Whether you made the jump to e-commerce in 2020 or run a side-hustle entirely through the internet, business happens online. Getting the online business basics down is easy. You probably need a website (bonus points if it’s pretty and functional), and it’s also a good idea to spread the word about your business on social media.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can take the next steps and grow your business online. To do so, you need to understand your audience, optimize your website, and use content marketing to get your name out there.
Understand your audience.
As a small business owner, you should have a good idea of who needs or wants your product or service. Knowing exactly who you want to target will inform any marketing or future product development. To truly be successful in growing your business online, you need to collect and understand data about your audience.
The benefit of having an e-commerce website, social media profiles, and other digital tools is that you already have data ready to look at. Your e-commerce website has analytics built right in. Take a look to gather some information about your customers, especially what they are buying from you or where they live. For example, Shopify offers analytics for your sales, orders, and how visitors are coming to your site.
You can also gather insights from social media. Facebook offers detailed analytics about your followers, including their interests, lifestyles, education level, and relationship status. Want to learn what kinds of positive or negative experiences people are having with your business? It’s as easy as reviewing comments from your social media followers.
All this information can help you create a customer persona or a profile about your target customer. A persona can help you create tailored communications for your target audience. You may also keep your persona in mind when you develop new products. Basically, your persona can be a compass for your business to ensure that every step you take will help reach the people you’re targeting. Using this persona, you can make plans to improve customer service, attract new customers, or develop new products or services.
Optimize your website for mobile.
Since you’re building a business online, your website needs to be top-notch. Think of your website as your digital brick-and-mortar. You want to create a good experience and a functional space for your customers to visit you online.
Since 79% of smartphone owners have made a purchase online using their phones, it’s a good idea to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. That means your website looks as good on a smartphone as it does on a desktop or a tablet.
Making sure your website is mobile-friendly can also impact search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can help bring new traffic (and new customers) to your site. Whether your website reaches people across the country or you want to focus on customers in your hometown, optimizing your website for search is a must. You can start by focusing on some keywords that you want to rank for.
Ramp up your marketing with content.
Digital marketing isn’t just limited to social media and Google ads. You can take an even more comprehensive approach by creating a full content marketing strategy. Content marketing touches social media, blog writing, email marketing, video production, and more.
A blog can help you rank in search engines because it offers the opportunity to target specific keywords and to demonstrate your expertise. Let’s say you run an e-commerce business dedicated to pets and pet food. There are a lot of keywords related to dogs, cats, and any other pet you could think of. But you could show how much you know about pet food by writing an article about “The best ingredients to look for in your pet’s food”. You can bring traffic to your site, and then include a link in the article to your own shop pages.
Email marketing is another important step to take to grow your business online. It’s one of the most effective digital marketing channels out there, with impressive ROI and demonstrated success. You can also repurpose the content you create for your blog in email newsletters.
Like blog content, video content is used to inform and entertain. YouTube is also its own veritable search engine. By creating video content, you can reach more people and drive traffic back to your website. Depending on your business, you may want to create videos that explain products and their use cases. If your business is more B2B, you might give some tips about your industry.
Learning how to grow your business online may require some trial and error. One size does not fit all. Start with understanding your audience first. That will help you decide on the search terms you need to optimize your website for and what types of content marketing to do. Remember to test your hypotheses about what you think will resonate with your audience.
For more tips on small business, check out the Work section of the Explore blog.