Eight Ways to Use the Internet to Grow Your Business8 min read
In today’s digital world, no business can afford to ignore the internet and the many opportunities for growth that it offers. Establishing and maintaining a strong digital presence is key to remaining competitive and attracting new customers.
Here are eight ways to use the internet to grow your business.
Research Your Competition
Researching your competition’s websites and social media profiles can give you great ideas for your own business. For example, you might like one of your competitors’ coupons that they advertise on Facebook, and decide to offer a similar discount on your own services to stay competitive.
You can also use social media profiles to put together a list of your competitors’ current clients, and then contact those clients with special offers to draw them to your own business. Social media is a double-edged sword in this respect: Although you can interact with your clients on the internet, you also risk potentially exposing your client list to savvy competitors in a position to undercut your services.
Create Social Media Profiles
Facebook profiles are a must for small business owners: In May of 2019, Facebook became the most visited site in some countries, outranking Google. Not taking advantage of this opportunity for free advertisement wouldn’t make any sense.
But it’s not as easy as starting a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn account and waiting for the new clients to find you. When you engage in social media, you must interact with the community in order to be successful — not just sit back and hope that your existing clients will spread the word.
Be sure to invite your friends, family, current clients, next-door neighbors, and everyone else to interact with your social media profiles, preferably by “liking” your page or joining your group. Only then can you get the exposure necessary to gain more clients.
[Related: Facebook Marketing Tips for Small Businesses]
Improve Your Services
You can also use the internet to improve your own services, especially by seeking out cheaper suppliers for the products you use every day.
For example, if you use business cards often, search for business card ratings to see if you’re getting the best price. Even if buying your business cards online only saves you a few dollars every month, cutting small expenses can really add up over the long run.
Additionally, the internet can give you opportunities to seek out possible partnerships to increase your existing revenue stream. For instance, if you own a barber shop but don’t sell any hair care products in the store, you could make an agreement with an online retailer in which you refer your customers to their website. Most online retailers have affiliate codes that your clients can enter on their website to verify that they came from your business. Although you might not gain new clients, offline affiliate marketing can still be a good strategy to earn additional revenue from your existing customers.
Create an Email List
Email marketing allows you to promote your products to current and potential customers.
To start building an email subscription list, offer special deals or access to a helpful resource (such as a coupon or e-book) to people who sign up for your newsletter. This requires a small investment in advertising and — if you don’t have one already — at least a one-page website to use as a landing page for the ad. However, a few advertisement banners and a simple website shouldn’t cost you more than $500. Once people sign up for your newsletter to qualify for your special offer, you can continue to promote your products every month to people on your list.
While some people opt to purchase an email list from a third-party website instead of building one from scratch, this is risky. Spam can be a serious problem with these websites, and you can’t always be sure whether the contacts you’re purchasing align with your target audience.
Start a Blog
Tools such as WordPress make blogging very simple, even for people with little experience working online. But don’t make the mistake of only using your blog to promote your services: Focus on providing high-quality, valuable information about your niche to establish your industry expertise. If your business provides cleaning and repair services for boats, you could write articles on topics such as:
- Top Five Best Places to Sail in the United States
- 10 Mistakes You Could Make When Cleaning Your Boat
- How to Apply New Paint to an Aluminum Boat
- Five Myths About Boat Safety Guidelines
Readers could use your article on cleaning a boat to do it themselves, but you might convince them that they’re better off letting you do it — especially if the article is well-written enough to make them think of you as an expert.
[Related: Content Marketing Tips]
The difference between video production and distribution in the digital world and 20 years ago is that you no longer have to jump through hoops to get it in front of potential customers. YouTube is free and producing a video is cheap. Even an informational video about your business can go a long way toward explaining your services or story to your audience.
For an extra boost, promote your ad on Facebook or YouTube to increase the amount of people who will see it. Just remember: the more effort you put into it, the more engaging it will be.
Sponsor a Community Team or Event
Sponsoring a community team or event can pay off big, and not just because of the good you’re doing.
Whenever you’re involved in a community activity, you can promote it through community pages, Facebook, and your own site. This visibility will be great for foot traffic and word of mouth, and will encourage the community to view your brand in a positive light.
Developing strong relationships within the community may also have a significant SEO benefit in attracting links from community websites.
So put your company’s name on a little league team’s jersey, sponsor a pub crawl, organize a charity fundraiser, or donate your products and services! Whatever you decide to do, make sure that it’s something you feel strongly about and that it resonates with your business’s mission.
Become a Member of the Local Business Association
Sounds like business networking 101, right?
Google recognizes a strong benefit in having community organizations’ websites link to your company. Becoming a member of local business organizations (including neighborhood-specific ones) may not have immediate monetary benefits, but it will show that your company is committed to the local economy and network of businesses that operate there.
Ready to grow your business online?
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