It can be hard to scale an online small business, but if you craft a well-thought out plan, use the right tools and keep it simple, you’ll be on your way. If you’re seeking consistent growth, review the 12 steps below.
1. Know your target audience
No one can afford to target every consumer. That’s why it’s so important to know exactly who you’re selling to. Once you’ve nailed down your target market, it will be much easier to determine how and where to market your products or services.
The first step is to take a look at your current customer base. Look for common characteristics and interests and dig into why they buy from you. Another strategy is to look at your competition. Who are they targeting? Is there an audience you could be reaching but aren’t?
2. Choose the right optimized platform to host your website
If you want to build an effective website that ranks on Google, you need to choose the best SEO website platform. However, there are so many platforms and website builders available, it can be overwhelming. Get pros, cons, costs and other details about 11 popular platforms here: Which SEO Website Builder Is the Friendliest for Search Engines?
3. Create high-quality content
Content marketing is creating relevant and engaging content that speaks to your target audience and encourages them to return to your site. Blogging is one of the most popular kinds of content marketing for small businesses but it's not the only type. You can offer videos, infographics, case studies, checklists, interviews, how-to tutorials and more.
To learn more about content marketing, visit the SmartBiz Blog: Small Business Content Marketing.
4. Personalize the experience
Although your small businesses probably doesn’t have the budget, staff, or resources that large corporations have, you can make up for it with marketing personalization efforts.
According to an Infosys study, 86% of shoppers say marketing personalization has at least some impact on what they purchase with 25% reporting that personalization significantly influences their purchases. Personalization can take several forms from an email with the customers name in it to targeted advertising. For inspiration, check out this recent Forbes article: 5 Brands Taking Personalized Marketing To The Next Level.
5. Embrace feedback
Even if it’s negative, there’s a lot to be learned from customer feedback. Don’t sit back and wait for comments – go get them! That could mean directing customers to review sites like Google Reviews or Yelp, sending out a short email survey, having old fashioned comment cards if you have a bricks and mortar store.
We cover this topic in detail on the SmartBiz Blog: The Best Ways Small Businesses Can Gather Customer Feedback.
6. Rethink logistics
According to Startup Advisor Drew Hendricks, internet-based businesses need to pay attention to online logistics like website speed, security and infrastructure. He writes that, “These aspects of online business translate to better search engine visibility, resulting in more traffic, leads, brand credibility and sales.”
7. Create unique deals online
Get creative! Make an online deal that addresses a specific customer need, can be successful at any time of year and sets you apart from the competition. You’ll drive customer loyalty to support full-price sales throughout the year.
8. Invest in email campaigns
Email marketing is frequently cited as giving the best ROI of any online marketing efforts – returning an average of $44.25 in revenue for every $1 spent. There are several types of email you can send including promotional emails for special offers or sales, seasonal messages or loyalty programs.
For more information, read this article on the SmartBiz Blog: Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses Owners.
9. Become data driven
Data-driven marketing is analyzing existing data to understand what you might be missing and how to apply it to your marketing campaigns. The overall goal is to discover trends within your customer base and existing marketing campaigns.
For an easy-to-understand article about data-driven marketing that includes real-world examples, read Why Your Small Business Needs Data-Based Decision-Making from the Capterra Blog.
10. Leverage social media
If your target audience is active on social media, you’d better be there too! The first step is to determine what you want to get out of a social media presence for your business. Do you want to create brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, boost engagement or build a community?
Once you’ve nailed down your goals, you can choose the right platforms and start creating content. The SmartBiz Blog has a guide to get you started: How to Quickly Master Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses. If you don’t have the bandwidth, consider hiring social media consultant. This post can help you launch a search: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist.
11. Make it easy for customers to reach your business
When your customers have a problem, they want fast solutions. When they have a question, they want fast answers. Being able to quickly and easily find your contact information is huge step toward making that happen. Don’t make your customers go on an epic hunt to find your contact information on your website, social media channels or in an email.
12. Keep it simple
As your small business expands, it’s not always easy to keep your systems and processes simple. The more your business grows, the more tasks accumulate that can get in the way of performance. There’s a tendency to over-complicate a business, so resist that temptation. Focus on being the best at what you do.
If you’re running a small business, the SmartBiz Small Business Blog has a wealth of information tailored just for you. From business technology to employee management to marketing and everything in between, you can find information and inspiration you need to run a successful business.