How The Internet Can Help To Grow Your Business
Business owners today are in a very lucky position compared to business owners in the past, and that’s generally down to just one thing - the internet. If you can remember far back enough, before the internet existed or at least before it became such an important part of many people’s lives, you might realise just how difficult it was to start a business, run a business and, crucially, grow a business. The reach just wasn’t there in the same way as it is today, and that meant a lot more work, and often, it would be a case of literally going door to door. At the very least, it meant having to do more with less to get people to notice you.
So it’s fantastic that things have changed and the internet exists for business owners. It’s now possible to reach more people than ever, all from one platform if you want to. It’s still going to take hard work and effort, of course, but compared to how things were in the past, it’s so much simpler, and many more business owners and businesses have a chance to grow and become successful.
The key is to use the internet wisely. There’s no point in just plastering your information all over social media and hoping people will notice and engage with you, and just having a website isn’t going to be enough if you don’t make it a place people want to visit and really make the most of the fact that you have it. Therefore, if you want to know how to use the internet to help you grow your business, keep reading to find out so you can start putting these ideas into practice sooner rather than later.
Have A User-Friendly Website
We mentioned the fact that you will probably have a website in our introduction, and we said that there’s no point in having one if you’re not going to do anything with it, and that’s a very important point. In the past, just having a website with a few contact details on it and perhaps a little bit about your business would have been more than enough because not everyone had realised that websites were so important, and online advertising was still new. Clearly, that’s not the case anymore, and now most businesses will have a website, so you need to ensure yours stands out.
One way to make your website stand out is to make it user-friendly. If people can easily find what they want and navigate around your attractive, simple, informative website, they’ll stay there for longer (which is good for SEO, something we’ll come to later on), and they’ll return too. The longer people stay, the more likely it is they’ll buy something. And if they know they can rely on your website to help them in the way they want, they’ll not only come back when they need something else from you, but they’ll tell others about your business, and that’s going to lead to more sales, more profits, and ultimately the growth you’re looking to achieve.
Start An eCommerce Store
Buying online has become the norm, and it’s often people’s preference these days - why go out to the shops, which takes time out of your day and can be stressful due to crowds and trying to find a place to park, for example, when you can click a few buttons in between other tasks or lying in bed and buy whatever you want, often for less money and with a lot more convenience?
If you have a physical shop, then it’s wise to also add an eCommerce store to your website - it’s what people are looking for, and although it’s going to mean you have to do some extra work when it comes to keeping your website up to date (including having a good grasp of your stock levels so people don’t order anything you don’t actually have), and you’ll need to send those items out in good time, just think of the extra money you could be making. With a physical store, you’re limited by your location; unless you’re very famous or you have something no one else has, people generally aren’t going to travel far and wide to buy from you. Instead, your customer base will be local people.
When you’re online, people can buy from you no matter where they are (within reason - you’ll need to decide whether or not selling to other countries is worthwhile; sometimes the shipping makes it impossible, for example), meaning you can increase your customer numbers massively.
Put SEO In Place
One of the most important things you’ll need to do if you want to use the internet to grow your business is to get your SEO strategy in place as early as possible. SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and to put it simply, it’s a marketing strategy that helps you get noticed more easily in the search engine results pages. By using various tactics, such as keywords and phrases, images, links, and more, your business can end up at the top of the first page of results for whatever it is people are searching for that relates to what you sell. At least, that’s the ultimate goal - in reality, as long as you’re on the top half of the first page, you’re doing well.
SEO is a tricky thing to get right, as it needs a lot of research into the right keywords, and a lot of content to ensure those keywords are being used, and on top of that, the content itself has to be informative and beneficial to readers, or you’ll be penalised. That’s why many business owners outsource this work to experts, as they can be sure that it’s being done in the right way and getting the results you’re looking for. The important thing is to make sure that you’ve chosen a good SEO company to do the work, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out if they use useful online tools to calculate SEO revenue, giving both them and you a fantastic insight into precisely what your business is doing and how your SEO strategy is paying off.
Use Social Media
You’re bound to have your own opinion on social media and how beneficial - or otherwise - it is to your personal life. Some people absolutely love it and spend hours scrolling through their feeds on various platforms, and others try to stay away from it as much as possible.
The thing to remember is that no matter what your personal feelings about social media, if you run a business, you’ll more than likely need to use it, and that’s not a bad thing - it could even be the thing that helps to grow your business more than anything else.
It really depends on whether or not social media platforms happen to be where your target market spends time, which is why the first step to take has to be market research. You’ll be able to determine not just that your customers spend time on social media, but which platforms they use, and that can be very helpful - there’s not really much point in setting up a profile on Instagram and creating posts there if your customers mainly use Twitter, for example.
Once you know where to post your information, marketing, links, polls, images, and more, it’s time to create a strategy to ensure you do. You’ll need to post at least once a day and ideally more if you can - it’s going to depend on how much time you have, and you should only post if you have something interesting to say, otherwise people will stop interacting with you, so the number of posts you create really is a bit of a judgement call. In any case, no matter how many times you get on social media, you’ll need to read the comments, tags, and direct messages and interact with those who are engaging with you. This is just as important as the posts themselves, as it shows you care about your business and your customers, and it’s going to help a lot of people choose to buy from you over and above someone else.
Because there are so many new businesses starting and old businesses re-energising themselves, there are a lot of options for customers to consider when they want to buy something. No matter how hard you try, there’s always going to be someone or something that can be seen as your competition - and probably more than one since it’s easier than ever to start a business, thanks to technology and the plethora of advice you can find online about how to do it.
If you want to stand out and be the business people come to, you can use the internet to offer exceptional customer support - that’s something people are looking for, and the better your customer support and customer service is, the more likely they’ll choose you.
There are a few different options, but one that’s working well right now is installing a chatbot on your website. People can ask questions and get answers to their simple queries, meaning that your team has more time to deal with more complex questions - in the end, that makes everyone happy.