5 Ways to Use Your Business Website through Economic Downturns

I really hate to use the phrase “economic downturn” because it probably feeds the fear frenzy, but it’s probably appropriate … and frankly, will probably get more attention than if I didn’t use it!

Anyway, let’s get to the point of this post …

First, you should know that I’m a bootstrapping kind of entrepreneur and marketer. That’s a long way around saying I’m a cheapskate! But I learned my cheapskate mindset from my entrepreneurial grandfather, who built two very successful businesses, so I don’t really ever apologize for it. I think it’s actually a strength for starting a company. (But maybe not growing one! The jury’s still out on that one.)

Anyway, I built my first business around this core passion (bootstrapping) combined with what I found was one of the easiest ways businesses could leverage technology for marketing: their websites.

By and large, most small businesses have terrible websites. Or for better or worse, they don’t even have one.

The majority I’ve seen are ineffective, cut-and-paste online brochures that merely tell people how to call them or find their fax number.

Before I get into some ways you can use your website to actually do something for your business, let me give you some of my biases as they related to business websites:

  • I think they should be affordable
  • I think they should be effective
  • I think they should be attractive

If you examine all three of those, you’ll see why we started iThemes I think. OK, now for the meat.

Here are a couple of ways you can relatively easily use your website to boost your bottomline:

1. Free Reports

These are also called White Papers. I’ve used free reports as a great way to increase opt-in subscriptions to my email newsletters for several years. You don’t have to get overwhelmed in writing them. Often, I’ve simply edited or expanded on blog posts and series I’ve done. (More on blogs in a second.) But in each case, I’ve typically made them into PDFs, so people can download and print them and read.

So take your unique expertise and package it in a free report!

We’ve done several of these at iThemes, including Web Design 101, our Premium Theme Buyer’s Guide, and How to Use WordPress to Power Your Website.

2. Contact Form

So many websites include email addresses or phone numbers, but an online contact form makes it super easy for someone to email you straight from your website. As a freelance web designer, I increased my inquiries substantially just by doing this one simple tweak. Just getting that first contact is critical in potentially selling them your products or services.

So if you do one thing with your website, get a contact form!

Here are two great (and free) WordPress contact form plugins we recommend.

3. Email Newsletter

A good email newsletter keeps your business connected to your customers and prospects. It can educate them on your products and services, while giving them valuable tips and resources in your industry.

Aweber is one of the most affordable, but feature-rich email newsletter services I’ve found. I use them for everything.

4. Blog

Blogging can be a great way to build an audience around you and your business. In fact, I can attribute much of my success and momentum for starting my own business to blogging.

Blog also work effectively with email newsletters and free reports.

5. Search Engine Optimization

I’ve told almost every small business owner I’ve met about how they can use Google to get new prospects for their businesses, especially ones in their own community.

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves some often simple tweaks to your website in order to make it easy for Google or Yahoo! to find and list your site in their search results.

And if you didn’t know this, search engines love blogs!

(By the way, all our WordPress themes are built with good SEO principles based on more than two years of experience!)

Finally … These are just some of the most effective tools I’ve used in my own business and on my own websites that I’ve found extremely effective in attracting new customers for my business!

7 replies on “5 Ways to Use Your Business Website through Economic Downturns”

“By and large, most small businesses have terrible websites. Or for better or worse, they don’t even have one.” Cory, I have to disagree here. Most small businesses have websites which hurt them in the long run. It’s better to not have a web site (just the domain) than to have a bad website.

Brandon, thanks … I think though I need to make them 1000 times more complex because it doesn’t always get through to small biz owners … too simple maybe?

Christopher, could you explain why you think it hurts them in the long run? Just curious to get your insights ….

I think you have touched a very raw point of websites. Most asian companies have either poorly done websites or no websites at all.

As a young entrepreneur, it is quite important to get my facts right, but I am always left frustrated that I have to reply on the traditional media like cold phone calling and newspaper searching to get what I want.


Thanks for the reminder of what I should be doing with my marketing. Your content on blogging and business is great, it’s one of my interests and you put out some great info. Keep it up.

Mark “The Marketing Professional” Brown

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