Five Strategies to grow your online business

Want to grow your online business?

If you talk to enough people today, when you want to grow your business, it almost sounds like there's a single strategy—Facebook ads. That just doesn't sound right, does it? But what do you do when you want to grow your online presence? What's the trick? Is there a silver bullet?

While I don't think it's a color by numbers thing, I do think there are several strategies you can leverage to improve your online business and today I want to talk to you about five of them.

1. Develop an offline strategy

The first one will feel counter-intuitive, but I have found it to be very effective. Build your offline game. As a natural consequence, you'll draw more folks to your online presence.

How does it work? Let me ask you a question.

Have you ever been to a conference where someone gives a talk? You think they're amazing and you walk up to them afterwards and ask for a card. And they tell you they don't have one, but they give you their site's url and ask you to contact them there. Do you put their url in your phone?

Maybe you don't. But I can tell you from direct experience, I get 10-40 people who fill out my contact form after a public appearance. And it's not just me. I worked with a gentleman who would run a seminar and get 5-8 people to follow up with him online. And his 5-8 were worth a year of his salary. From one seminar!

When you leverage the meetups, the conferences, the events you attend, or the associations you're a part of, and connect with people there, you have a natural moment to drive people back to your site. And if you're not using it, you should start right away.

Another friend of mine takes her crafts to fairs and instead of business cards that have her contact info, all they have is her web address. She gets tons of custom orders on the site – because she pushes people that way.

2. Partner with companies that target your customers

I've been building a new product at Liquid Web. It's for customers who run mission-critical websites. You know, those that make them money, or are critical to their business in a major way. In other words, for small businesses that can afford my product.

I bring it up because as we're starting to get the word out, I decided to build a custom plugin for another company. You might wonder how that segue just worked. The other company does work with a lot of my customers. Their customers are my customers. So it made sense for me to invest in helping them. Because a small portion of their customers may end up asking them for a recommendation and we may be the perfect fit.

You don't need to grow your online business alone. You can do it with partners. The best are partners who are equally choosy about their target. Because that gets you leads that are qualified instead of just bodies. And the better the fit, the better the chance of closing those leads.

What that means is you need to think outside of the box. I had a client who built mobile apps for non-profits. He discovered a partner who also worked with non-profits, but had nothing to do with mobile apps. But that partner allowed him to give talks from the stage about connecting with your audience. And  that audience was his perfect audience so the result was people would come up afterwards and say stuff like, “Can you tell me more about what you do?”

You can guess where that led…

3. Focus on turning customers into evangelists

How good is your onboarding? How well do you treat your customers as they sign up, or buy their first item?

For me, if I enjoy the initial moments with a new product, I tell the world about it.  No joke. I tweet. I make videos. I gift it to people. I go all out.

I'm the kind of person who feels good about themselves when they discover something new and can introduce it to others. It makes me feel good, special and important. Notice I'm not being altruistic here. I'm glad it helps others. But I do it because it makes me feel good. I like how other people think about me as the one discovering these things.

But can you guess what happens when I experience something new and cool and it's really hard to share? Or when the product sounds cool, but the onboarding is so bad that I don't want to let anyone know about it?

If you want to grow your online business, pay attention to onboarding. Focus on the first few moments. And make it really easy to let others in on how cool you are.

One company I worked with years ago had an online membership program. It wasn't cheap but I felt like it would be worth it to me. When I registered and paid for my access to their online program, I was shocked at how much awesomeness was behind the paywall. But what was even more impressive was the email I received. With a special code that I could gift to someone else, so that they could go thru the material with me.

They created a really simple way to help me evangelize their product. And they also made it so shockingly cool that I told everyone else about it. And on top of all that, they kept me around longer because I suddenly had friends in the program with me.

Are you doing everything you can to create evangelists out of your customers?

4. Write more

I bet you know this already. It's not hard to grasp. People Google things. When they have questions, they Google. When they are stuck, they Google. When they need advice, they Google. All day long, everyone asks Google all sorts of questions. And every time someone asks Google a question, they're articulating an intent. They're saying, “I'm trying to do this” or “I want to solve this” and those are the kinds of folks you want at your site.

But that means you need to write those articles. And I know you're going to tell me you're not a writer. It's ok, neither am I. But I can help you with this. I can show you how to write more regularly. And better yet, I can do it for free.

5. Learn from everyone you can

The last one is general, I know it. But I'll wrap this up with something really specific.

My point here is to simply ask people what's working for them. Ask them what they've tried that didn't work. Dig into it so you skip those mistakes.

Just because you get someone's opinion doesn't mean you have to take it and run with it. But the more you ask, the more you research, the better you'll be and the faster you'll grow – simply by processing some of the ideas you had with others and learning from their mistakes.

I can't tell you how often I see people learn a lesson they could have learned way faster and much cheaper if they'd talked to someone else.

Now, to get more specific, there's an online summit coming up. I know about it because I'm one of the speakers. It's an online summit on eCommerce and will help you grow your online business. Four days of interviews. Some of the folks that were interviewed are friends of mine. Others are famous folks that I wish I knew personally.

And the best news? It's free. If you reserve your seat. So don't delay!