Today, we’re going to talk through everything you need to know to make sure your growing business really thrives online.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we want to start with the basics.
The Fundamentals of How to Grow Your Business Online
1. Why it’s important to grow your business online
2. Find out what interests your ideal customer
3. Leverage skills and experience that are already a part of your business
4. Plan a strong content strategy
5. Get your ideal customer to see your original content
Why it’s important to grow your business online
Let’s look at the reasons why you want to know how to grow your online business. There are different reasons that it’s important to grow your business online. Some of these include:
- Improving your online brand presence
- Reaching new potential customers
- Increasing awareness of your range of products and services
- Generating more revenue for your business
Luckily, growing your business online can help you achieve not one, but all four of these goals! Let us explain…
How to Grow Your Business Online: Improve Your Brand Presence
Perhaps your business is new and your brand is relatively unknown, or maybe you already have a strong brand and you want to establish and maintain your business as the market leader in your industry.
Either way, you need to know how to grow your business online to make sure that your business is present, discoverable, and possibly even dominating the online space when people are searching for products and services like yours. This will help you improve your brand presence both online and offline as word spreads.
How to Grow Your Business Online: Reach New Potential Customers
There are over 3.6 billion internet users in the world. That’s a lot of people that you can tell about your online business.
What’s more, the internet can help you reach new audiences like potential customers in different countries that might not walk past your store or hear about your business through word of mouth.
How to Grow Your Business Online: Increase Awareness of Your Products and Services
A part of growing your business online is knowing how to use the power of the internet through SEO and social media. This is not only to increase awareness of your brand but also to increase awareness of your different products and services. You can use the internet to reach multiple audiences and tailor which products you offer each audience depending on relevancy. Selz makes this simple for your growing business with options to optimize search for every product you add to your store.
How to Grow Your Business Online: Generate Revenue
One of the most fruitful outcomes of knowing how to grow your business online is the uptick in revenue that you’re likely to see. If you improve your brand presence, reach new potential customers and increase awareness of your products and services, it follows that you’re likely to make some new sales.
Another benefit is that you can use the internet to generate passive income. Passive income is when your business continually generates money from something that you created once but can sell multiple times. You can generate passive income online by selling digital products like music, Ebooks, videos, podcasts, software, and Photoshop templates. The more you grow your business online, the faster your passive income is likely to build.
Now that we’ve covered why you should want to know how to grow your online business, we can move onto the first step in growing your business using the internet. If you’re going to reach more of your potential customers online, you need to make sure you are meeting their needs. Let’s talk about how to find out what your customers really want.
Find out what interests your ideal customer
When finding out how to grow your business online, it’s important that you don’t let loose on the internet with a one size fits all approach. This is particularly important when targeting new audiences. For example, the price might be the deciding factor to your target audience in one country while product quality could be most important to those in another country. As you grow your online business, you need to find out what’s really important to your target audience. This requires some customer research.
Get to Know Your Customers
Begin with a simple online search. Use Google to begin shaping an idea of what your ideal customer looks like. There’s a wealth of information available online with plenty of data, facts, and figures to help you make generalizations across your target audience. That being said, be wary of the source of your information when collecting data and make sure you’re satisfied that the research is reliable.
A good way to gain insight – find out where your ideal customers hang out online. Pick a fact that applies to your target audience, their age range for example, and search for answers to their buyer behavior. You might be surprised by what you find.
For instance, 59% of 18 to 29 year olds use Instagram, compared to only 18% of 50 to 64 year olds. But, 72% of 50 to 64 year olds do use Facebook. So, if you want to know how to grow your business online and your primary target audience is 50-64 years old, it might not be worth your while to invest time in using Instagram, but you could consider a strategy for Facebook.
Once you’ve gathered some basic information about your target audience, you can use it to create buyer personas. Buyer personas are different fictional characters that could be part of your target audience and as you build them you invent a narrative around each buyer persona. This includes information about their day-to-day, behavior, likes and dislikes, challenges, and desires for the future. Customer research is about generalizing your target audience; after you’ve done this, creating buyer personas can help you see your ideal customers as individuals again.
Discover What Your Customers are Talking About
Once you’ve found out which social media platforms are favored by your target audience, you can use social listening tools to set up streams. Instead of spending hours trawling through various social media feeds, a stream will collect every post that includes a certain keyword.
As we’ve discussed, a key aspect of knowing how to grow your business online is knowing how to meet the needs of your target audience. If you think about keywords that are relevant to your business and set up streams, you’ll gain valuable insight into the opinions of your ideal customers in a way that’s time-effective for your business. Consider using Hootsuite if you’re after a free social listening tool.
If you don’t want to do any of the legwork yourself, you can use websites like Answer the Public. Simply search for a keyword that is relevant to your business and you’ll be served up a list of questions that have been asked on the internet relating to that keyword.
Additionally, there are likely to be other places online besides social media that your target audience hangs out. If it’s relevant to your business, check out reviews on Ecommerce websites like Amazon to discover the types of products your ideal customers like and what gets them grumbling.
Another great source of information is internet forums – for a truly honest opinion, there’s nothing like hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth! Knowing what your target audience really think is what’s going to help you know how to grow your online business.
Leverage skills and experience that are already a part of your business
You want to know how to grow your business online in a way that is as economical as possible in terms of the hours and resources you need to invest. That’s why the next step is connecting with your own brilliance. Leverage how you can meet those wants and needs with your current skills, and a strategy that’s achievable and attainable for your business. Part of finding out how to grow your business online is developing that strategy. Don’t panic, we’re here to offer some advice.
Your Personal Power Paradigm
Your personal power paradigm (PPP) should be at the core of your strategy and make the transition online more manageable for you.
The personal power paradigm of your business will include:
- The expertise of those within your business
- The experiences of those within your business
- The core mission of your business
- The approach of your business
- The personality and voice of your business
You can use your PPP to your advantage because it’s what makes your business what it is. So when thinking about how to grow your business online, you should do an audit of your personal power paradigm and make sure that you know how it sets you apart from your competitors. It’s important that you’re aware of the USPs of your business because many industries are more competitive online than offline.
How to Grow Your Business Online Using Your PPP
When thinking about how to grow your business effectively, your PPP should inform your strategy.
For instance, we talked earlier about building your passive income and if you’re thinking of creating digital assets to sell, you should first audit your business. If you want to create videos, do you have someone that has video editing skills? Maybe not, but you have someone with experience of writing eBooks, so consider selling eBooks instead. Thinking this way can save your business money and time, as it saves you from outsourcing to a freelancer or the investment in upskilling your team.
In the next part of this post about how to grow your business online, we’re going to focus on developing a strong content strategy. Think about the personal power paradigm of your business and how this can help inform your content strategy.
Plan a strong content strategy
So, you’ve done your customer research and you know what your target audience is asking for online. Now, you could provide them with the type of online content and experiences they want just to be nice… but that’s not really the way to run a profitable business online.
The good news is that executing a strong content strategy will be mutually beneficial for both your ideal customer and for your business.
What’s In It for You?
Relationship building. Providing your target audience with online content and experiences that are interesting, relevant, and useful to them will encourage them to think favorably about your business. This means that:
- If they’re not ready to buy your products and services immediately, they are likely to think of your business when they do want to purchase. For example, they could think: “I really need a new set of kitchen knives, what was that online cookery store that sent me the funny blog about the most efficient way to chop vegetables?”
- If they are already loyal customers, giving them a positive experience online will help build their dedication and encourage them to purchase from you again.
- We love to share our experiences with our family, friends and those around us. This sentiment applies to both good and bad interactions. You want your target audience to feel compelled to tell others about your content or the online interaction they had with you. This will help grow your business online by increasing awareness of your business.
With Selz, we include a blog with every online store theme. It’s easy to link your store to your blog and draw customers in with your content.
How to Grow Your Business Online with Inbound Marketing
This thinking is informed by the inbound marketing methodology. Inbound marketing is all about sharing content to attract qualified potential customers. Once you’ve provided helpful content to your potential customer, you can keep providing more helpful content.
This additional content should nurture your potential customer and move them from the awareness stage of the inbound marketing funnel towards interest and eventually conversion. You can do this with content that will eventually be more directly related to your brand.
When you do provide useful content, because your potential customer has already had a positive experience with you, they will be more open to the content that’s directly about your business (like a case study or testimonial) and will also be more likely to purchase your products and services.
Inbound marketing is all about providing relevant content that is personalized to your target audience. Because of this, your content strategy should be informed by your customer research, this will help as you decide how to grow your business online.
Grow Your Business Online with Content Workflows
Part of developing a strong content strategy is planning the editorial calendar, the schedule of content that will move your target audience along the inbound marketing funnel. Sketch what your content workflow will look like, complete with information like the types of content you’ll use and when. Make sure you include a call to action, like a link to your Selz online store, so that your potential customers can convert to actual customers. This is how you will encourage your target audience through the funnel and will help with how to grow your online business. Haven’t started building an online store with Selz yet? Sign up for a 14-day free trial today.
If you plan to follow up on a piece of content using email, you might want to consider enlisting the help of a marketing automation tool to create automated workflows that will distribute the content for you. This could save your business valuable time.
Build a contact list
Knowing how to grow your business online is knowing that you need to build a contact list of potential customers as soon as possible.
In this final section of our post about how to grow your business online, we’re going to share some tips for collating a growing list of potential customers that you can contact about your online store.
Offer Blog Subscriptions and Opt-Ins
Get started by collecting some low hanging fruit. If you’ve already written blog posts, revisit each of them and add an option somewhere on the page for the reader to subscribe to receive more posts from you. This is an easy way to capture details, but make sure to follow up.
If one of the reasons why you want to learn how to grow your business online is to reach new audiences, you should have a blog subscription option in place before you start reaching out. Otherwise, you’ll be missing opportunities to collect the details of potential customers.
Similar to blog subscriptions, you can offer other opt-ins online. These could include the option to sign up to receive news about special offers, competitions, or new product launches.
Selz helps you automatically build your customer list. You can keep your customer database within Selz, or you can have it automatically export your customer list into an email service provider like MailChimp or AWeber.
The Power of Gated Content
Gated content is a great way to get contact details. It’s basically any content that requires your audience to give you something first in order to access it. Often, gated content will require a first name, last name and email address to be unlocked.
Just bear in mind that gates are unlikely to work on your blog posts as blogs are usually free to read online. You might find that your audience is unlikely to keep reading if your posts become gated (particularly if they weren’t before).
Gated content is usually something that takes time to create and offers an audience great value, such as an eBook, a video or a podcast. Think about whether you already have any content that would be appropriate for you to gate.
Grow Your Business Online with a Control Group
Once you’ve started building a contact list you can use it to test the waters with a promotion or a new product launch. Before rolling it out broadly online, you could gauge how your target audience is likely to respond by initially sharing it with your contact list. This would effectively be another piece of customer research and will provide you with insight to help you learn how to grow your business online.
We hope this article about how to grow your business online was helpful, and that you are going away with lots of new ideas to put into practice.
Which ideas did you like best? Leave us a note in the comments.