Is your business among the majority experiencing a significant drop in sales at this time?
At the end of May 2020, The Canadian Federation for Independent Business reported that 45% of Ontario’s small businesses had experienced at least a 70% drop in revenue since February. Further, 74% of companies have seen revenue drop by at least 30%.
In addition to government support, here are 4 strategies you can use to chart a course towards recovering lost revenue.
Update your website
Your website is like an employee who works 24/7 to market and attract leads and customers to your business. If your site isn’t performing as well as it used to, it’s time to update it.
Does your site display any of these 19 Signs it’s time to update your small business website? Even if your site doesn’t look outdated visually, there could be issues behind the scenes that are causing it to perform poorly.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and uses responsive design techniques to fit all screen sizes. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check how well visitors can access your site from their mobile devices.
- Design your content with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. Use an SEO ranking checker to see how well your website ranks on Google for key search terms related to your business. If your site isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to be, consider hiring an SEO specialist to help you drive online traffic to your digital storefront.
- Don’t forget to link to your business’ social media accounts on your website. Having a polished website is essential, but you still need to keep the buzz around your business going on other online platforms. If you’re wondering, ‘which social media platforms should I use for my business?’ The Digital Marketing Institute can help you decide which platforms should be the focus of your marketing efforts.
If your site is performing well, but you want to take its performance to the next level, try these strategies:
- A/B testing is an excellent way to determine which elements of your site are most appealing to your visitors. Randomly send your visitors to two different versions of a page to see which performs better. It’s best to only change one element on the page, like the design of a call to action, an image, or the copy. Focusing on one aspect at a time will help you discover the specific design elements that lead to better performance.
- Ask your audience for feedback. Whether you survey your visitors through social media, an email campaign, or a WordPress poll, find out what people think of your website. Why do they visit? Are there features that they find helpful or frustrating? What types of content would they like to see on your site more often?
- Research your competition. You can employ many clever online tools to check up on the performance of your competitors’ websites.
- Commit to regularly updating your site with engaging content. Even if your website is perfect, you still need to keep it fresh to boost your SEO rankings and encourage visitors to come back. Start a blog and add videos or infographics to make your content more varied and visually appealing. Don’t forget to rewrite cornerstone sections of your site like the About and Contact pages to make sure they’re up to date.
Whether you want to invest in a complete website redesign or make some small tweaks to your content, there’s a lot you and your team can do to improve your site’s ability to attract visitors and generate more leads and sales.
Process documentation helps ensure that your business’ specialized knowledge is always accessible to your team. Documenting the often complex processes your employees use to complete critical tasks helps employees work more efficiently.
Other benefits of process documentation include:
- Helping retain important process information when an employee leaves your business and a new employee needs to step into their role.
- Decrease costs associated with training and time spent on completing assignments.
- Makes it easier to outsource specific tasks to independent contractors like web developers, copywriters or graphic designers.
- Discovering and eliminating inefficiencies and obstacles that impede task completion.
- Breaking down complex processes into more manageable tasks. Writing out process plans in accessible language and identifying which employee will be in charge of completing essential tasks.
- Promotes maintaining work quality standards, including adhering to regulations set by oversight organizations.
- More accurately measure the inputs and outputs of each process: i.e. what resources are required for each task and what outcomes will be achieved by completing a process.
There are many options to choose from when it comes to finding the right process documentation tools for your business.
- Project management software like Trello or Basecamp.
- Dedicated process documentation design tools like SmartDraw and Integrify.
- You can also store your process documents in tools that your team might already use every day for other purposes like Google Drive and Evernote.
For more information, this easy guide to process documentation will help you get started.
Contribute in networking circles
Contributing to different types of networking circles helps you reach clients and contacts in a way that’s often more personal, organic and mutually beneficial than traditional marketing efforts.
According to the authors of Networking Like a Pro, Ivan Misner and Brian Hilliard:
“It’s vital to remember that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, whether online or face to face. It’s about cultivating relationships with people. It’s about building the credibility of your brand, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
This illustrates the fact that while crucial to business development, successful networking takes time and sustained effort. Combining a consistent networking strategy with the other operations on this list will help ensure that your business remains successful well into the future.
Consider joining both casual contact networks and strong contact networks. Casual contact networks are easier to join and require less of a time commitment than strong contact networks. However, these networks are typically larger than strong contact networks. You may have to compete for referrals with other members who work in your industry.
In contrast, strong contact networks tend to contain fewer members and only one professional who works in each type of industry. Membership in a strong contact network usually requires you to attend and actively participate in all events, in addition to committing to referring potential clients to your fellow network members.
Other types of networking opportunities you should consider:
- Becoming a member of a professional association is one of the best ways to share knowledge with people who work in your industry. Some professional associations also welcome associate members. Associate members don’t have industry-specific credentials, but can offer their services to those in the association that do.
- Joining a service club lets you and your team serve your community while building your business’ profile. It’s crucial to prioritize contributing over networking with this type of organization, as you want to be genuine in your desire to serve the community. At the same time, you will make connections with other volunteers and local community leaders.
- Social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Quora provide opportunities to join conversations relevant to your industry. These platforms help you make new connections with potential clients and partners while you share your industry knowledge.
- Your business’s Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and a forum on your website are excellent ways to continue the conversation with people who already have a relationship with your business.
Referral and loyalty programs
Encourage your loyal customers to stay engaged and bring their friends with referral and loyalty programs. Companies like Koodo Mobile, Tesla, Harry’s Razors, and Evernote have engineered highly successful rewards campaigns. Referral and loyalty programs should benefit your customers, referees, and (of course) your bottom line.
Smile.io is a Canadian company that helps businesses of all sizes build profitable loyalty programs with a variety of services. You can launch branded points and referral programs with customized marketing emails for $49 a month.
Smile.io also has many free resources to help you plan your customer engagement strategy. Check out their eBook Library to learn more about e-commerce and building brand loyalty with rewards programs:
- The Ultimate Guide to Referral Program Strategy
- Build a Rewards Program Like the World’s Best
- The Best Rewards to Build a Brand Community
- Reward Psychology 101
- The Definitive Guide to Points Program Strategy
Your business can offer your customers and their friends a referral discount. You can also give your most loyal customers access to free services, exclusive products and experiences. Whichever strategy you choose, take every opportunity to promote your rewards program to satisfied customers. Design a referral experience that your customers will find easy to understand and use. Remember to measure your results regularly to gauge your program’s success.
Running a business is hard work and requires the ability to adapt quickly to change. Whether that change is social, technological, or internal, we hope that you’ll always have access to the tools and support you need to continue striving for success. Your business is important to you, your employees, and your community. We’re willing to bet that your commitment to improving during this time of decreased sales hasn’t gone unnoticed and is much appreciated by those around you.