Small business owners often build websites to attract and serve customers. Yet that can be misguided. A good website also serves partners, competitors, friends and strangers. A good website serves an audience, and growing your audience is the key to growing your business.
Big brands do this through advertising. You may not have that luxury. You may have no budget and few resources. Or maybe you’re the only one managing the website. Whatever bottleneck you may face, these five low-cost strategies can help you to increase traffic and boost engagement.
1) Use common-sense Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google and Bing drive a lot of traffic to websites like yours. Make the most of these tools by making it clear what your site covers and who should visit. That, in a nutshell, is SEO. Say you sell certain brands of gluten free and dairy free food. Using the phrase “gluten free, dairy free” in relevant content tells Google and Bing that those searching for “gluten free dairy free” should be presented with your site.
2) Start a blog
Don’t just give your audience a menu of products or pages of brochure copy. Start a blog instead and use each post to teach something related to your expertise. A blog is also the perfect place to showcase your brand and personality. Soon, you’ll have built up a library of useful, timeless content that will expand your audience beyond those who’ve been around since the beginning.
3) Make it easy to connect
Your most engaged audience members will want to do more than just read what you have to say. They’ll also want to connect. Make it easy by including buttons for social sharing and links to your own social profiles. Also, don’t be shy! Invite visitors to connect with you on social media and then respond in a timely fashion when they do.
4) Add new content regularly
Whether you keep a blog or not, you’ll have a tough time attracting a sustainable audience if your website lacks a steady stream of fresh content. Pick a time each week or month to add something new and then advertise the changes. You’ll not only be building a healthy habit, but you’ll also be training your audience to return to your site on a regular basis. And the more they return, the more likely it is that they’ll find something worth buying.
5) Keep a list
Finally, include a newsletter sign-up form for those who don’t buy immediately but are interested enough in what you offer that they want to stay in touch. Be judicious with the list, sending offer and update emails on a schedule that’s as predictable as your blog. Also: never add someone to your email list who hasn’t first granted you permission to market to them.
Patience and Persistence
The audience for your website is sure to be varied. That’s a good thing; embrace it. Cast a wide net in your search for visitors and then provide value to those who take the time to click through. Months may pass before they buy, but if you keep serving them well — and if you treat your audience with respect — they’ll eventually return the favor.
How do you grow your businesses audience? Let us know in the comments below!