Online businesses inevitably go through dips. Your initial enthusiasm might have waned. Getting online sales turns out to be harder than you thought. Other projects might be distracting you. For whatever reason, you need to jump start your online business and get the revenue rolling back in.
Here are our top 5 suggestions for getting things going – plus why they work.
1. Blog more frequently
What, you don’t have a Blog on your website? What’s wrong with you? No, seriously. You need a Blog on your website.
Why? Two reasons. First, Google will see new content added to your website and reward you with higher rankings. Second, it gives you an opportunity to communicate with your potential customers on a regular basis and (for want of a better word) “teach” them about your product.
But here’s the nugget of gold. The more frequently you publish Blog posts, the more traffic Google will reward you with. And of course the higher the quality of that content, the better.
We’ve see this time and again with our own business, Legal123. Update the Blog every 2-3 weeks, the traffic drifts off. Update 1-2 times a week and the traffic surges back. And the more traffic you generate to your website, the more sales you will generate.
Why does it work? Google wants the web to grow and wants better web properties. So if you’re constantly adding new, high quality content, Google will love you back. And more traffic equals more sales.
2. Reply to EVERY email you receive
We’re all swamped by emails and we know the more emails we reply to, the more emails it generates back! So you might have pulled back a little, let the inbox fill up, archived when you should have replied.
Well, that stops today. For the next 2 weeks reply to EVERY email you receive with as much helpful information as possible. Not just prospects, existing customers too. Remember, your existing customers are your biggest potential source of new sales.
Here at Legal123, I like to think this is something we do pretty well. Sure, there’s always room to improve. But if you send a contact form message to us, you’ll get a response and with as much useful information as we can give – without looking like a “free” legal Q&A, of course.
Why does it work? If someone has emailed you, they’re interested in what you have to say or offer. So email back! Build the connection, offer to help, start a conversation. You’ll be rewarded with more sales.
3. Reply to EVERY Social media comment
As if being swamped by email weren’t enough, now we have Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. The list seems to grow daily. And I’m sure you’ve started accounts on every one – then maybe let it slide a little?
Well, just like email, Social Media is a contact point with your business. Every time someone Likes, Pluses, Pins, Shares, Connects, etc. they’re showing you mean something to them. You need to show them that they mean something to you.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you become a Social Media maven and, like so many teens we see, glue yourself to a screen and devote your life to your “social stream”. No, that path will send you mad 🙂
Instead, pick a channel (or two). Which Social Media channel are your customers on? Which Social Media platform generates most high quality leads? Dig into your website analytics and find out. Narrow it down to ideally one or, at most, two channels. At Legal123 our best leads come from LinkedIn. So that’s where we focus.
Then, for the next 2 weeks, spend time connecting with customers and potential customers. Don’t sell. Just connect. If they ask questions then help them. If they Like, Plus, Pin or Share your content, then thank them. And Like, Plus, Pin or Share their content too.
Why does it work? The return-on-time-invested on Social Media is still up for debate. But what we do know if that online, social conversations are now part of our lives. If we’re not there, we’ll miss out. And it’s another opportunity to build a connection (and possibly make a sale).
4. Spend time answering questions on forums
Online forums are a really odd creation of the Internet age. They range from brilliant and invaluable (the way Wikipedia is edited is like a forum) to ugly and degenerate (YouTube was heading that way before Google tried to clean it up).
And again, just like Social Media you need to pick your venue. Find the forum that best matches the business you’re in and make sure it’s somewhere you’d be proud to contribute to.
For Legal123 we like the online communities at Flying Solo and StartUpSmart. You might think of those websites as being more online magazines, but their online community is very active and the forum part of their websites is as important as the published articles.
Again, we’re not suggesting you try and sell your wares via forums. The forum members will quickly see through you – call you rude names and maybe kick you out! No, hang out and be helpful. Show you have a deep knowledge of your subject matter and you want to help.
Then, if asked, refer people to your website for more information. Get them to subscribe to your site. Show them where they can find out more or solve their problems.
Why does it work? Forums are a great place to build your credibility. They can be a tough audience – forum trolls ARE real. But if you’re the real deal, you’ll attract followers and ultimately customers.
5. Write a flagship piece of “How To” content
Our last suggestion might take you a little time – and maybe a couple of tries.
Search traffic comes from answering “how to” questions. And Google is constantly adjusting it’s algorithm to reward websites with the best answer to the question asked. So to generate more traffic, you need to have the best answer to the question on your website.
On the Legal123 website we’re always adding to the list of “How to” guides. And we try with each guide to have the best long-form, step-by-step resource to answer a particular question. How to write a Will? How to set up an online business? Etc. Our most successful guide has been about how to avoid breaching Copyright online – it’s generated over 1,933 Likes, Shares, Comments, Tweets, etc.
So aim to create a flagship piece of content in the next 2 weeks. Choose your topic – something you understand deeply – and write the best “how to” guide you can. If you’re an accountant, it might be “how to choose an accountant” or “how to work with an accountant” or “how to get your money’s worth out of your accountant” or “how to halve your accounting fees”, etc. You get the idea.
Then once it’s online, let everyone know – your Social channels, your Forum buddies, your subscribers, etc. And keep refining and refreshing it. Maybe the content needs a video, maybe it needs to be updated with new information, maybe some graphics would help convey your point.
Why does it work? Flagship “how to” content shows you’re an expert in a topic and you’re willing to share (for free). And the Internet will respond – with engagement, sharing, liking, etc. – which will ultimately result in more traffic (and guess what, more sales).
Once you’ve got suggestions 1-5 working for you, then it’s time to start thinking about re-designing your site, re-vamping your products, re-targeting your ad spend, etc. But that’s for another time.
Good luck jump starting your online sales.