Building an online business is one of the most common ways to get extra money. In November 2021 alone, the government recorded over 430 thousand new business applications. On top of that, online shopping continues to rise.
Other benefits of having an online business include 24/7 accessibility, improved customer satisfaction, and opportunities to manage the company from anywhere in the world.
However, statistics show that a staggering 70% of small businesses don’t survive their first 10 years. The causes may vary and can come from within or outside an organization.
This article will show you 10 best strategies to grow your business online. We’ll also explore possible reasons why some companies are stagnating.
Reasons Why Your Business Is Not Growing
Running a new business is not easy. Often, entrepreneurs work around the clock optimizing their strategies only to find that their efforts lack results.
For the above reasons, small business owners should understand the causes behind stunted business growth. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Not having a marketing plan. Apart from providing clearer direction, business planning can help to predict future outcomes. Therefore, it’s vital to have a comprehensive marketing plan to ensure smoother growth.
- Lack of competitive advantage. Companies without a unique value proposition cannot stand out from the competition.
- Not tracking the numbers. Churn rates, cash flow, and search engine rankings are among the most important data to monitor. They help marketers determine a business’s position in the market, set realistic goals, and create strategic marketing campaigns.
- Executing it all by yourself. While most small businesses begin as a one-person operation, it shouldn’t be a long-term solution. Sooner or later, delegating tasks becomes a crucial part of business growth.
- Relying on referrals. Companies that rely too heavily on referrals may find this strategy weaken over time, especially without proper follow-up plans and a good product to back it up.
- Complacency. Some business owners get too comfortable once they’ve reached their goals, while their competitors continue striving for higher growth.
Best Strategies to Grow Your Online Business
Regardless of the business niche, every company will face challenges. Here are ten strategies to help grow your online store in the long term.
1. Choose the Right Website Platform
Business owners can use either a content management system (CMS) or a website builder to launch their business site.
The former refers to an open-source platform for managing, storing, and publishing a site’s content. A CMS offers limitless flexibility, and site owners have the freedom to choose a hosting provider, fully customize their site’s design, and install extensions to expand functionality.
A major drawback is that users may need to have some technical knowledge to get the best use of a CMS. As a result, it may be challenging for first-timers.
Some of the best CMSs include WordPress, Drupal, and Magento.
On the other hand, a website builder for eCommerce is often considered a simpler alternative to a CMS.
These platforms provide readymade templates that users can easily customize using a drag-and-drop interface. Its ease of use is designed so that anyone with zero technical expertise can launch their sites in just a few simple clicks.
The downside of using a website builder is that it doesn’t grant as much flexibility as a content management system, so experts may find its features quite limiting.
Some excellent builders for business websites include Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce.
2. Understand Your Target Market
2.14 billion consumers shopped online as of 2021. While this number seems promising, not all of them will become your target market.
That’s why business owners should determine their market to help develop targeted marketing campaigns and attract highly engaged audiences.
Creating a buyer persona is an excellent way to do this. The key is to consider your business’s brand identity and products, as well as your ideal buyer.
Typically, the process involves:
- Analyzing existing customers. Gather data on your audience’s age range, gender, location, occupation, user behavior, and spending habits. This information will help determine which demographic engages most with your business.
- Identifying their goals and pain points. The former helps business owners understand what motivates their audience to interact with their company. The latter can guide them to provide the best possible solutions for their customers’ problems.
- Researching their social platform preference. This ensures that business owners’ social media efforts don’t go to waste, as each platform has its own demographics.
- Learning from competitors. Analyze other companies’ key customer base, read their reviews, and use competitor analysis tools like Social Blade and Buzzsumo.
3. Improve Website Performance
Page loading time is vital for eCommerce websites. Besides being a Google ranking factor, excellent page loading time improves customer experience and conversion rates. A study shows that conversions happen most on pages that load under four seconds.
Here are some tips for improving website performance:
- Optimize images. Check the picture size before uploading, as it shouldn’t be over 2 MB. Also, don’t forget to write the image alt text.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN). It’s a geographically distributed group of servers. A CDN helps reduce latency by minimizing the distance between a browser and a web server.
- Allow browser caching. It enables the temporary storage of website data on users’ browsers. This leads to faster loading time as browsers can retrieve site information from the cache.
- Use a page speed testing tool. Apart from providing a speed score, these tools can identify issues affecting site speed and suggest ways to improve optimization.
On top of that, server uptime and response time are two server-side aspects to check for better website performance.
Server uptime shows the total duration that a web server is fully up and running. Opt for a web host that guarantees at least 99.9% uptime.
Server response time (SRT) measures how fast a web server responds to user requests. The industry benchmark for excellent SRT is under 200 ms.
4. Develop Content Marketing Strategies
Content marketing is among the most effective digital marketing strategies to implement. Despite its cost-effectiveness, content marketing can generate more qualified leads than other methods.
Business owners should prioritize creating high-quality content when implementing this strategy. Some of the criteria of an excellent content piece include:
- Grammar and spelling.
- Visual appeal.
Consider the target audience’s pain points when writing to improve engagement and conversion rates. This helps build brand credibility as people see your company site as an authority in its niche.
5. Invest in Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most lucrative digital marketing strategies to utilize, as marketers can yield around $36 for every $1 spent.
Growing an email list is probably the biggest challenge of this strategy. Without it, email marketing campaigns won’t be as effective in yielding expected results. For that, here are some tips for growing an email list:
- Employ lead magnets. Business owners can offer their resources for free in exchange for an email address. The resources can be anything from eBooks, case studies, white papers, to templates.
- Conduct giveaways. Besides improving engagement, business owners can benefit from contests and giveaways to collect participants’ email addresses.
- Offer a how-to series. For this, business owners may need to break down their comprehensive content pieces into smaller sections. This strategy enables them to limit content access and ask visitors to sign up to unlock the whole series.
- Promote memberships. Provide information about member benefits to encourage visitors to fill out your form. They can get early access to new content, coupon codes, or points programs.
6. Optimize for Search Engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the best ways to get free traffic. By conducting this strategy, business owners can expect a boost in their website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher a site ranks, the more organic traffic it generates.
Many business owners think SEO is about stuffing keywords into their content pieces. However, SEO can be much broader. Here are some elements to consider for a better SEO strategy:
- Keywords and keyphrases. Prioritize inserting them naturally throughout articles or product descriptions. You can also use them in the content’s slug, meta description, title, and headings for further optimization.
- Link-building strategies. Both internal and external links are crucial for SEO. The former helps search engine crawlers index your site faster. The latter can open backlink opportunities and build authority to your site.
- Meta descriptions. These are HTML tags that appear on SERPs containing a short description of a web page. Consider meta descriptions as an ad for your content piece.
- Mobile optimization. Google is going mobile-first, and more than 54% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Use a responsive web design to make your site mobile-friendly.
- Position zero. Often called a featured snippet, this is a search result that appears at the top of a SERP. Keep working to improve your overall SEO strategy and maximize your chance to get featured.
7. Build Social Media Presence
Business owners can use popular social media platforms to boost their overall online presence and complement their digital marketing strategy. It’s also great for business owners who are on a tight budget.
Social media offers limitless possibilities to grow your audience. For example, consider running a Facebook group, strengthening your Instagram feed, producing TikTok content, building a community on Pinterest, or starting a YouTube channel.
However, business owners need to ensure an integrated marketing campaign if they use multiple platforms to promote their online business. This will provide consistent messaging to the target audience, solidifying the branding effort.
Also, consider using social sharing buttons to widen the reach and drive more traffic to your website landing pages. Sassy Social Share, Shared Counts, and AddtoAny are some of the best social media plugins to enable social shares for WordPress users.
8. Build Partnerships
Networking is vital to ensure business growth as it opens up partnership opportunities.
Strategic partnerships usually include a legal agreement between two or more parties to achieve mutually beneficial goals and objectives.
For example, business owners can collaborate with other businesses in the same niche to promote each other’s content, products, and services. This helps both parties to improve brand awareness and reach a larger audience.
That said, ensure you’re not partnering with businesses targeting the same buyers. One of the best solutions is to reach out to complementary brands – those that are within your niche but don’t offer the exact same products or services.
9. Use Paid Advertising for More Reach
Paid advertising enables businesses to display their ads on a page, platform, or network. With paid ads, business owners will need to budget a certain amount to obtain a slot on the ad publisher’s page.
Pay per click (PPC) is a great example of a paid advertising model that lets entrepreneurs boost their online business’s reach without spending too much money.
When registering for a PPC program, advertisers only pay the ad publishers for every click their ads get. Typically, the rate depends on where the click is generated. For example, the rate for clicks coming from tier-one countries may be higher – around $1.50/click.
Some of the best PPC agencies include Infolinks, Leadpages, and Media.net.
10. Evaluate Campaign Performance
Tracking and analyzing marketing performance is vital for development. The process lets business owners learn from mistakes and work to enhance their long-term business performance.
Here are some critical metrics to track:
- Visits per channel. This metric is for business owners utilizing multiple platforms and social media accounts to run their campaigns. It shows which channels and content types are the most effective in engaging their target audience.
- Time on page. A high number may suggest that visitors find a website’s content valuable. A short time on page may indicate that the content is irrelevant to the targeted search query.
- Conversion rates. Whether it’s a call to action (CTA) from the email marketing campaign or the website landing page, determining conversion sources can help you to increase revenue and sales in the long run.
- Website traffic source. If the paid traffic is higher than the organic traffic, business owners may need to work on their SEO strategy.
- Net promoter score. This helps to determine the rate of customer satisfaction.
In addition, consider using some excellent marketing analytic tools such as Google Analytics, KissMetrics, and SEMRush.
Stagnant business development can be worrying. While the causes may vary, some of the most common reasons include lack of planning and competitiveness. Fortunately, there are multiple ways business owners can turn this around.
Throughout this article, you’ve learned 10 best strategies to adopt when your online business is stagnating. Here’s a short recap:
- Choose the right website platform.
- Conduct market research.
- Improve website performance to boost user experience.
- Develop content marketing strategies.
- Invest in email marketing.
- Optimize for search engines.
- Build social media presence.
- Create partnerships.
- Use paid advertising.
- Evaluate campaign performance regularly.
By taking the above steps, your business should be in pretty good shape to propel long-term growth. Good luck!