Updated: May 17
With everything that is happening I am sure you are concerned about the state of your small business and how it will be impacted during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I want to provide you with my top 10 tips of things to do to help your small business during this time of uncertainty. These tips will also help to increase brand awareness which will lead to an increase in sales for your online business.
But here's the disclaimer, these things don't work unless you put in the time and effort to be consistent and put in the work. You want to be working on your business not in your business. These tips may or may not earn you money immediately but they will surely help you as the economy bounces back. Take this time to set your business up for success now and as we move into the rest of 2020.
10 Tips to Grow Your Online Sales:
Tip 1: Communicate with Your Customers
Customers need honesty and transparency during these times to ease their concerns about their orders and about any other orders they may place with you in the future.
Be sure to:
Keep them updated on the status of their order.
Respond promptly to all emails and messages.
Be honest about the time it will take for you to complete an order.
Quickly alert them of any changes about their order.
Be kind and patient and solve their issues in a timely manner.
Tip 2: Update Your Website(s)
It is likely that you may have a little extra time on your hands over the next few weeks. This is a perfect time to make those website updates you have on that "to- do" list.
Here are some things you can do on your website or on the Etsy Platform:
Update your about section with fresh content and pictures.
Update your shop announcement (Etsy).
Update your shop banner(s).
Update your Policies + FAQ's.
(Etsy) Check your tags for outdated or seasonal tags and add new tags.
Update your keywords on your site (think Mother's Day, Graduation Season, Father's Day).
Add in new long tail keywords on your website and keyword enrich your listings and/or product titles.
(Etsy) Rearrange your store to show your best listings (and photography).
Check for any broken links on your website here.
Update your categories and sections on your site to possibly include Gifts for Mom, Gifts for Grads and Gifts for Dads.
Add in all social links (or check to ensure they are still connected). Add your links to Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and/or Facebook to your websites.
Ensure you plugins for Instagram still work. Read more about how to do that here.
Tip 3: Write a Blog
What better way to communicate the value of what you offer to your customers than to write about it. This also helps with SEO to bring potential customers to your site.
Here are some things to remember as you write your blog:
Include keywords in the title and the description.
Be sure to add tags (keywords) so that your blog is searchable.
Include images and as a bonus, make sure to save your image picture with keywords as well.
Some ideas for your blogs: Gift Guides, Behind the Scenes, How to Use Your Product, Your Favorite Products, DIYs or How To's.
Tip 4: Send a Newsletter
Your customers like to hear from you and not just when you want to run a sale. Find topics to email your customers about and include the sale offer as a bonus and not the focus of the email. You can send out sale emails as well but try to mix it up so that it is not always about the sale, but providing your customer with cool content that they may enjoy (based on your industry).
Here are some things to do with your newsletter:
Write catchy email titles and use an emoji to get their attention.
Send your customers a hello just to say you are thinking about them and thank them for being a part of your journey.
Send emails at the beginning of the week to increase open rate.
Include your social media channels, website and email at the footer of your newsletter.
Include links back to your site in the body of your email whenever you refer to your brand/company.
Tip 5: Keep Customers Coming Back
One of the most important things to growing your business is customer retention. If customers are taken care of after they purchase, they will remember you when it is time to order again. Many customers will also tell others about your business and that is free "word of mouth" advertising!
Be sure to:
Package beautifully, it is all in the details, give them something to remember you by.
Include promotional material in every order (a nice business card and /or postcard).
Write 'thank you' on their order receipt (signed with your name) or a handwritten note if you have the time - make it personal.
Make sure your customers have a way of contacting you if they have issues with their order (include on each order receipt a message with your email) .
Offer return customer/Thank you coupons.
Tip 6: Get Social
Many of us are a little nervous about getting "too" social or have anxiety about what to post and when to post it. When it comes to social media, keep it simple until you can create a strategy that works for you.
Here are some things to do while getting more social (Instagram or Facebook):
Get a business account (Facebook Page and/or Instagram Business Account).
Check your metrics (analytics/insights) - to see when your followers are online so you know when to post.
Use Hashtags - Facebook (1 or 2 max if any at all), Instagram (7 - 11 or up to 30). Use the explore page of Instagram to find new hashtags with a focus on hashtags that are relevant for your post and that are under 1 million (you don't want to get lost in the sea of other posts).
Find ways to post to your IG Stories (and use hashtags in your stories) and share to your Facebook Page Stories.
Post quality over quantity.
Connect your website store to Facebook + Instagram so you can tag your products.
Update your Bio (Instagram) with what you sell and a link to where you sell it. Look at some of your business accounts you follow for inspiration on how to update your bio.
Tip 7: Consider Collabs or Partnerships
Since we are all in this together, it is a great time to reach out to other small business owners to see if they want to do a giveaway or collab on a project. This is a great way to find new people that may be interested in what you offer.
When deciding on who to partner with:
Do your research and make sure it is a good fit for both partners.
If you are collaborating on social, check their engagement rate here. Engagement rates for product based businesses are usually lower than those of bloggers or even service based businesses. Your goal is to look for engagement rates similar to yours or higher (slightly lower is ok if it is a good match in other areas).
Be clear about your expectations of the partnership and clearly understand what the other person needs as well.
Have fun and don't be afraid to reach out to that dream business on your wish list!
Tip 8: Create Visual Content
One of the biggest reasons I hear small business owners don't post on social is, I don't have anything to post. They are suffering from a lack of visual content. Now is the time to increase your inventory of visual content. Partner with a photographer to get product photos or DIY it. Here are some ideas to consider when creating your visual content:
Photograph your items from various angles and closeup.
Get photos of your item in use or lifestyle photos.
Create a flat lay of your items.
Use apps or free editing software to bring life to your photos.
Use Canva (the free version) to create graphics with your photos.
Take photos of items that will make good gifts (Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Graduation, Father's Day, Weddings, Birthdays, and Christmas).
Create VIDEOS!!! Timelapse (behind the scenes) videos under 60 seconds are very popular!
Tip 9: Learn More
Never stop learning about your industry and ways to enhance, streamline, and/or grow your business.
Some things to consider doing (that relate to your field or business in general) to learn more:
Read an eBook.
Take a course.
Read a blog daily.
Listen to a podcast.
Learn on YouTube
Tip 10: Increase Brand Awareness
Many of us use Pinterest to pin fun ideas, recipes and workout routines but Pinterest is a great tool to use for your small business. The first thing you must understand is that Pinterest is not social media, Pinterest is a search engine that works like Google. When you use Pinterest with the tips shown below you are boosting your SEO on Pinterest and Google.
Here are some tips to get you started
Convert your account to a business account.
Update your username to your brand name.
Optimize your display name with your brand name and niche keywords
Use keywords in your profile description to explain what you do or sell.
Create boards that are on brand for your business and content your business audience would enjoy.
Title each board and fill in the description with relevant keywords.
Select the appropriate category for each board.
Remove (delete/archive or make secret) any boards that are not on brand.
Start with pinning 10 pins a day (a mix of pins from your website and other re-pins).
Use a scheduler like Tailwind (first 100 pins are free) to see the best time to pin for your audience.
Claim your website, Instagram, Etsy and YouTube (in your profile account).
Schedule up to 30 pins (up to 2 weeks in advance) on Pinterest with a business account.
Enable Rich pins for your website.
Add your Pinterest conversion tag to your website.
Review your analytics weekly to see which board/pin has the most impressions.
Google any of the info above that you don't know how to do or send me an email with your questions.
Update 5.17.21 - Currently my expressions bracelets Pinterest account has increased from 15K monthly viewers to well over 6M monthly views. I have increased my following from 1K to over 13K. Increased traffic to my website by over 66% and generated another source of income for the business and in one year making an additional $126K from Pinterest Marketing. Learn more about how I help small business owners with their Pinterest Marketing here.
I saved Pinterest for the end because I wanted to show you proof that it works. I switched to a business account for my business expressions bracelets in June of 2019 but stopped using Pinterest completely by August 2019 (too many other things had my attention). After some research I decided to completely redo my Pinterest account to make it more on brand (vs personal) for my business. I started this process on Feb 26th and here is my growth over the past (almost) 3 weeks to March 17th (the stats for the 18th have not been updated as of the writing of this blog on March 19th).
Major Increase in Views
I gained almost 40K views in 3 weeks from 15.6K monthly to 51.4 K monthly in 3 weeks. I estimate it will be over 55K within the next couple of days or less.
Reviewing the Analytics
Here is my growth (see the green arrows and numbers) over the past 3 weeks. This shows all growth from all pins (see red arrow).
Analytics from expressions bracelets website pins
This shows all pins originating from my main website (expressionsbracelets.com) that I pinned to draw traffic to my site directly. You can breakdown the analytics further to see how many link clicks, saves, and more to measure the effectiveness your Pinterest strategy. A good Pinterest Strategy will not only increase views but help with SEO and increase online sales.
Now you may want to go and try ALL. THE. THINGS! DON'T! I can help you grow your Pinterest account and drive traffic to your website (product or service). Learn more here.
Take a moment to do 4 things:
Pause - Take a moment to take it all in and decide which things you may want to try first based on what your business needs most for growth.
Pivot - Consider the current state to be an opportunity to pivot and make some changes in your online business to help sustain and/or grow it.
Prioritize - Make a list of all the things you want to change/update and then prioritize by level of importance.
Plan - Understand you cannot do all the things at once but you do need a plan that will include a goal for what you want to accomplish, a strategy of how you will accomplish the goal it and a list of tactics to do. Then create a schedule of when to do each tactic.
Take ONE tip at a time. Focus on completing one tip at a time so