Today, we’re going to talk through everything you need to know to make sure your business really thrives online.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics. Let’s look at the reasons why you should want to know how to grow your online business.
The Fundamentals of How to Grow Your Online Business:
- Why you should learn how to grow your online business
- How to find out what your ideal customer is interested in
- How to leverage skills and experience already within your business
- How to plan a strong content strategy
- How to get your content seen by your ideal customer
Part 1: Why learn how to grow your online business?
There are different reasons why you’d want to know how to grow your online business. Some of these include:
- To improve your online brand presence
- To reach new potential customers
- To increase awareness of your range of products and services
- To generate more revenue for your business
Luckily, knowing how to grow your online business can help you achieve not one, but all four of these goals! Let us explain…
How to grow your online business: 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 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 online business: reach new potential customers
There are over 3.6 billion internet users in the world. That’s a lot of potential people that you can tell about your business.
Whatsmore, the internet can help you reach new audiences like potential customers in different countries that might not walk past your store or office or even hear about your business through word of mouth.
How to grow your online business: increase awareness of your products and services
A part of knowing how to grow your online business is knowing how to use the internet to not only 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 of your products and services you offer each audience depending on relevancy. Using the Selz online store makes this really simple to do.
How to grow your online business: generate revenue
One of the most fruitful outcomes of knowing how to grow your online business 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 of knowing how to grow your online business is that you can use the internet to generate passive income. Passive income is your business continually generating money from something that you only created or invested in once but can sell multiple times. You can generate passive income online by selling digital products such as music, eBooks, videos, podcasts, software and 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.
Part 2: Start with customer research
When finding out how to grow your online business, it’s important that you don’t let loose on the internet with a one size fits all approach. This is particularly important to remember when targeting new audiences. For example, price might be the deciding factor to your target audience in one country whilst quality could be of utmost importance to those in another country. To know how to grow your online business, you need to find out what’s really important to your target audience. This requires some customer research.
How to grow your online business by getting to know your customers
Begin with a simple online search. Use Google to begin shaping an idea of what your typical 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, one thing to be wary of when collecting data is the source of your information; make sure you’re satisfied that the research is reliable.
A good way to gain insight is to 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 online behaviour. You might be surprised by what you find. For instance, 59% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram, compared to only 18% of 50-64 years olds. But, 72% of 50-64 year olds do use Facebook. So if you’re wanting to know how to grow your online business and your target audience are generally between 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 ‘personas’. This involves building a selection of different fictional characters that could be part of your target audience and inventing a narrative around them, including information about their life, behaviour, likes and dislikes, everyday challenges and desires for the future. Customer research is about generalising your target audience; after you’ve done this, creating personas can help you see your ideal customers as individuals again.
Discovering what your customers are talking about
Once you’ve found out which social media platforms are favoured 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 to knowing how to grow your online business 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 leg work yourself, you can use websites like answerthepublic.com. Simply search for a relevant keyword 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 that your target audience hang out; not just on social media. 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 are 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.
Part 3: Connect with your own brilliance
You want to know how to grow your online business in a way that’s as economical as possible in terms of the hours and resources you need to invest. That’s why the next step, after discovering what it is that your target audience wants and needs, is learning how you can meet those wants and needs with a strategy that’s achievable and attainable for your business. Part of finding out how to grow your online business is developing that strategy. Don’t panic; we’re here to offer some advice.
Your personal power paradigm
Your ‘personal power paradigm’ should be at the core of your strategy for how to grow your online business in a way that is manageable for you.
The personal power paradigm of your business will be made up from:
- The expertise of those within your business
- The experiences of those within your business
- The core mission and vision of your business
- The approach of your business
- The personality and tone of voice of your business
You can use your personal power paradigm to your advantage when exploring how to grow your online business as it’s what makes your business what it is. So when thinking about how to grow your online business, you should do an audit of your personal power paradigm and make sure you know how it sets you apart from your competitors. It’s important that you’re aware of the USPs of your business as lots of industries can be even more competitive online than offline.
How to grow your online business using your personal power paradigm
When thinking about what you need for how to grow your online business effectively, you should look at the resources you have within your business that can help you. This should inform your strategy.
For instance, we talked earlier about building your passive income as a means of helping with how to grow your online business 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? If not, but you have someone with experience of writing eBooks then consider selling eBooks instead. Thinking in this way can save your business money and time, as it saves you needing to outsource to a freelancer or invest in upskilling your team.
In the next part of this post about how to grow your online business, we’re going to focus on how you can grow your online business by using a strong content strategy. Throughout Part 4, you should have a think about the personal power paradigm of your business and how this can help inform your content strategy.
Part 4: How to grow your online business with a strong content strategy
So, you’ve done your customer research and you know what your target audience are 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.
The good news is that executing a strong content strategy will be mutually beneficial for both your ideal customer and for your business. And with Selz, it’s easy.
What’s in it for you?
It’s all about relationship building. Providing your target audience with online content and experiences that are interesting, relevant and useful to them will encourage them to think favourably 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 a customer of yours, giving them a positive experience online will help build their loyalty and encourage them to purchase from you again instead of looking to your competitors next time.
- We love to share our experiences with our family, friends and those around us. This 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 with how to grow your online business by increasing awareness of your business.
With Selz, we have a blog worked into every online store theme available. It’s easy to link your store to your blog, and draw customers in with your content.
How to grow your online business 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 becomes increasingly more related to your products and services.
When you do this, because your potential customer has already had a positive experience with you, they will be more susceptible to the content that’s directly about your business (e.g. 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 personalised to your target audience. Because of this, your content strategy should be informed by your customer research; thus will help with how to grow your online business.
How to grow your online business with content workflows
Part of developing a strong content strategy is planning the additional content you’ll follow up with in order to 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. At some point, make sure you include a link to your Selz online store so that your potential customers can convert to actual customers.
It’s also vital that when a reader gets to the end of your blog post or piece of content, there is a strong call to action that takes them through to another. This is how you will encourage your target audience through the funnel and will help with how to grow your online business. Selz allows you to add buy buttons and call to actions all throughout your site so you can place them within your content.
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 in having to follow up manually.
Next, let’s look at how you can build a list of potential customers to email.
Part 5: Building a contact list
Knowing how to grow your online business is knowing that you need to build a contact list of potential customers. Whatsmore, you need to start doing this as soon as possible.a
In this final part of our post all about how to grow your online business using Selz, we’re going to share some tips for collating a continually growing list of potential customers that you can then contact about your Selz online shop.
Offering 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 other similar posts from you. This is a really easy way to capture details, but make sure to follow up by sending new blogs.
If one of the reasons why you want to learn how to grow your online business is to reach new audiences, you should ideally have a blog subscription option in place before you start reaching out to new audiences. If not, you’ll be missing opportunities to collect the details of potential customers that you can then sell your products to using Selz.
Similar to blog subscriptions, you can offer other opt-ins online. These could include the option to sign up to receive news of things like offers, competitions or new product launches.
Additionally, when your customers orders from Selz, they’ll automatically be given the option to optin to your content. 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 gain 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 most commonly free to read online. You might find that your audience are unlikely to oblige if your posts become gated (particularly if they weren’t before).
Gated content is usually something that takes a business time to create and offers an audience great value, such as an eBook, a video or a podcast. Have a think about whether you already have any content that would be appropriate for you to gate.
How to grow your online business with a control group
Once you’ve started building a contact list, you could use it to test the waters with something new for your business like a promotion or a new product launch. Before rolling it out broadly online, you could gauge how your target audience are 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 online business.
That’s the end of our post all about how to grow your online business using Selz. Hopefully, you’ve learn a lot about how to grow your online business and are going away with lots of new ideas to put into practice.