There are thousands of books, and even more so-called "thought leaders" who will tell you, "do this new thing and watch your business explode in growth." But, when you get into the real world of growing your business, that fascinating and inspiring book is slowly forgotten.
Because growing a business and attracting more customers doesn’t have shortcuts or gimmicks. I think that’s the fallacy of a “growth hacking” mindset - that eventually, if we keep trying gimmicks, we’re going to hit a home run...
Some do. But, then again, some people win the lottery too. I’ll just assume that you’re not going to succeed with a gimmick.
How to Grow a Business Online
I’m a Kansas City Chief fan (yes, it’s sad), and I get so frustrated with the head coach sometimes. In seemingly walk-off scoring drives, he is known to try a nonsense trick play. Once, he had our starting nose-tackle (defensive lineman) play quarterback on the goal line. (actually, that one worked)
But, if you ask any head coach from Lombardi to Reid, they will tell you that you have to focus on the fundamentals.
Success is neither magical, nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals. -Jim Rohn
The 7 Fundamentals of How to Grow a Business Online
When it comes to growing your business online, you can spend your time and budget trying to hack growth, or you can spend your budget and time on the fundamentals. And, for every business that hits a home run on a gimmick, there are hundreds that fail, and hundreds more that win on the fundamentals.
1. Build a Website Your Customers Think is Great
The number one mistake we see companies make on their website is to make it all about them. Your potential customers don’t care about you - they care about solving their problem or getting something they want. Your website must be about that.
Instead of wasting time building persona dossiers you’ll never look at again, take the time to get to know your potential customers, especially their frustrations, pain points, and problems. If you can help them address or solve those kinds of things, you will earn their attention.
Audit your website and take not of every page or section that talks about “us, we, our, etc.,” and consider replacing that section with “you and your.” You can potentially make the same point, but from the perspective of the buyer.
The second thing about websites is that thinking burns calories, and our bodies are naturally inclined to hoard calories for survival. Therefore, when a potential customer finds your website confusing, or if they can’t find what they are looking for very quickly, their brains will tell them to close the tab and move on.
Here are three things to audit on your website:
- Is the navigation intuitive? - Is there anything your customers are looking for that should be in the navigation menu?
- Does each page have a singular purpose? - Each page should address one issue - that’s numero uno. If you have pages that try to address multiple topics, break them up into multiple pages. Only focus on one issue per page.
- Does each page have a logical next step proposed? - When a visitor reaches the end of any webpage on your site, what will be their next objective or question? Whatever that is, you should offer a simple, clickable call-to-action at the end of that page to take them to the next step.
2. Blog a Lot About the Things Your Customers Care About
Let me qualify this one, blog about the things your customers care about that is somewhat connected with what you offer. Just because they like cookies doesn’t mean a B2B blog should post cookie recipes.
For most of our clients, our blogging strategy starts by answering questions. Every single question you could potentially be asked by a prospect should be answered on your blog. If they want to know what struggles to prepare for, write posts about what's difficult. If they want to know why they should do something, write about the benefits and the payoff of doing that thing.
I know there are tons of marketers out there saying the blogging is dead. It’s not, and it won’t be for a long time. It’s a fundamental, and if you dig into those voices that say to abandon blogging, they usually have some gimmick to sell. Don’t buy it.
Put your nose to the grindstone and start answering a question-a-day on your blog. Make sure to optimize each blog post for SEO, and within a few months, you will be enjoying a lot of website traffic, which can be translated into customers.
3. Start Producing Videos
Don’t overcomplicate this one. When blogging does go out of style, it will be because video replaced it. So, the principles are the same.
Too many companies don’t do video because they assume they need expensive equipment and to hire expensive new staff. It’s not true. Amateur video performs just as well as overly produced video.
Have you seen a lot of Gary Vee content lately? Most of it is just a video of him talking to people. No fancy studio, no fancy setup… just talking to people. Amateur video works! As a matter of fact, there are very expensive software options to make professional video look like it’s handheld, amateur video. You have a video studio in your pocket, so you can make great quality videos with little-to-no expense.
Again, the principles are the same - create content that addresses your personas problems. In fact, if you’re crunched for time, just take your blog posts and turn them into videos. You have a script already written, just prop up your smartphone and record yourself saying the same thing.
Those who like to read will read the post. Those who like to watch and listen will watch the video.
4. Make a Real Lead Magnet
You can write an eBook, or anything else for that matter, and call it a lead magnet. But, that doesn't’ mean it’s attracting anything. What good is a magnet that doesn’t attract metal?
You need to create something of value - something your prospects would pay for, but you’re giving it away for free. The reason a lot of lead magnets don’t produce leads is because they don’t matter - they aren’t interesting.
If you want to increase lead conversions, make your lead magnet a no-brainer. People should get the impression that if they did not convert, they would be foolish for passing up such a great offer.
Once you have this offer, offer it everywhere it is relevant. This means at the end of your videos, and in your blog post. Really, you can promote it in any relevant content and page on your website.
5. Setup Funnel-Focused Email Automation
Depending on where your contacts are in the buyer journey, you need to be nurturing them. It’s no good to build an email list if you’re not actively nurturing that list. And, the great thing is, nurturing is one of the easiest things to automate.
The goal for each email series is to move one of your personas from one stage of the buyer journey to the next. Of course, this means you need a deep understanding of what the buyer journey of each of your personas is. But, once you know that in detail, you can create email series that walks each contact through that process.
If you have a brand new lead in the awareness stage, you should have an email series, or several, with the objective of moving that lead from the awareness stage to the interest stage. And, once a contact hits the interest stage, all awareness nurturing automation should be shut down and replaced with interest-level nurturing. Of course, interest level nurturing series are all about moving the persona from interest to consideration. Then, from consideration to decision.
6. Email Your Contacts Regularly
Don’t leave email in the realm of automation only. If you have a list of potential customers, you should be communicating with them manually as well. These manual emails are 100% about adding value, not selling.
Leave the selling process to your nurturing campaign, but do your best to manually add value and give away your best content. Be educational, helpful, and entertaining, and your contacts will come to love these emails from you.
7. Crush a Single Social Channel
Here’s the truth, you don’t have to be on every social channel. Yes, you should create a profile everywhere, but you don’t have to crush every channel to be successful. Unless you’re already having massive success on social, I recommend you focusing on one channel. Don’t try to master any other social channel until you’ve effectively crushed that one.
Be there, live there, engage there, and become a known face there. Don’t just spam your content, you can do that on all the channels your not focusing on. But, for this one, you want to be the helpful person that is bringing value to the community.
How do you pick which channel to crush?
Go back to your personas, what is their number one channel? Whatever it is, that’s where you need to be. If it’s LinkedIn, publish blogs and upload videos to LinkedIn - all with the purpose of adding value. If it’s Facebook, do some Facebook lives, publish memes and videos. And, most of all, interact on other people’s post often.
How to Grow a Business Online
None of these seven fundamentals are gimmicks. Each and every one of them require an investment of time, money, and energy. In other words, it’s work.
If you really want to grow your business online, realize it’s going to take a lot of work, and a few months before you start seeing exciting results. You’re growing a business, after all. Don’t think it’s going to explode because you published a few blog posts, just like 4 million others. The real success comes when you’re still going after those other 4 million quite. The real success comes when you’re adding more value than the other 4 million.
You have to earn it.
If you want the lottery, this post is not for you. If you want to grow a business online, roll up your sleeves and master the fundamentals. Keep your head down and don’t consider giving up. Trust the process - success lives in the fundamentals.