Do you want to grow your business online quickly, and without using up all your funds? We know that for business owners time is money, and both time and money can be hard to find when you’re launching a new project.
The good news is, we’ve got 13 affordable tips to help you grow your business, and they’re all something you can take action on today.
How to Grow Your Business Online: 13 Effective Tips
- Choose the right platform for your business website
- Design your site to serve your target audience
- Produce high quality content
- Improve your site speed
- Prioritize mobile-friendly content
- Make key information easy to find
- Invest in email marketing
- Help visitors find your site in search engines
- Start a blog
- Make the most of social media
- Launch pay-per-click advertising
- Leverage social proof
- Test, analyze, and make data-led improvements
We’ve been helping people build and grow their online presence for over 10 years – whether you already have a business site, or you’re just getting started, our main goal is to help you succeed online. So, let’s get started!
Choose the Right Platform for Your Business Site
The platform you build your business website on is the foundation of your online presence. If you pick a subpar platform, it’s likely you’ll start to struggle as you gain more traffic. Below, we outline how to choose a good website builder, and how to choose a good web host if you’re using WordPress. If you’re already happy with your platform, feel free to skip to step two!
We’ve tested over 50 website builders (so far), so we know what to look for – and which red flags to avoid! Here are the basics to look for when choosing a good website builder:
- Plenty of storage space and bandwidth
- No adverts on your site
- High quality template designs
- Free SSL included on all plans
- SEO tools included on all plans
Marketing tools, such as newsletter templates
- Ecommerce options if you need to sell online
- When we spoke to small business owners, they told us that SEO, ease of use, and quality features were most important to them. With that in mind, which website builder do we recommend most for small businesses?
- Design Your Site to Serve Your Target Audience
- Did you know it takes just 50 milliseconds for visitors to judge your website? Web design is crucial for making a good first impression – you need to convince users in half a second that your site is trustworthy, professional, and worth their time.
The secret to good web design is pretty simple: always remember who you’re designing for. Keep your target audience in mind when designing your website, and you’ll create a much better user experience.
Web design isn’t just about looking good – it can boost conversions, reduce bounce rate, and is even set to become a Google ranking factor this year.
If your current business website isn’t serving your visitors’ needs, it’s time for a redesign! Trust us, it’ll be worth it – unfold the sections below for three top design tips, or read on for some useful tool recommendations.
Produce High Quality Content
Whether you’re running a blog, a Twitter account, or writing an About Us page, it’s important to create high quality content for your online readers.
Writing for the web is very different to writing offline – people have shorter attention spans, and often skim the page rather than reading every word. It’s important to be engaging, and to deliver information quickly. Keep your content simple, concise, and digestible. Avoid large chunks of text, don’t use jargon, and steer clear of long, complex sentences.
Improve Your Website Loading Speed
How quickly your website loads will have a huge impact on how many people stay and come back to your website. One in four visitors would abandon a site that takes more than four seconds to load, and 46% of users don’t return to websites with poor performance.
In short, people are impatient, and if your site is too slow then you’ll struggle to grow!
Test how good your page load speeds are right now using a free online tool such as Pingdom – you simply enter your URL to run a website speed test and identify weak areas. Ideally, your site should no longer than two seconds to load. If you run your site through Google PageSpeed Insights, you should aim for a score above 90.
pingdom web load speed growing business online
You can use free online tools such as Pingdom to find out how fast your website is, and what you could improve. Click the image to visit Pingdom
Even if your results are good, you should still look for ways to improve – even a 0.1 second improvement can increase order value by 9.2%! Here are a few ways you can speed things up:
Check your hosting plan – if your site is lagging or crashing, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan, or change the type of hosting you’re using. You might even need to switch providers entirely if its servers keep going down!
Compress your images, videos, and files – the more files you have, and the bigger those files are, the slower your site will be. Compression reduces the file size and helps your site load faster.
Assess your plugins – too many plugins will slow your site down, and chances are you have more than you need. Could it be time for a clear out?
Use a CDN – this spreads bandwidth across multiple servers, and is a much speedire option than relying on a single server to deliver your content to visitors.
Useful Tools for Improving Site Speed
Pingdom: free – see how fast your site is and get a custom analysis
Google PageSpeed Insights: free – enter your URL for a free analysis and suggestions on how to improve your page speed
Kraken.io: free – easily compress images to upload to your site
HTMLMinifier: free – a tool for compressing HTML code
CSSNano: free – a tool for compressing CSS code
Bluehost: $2.95+ per month – a web host with 99.98% uptime that provides free CDN
Cloudflare: free – a popular CDN provider
Make Key Information Easy to Find
Even if your business site loads super quickly and is beautifully designed, if you can’t give the user what they’re looking for quickly, they won’t hang around looking for it – they’ll go looking somewhere else.
If you want visitors to stay – and eventually convert – you need to make important information easy to find on your website:
Contact details – 64% of users want to see a company’s contact information on the homepage
Pricing – be transparent and upfront about your pricing
Shipping and returns policies – two thirds of shoppers want to be clear on the return policy before buying a product online
Your location – if you have a physical location, help people find you using maps, directions, or a photo of your premises!
To make key information really easy to find, you can list your company on Google My Business for free. This means that when someone googles your business, your listing appears telling people your location, opening hours, contact details, and website address. It means visitors don’t even have to click onto your site to get in touch or visit you in person!
google my business listings grow business online
Creating a Google My Business listing is a great way to grow the number of people viewing your business
Useful Tools for Helping Users Find Key Information
Google My Business: free – displays your business information at the top of Google search results
WPForms: free – a contact form plugin for WordPress websites
WP Google Maps: free – a WordPress plugin that lets you add a location map to your website
Invest In Email Marketing
Did you know that email marketing offers amazing return on investment? For every $1 you spend, you can expect to make back $42 on average, making email marketing a powerful tool for growing your business!
Using an email marketing tool makes it easy to stay in touch with your visitors and keep them engaged with your business. You can send newsletters, promote sales, ask for testimonials or product reviews, conduct surveys, share important updates, and more.
We’ve spent over 160 hours testing email marketing platforms, so we can recommend the best email marketing service for you – in our research, we found that Sendinblue is the best email marketing for small businesses.
Useful Email Marketing Tools
Sendinblue: free – our top-rated email marketing software for small businesses
Help Visitors Find Your Site In Search Engines
Perhaps you already have email marketing set up, and your business site primed and ready to go. But what if nobody is seeing it? If low traffic is your problem, you need to spend some time on your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO is the art of getting your website to rank higher up in search results – considering only 0.44% of Google users visit the second page, being on the first page of Google is vital for people finding your website.
There are over 200 factors that Google takes into account when ranking websites, so we could go on and on about the many ways to improve your rankings. Some factors we’ve already covered in this list, such as site speed, high quality content, and mobile experience.
Start a Blog
Okay, so you shouldn’t start a blog just for the sake of it. However, blogs are great for engaging visitors and keeping them interested over time. It also offers more opportunity to rank for different keywords and gain more traffic.
Here are six top tips for running a blog for your business:
Make sure that your blog covers topics relevant to your business
Plan ahead so you can post new articles regularly
Make use of events – such as Black Friday – to post topical content
Write guest posts for other blogs
Share your blog posts on social media
Send newsletter updates via email marketing
Make the Most of Social Media
Social media offers a huge opportunity for engaging with a wide audience – in 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide.
Facebook is still the most popular social media platform in the world, with approximately 2.5 billion monthly users. This said, it’s important to choose the right social media platform for your business.
For example, a recruitment agency is likely to benefit from an active presence on LinkedIn, whereas a photography studio would be better suited to Instagram. Think about your target audience and which platforms they’re most active on.
Here are 10 tips for making the most of social media to grow a following:
Be selective about which platforms you share on. Don’t try to spread yourself across all of them – target the right audience for your business.
Post regularly. Sporadic sharing is a big no-no – don’t post five items in one day and then go silent for a month.
Share relevant, high quality content. Don’t share stuff just for the sake of it – make sure you have something to say that will be of value to your audience.
Use a consistent tone of voice. Always make sure your social presence stays true to your brand, otherwise mixed messaging will confuse your audience.
Engage with your followers! Reply to followers, answer questions, set up polls or competitions, share their posts when they feature your business, and so on.
Think before you post. Social media is usually a more informal setting, but remember that you’re a business. Think about the language you’re using, don’t get drawn into arguments, and always check hashtags and spelling before sharing!
Optimize your send times. What times are your audience most likely to see and engage with your post? Remember to cater to time zones too.
Share images and other media. People respond positively to graphics and images on social media, so sharing visuals may help boost your engagement.
Don’t be too salesly. People generally use social media to relax and be entertained, so don’t be too salesy – mix it up!
Make your content shareable. Include quotes, statistics, and advice in your blog posts that people may want to share. Make sure to include social icons to make it easy for people to follow or share!
Useful Social Media Tools
Hootsuite: $49+ per month – schedule posts in advance and measure engagement using analytics
ClickToTweet: free – make it easy for visitors to share your content with premade Tweets embedded in your content
Bitly: free – a neat tool for shortening links
Venngage: free – easily create infographics to make your social content more engaging
Go to the top
Launch Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is where you bid on target keywords to appear in search engine results, to encourage users to click on your website. These paid adverts usually appear at the very top of the search results:
ppc google results growing online
The results at the very top of the page, labelled “Ad”, are PPC results – you can see why PPC advertising boosts your visibility so much!
The benefits of paid advertising include driving more traffic and conversions, targeting your audience, and access to more data so you can analyse and improve your campaigns.
One of the biggest pros of PPC is that it’s a really quick way to see results. It’s ideal for quickly growing your traffic and conversions, because it immediately gives you greater visibility in the search results.
However, it can be costly, and as soon as you stop paying your visibility disappears completely. Luckily, there are affordable ways to run PPC campaigns.
Popular methods include Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, and we recommend these because they give you plenty of control, are easy to get started with, and help you target your specific audience.
You’re in control of how much you want to spend and which keywords you want to target, which should help you stick to a budget.
Useful Tools for Launching Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Google AdWords: free to create an account, set your own campaign budget – bid on target keywords, then pay for clicks via the ad to your site
Facebook Ads: free to create an account, set your own campaign budget – create and manage Facebook advertising campaigns
Leverage Social Proof
Don’t underestimate the immense power of social proof – a huge 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. People rely on social proof to decide whether to trust a business, buy products, or choose one service over another.
92% of consumers are less likely to use a business because of negative reviews, so if you get a lot of complaints it’s time to make a change. An average Google My Business listing is viewed 1,260 times per month, so don’t think nobody will notice a low star rating!
Here are four easy ways to leverage social proof to grow your business online:
Set up a Google My Business listing. Set up a new Google Account and click ‘Manage Now’ on the Google My Business page. Enter your business name, location, business category, contact details, and your website URL. You can then finish the setup and verify your business. After that, you can add photos, write a business description, and more to make your listing as appealing and informative as possible!
Gather customer reviews and testimonials. Put positive quotes and testimonials on your homepage and share them on social media – you could even create a dedicated “case studies” page on your website.
Reply to reviews and comments. 78% of consumers said that a business responding to reviews was important to them. It’s also a great chance to salvage bad reviews, by actively helping customers sort out any issues.
Display star ratings where possible. Star ratings are the most important review factor. Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than four stars, so every rating counts!
Test, Analyze, and Make Data-Led Improvements
The joy of running a growing business is that you’re never finished. As soon as you think “Yes! I’m seeing results!” is the time to think “What next?”. Growing your business is all about trying out new tactics, measuring the results, and making decisions based on the data you see.
We recommend trying any of the tips we’ve talked about in this list and measuring the results. But there are also much smaller details that you can test, which can have a huge impact. These include:
Call to action colors and styles – simply changing the color of a button can have a huge impact on conversions!
Email subject line, send time, and content variations – Sendinblue allows all three
Headings – do your readers respond better to questions, controversy, or teasing hooks?
Social media posting times – does morning, lunch, or evening yield better results?
Email sign-up wording – include how many people have already signed up, for example
Popups – size, color, and timing, such as entry popups versus exit popups
At the end of the day, you’re the best person to know which tests you should run. Understanding your audience and which metrics are most important to you will have a big influence on which factors you’ll test going forwards.