How to grow your business online – Part 2

May 20, 2020

A website might be the starting point for your online business, but a wealth of other tools play an important role when it comes to growing your business online.

Ranging from social media to email marketing and CRMs, these tools are employed to help market your physical and online business, direct people to your website and connect them with further buying opportunities to purchase your products.

So, let’s dive a little deeper with part 2 of how to grow your business online.

Owning your real estate

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In the digital world, a website is considered the main location of your business. It’s the front door that welcomes people in, clearly explaining who you are, what you do, what you offer and what you believe.

This website often takes the more formal tone in terms of clear layout, brand messaging and imagery. Beyond that website, however, it’s increasingly important to have digital outposts in the form of social media.

These are the less formal spaces where you network with your customer, engaging them in a conversation that either drives them to your site or prompts them to purchase your services then and there.

All these areas are considered your digital real estate – these are places you need to own, tend to, and regularly update and maintain.

Social media

Social media is the place to entertain, enthral and engage with a customer on a whole different level. It’s the space where conversations take place.

Not all businesses use all social media, but its role is becoming increasingly important in a digitally driven world.

According to Asset Digital Communications:

  • 63 per cent of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service through their social media – and 90 per cent of social media users have already connected with a brand or business through their chosen platform.
  • Adults aged 18 to 34 are most likely to follow a brand on social media, with 95 per cent of them doing so.

Meanwhile, social media serves two distinct purposes – it is a place to connect with a customer and offer a more personal insight into a brand and is also an additional avenue to sell products through social selling and Buy Now opportunities.

Social selling and buy buttons

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While social selling is the art of creating qualified sales leads in a social media setting, “Buy Buttons” offer the opportunity for a consumer to purchase on social media then and there.

First rolled out in 2015, Buy Buttons are considered the new frontier of e-commerce. Effectively they allow a consumer to see a product on social media that they like and then click a link to where they can the product.

As Retail Dive explains: “These buy buttons offer the opportunity for greater impulse buys. Users scanning social media will see something they like and without any lag, are able to purchase the item.”

Which social channels?

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As we mentioned earlier not all businesses are on all social channels, nor should they be – some suit specific businesses better than others.

Facebook – Facebook is the most popular channel and is likely the first port of call for any business looking to increase their online reach.

The benefit of Facebook is that it caters to a variety of content types – from the quick meme to the Facebook Live explainer video, photographs, short posts and even links to longer blogs.

Facebook is used to drive brand awareness and can also be a tool for increasing traffic to a website, further boosting that SEO strategy we mentioned in part one of this article.

 

Instagram – The advantage of Instagram is its speed, simplicity and aspirational nature.

Relying heavily on imagery, it allows a brand to paint a visual picture of services and offerings along with the location and environment in which it operates.

 

Twitter – Twitter is often considered a PR tool rather than a lead-generation social media channel. It allows a business to update consumers on their thoughts, initiatives, and incentives via short sharp messaging.

 

YouTube – YouTube is emerging as a hugely important tool in the business of showcasing products and services, while answering common questions like “How do I?”

YouTube presents an excellent opportunity for business to illustrate how products are made and used, to introduce staff, and to educate consumers on services.

 

Pinterest – Like Instagram, Pinterest is aspirational in nature. It’s a place to source great ideas and share them. That’s why Pinterest is often a tool of choice for homewares, crafts etc.

 

LinkedIn – In many ways LinkedIn is a very different channel to other social media platforms. It offers a space for the individuals behind a business to showcase their expertise.

Beyond social media

Social media plays a valuable role in conversing with the customer and showcasing your brand in a less formal light, but beyond that there are also additional tools available to grow your business online.

This includes strategic marketing strategies like RSS newsfeeds, email marketing and your CRM.

RSS feeds

RSS feeds, which aggregate new information such as blogs on your website, are a great way of encouraging site users to subscribe to your site and remain updated.

They can also be used to automatically send content across to your social media channel, making it easier to keep your social content fresh and updated.

Most sites have RSS feed capability built in, including the big names like Shopify and WordPress.

CRMs and Email marketing

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In addition to RSS, email marketing is an incredibly valuable tool in sharing content or special offers. Basically, this strategy involves encouraging people to sign up to your newsletter and then emailing them ether when appropriate or on a regular basis.

Sign-ups might occur when someone enters their data for a loyalty card at your store, or alternatively  they can happen directly on your website or social media via a subscribe button, or you might encourage them to sign up at the end of each blog post.

This sign-up information then goes into your CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) software and can be accessed to send automated email campaigns.

CRM software is essentially a platform where data about current and potential customers is held. It often includes their purchasing history with you, the contact you’ve had with them and information about their inquiries regarding your services or products. Its role is to build customer relationships.

When it comes to CRM software, often this can integrate seamlessly with your website and mobile Point of Sale or may even be built in. CRM software often includes the ability to create email campaigns. Some of the best options include:

Alternatively, MailChimp is designed as an email marketing platform, but also has a suite of CRM tools incorporated into its software.

The final word

An online presence is no longer an elective option for business, it’s an absolute necessity. Not only does it allow a digitally savvy consumer the opportunity to research before they buy, it also enables business to establish an additional avenue for revenue.

At a time when the business economy has been heavily affected by a global pandemic there has never been a better moment than now to grow your business online.

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