Society is experiencing a digital business revolution. Last year, 1.79 billion people shopped online. That’s nearly a quarter of the world’s population.
That’s just e-commerce, as well. There are new forms of digital business emerging all the time. It’s one of the most exciting times to be in business. It’s like the beginning of Wall Street, the Gold Rush, and the birth of Silicon Valley, all in one.
Like those earlier eras, there’s some pretty fierce competition to succeed in digital business. There’s room to grow and prosper, though. 50% of small businesses don’t have a website, for instance.
If you’re wanting to excel in the digital Gold Rush, we’ve compiled some tips for how to grow your business online.
1. Know Your Audience
One of the greatest strengths of online business is a much more in-depth understanding of our customers and audience. Traditional businesses were forced to rely on slow, unwieldy market feedback to see how they were succeeding. Some things simply weren’t possible to know, either, no matter how big your marketing budget might be.
One of the secrets of being successful in business is knowing what your customers want instead of telling them how they should feel. Imagine trying to market a product there’s simply no demand for. You can create all of the advertising campaigns in the world and it won’t matter one bit if people don’t want to buy.
The first step in knowing how to grow your business online is to know your customers as deeply as possible. You should create at least one buyer persona before even launching your business. This will inform every other aspect of how you develop your business.
Your buyer personas will influence everything from the kind of content you create to when it is posted. Business professionals tend to be very active on Monday mornings, for instance. Stay-at-home parents might be browsing Pinterest in the evening after the kids go to bed, in contrast.
2. Customer Experience Matters
When you’re essentially in competition with every business on Earth, you’ve got to really stand out from the other businesses in your industry. This makes customer experience vitally important. 92% of customers trust recommendations from their friends and family, for instance.
Pay very close attention to what people are saying about your brand. Practice social listening via social media and address any negative feedback you might receive as quickly as possible.
You might employ some traditional marketing techniques to get even more in-depth insights into your audience. Think about making some polls or questionnaires for some good old-fashioned A/B testing, for instance. This is particularly important if you’re considering a redesign or rebranding.
3. Get Social
There’s no overstating the power of social media in establishing an online brand. It helps humanize your company, for one thing. This is one way you can stand out against the other businesses operating in your sector.
It’s also a way to generate thought-leadership, as well. This also helps you to stand out against your competition and boost your trustworthiness, which is particularly important in a “post-truth” world.
Social media also gets people talking about your brand. When used in conjunction with an inbound marketing campaign, like writing a blog, your audience will even handle your advertising and marketing for you. You can’t buy that kind of press.
Social media also offers the potential of that digital golden goose – going viral. It’s not really possible to know what content will catch the public imagination ahead of time but it’s worth it to try. Careers are literally made overnight when something goes viral.
Can you imagine if millions of people were visiting your website in one day?
4. Don’t Forget Design!
This tip relies on several of the others, and influences them all. It’s not enough to simply offer a great product or service. It doesn’t matter how exceptional your content is if no one sees or reads it.
You need to consider how people use digital technology to make your online business as successful as possible. You could have the most fascinating content on Earth, but no one would read it if it looks like a Geocities page circa 1997.
This factors into user experience. You need to consider mobile devices, for instance. The days of mobile optimization being optional are long gone.
You should pay attention to some of the graphic design trends in your industry, as well. You don’t want to imitate others too much or you’ll simply blend in and be forgotten. You’ll want people to be to recognize what your business is about, though.
5. Make Connections
Personalized connections may be the single most powerful tool available to digital business owners. It essentially gives you the intimacy of a small business owner but empowered by the same powerful technology available to Fortune 500 companies.
It’s much easier to keep a customer than it is to make a new one. Make sure you spend an ample amount of time and energy engaging with your core audience. You might make a newsletter, for instance, where you could engage your loyal audience regularly.
Make sure you’re spending time growing your audience, as well. Participate in special interest communities on social media, for example. Make sure you’re actually talking to people, as well! It’s called social media for a reason.
Digital business is one of the most exciting evolutions of the business world since the invention of boats.
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