The creation of the internet is perhaps one of the greatest things that has happened in recent history. It’s crazy to think that the first web page created on the World Wide Web was 27 years ago in August, 1991 where most people didn’t even know that the internet existed. Nowadays, life without the internet for most people is unimaginable. So, with over 4 billion internet users globally, where does your small business fit online?
For small entrepreneurs, the web is a great tool to grow your business. If you can leverage the unlimited power of the internet, you can open doors to reach a huge audience and promote your product or service at a minimum cost. In order to give yourself the best chance at online success, Small Business Advice Week has taken a look at some key ingredients to making your business thrive online.
Solve your customers’ problems
Although your main goal for your website may be to achieve sales, this should not be the only focus. In order to stand out from the crowd, and to provide value to your customers, your website should have the purpose of solving your customers’ problems or providing them with the solutions to their needs.
Whatever the products or services that your business offers, many customers may require help when deciding whether to proceed with your brand or go elsewhere. With so much choice available out there, you’ll need to ensure you are providing the best service to your customers. Consider creating a blog on your website to capture their attention. You can use this as a place to include fresh new content regularly regarding your products or services, as well as unique news or updates about your brand. The best business blogs answer the common questions their customers have which is helpful to the reader. This may help the customer finalise their decision to transact with you as well as help them understand more about your brand.
To be even more helpful to your customers consider adding a FAQs (frequently asked questions) page to allow visitors to find answers to all their questions in one place. Not only will it make things easier for your customers but it could also save your company time and resources as only those more unusual questions will need to be answered by a member of the team. FAQs are a valuable way of learning where the content of your website is falling short and thus act as a great way of giving you new ideas for content. If, say, a high volume of customers are looking up a particular question, you could create a blog post around that question to provide useful information.
Ensure a smooth user journey
As a small business competing with multiple other businesses online, it is critical that your website design is built with the user in mind. It should be easy for your customers to navigate through your site, find what they are looking for and, ultimately, to transact with you. Here are a few important things to consider when in ensuring a smooth customer journey online:
Allow your customers to communicate with you
It can be relatively easy to include a free contact form plugin to create a simple form to include on your contact page. A contact form allows the user to directly ask your business any question. You could include additional drop downs regarding the reason for their contact such as: general enquiry, make a change to my order, or leave some feedback to help you understand better the customers’ contact request.
Once a customer has made contact it’s imperative to respond to them promptly. People always make a mental note of how long a company takes to get back to them, so it is vital to respond quickly as you have a huge opportunity here to communicate directly to the client and convert a potential lead.
You can also engage with your audience via your blog by including a comments section. Once again this gives you the opportunity to connect with the user and a chance to increase loyalty and sales.
Use email marketing to turn website visitors into buyers
A survey carried out amongst 1,000 online businesses showed that email marketing consistently delivered the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel. With so many users active on the internet, it’s never been easier to connect with your target audience through this channel.
When you promote an opt-in list on your website, the customers who have signed up have given you permission to send them emails. This means you are giving those customers something they want and opening the door to engage directly with those customers. Within the emails you can provide your latest offers and promotions as well as including tempting calls to action or even a link straight to checkout. You can provide useful information for the customer and, due to the immediacy of emails, you can quickly start seeing results and sales, especially for those 24 hour flash sales.
Most email marketing software allows you to track open, click-through and conversion rates so you are able to see how your campaign is performing or whether it needs to be improved. You can usually immediately change the content in your emails, whereas with other campaigns, such as print or broadcast advertising, it may be trickier to change the content quickly.
Watch Your Expenses
Many small business owners sometimes feel that by throwing money at a problem, it will eventually go away. This can lead to spending far too much money, or wasting money in the wrong area of their business and, as a result, face their expenses creeping up to unsustainable heights.
Any business needs to accurately track their expenses and always be prepared for any unforeseen charges. This might be a sudden surge of business and high demand of your products requiring you to stock up quickly with the inherent expense that this demands. As a small business you cannot afford to miss out on any potential customers due to your product being out of stock. Liberis small business funding can ease any cash flow issues in the short term, however, you should also be prepared for those lower performing months.
If you haven’t already appointed an accountant, or you are not looking to invest in accounting software, managing the expenses yourself is relatively straightforward whilst you are building your business. Begin by creating a simple spreadsheet with a list of your revenue in one column and your expenses in the other: be thorough and ensure that you are including every single cost including salaries, rent, rates and insurance. When your revenue exceeds your expenses column, you are making money. This seems rather simple but it will provide you with a basic visual aid to track your finances.