Starting and growing an online small business can be a very lucrative way to earn a living. Even beyond the financial rewards, many people love the freedom it can offer. However, it is no secret that running an online business is challenging. There are so many other brands competing for internet users’ attention. From social media to business greeting cards, these tips will help you achieve success online.
1) Keep It Simple
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of overcomplicating their businesses. They add too many options or build out a lot of fancy functionality on their websites. The result is that visitors can get confused and lost.
Instead, try to keep your business and website simple. Make ordering your products or services as streamlined as possible. Focus your efforts on doing one or two things really well. There are plenty of ways to grow your business. The key to finding the right ones is to strive to make your business as simple as possible while still offering value to your customers. Mastering that balance is essential.
2) Do Your Own Thing
Don’t just copy other businesses. Consumers are buying from brands that they know and trust. If you are simply copying someone else, visitors to your website won’t get a clear sense of who you are and what your business is about. In other words, they won’t start to build those knowing and trusting relationships with you.
Of course, you can learn from what others are doing. You also don’t have to build everything from scratch. However, you should avoid being a clone. Try to bring your unique voice into every interaction you have with customers.
3) Offer High-Value Content
Why would someone who doesn’t know your products or services visit your website? For many small businesses, the answer is that they wouldn’t visit. This is a problem. Fortunately, the solution is simpler than you may think: offer them valuable, related content.
If someone is interested in camping, for example, he or she is more likely to be searching for tips on camping than for the tent your business sells. You can attract that person by writing and distributing content about camping. By attracting an audience with high-value content, you create leads for yourself that you can potentially sell to. The key is to create content that is truly valuable and not just a thinly-veiled sales pitch.
4) Add a Personal Touch
One of the challenges many businesses face online is that the whole process is very disconnected and remote. Consumers don’t always have strong reasons to choose one provider over another. Whereas in a brick-and-mortar store, a customer may know the owner, most online shoppers jump around between businesses.
You can overcome this issue by adding a more personal touch to your dealings. For example, consider sending business greeting cards to some of your biggest customers. It is an opportunity to show that there is a real person on the other end. That personal touch can be the difference between a one-time sale and a repeat customer.
5) Don’t Undervalue Yourself
Whatever you are selling, it is worth something. Many small business owners make the mistake of charging too little and undervaluing their offerings. They are nervous that no one will buy, so they cut down their prices to be as attractive as possible. Does that sound familiar? It is especially common with service providers.
Value your time, effort and product. Your pricing communicates a lot about what your product or service is worth. Sometimes premium pricing can be more convincing than budget pricing because it gives the impression of higher value. Find the right strategy for your business and believe in your value.
6) Focus on Your Target Audience
Identify a target audience that you are going to focus on. Returning to the earlier example, you may determine that your camping tent is best suited for intermediate campers. They are typically outdoorsy and consider their hobbies to be an important part of their identities. However, they don’t need features for intense survival in the most extreme settings.
Finding the right audience and targeting it consistently will help you to grow your business more successfully. There is no point in selling your tent to beginners if it is too expensive and feature-rich for their needs. Similarly, it won’t appeal to the most hardcore campers without the most advanced features. Target your marketing efforts and stay focused.
7) Diversify Your Outreach Efforts
Sometimes marketing channels disappear. For example, if your primary method of reaching new customers is through a social network, a user experience update may suddenly rob you of half your audience. Whenever someone else has control over your marketing channel, you need to diversify.
Consider adding an offline component to your marketing mix. Sending out direct mail postcards and business greeting cards to drive prospects to your website. This may sound strange for an online business, but it can help you to diversify your business growth strategy. That way you aren’t dependent on a single method of getting customers.
8) Get Social
Social media plays a huge role in the modern online world. While it shouldn’t be your sole source of getting customers, it is hard to ignore the importance of social media. The benefits are significant. Networks offer highly targeted advertising opportunities. They also let your customers share your business with their friends and families.
Social networks also offer a two-way communication channel. You can interact directly with your customers rather than just pushing out messages to them. This bidirectional marketing can help you build a stronger following of repeat customers.
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