The United States is one of the biggest online markets in the world. In fact, 90% of Americans are frequent internet users, that’s close to 312 million people. As an entrepreneur, a statistic like that is difficult to ignore, pushing many to think outside the box and explore the wealth of opportunities that come with taking their business online.
But the platform has become saturated – an infinite game where a billion players fight to outrank each other and the real winners are the ones who get to keep playing. Now, you are left with the question, “What do I need to be a constant contender?” Our answer – optimization.
You need to be always learning because it’s not enough to know you have the web accessibility resources to make it in the online world, you also need to understand how you can use it to your advantage.
Following are the key strategies that help to grow your online business
Table of Contents
Optimize your web design
When someone says “online presence,” a website is probably what springs to mind immediately. But how do you build a business website that improves conversion rates?
More than looking good, a website has to be of substance, meaning it should be functional, interactive, and able to provide a seamless online experience for your target audience. Users should be able to find or do what they set out to as easily as possible. This encourages return visits, thereby increasing chances for conversion.
According to studies, 53% of online users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. So while it’s enticing to pepper your site with big fancy images and videos, these elements take longer to load, ultimately affecting your visitors’ online experience. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to evaluate yours and see how you can improve your site’s page loading time.
A call-to-action or CTA acts as your website’s hook. Coming up with an effective CTA boils down to knowing exactly what each page’s intent is and what sort of action you want a user to do. CTAs have been integral in some of the most successful landing pages, a fundamental element used to improve conversion rates.
Mobile usage continues to surpass desktop – making up 52.2% of combined traffic worldwide in 2018 from a mere 16.2% in 2013. This is the reality – being user-oriented means meeting your market exactly where they are, and right now, that’s on mobile; so make sure your website is mobile-responsive, meaning users should have a seamless experience regardless of screen size.
Email and contact forms
The key to an effective online form can be summarized in 3 P’s: prominence, proof, and promise. Your contact form should be visible, credible, and able to deliver the expectation of a user upon signing up. A tit for tat – if they give you information, what do they get in return? And what do you do with their information? Be transparent with that.
Optimize your content
If web design is the face of your business online, content is what comes out of its mouth. Great design can only take you so far, but with great content, you can turn a simple website visitor into an actual lead or sale. This is especially true in an era when stories are often what people buy into, not products. To help you get started, here are a few things to focus on:
If I’m a user thinking of buying running shoes, then it would be crazy to tell me a story about high heels. Relevance is not just about churning out content that is related to a need, it’s also about offering real value to the reader. You have to be creative to stand out while still being able to bridge a specific market gap.
Additionally, it doesn’t always have to be about your products. Telling stories about causes your brand supports has also been found to be a great way to humanize brands.
Market research enables you to craft content that speaks your audience’s language. Equally important, though, is it should be easy to the eyes – scannable, visual, mobile-friendly, and highly targeted based on the buyer’s journey the user is in. You can’t use too much jargon for someone who is still on the awareness stage, but it might be useful to a site visitor who is deeper in the funnel.
The use of video and images
Long chunks of text can bore a reader. Your website is not a research paper designed for academics, it’s a channel designed to create experiences for a user. Make it more memorable and enticing by using rich media such as images and video.
Remember, humans, are able to process visual data 60,000 times faster than text. But you also need to keep in mind that you have to keep your file sizes at a minimum, as this affects loading speeds.
One of the things digital marketing shares with traditional marketing is word of mouth. Earned media is as effective online as it is offline. Keeping this in mind will help you see content as an avenue to build and engage a community – it should be able to spark conversation and be easily shareable.
Mention industry leaders and influencers
Building authority as a thought leader means being both a credible source and knowing the right people to use as sources. In the online world, a rotten apple spoils the bunch – plugging unreliable sources in your content can negatively impact your reputation, so make sure to do your research.
Additionally, mentioning industry leaders and influencers allows you to build relationships with these people. And once you have a strong enough relationship with them, you can tap into each other’s audiences, further expanding your reach.
Repurpose your content
Discover new ways to maximize your content’s potential. A highly-visited blog page could be shared on social media, expounded through a white paper, shortened for an email blast, or visualized in an infographic. Be creative on how you can get more eyeballs on your content without tiring it out.
Optimize your social media
Social media is arguably one of the biggest game-changers of online marketing. It has become very much a part of our daily lives. If you think about it, almost all consumer transactions have a social media equivalent. Here’s how you can leverage this platform to get more clients and retain existing ones:
Choose the right network
A strong social media presence doesn’t require you to be active on every single platform. With so many available networks to use, it is vital to evaluate which ones you should invest your time and energy in.
You need to know where your audience spends most of their time and what they engage the most with. As well, you need to have a clear understanding of what each platform is for and what type of market uses it, so you can come up with a sound strategy applicable for each.
Respond to comment and messages
The beauty of social media is it allows you to directly interact with your audience. Yes, each and every platform serves a specific purpose, but at the end of the day, all a consumer wants is to be heard and acknowledged. Taking the time to respond to comments and messages might just be what you need to encourage brand loyalty.
Tailor how you share on each platform
A one-size-fits-all technique won’t work on social media, so being able to identify the purpose of each platform gives you the power to customize your content accordingly. A long post might work on your LinkedIn audience but might drive your Instagram followers away.
Select tools to schedule and automate posts
Publishing posts can be a taxing activity. Contrary to popular belief, it takes as much time and attention to detail to publish as it is to write. Luckily, there are more than a hundred ways you can do this with ease – just find a scheduling and automation tool that fits your need and it will be a breeze to manage.
Maintain a constant presence
It’s almost human nature to check a business’ social media presence after visiting their site. Non-activity might leave an impression that you are no longer an active business, so while it can be time-consuming to create content, you’ll be able to reap rewards if you invest in it.
Optimize for Search Engines
Online, outranking your competition can be taken quite literally. Search engines have dominated the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey so much so that ranking on page 1 of Google has become a significant metric of digital success. As a small business, here’s how you can effectively implement SEO on your site:
A solid keyword strategy is the backbone of an effectively optimized site. But instead of the traditional technique of keyword stuffing, it should be about what a consumer might use to serve a particular intent. Use available tools like Google or Ubersuggest to determine search volume and keyword difficulty, so you have a fair idea of your target market’s search behavior.
Optimize title tags and meta description
Once you have your keywords, the next step is implementing them on your site. Start with the title and metatags since these are the first two things a user sees when searching online.
Set up schema
Schema allows you to provide a specific answer to a user’s specific question. Let’s say a searcher is trying to find out your business phone number, a schema can lessen the friction by making it the first thing that appears on search results.
Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can help you set this up easily.
Sitemap and robot.txt
SEO is a strategy designed to cater to both your target audience and search engines. A sitemap and robot.txt both serve as guides to search engines spiders, directing them on how they should prioritize your pages.
Link building has long been believed to be a contributing factor to a site’s search ranking. Choose sites that are relevant and are of authority, because when it comes to backlinks, Google will always prefer quality over quantity.
Optimize Your Security
At a time when knowledge is power and data is money, security has climbed the priority list of almost every business out there. More than protecting your company, it’s about giving your clients the peace of mind that every information they provide and transaction they make with you is safe and secure.
Investing in secured hosting means protecting your website from hackers looking to extract data or just breach it to prove a point. With secured hosting, you can be sure that your site is monitored and unhackable to a standard extent.
An SSL certification provides another layer of security between your server and a browser. This is especially important for websites that constantly require sensitive information such as credit card details and addresses.
What are VPN and their meaning? VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool commonly used to ensure privacy online. It basically encrypts your digital route, masks your IP address, and lessens the risk of breaches and data hacking. Add that to the fact that you can also use it to analyze your SEO efforts as well as your competitors’.
All these are simple and standard ways to optimize your business online. But if you look at it closely, everything is rooted in a change in mindset – it’s no longer about you, it’s about your market. Optimization for the digital world means taking a “client-first” approach to everything you do- from design to content to security because you are only as good as your audience perceives you to be.