by Alisha Shibli
Every successful business starts with a great idea that has been painstakingly cultivated for months or even years.
Generating awareness about your company and what it offers, persuading customers to do business with you, and then ensuring that they continue to do so are the keys to growing your business.
Multimillion-dollar global giants will invest a huge budget on elaborate marketing campaigns but small businesses most often do not have that luxury. Fortunately, with digital marketing gaining momentum at an unprecedented speed, there are several low-cost—and even no-cost—ways in which you can attract customers to your small business. Here’s a look at some of the simplest yet most effective strategies.
1. Create a website
According to a global digital report, over 4.5 billion people around the world use the internet. People turn to the internet for everything they need, from reviews of a car that they might want to buy, to finding the best hair salon in their area.
Regardless of the nature of your business, consider investing in a high-quality and user-friendly website that makes it easy for online users to find you. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when creating your website:
A. Be clear about its objective
Are you planning to sell your products online through your website? Will it be a content platform where you upload blogs and videos relevant to what you’re selling? Do you simply want to use your website to educate people about your business and provide contact information?
The way you plan your website will depend on the goals you want to achieve through it. For example, if you are running an online store, you could host it on platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce in order to provide a seamless and secure shopping experience to your customers.
B. Register your domain name
Find a domain name that is short, simple, and makes you stand out in the sea of websites vying for the customers’ attention with similar offerings. Use a new domain extension specific to your industry to establish more clarity about what people can expect when they visit your website.
For instance, www.quirkyproducts.store is a catchy name, indicative of an online store selling quirky accessories. Other domain extensions worth exploring are .tech, .site, .space, and .online.
C. Plan your design
Your website design should be in sync with what you’re offering in order to inspire excitement and confidence from visitors. For instance, an online science journal that caters to the scientific community should avoid using bold, bright colors and playful fonts as they may distract readers and sabotage the authenticity of their content.
On the other hand, a design like that would be perfect for the hypothetical www.quirkyproducts.store as it will help bring out the company’s fun and artistic personality.
2. Ask for referrals and reviews
Word-of-mouth is still a powerful marketing tool especially when the internet is flooded with paid advertisements. Customers are more likely to try a product or service if it’s recommended to them by someone they know and trust. Your most loyal customers can be your best brand ambassadors.
If people are happy with their experience, most likely they will be willing to spread the good word. However, not every happy customer will be inclined to do so and they may need that encouraging nudge from you just as a reminder.
In order to ensure maximum referral traffic, you should have a system built into your sales strategy. You can set up automatic follow-up emails in your email system that contact every customer after they’ve used your service.
Let people know that their feedback matters to you and how much you would appreciate it if they shared their experience with others. Provide them with a link to a referral form that they can easily fill out. Incentivize referrals with discounts, giveaways, and membership benefits.
3. Establish your expertise
Is your business born out of your passion and expertise? Then it is a great idea to leverage that to gain your customers’ confidence. Establish yourself not just as a business person but as a knowledgeable authority and people will be more inclined to try out your products or services. Here are a few ways to promote your expertise:
- Reach out to relevant publications and offer to author guest posts for them.
- Keep track of the latest trends in your industry and offer your views on them either through self-authored posts or quotes in other stories.
- Participate in events and seminars that your industry peers and customers are likely to attend.
- Conduct your own workshops and educational sessions for customers.
- Use social media and webinar platforms to conduct live demos, Q&As, and other online events.
4. Publish content on external websites
The objective here is to drive more relevant traffic to your website. This is famously known as ‘guest blogging’ and it offers the best results when you work with publications that have a hyper-relevant audience to you and can refer that good traffic to your website.
This goes beyond looking at Domain Authority or fretting over a dofollow link. This can also save you the time and effort of sending hundreds of outreach emails to publications to see if they would be willing to accept content from you.
To gauge the effectiveness of a website, look at the following factors:
- Does each post on the publication get good engagement in terms of comments, shares, etc.?
- How much traffic does the website and its every individual post gets?
- Is their buyer persona identical to yours?
- Do you think this website can send meaningful referral traffic to your website?
An evaluation such as this takes a bit of time but it can save you a ton of effort pitching, writing, and sending content to websites that ultimately won’t move the needle.
The marketing strategy you employ will ultimately depend upon factors such as the nature of your business, industry trends, your goals, and the availability of resources. However, as a small business, you can use the ideas discussed above in different combinations in order to get that initial breakthrough.