Getting your business to grow can be tough. Here's a step-by-step guide on achieving growth online.
Bringing your business online and creating growth may seem daunting or confusing at first, but if you tackle your online growth bit-by-bit, it's actually more straightforward than you might think. Being online and having a notable presence (both via your website and on social media) can drastically increase sales and conversion rates if done right.
Here's a step-by-step guide on getting your business from the offline world and into the online one, and growing your presence along the way.
In the ever-growing landscape of the internet, it's imperative to represent your business effectively online, and the best way to do this is through owning a website. Considering that your website could be the first point of contact that customers may have with your brand, you'll want this experience to go smoothly, and you'll want your brand to be positioned as the relevant industry leader (in the eyes of your visiting customers, at least).
Most importantly, through effective and aesthetically pleasing design. We've scoured the internet helping small businesses improve aspects of their website design, and we've come across some pretty unenjoyable experiences.
38% of users will exit a website immediately if the layout or content is unattractive. Designing a website that's clear, easy to navigate and pleasant to look at (while also matching your brand's look and feel) is important from the very start, because if people are looking at your social media page or your store front, and go on your website only to be shown a completely different aesthetic, they'll get confused and will exit promptly.
Other things like interactive website features, or subtle animated elements (like text that fades in on scroll) can have a positive effect on how your customers experience your brand online.
Even if your website looks and feels beautiful, you still need to effectively get users to do certain things when they land on your site. This is done through something called a Call To Action, and it's usually seen in the form of a button or subscription/contact form.
In the screenshot above, you'll see a great example of a website's Call To Action. Using a lot of white space (i.e. not overcrowding the user's screen with stuff) helps to draw your customers' eyes towards the button you want them to press, in this case it's the 'Analyse Website' button. In your case, your Call To Action can be anything, like 'Subscribe to Our Newsletter' or 'Shop Now'. Whatever works best for your business's offerings.
Another noteworthy point you can see in the screenshot is the personalisation of the call to action message - in this case it's programmed to say the name of whatever city your customer's device is located in. This can be tricky to implement for a beginner, but it's just another fun way to maximise the effectiveness of your website's call to action.
We're obsessed with design and user experiences at Input Media, and we'd love to help with any design issues you've got. Just get in touch with us.
As I mentioned earlier, you want your whole brand experience (both online and offline) to be consistent for your customers. This also includes your brand messaging, your tone & language when speaking to customers, and even comes down to the keywords that you hit consistently throughout your website.
(Example: If you offer tennis lessons for kids, then make sure your messaging, tone & language are soft, caring, understanding and clear so that both the kids and parents browsing your site know that you're compassionate with the kids you work with, and also that you're trustworthy and have a lot of expertise in your field.)
You can see in the example above that our tone here at Input Media is a friendly one (note the simple, softly coloured cartoon girl on the right) and our messaging and use of language is (we hope) both inspiring and clear/concise. This messaging, its tone and its use of language are all echoed throughout our website because we want to inspire and help small businesses to thrive in the online world.
Using the right tone and language throughout your website and keeping it consistent is important, and lets your customers really get a feel for what your brand offers and also what it stands for. It's hard for people to relate to a brand that they can't fully understand.
'Content', in this context, means any form of media that engages your audience or illicits a response from customers. This can be anything from long-form content (like blog posts, news articles, white papers or e-books) to other types of productions like infographics, videos and tutorials, webinars or live Q&A's.
It sounds straightforward enough to post all this media, but you can't just post whatever you feel like at a given time - your business needs to establish an effective, consistent content strategy that feeds into the core values and beliefs of your business. For example, if you sell horse-riding equipment, there's no use in releasing a blog post about the world's fastest cars, or uploading a video explaining how to tie a tie.
You'll also need a strategy regarding the marketing of this content, and how you want it to be received by your audience. According to Hubspot, almost 70% of businesses in 2020 are using content marketing strategies.
When devising your content strategy, there are a few key questions to ask yourself before you begin creating or planning anything. Those questions are as follows:
What are the demographics, behaviours and thought patterns of the people you're trying to target with your content? Are you trying to target more than one audience with your content? If so, maybe you might consider a different tone or use of language for each audience, in order to engage each set of people effectively.
Are you offering valuable, informative content that seeks to help your customers use your product? Or are you trying to inspire prospective customers, so that they feel more comfortable when it comes to buying your product? Sometimes you'll be doing both, and that's okay as long as you know what exactly your content is gong to offer to your audience.
Once you know this, it'll be easier to create content centred on that core message.
Are you planning to engage more with your audience than your competitors do? Or if the competition is more serious in the way they communicate with their audience, then are you going to try and lean more towards humour? These are the types of differentiations that it helps to know beforehand, because you can put emphasis (if needed) on these differences when it comes down to sharing content.
Another thing you need to know is what social media platforms your target audience is using most, as this can have a direct impact on the format or tone of your content. For example, you might decide to post a gif with hashtags on Twitter, or a video with a short description and title on Facebook. You'll need to know which social media platforms you're going to use, so that you can plan how best to utilise that platform's tools.
If you've got the time, here's a super helpful video walkthrough by The Futur on how to decide what content you're going to post on Instagram.
It's no secret that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are powerhouses for business growth in the modern world.
You know what this means, right?
It means that with an effective social media strategy, you can use the power of the people to leverage massive amounts of growth for your business, and it's highly scalable (meaning you can produce much more growth depending on how much time or money you want to set aside for it).
You should start by researching the types of customers you're looking to target, and deciding which social media platform they're using most. (Example: If you're trying to target small business owners, maybe you can find those types of people more easily on Linkedin.)
While you can theoretically leverage all platforms at once, it's best to start with the platform you know your target audience frequents the most.
Once you've chosen a social media platform to create your business's presence on, you'll have to create a business page. Most platforms will have an easy step-by-step guide on how to do this (Here's how to create a business page on Facebook).
When you've got your business page up and running, the general idea is that you want to grow your audience, and fill it with people who are valuable to your brand, but who also value your brand enough to engage in your content.
I've seen countless brands with thousands of followers but a very low engagement rate, which isn't the way you want to go about your business growth on social media. What's much more effective is growing an organic audience of people who genuinely enjoy interacting with your brand, whether that's by commenting on your posts or asking questions in your messages (or DM's).
The ideal way to build this type of authentic, engaged audience is by posting valuable content that both looks appealing and also arouses interest in customers, both existing and new.
You should aim to post content like the screenshot above; content that gives people a piece of valuable information or entertainment. It's better if you keep your posts short and sweet (you don't want potential customers getting bored) and it helps if your image or video posts are designed in an aesthetically pleasing way, so it's easier on the eyes of your target audience.
Your growth on social media platforms, if done correctly, can have a huge effect on your website's traffic and your business's overall growth and success. But just remember, numbers don't mean anything if your audience isn't engaging with your content. It's much better to have 100 highly engaged and interested followers than to have 1000 uninterested followers who never leave likes, shares or comments.
Consider this an extension to what I talked about in the point above.
You've got customers, and your customers are on social media.
Constant, valuable connection with your customers and clients online is paramount to building an authentic, powerful brand image and reputation, and it's a surefire way of getting your audience to really connect with (and even become loyal to) your brand. If you can get your communication system right and engage with your customers consistently, you're much more likely to be referred by a friend, which just means more business for you.
Here's a few ways that your brand or business can effectively connect with customers online:
I've found through experience, both personal and professional, that people just love giving their opinions about stuff online. You can use this to engage with your customers in a way where they're likely to respond, for example by using interactive elements such as polls, surveys or just asking a question via a post.
Asking for customer opinions on various topics is a great way to show your customers that you're on the same level as them and that you want to connect. It's also a simple yet effective way of gathering data that you can then implement into your work to improve customer experience. More on that below.
Your customers will likely have questions, praises or complaints about your brand, your products or your services, and they'll probably contact you about these via social media or your website.
Staying on top of customer concerns and inquiries is important in establishing your brand as helpful and considerate, and also ensures that your customers are happy and feel supported.
An unhappy customer can be a dangerous weapon and can lead to negative reviews, reverse referrals (example: "Stay away from that brand, they did X thing and it caused Y problem.") and a general dislike to your brand. On the flip side, turning an unhappy customer into a happy, satisfied one is a powerful way to retain customers over time and even create brand loyalty and advocacy.
Letting your customers know that you appreciate their business and their engagement with your brand is a great way to keep them happy, and can help build an image around your brand as one who cares for and is compassionate towards their audience.
If your customer buys a product or service, and gives a good review or posts online about your product in a positive way, be sure to take the time to thank them and let them know that you're happy to help them and you're glad they're happy too.
Your customers (a lot of the time) know best, because they're the ones using your products or services.
If you get valuable feedback on how your brand could improve on something, be sure to take the time to read into it and evaluate if changing a few things could help you achieve what the customer is looking for. You can also receive feedback via polls or surveys.
(Example: You sell toy cars for kids, and a parent messages you saying her child almost choked on a small part that flew off your product. They suggest that you should try and avoid using small, detachable parts on your toys. This is a valuable piece of feedback, and you could put it into practice in future.)
Implementing your customers' feedback is a great way to give back and to show your appreciation of your audience's engagement with your brand.
Website traffic data, customer statistics and the analysis of these things can all lead to highly influential discoveries on your business and how your customers engage with your business.
There's a vast assortment of online data analytics tools, the forefront of which is Google Analytics. These tools offer a variety of interesting metrics and insights into how your customers interact with your brand online, and can be used to highlight errors in the way you do business, or even opportunities for growth.
Customer analysis can help you make more informed decisions in several areas of your business; for example, it can help you decide on your optimal product price, your most valuable social media channel or even which web pages you could improve to increase customer conversion rates.
If you own a website, you can connect it (for free) to a Google Analytics account. From there, Google will supply you with an array of valuable information about your customers and web traffic, from things like your customers' most common locations, down to even the most intricate details like which mobile network your customers are using when they land on your site.
Data analysis can be a tricky thing to get the hang of, and if you're having trouble with anything in this department, you can send us a message and let us know how we can help. We're well versed in all things related to customer data analysis, and we can give you useful insights or tips on how best to approach and utilise this huge database of valuable customer information.
Using this aggregated and organised customer data, you can position and alter your business efforts in a way that's optimised for the type of traffic your website is getting (or trying to get). For example, if you find that most of your audience is coming from the USA or the UK, but you only deliver your products to Ireland, you can use this data to adjust your advertising campaigns online to only target Irish people.
There are other analytics tools you can use that offer different ways of looking at your data, or that target different types of data altogether. Facebook analytics is another example of a powerful analytics tool, and can be used to understand your audience on Facebook or Instagram.
Data analytics is one of the most powerful tools in existence right now when it comes to making informed business decisions, and definitely shouldn't be overlooked if you've got a website or social media presence.
The most important asset to your business right now is your online presence. It's negligent in this day and age to not have an attractive and easy to use website for your business. What's equally important is your social media presence and how you leverage it to connect with and inspire your customers and prospects.
Before you bring your website or social media pages anywhere, you'll need to devise a suitable content strategy, which will keep you aligned with your business's core message and goals while you create content online. Just remember that the best types of content are informative or entertaining, and also look pleasing to the eye. Also, being authentic is the best way to achieve growth both on social media and in every other channel.
Communication with your audience is key to creating lasting relationships and building brand trust and loyalty. Help your customers when they've got an inquiry or complaint, and show appreciation when they say positive things about you online.
Once you've got your online channels operating effectively and working in sync, you can use customer and audience data from Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics (or any other similar tool) to make more informed decisions on things like an optimal price for your products, or where your most valuable customers are coming from.
Click here and let us know how our team can help your business, whether that means getting you online or updating a previous, dated website that's been slowing you down.
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