Bootstrapping a business can be a daunting and challenging task. It takes a lot of hard work, drive, and courage to grow your small business from a starting enterprise to one bringing in, even, a five or six figure income.
While some small business owners work up to 10 hours a day, owning a business means sacrificing much of your time, especially when your business is just starting.
You need to take care of multiple things, like managing customers, completing invoices, marketing and managing your website, so potential customers can find you online.
The primary goal for any business is to be profitable. It is, then, important to use all possible means to ensure your business earns more and continues to grow. For that reason, we’re going to give you some easy and effective DIY tips to grow your small business.
1. Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
As a small business owner, you should be aware of the benefits of having a responsive, mobile-friendly website. As Google now prioritizes mobile websites, through mobile-first indexing, being see on phones and tablets can greatly help to increase your business’ reach.
Mobile searches have already surpassed desktop searches on leading search engines. This means most users interact with the internet from their phones. If your website isn’t designed for a mobile web experience, you’ll severely miss out on your largest source of traffic.
A business website that is well optimized for mobile use will increase its rank on search engines and have more opportunity to convert. Later on in this post, we’ll show you a tip how to increase your online, mobile presence with directories and Google My Business.
2. On-site Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Any business, small or large, can compete for high rankings on search engines. This means, search engine optimization isn’t just for million-dollar enterprises. All you need is the right beginner SEO strategy, and you can start ranking alongside your competition. Follow our simple SEO checklist to get started.
Below, we’re going to tackle an advanced level SEO tactic. Make sure to read up on the basics of SEO before you continue.
For those of you who are up to speed, we’re going to look at the Google Search Console (GSC). The GSC is a powerful tool you can use to measure your on-site SEO and more. We’ll be focusing on showing you which keywords are working to drive traffic to your website.
First, you have to verify your website. Go to Google Search Console and enter the domain or URL for your website. If you choose to enter your website under the “Domain” section, your website’s domain and sub-domains will coalesce into one account. If you want to view your domain and sub-domains separately, enter them individually in the ‘URL prefix” section.
Once you’ve finished entering your domain property or URL prefix property, click continue, and you’ll receive a notification to verify.
You’ll be presented with a verification code you can copy and paste into your DNS record.
In order to access your DNS record, you will need to go to your registrar and enter the TXT record the same as you would an A Record or CNAME.
After you’ve setup Google Search Console and it verifies, you’ll begin to see your website traffic. This can take anywhere from a day to a week.
Now, you’re ready to start overhauling your SEO by looking for opportunities to create new landing pages or edit existing pages.
Since we’re interested in optimizing on-site SEO, we want to check our website’s performance. In the left side menu of GSC, you’ll see a “Performance” tab. Click it and you’ll be presented with an overview.
You’ll see four categories. These are total clicks, total impressions, average click-through-rate (CTR), and average position. These are important to understand which queries can bring you increased traffic. Don’t focus on clicks as much as impressions and positions. As a rule of thumb, clicks will follow from better impressions and higher position.
Starting with “Queries,” you can find which keywords that are bringing you direct searches. Your branded keywords will always be the most effective; however, if you expand your results, you’ll see non-branded keywords you can create landing pages for.
Here, we can see the “design agency” query has a decent position, good impressions, but little clicks. We can take this opportunity to create a landing page targeting this search query in order to increase the amount of traffic we can drive to our website.
Beside the “Queries” tab, you have “Pages.” Here, you can see your best and worst performing pages. Let’s take a look at our “SEO Checklist for Your New Website.”
We can see the clicks it receives and the position it has aren’t great; however, it receives a lot of impressions. If we click it and go to the “Queries” tab, we can see the keywords it ranks for.
Just by taking a quick look at the ranking keywords, it’s clear there’s already an opportunity to improve the page by adding the outlined keyword phrases to it. They have three to six times more impressions over other keywords. By including more of these keyword phrases and phrases related to them receiving impressions, you can increase your number of on-page views.
In addition to revamping pages, if you find a keyword phrase that receives a good amount of impressions, you can create an entire new page of content targeting the keyword.
By finding the appropriate niche market for your brand and focusing on specific keywords or phrases, even the smallest business can easily increase their ranking on search engines and compete with large brands.
3. Create a Welcome Email Series
Create a welcome email series to capture the attention, and possibly the hearts, of new visitors.
Welcome emails are going to be one of the most important emails you send to customers. According to WordStream, welcome emails, on average, have 4x the open rate and 5x the click-through rate over any promotional email.
Understanding this, you have an opportunity to create a connection with your audience immediately. Do so by sending a series of emails in the welcoming phase, when audiences are new and most receptive to your emails.
The first email you send to new subscribers should introduce who you are as a business, your unique brand voice, and why customers should be excited.
The first step is to provide subscribers with your brand story. Stories are the easiest way to capture an audience’s attention. As humans, we’re programmed to understand information through narrative, so flesh out your brand’s journey, goal, and its uniqueness in the beginning paragraph.
Second, welcome subscribers. It’s as simple as introducing them as a new member to your brand’s take on its community. Branding in this regard could mean simply changing the language from “email list” to “family” or “tribe.” You’re looking to make any parallel you can between your brand’s unique voice and your email copy.
Lastly, provide users with a clear call-to-action button encouraging them to visit the page you’d most like to steer them towards.
It can be that simple. Here are more essential elements for welcome emails.
Since you want subscribers to be receptive to future emails, you should create an email outlining the expectation they should have for receiving future emails.
If you set expectations, you can overcome potential resistance from the on-set. Do so by outlining the types of emails they should expect to get, while reiterating the value they have.
Depending on your business, you can provide them with helpful content, discounts, exclusive event access, free competition entries, and so on.
Purchase Reminder Email
If you gave away a discount code for an email, remind users to apply the code with follow-up purchase reminder emails.
In order to re-capture customer interest, send an email with the discount code and a CTA bringing users directly to checkout. If discounts codes can be automatically applied to checkout, even better. Limiting the amount of steps it takes to purchase can drastically improve your sales.
Remember to make these emails personal. These emails should be in the vein of “exclusively for you.”
4. Use More Specific Calls-to-Action
You should be using more specific language on your call-to-action buttons. Instead of using generic “Click Here” text, use language more specific to the offer. For example, if you’re offering an E-book, write “Free E-book” on the button.
By creating more specific language, encouraging clearer action, more users will engage with your buttons.
Click here can seem like it’s effective, but it doesn’t convey what the button is actually going to do for the user. Users only click when what they are engaging with is relevant to them.
If you have an engaging article on your website that had a button to read further and included a “Read More Here” button, but it links to a separate piece of content, you are, more likely than not, going to lose that customer. Rather, if you included a “Continue Reading Here,” the user isn’t confused and is very likely to continue reading, where you can have a CTA.
5. Create An Online Funnel
Every business is different and creates funnels appropriate to their business type; however, at their core, funnels are all the same.
Funnels come in all sizes; although, simply put, you have your leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and sales. In total, a basic funnel has, at least, four stages.
Every funnel works in the same way. You have the top end of your funnel, where you collect leads of interested parties, and you have the bottom of your funnel, where leads have been qualified to make a purchase.
Each stage is about providing leads with incentive to move down the funnel into the next stage, where the process repeats until they make a purchase. Naturally, the largest part of your funnel will be the top, where you attract people. Over time, you’ll begin to weed out those who are likely to purchase and those who are not. That’s why the shape is a funnel.
At the top level, you’re going to want to attract those who are unfamiliar to your business. This can be achieved through blogging, guest-posting articles, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and cost-per-click campaigns (CPC).
Marketing Qualified Leads
For those users you have attracted with your lead generation campaigns, you’ll be looking to create landing pages, which are web pages designed to take in emails.
You can create multiple types of landing pages designed to attract users based off their particular interests in your business.
They’ve also “landed” on your landing page because they have a problem in which it is addressing. It will contain a CTA urging users to opt-in to your email newsletter for a further solution to their problems or by providing them with valuable content, helping them with their problem in exchange for their contact information, like an E-book.
Try using opt-in forms or pop-ups in order to capture emails, as they have been proven to be most effective.
Sales Qualified Leads
At this point in the funnel, you have an email list you are going to use in order to educate your audience and provide them with valuable information, helping them to better deal with their problem.
It’s when they are in your email list, they can better understand if the problem they are facing is out of their scope as an individual. If your business has a product or service that can help them to alleviate their problem, you’ll be able to better inform them. Your goal is to provide them with enough information to allow them to decide if your product or service is a good fit.
You may also provide users with discounts and promotions, as every business does, to help increase their receptivity to buying your product or service.
With that said, be honest about what your business can do to help. Customers are intelligent and will know if they are just being offered lip service. The ones who are interested in your products will come and will buy. Just be honest and do your best to empower them with valuable, actionable content.
Once you make a sale, send the customer a receipt email and follow up with surveys over the next couple of months to get some feedback, as it is incredibly important in order to understand how to better serve your customer.
6. Set-up Google Alerts for Brand Mentions
Setting up Google Alerts for tracking all mentions of your business is important, especially for small businesses. You won’t want to miss out on how other people are talking about your brand online.
From newspaper articles to first-hand reviews, you can receive alerts delivered directly to you every time someone uses your business name on the internet.
If these mentions are coming from other businesses or bloggers, and not large newspapers, you can reach out and cultivate a beneficial relationship for future endeavours.
7. Join a Chamber of Commerce
Take advantage of small business development resources to grow your small business.
While this may be a traditional marketing strategy, joining your local Chamber of Commerce is one of the greatest ways to begin the journey of growing your business.
By joining, you’ll have access to information surrounding timely industry insights and policy information for business and affinity programs, which help to save your business time and money.
In addition to the statistical and financial resources, it provides you with networking opportunities to grow your business connections.
8. Use Small Business Development Centres
If joining your local chamber of commerce isn’t exactly appealing, try a small business development centre. Here, you can get one-on-one guidance from small business advisers, who have previously been in your position.
In addition to providing advisers, they also provide workshops, seminars and networking events to build skills.
Last but not least, you can apply for grants of varying amounts. Typically, registered small businesses can receive, on average, anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 in grants.
9. List Your Small Business on Directories
If you’re a local business, the first thing you should be thinking of is how to make yourself visible in your immediate area.
Online search opens your business to be discovered by the world; however, the potential customers surrounding your business are the most likely to interact with it.
This is due to the fact most searches happen on phones. People are searching for local businesses when they are on the move, meaning they’re looking for a business they can go to immediately. For this reason, searches coming from phones have the highest purchase intent. No business wants to miss out on a potential purchase.
The best way you can take advantage of mobile users looking for your product(s) is to list your business on Google My Business (GMB), which is free. GMB is, primarily, the first query people will see when they search for a local business and help to drive more traffic to your business’ website.
Not only will GMB drive traffic to your website, but it will help to increase in-store visitations as well. According to Google, 50 per cent of all mobile users who search for a local business visit it as well; moreover, 18 per cent make a purchase.
GMB will display business information such as your business’ location, hours of operations, phone number, reviews, product images and more.
Here’s how to setup a profile: sign in to GMB. click “Manage Locations,” click “Create Location Group,” click “Create Business Account,” enter a location group/business account name and click “Done.”
Here are some tips to give you a better understanding how to leverage GMB:
You can use posts of announcements, events, promotions, new products and services, and latest exclusive information directly on your business listing. These posts can link directly to your website and eCommerce pages and potentially close sales by providing, for example, popular product items for purchase.
Reviews are, by far, the most important aspect of your profile. Make sure to ask your customers to leave a review on your GMB profile. This is important because Google will rank your business higher on its listing. The better the review, the better your position becomes.
Since reviews are important, make sure to send your customers an easy link they can use to review your business directly on your profile. By eliminating the ordinary, tedious steps involved in making a review, you can encourage more reviews to your profile and increase your visibility.
All you have to do is find your business listing or profile and click “write a review.” Copy and paste the URL and send it to your customers. If, for some reason, you’re having trouble with the process, you can also create a link using the PlaceID Lookup Tool.
Google is the largest search engine with the largest business directory; however, it isn’t the only one. All businesses should also consider listing their business on every major directory.
There are services that can help your business in this regard; although, they are paid solutions. With that said, the ones we can recommend are Yext and Moz Local.
Both of these services will create, update, and maintain your local listings across top directories. Their services will increase your business’ visibility across giant and small-to-medium sized business directories as well. If you’re looking for a holistic approach, and not just Google, working with one of these platforms can get you up and searchable in very little time.
Always keep in mind that every link to your site helps to increase your online ranking, so it’s necessary to create a free business profile in various online directories, whether it be added manually or automatically. Make sure you have a responsive website as well, so you don’t miss out on opportunities to present your business online.
10. Make a Video Marketing Campaign
Every marketer should know about DollarShaveClub.com’s viral marketing videos. They created them at lost cost and drove massive amounts of sales because of them.
In an interview with the New York Times, Michael Dubin shares his experience about going from viral video marketing into a full-fledged business.
Check out the video below to see for yourself how they captured the attention and hearts of their users.
Some of you are thinking, “I can’t do that.” That’s perfectly fine. Most of us are camera shy. With that said, take what you can from DollarShaveClub and use what you’ve learned to make a video for your business. It doesn’t have to go viral to work. It just needs to solve a problem.
Here’s an example of our previous E-Learning campaign: Starting Your Online Business
This Bookmark video is a campaign we ran in order to attract those who are looking to start an online business from scratch. In the video we allude to our full E-Learning course and give them an idea if Bookmark is the best option for their online business.
Check out the video below to get an idea how you can make your marketing video.
Now that you have some actionable steps you can take to grow your small business, you have no excuse. Focus on your strengths first, then slowly expanded into the areas that challenge you. With time and effort, your online business will become more profitable.