a high ranking on Google simply isn’t realistic. It takes serious time to build that online clout. For now, the only way to do it is by paying for PPC ads.
If you’d rather show up at the top of the page organically—and save your money—you’ll need to do two things: optimize your website for SEO and start posting new content regularly. While there are plenty of guides online to help you do this yourself, here are some of the highlights:
- Review and analyze your competitor’s keywords and phrases
- Choose which ones you want to rank for
- Use those keywords and phrases throughout your website (including page titles, headers, page copy, meta tags, etc.)
- Submit your website to search engines to make sure they start indexing it
2. Use content marketing to build trust
The importance of posting original content regularly cannot be overstated. For starters, it helps your organic search ranking. However, the value of top-quality content goes so much deeper. In fact, one study demonstrated that trust is a key component of consumer decision-making. Customers simply trust brands that publish original content over those that don’t.
There are numerous types of content you can create, including blogs, videos, white papers, ebooks, infographics, case studies, podcasts, and more. The key to success is finding out what works well for your particular niche. While some content can require a lot of research and resources to produce, the time spent can be well worth the effort. Not only will customers be more open to learning about your product or services, they’ll also be more eager to start a genuine conversation. And they’ll likely come back to your website again and again. Content can be the catalyst for a relationship that reaps long-term rewards.
3. Integrate social media to gain a following
Gaining a social media following is valuable, as long as you make it a habit to actively and frequently engage your audience. Think of it as one more tool in your arsenal of marketing tactics. You want current and potential customers to really get to know you and your brand—and you want to engage with them in a way that’s not all about making the next sale. Rather than constantly posting updates about your product or service, it’s a good idea to offer useful information related to your business. This will naturally attract their interest and make them curious about what you have to offer.
Before you jump in and create a profile on every social media website, find out which social networks are popular with your customer base or vertical. Then, post links to your original content, and even helpful articles and content that aren’t your own. Other ideas to keep followers engaged include running contests, offering exclusive promotions, posting polls, and posing questions to the community to encourage engagement.
4. Bring them back with email marketing
Although email marketing has been around for more than several decades, it’s still an effective method for keeping customers engaged and driving sales. While there are numerous messaging platforms, email is still a staple of every day life for most people. So if you don’t have an email list yet, it’s time to start building one.
To get good at email, start by testing the approach that works best for your customers. A weekly email can be seen as too much by some customers, while bi-monthly or monthly email works better for others. Your email messages also depend on your audience. If you want to use email to increase sales, test all kinds of campaigns, like holiday sales, limited-time specials, coupons, and first-time customers. And don’t forget that email doesn’t always have to be about revenue. Sometimes the most effective campaigns are those that simply remind customers that you’re there, you’re an expert resource, and you’re here to help when they’re ready.
5. Go mobile to boost sales
These days more than half of all internet traffic originates from a mobile device. Moreover, 57% of customers won’t recommend a business if its mobile website is poorly designed. So if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing out on a huge percentage of customers. Luckily optimizing your website for mobile shoppers isn’t very difficult—it involves installing specialized code on the backend or transferring your website to a newer template. Once that’s done, there will be a bunch of features that make it easier for mobile customers to navigate and make a purchase.
Here are a few other mobile-friendly website features to keep in mind:
- They don’t include flash videos.
- Their images are optimized with the correct sizes.
- They feature larger tap-able buttons. (Embedded links are often too tiny to click with fingers.)
- Their navigation menus are manageable. (Large drop-down menus fill the entire screen.)