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!
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.
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!