3 Low-Cost Ways to Grow Your Small Business in 2019
February 12, 2019
You’ve worked hard to get your business where it is today.
You think you’ve done everything “right” to help your business grow. You’ve spent countless hours developing products. Every extra dollar has been sunk into boosting your marketing efforts to get your name out there.
Now, you’re ready to take your business to the next level. However, you’re not sure if you want to take the chance on investing more of your hard earned cash.
Here are 3 low-cost things you can do to build your business into everything you want it to be in 2019:
Write Great Content
We know, we know. All the experts are touting that “Content is king!” for small business websites.
But it’s repeated over and over because it’s true.
The thing that gets users to your B2B, local service, or eCommerce website is content. Whether they’re searching for your product or service, or they have a question that’s answered on your website; a new user is rarely going to land on an unknown website without content bringing them there.
Here are some ways your website can create and leverage great content to gain exposure and increase traffic:
Do Your Research
Before creating any content for your website, from blog posts to your homepage, take a step back and do some research.
Look at what other companies in your industry are doing, especially your direct competitors. See what makes their content successful and what falls flat.
If you can, utilize keyword research tools or content popularity tools, such as SEO Powersuite to really dig into the information you won’t get just by looking at the front-facing website.
With these tools, you’ll be able to see what search terms are bringing people to your website and those of your competitors, and use those keywords to build your content. It’s no use creating a blog post for something no one’s searching for - It’s a waste of your time and money!
Many people think blogging is just another opportunity to explicitly sell their products or services to customers.
While those types of blog posts do have their place, the main purpose of your business blog should be to inform and educate your users.
Are you an attorney? Create blog posts answering common questions you receive from clients, such as whether they should call their insurance company right after a car accident, or how child support is calculated in your state.
If your eCommerce business offers hair care products, blog posts with tips for caring for different hair types and textures can prove valuable to your customers.
For a local service provider such as a home renovation contractor, blogging about tips for setting a budget for your home remodel may gain the trust of your potential clients.
If you’re a B2B business, such as a software as a service provider, creating blog posts about how to improve efficiency and profitability in your target market can be helpful.
Don’t think of your blog as an extended advertisement; think of it as your opportunity to open a mini-school for all the subjects and information surrounding your business.
Write for Your Audience
Whether you’re writing an informative blog post or adding your new offering to your main website, always write with your audience in mind.
Many companies spend a ton of time on their websites talking about what they do, what they offer, how long they’ve been in business, etc. In reality, their audience just wants to know how the business can help them.
Flipping your mindset when creating content means you’ll be writing directly to the people who will buy your products and services, making their experience on your website better and improving their overall view of your business.
Ditch Boring CTAs
Calls-to-action are the icing on top of the cake and a weak, boring CTA is similar to adding salt instead of sugar: It turns customers away.
Think of your CTA as your last-ditch effort to get a user to buy your product or call for a consultation. What would motivate you to buy or carve time out of your schedule?
Include CTAs on every possible page on your website, including blog posts. Even if the post isn’t directly related to your product or service. Add a section at the bottom of the post relating what you offer to the topic you’ve just spent the last 1,000 words discussing. Then toss in a motivating CTA.
Don’t forget to link your CTAs to important pages on your website, such as your Contact form. This way the consumer can easily navigate to your highlighted pages.
Reach out for Reviews
Trust is huge for small businesses, especially newer ones. One way you can increase the trust your customers and clients have in your company is to cultivate a strong review profile.
Having reviews on your own website is all well and good, but users largely prefer to see whether a business has good reviews before they even click on the website.
To do this, you’ll need to collect Google and Facebook reviews from your happy clients and customers, as these results display in the search engine results page (SERPs).
Strong reviews are also one of the rankings signals for search engines. If your company has lots of great reviews, search engines will rank your website higher in the SERPs than the website of a competitor with fewer reviews.
Here are some tips for getting great reviews for your business:
Email or Text Links
Part of the difficulty for many businesses in getting more reviews is that it can be a multi-step process.
The customer has to find your review profile, log into their appropriate account (Google or Facebook), and then leave the review. For many who aren’t motivated by very strong feelings - either positive or negative - the time it takes to leave a review isn’t worth it.
Thankfully, Google has a great feature where you can get a link directly to your Google My Business profile, taking away a lot of the friction for customers.
Once you have this link, you can easily text or email it to clients and customers, thanking them for doing business with you and asking them to please help more people find you by leaving a review.
If you run a storefront or office where your customers and clients come to do business with you, adding some signs asking for reviews can be a subtle hint to people.
Pair these signs with postcards giving detailed steps on how to leave you a Google or Facebook review, and you’ve got a low-effort way to give instructions. Make sure they’re bright and colorful, and give complete, easy-to-understand directions for leaving a review on each of your platforms.
However, the instructional handouts are more effective when paired with a final tip for getting more reviews: Asking for them.
This method seems simple, but it’s often the most difficult for people because it feels as if they’re begging.
The in-person ask, however, is the most effective method of getting reviews.
If you’re asking a customer or client in person - or, less effective but still more personal than other methods, over the phone - they feel that you really valued them as a customer. This makes them more likely to want to help grow your business.
Following up a request for a review by handing them a postcard with directions or texting them a link right then and there keeps it foremost in their minds and increases your chances of getting a review out of that client.
A Warning about Reviews
Do not offer anything in exchange for reviews of your business.
It is against Google’s Terms of Service to trade reviews for any compensation - free gifts, discounts, or entries into prize drawings - and your account can be permanently suspended if you offer these sorts of trades.
Keep your business’s account in good standing. Ask nicely for reviews and don’t offer anything in return except a sincere thanks.
Get Good at Email
In 2018, nearly 105 billion emails were sent each day, with the number projected to rise to 246 billion by 2020.
Just think about your own email inbox: You’ve got messages from friends and family, notifications that the items you purchased online have shipped, credit card and checking account statements, coupon codes, and spam. It feels as if you could easily spend hours per day sorting through the emails you don’t want just to find the ones you do want.
Your inbox isn’t unique. Most people’s email inboxes get dozens, even hundreds, of messages per day. Is email marketing really effective for businesses?
The answer is, unequivocally, yes!
For every $1 that was spent on email marketing in the United States in 2018, the return on investment for the business was $44. That’s a higher ROI than almost all other online marketing strategies.
Spending some time learning how to use email marketing effectively for your business can help you gain new customers while bringing back more current customers for repeat business.
Here are a few tips for getting started with email marketing for your business:
Choose a Platform
The good news: There are all kinds of great email automation platforms out there, and many of them don’t cost a great deal of money to use.
The bad news: There are all kinds of great email automation platforms out there.
To start with, choose a platform that makes it easy to collect and store all the email addresses you will need when sending out emails. It doesn’t need to be fancy at first, just functional. As you get more experienced working with email marketing, you can trade up platforms with more advanced segmentation or design capabilities.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, begin migrating all the emails you’ve collected into the database. Most platforms make this easy, letting you import spreadsheets with ease.
Collect New Emails
You’re going to get more out of your email marketing the more emails you have collected.
Think not only of closing a sale as an opportunity to collect an email, but also find opportunities for collecting the emails of people who haven’t bought yet. Sometimes, it just takes an enticing email with a discount or special offer to tip the scales over to making a purchase.
If you offer a nice little bonus to visitors to your website, they’re more likely to give up their email address for your database.
Some ideas for email capture items include:
- For eCommerce businesses that sell items by the square foot or yard, such as flooring or fabric, offer a free online calculator that requires an email address to see results
- Create a checklist or tipsheet that visitors can download after giving you their email address
- Put together an instructional video on how to use your products that a visitor must enter an email address before watching
- For a B2B business that offers unique solutions, create an online quiz that helps them select the best options for their needs, with the results being sent to them after they enter their email
Make It a Habit
Part of finding success in email marketing is striking a balance between not sending enough emails and sending too many emails.
You want your business to be in the front of your potential customers’ minds when they’re looking for the solution you offer, but you don’t want to annoy them by sending too many emails.
At first, sending a monthly newsletter with your most recent business news and any specials you have is sufficient. As you get better with email marketing and you learn more what works and what doesn’t, you can increase the frequency to something that works best for your business.
For an eCommerce business, look for ways that you can utilize holidays - not just major shopping holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day - in your email marketing to build connections with your customers and get them to make a purchase.
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