Scaling an online business isn’t rocket science -- it’s actually much easier than many people believe. When you combine a winning product or service and a solid foundation to build on, the sky’s the limit.
Use these five simple marketing and branding tips to help you scale your online business and experience increased growth.
1. Make it ridiculously easy for your customers to buy your product or service.
It’s amazing how many businesses make prospects jump through multiple hoops in order to make a purchase -- my own marketing agency was guilty of this as well, until recently. While our main offering is custom-tailored online-marketing consulting, we also offer several à la carte services.
The problem was that, previously, a prospect had to contact us via phone or our website to order one of these stand-alone services. When we did a little digging, we found that the majority of these inquiries didn’t require any selling -- people simply wanted to make a purchase.
So, we made a switch, making it easy for prospects to purchase these à la carte services directly from our website. And the results have been great so far: Sales are up since we eliminated that previous hoop that a prospect once had to jump through.
Experiment with eliminating steps and making changes that create a ridiculously easy path to purchase.
2. Track every conversion metric humanly possible.
You have to know your numbers -- if you don’t know, down to the penny, how much it costs you to generate leads and sales, you will crash and burn.
Cost-per-lead (CPL): You need to know how much it costs to generate every form of lead, from email submits to phone calls. A blended CPL won’t work -- you need to be as specific as possible. If you are able to generate email leads for $1 each and phone leads are costing you $8 each, but converting at the same rate, wouldn’t it be wise to push all of your effort into producing more email leads?
Cost-per-sale (CPS): All of your data works together. For example, your conversion rates and cost-per-lead are going to help you determine what each sale is costing you. Business 101 tells us that if the CPS, plus cost of goods sold, is lower than the sales price, it's profitable. But you need to dive a bit deeper. Where are you pulling the lowest CPS from? Can you open up the faucet to generate more sales from that avenue?
You need to also know what your different landing pages are converting at and where your top-performing lead sources are. You are never going to find a winning combination that you can “set and forget” -- constant monitoring and optimizing are required.
3. Seek out media exposure to highlight your expertise.
Getting yourself and your brand out there is crucial if you want to scale. There are plenty of opportunities to score free media exposure if you are willing to put in a little work.
If you aren’t already registered with Help a Reporter Out, or HARO for short, do that now. With more than 35,000 journalists seeking insights from experts, there is a very good chance you will come across several exposure opportunities if you put in the effort. Consistency is key if you want to find success using this strategy.
HARO sends out three emails daily, full of opportunities. Many people read through them for a few days and then give up if an opportunity doesn’t fall into their lap. Don't let this be you.
Instead, stick it out and put some effort into your responses -- journalists receive hundreds of replies to each request, so you are going to need to stand out. Make sure you avoid making these stupid press outreach mistakes.
4. Set up email automation sequences to nurture, promote and convert 24/7.
Every type of business can use email automation. Restaurants can build a list that automatically sends out ecoupons for specials and discounts on notoriously slow days to drive foot traffic. Ecommerce stores can create segmented lists and send special offers to customers based on their previous purchase habits.
Information products can capture an email address and automatically market to that prospect, sending enticing information and discounts, until that prospect pulls out his or her credit card and converts.
Just like every other form of online marketing, email automation requires extensive split testing and constant optimization, but when you fine-tune your efforts, email automation creates a system that promotes, nurtures and converts sales 24/7 -- even while you sleep.
5. Maintain consistent social media branding and cross promote.
Social media is such a powerful branding tool, and it’s important that you think about the big picture when establishing social accounts for your business. Using the same handle on every platform makes it easy for your customers to connect with you across all of the channels they are active on.
It will benefit you greatly if you use a handle that’s easy to remember and available on all of the networks you will be actively promoting on. For example, I use the same handle for my personal brand on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
You should also be cross-promoting your social media accounts in an effort to get your audience connected on as many platforms as possible. Someone following your brand on Twitter might not be connected on Facebook, which could be his or her preferred social network. A simple “Make sure to connect with us on Facebook” tweet could get people to like your Facebook page and then engage with a future Facebook post, leading to that hoped-for conversion.