Looking to grow your business online without a lot of money? If you are just starting a business, then you cannot afford to waste money. In this article, we will share practical tips on how to grow your business on a small budget. Our goal is to help you compete with the big guys without spending a fortune.
1. Choose The Right Platform for Your Website
The biggest mistake you can make as a small business is choosing the wrong platform to build your website. A wrong platform will not only cost you more money, but it will also limit your business’ growth potential.
We recommend using WordPress. It is the most popular website builder in the market, and it powers over 31% of all websites (including both small and large businesses).
When we say WordPress, we are talking about WordPress.org and not WordPress.com. They are two different platforms, see our article on the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org for more details.
To start a self-hosted WordPress website, you’ll need a domain name AND a web hosting account. Yes, they’re different. Want to learn more? See our explanation: what’s the difference between domain name vs web hosting.
Different hosting companies offer different plans suitable for small to large websites. This ultimately affects the cost of your website.
If you are just getting started, then we recommend using Bluehost. They are one of the largest hosting companies in the world and an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.
Luckily, they are offering WPBeginner users free domain name and discount on hosting. Basically, you’ll be able to get started for $2.75 per month.
As your business grows, you will likely need more hosting resources. Hopefully, by that time you’ll be making enough money to justify an upgrade.
2. Choose a Functional Website with Simple Design
Many beginners believe that their customers will not take their business seriously if they don’t have their website professionally designed.
Getting a professional to custom design your website is expensive, and it’s not needed when you’re just starting out.
You can easily start with a ready-made free or premium WordPress theme for a fraction of a price.
See our expert’s pick of the best WordPress themes for some inspiration.
If none of the above themes suit your need, then you can also use these drag & drop WordPress page builders to create completely custom designs without writing any code.
3. Make it Easier for Users to Contact You
If you want your website to bring you more customers, then you need to add an easy way for visitors to contact you.
The easiest way to do that is by using a contact form on your website.
By default, WordPress doesn’t come with a contact form. Luckily, there are WordPress contact form plugins that can help you easily add a contact form to your site.
We recommend using WPForms Lite. It is the free version of the popular WPForms plugin that’s trusted by over 1 million websites.
Once your business has grown, you can upgrade to WPForms Pro to create more advanced forms like surveys, polls, payment forms, etc.
4. Start Building an Email List from Day 1
Most people who leave your website will never come back again. This means that if you don’t get their email address, then you will have no way to communicate with them in the future.
The most cost-effective way to do this is by building an email list.
Email marketing is the most reliable way to communicate with your website visitors.
WPBeginner users get a free trial for those who’re just starting out and 20% off, if you upgrade to their paid plan.
For more tips, see our beginner’s guide on how to do lead generation in WordPress like a pro.
5. Get More Organic Traffic From Search Engines
Search engines like Google are the major source of traffic for most websites on the internet. There are a lot of things you can do to optimize your website for search engines by learning basic SEO.
SEO or search engine optimization is a set of guidelines and techniques that make your website more search engine friendly. It is not too technical and you will be able to do it on your own.
We have published a complete step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners. We will walk you through the whole process of making your website as SEO friendly as possible.
To get traffic from search engines you’ll need content, which brings us to the next step in this guide.
6. Plan a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a strategy to create useful and relevant content to attract and build an audience. This allows you to get more targetted traffic from search engines without spending a fortune.
The easiest way to add useful content to your website is by adding a blog. WordPress allows you to add a separate blog page to your website and sort your content into categories and tags.
You need to plan your content strategy by finding out the keywords your users may be looking for. See our guide on how to do keyword research for your blog.
Need ideas on how to use those keywords in your content strategy? Here is a massive list of blog post ideas that you can use on your blog.
Content marketing is a highly effective and proven strategy to market your business on a small budget. To learn more about it, see this guide on how to create an effective content marketing strategy for your business.
7. Make Data-Based Decisions with Google Analytics
Many beginners use their best guesses to plan their growth strategy. You don’t need to do that when you can use actual data to make those decisions.
This is where Google Analytics comes in. It allows you to see how many visitors are coming to your site, where they are coming from, and what they do while there.
See our guide on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress for step by step instructions.
Google Analytics comes with a lot of information. Even though it is neatly organized and beautifully presented, it could still be a bit overwhelming for new users.
To make the most out of it, install and activate the MonsterInsights plugin. It is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress and allows you to easily view your most important traffic reports inside WordPress dashboard. If you run an online store, then MonsterInsights can also help you track WooCommerce customers using Google Analytics.
You can also download the free version of MonsterInsights. It works great but you wouldn’t have access to some of its most advanced features.
8. Leverage Social Media to Drive Traffic
Social media platforms have highly engaged audiences. Facebook alone has 1.47 Billion daily active users, that’s around 18% of all people in the world. Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms also have highly engaged users.
With so many users, social media platforms bring great opportunities for business. You can start by creating your business’s social media profiles and automatically sharing your blog posts.
Next, you would want to make it easier for your users to share your content on social media. For that you will need a social media plugin for WordPress. These plugins add social sharing buttons to your WordPress site.
There are tons of other things that you can do to engage with audiences on social media. The key is to keep your profiles active, grow your following, and bring traffic back to your website.
- Create a Facebook group for your customers or industry
- Create a LinkedIn group for your industry
- Learn how to retarget users on Facebook with ads
- Focus on social networks important for your industry. For example, if you run a fashion blog or restaurant then you may find Instagram more helpful than LinkedIn.
- Don’t just bring traffic to your website, use social media to build your email list
9. Be an Active Participant in Online Communities
Online communities include forums and question-answer websites. These are the places people go to post their questions, socialize, find content, and explore. Top communities on the internet include Reddit, Stack Exchange, Quora, TripAdvisor, and more.
These communities provide you with access to people interested in topics associated with your industry. You can join them for free and invest your time in building authority.
First, you need to find out which communities are more relevant to your business and where your potential customers may go looking for answers or content. For example, if you run a travel website, then you may find TripAdvisor more helpful than other communities.
Don’t spam these forums with links to your website in each post. Build authority by genuinely participating with helpful content, and mention your business or website when it is appropriate.
10. Convert Abandoning Website Visitors into Customers
Did you know that more than 70% of people who visit your website will never find it again? It is not your fault, it’s just that the internet is so huge and there are so many websites out there.
Each visitor who leaves your website is a potential customer that you are losing. To grow your business, you need to focus on converting those visitors into paying customers.
This is where OptinMonster comes in. It is the best conversion optimization software in the market, which allows you to convert casual website visitors into loyal customers.
How does it do that?
It comes with a drag and drop campaign builder where you can create different types of campaigns to collect user emails, display special offers, show exit-intent popups, countdown timers, smart popups, slide-in optins, and more.
For more details, see this beginner’s guide on conversion rate optimization.
11. Start an Affiliate Partner Program
Affiliate marketing is a referral arrangement in which an online retailer (advertiser) pays commission to a referrer when users purchase a product using their referral link.
If you sell products online, then you can use affiliate marketing to partner up with skilled affiliate marketers. You will pay a sales commission to these marketers for promoting your products and bringing you sales.
You will need an affiliate management system to track referral activity and payout your affiliate partners. Here is our list of best affiliate management and tracking software that you can use.
You can also promote other people’s products or services to make extra money from your content. See our affiliate marketing guide for tips and tools you’ll need to get started.
12. Utilize Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Contrary to popular belief, you can run Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns on a small budget. With programs like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, you can set your own pricing, target keywords, audience, and more.
In fact, Google AdWords even offers free advertising credits to new advertisers. Bluehost, a trusted WordPress hosting company also offers free Google AdWords credits with their hosting plans.
You can use these credits to experiment with PPC advertising and get some paid traffic to your website for free.
13. Use Social Proof to Win Customers
Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.
Marketers use this phenomenon by showing their customers that other people already trust a product or business. This is done by sharing their statistics, or subscriber counts, customer testimonials, and more.
Here is a list of clever ways to use social proof on your website to increase conversions.
14. Effectively Use FOMO to Boost Sales and Conversions
FOMO or ‘fear of missing out’ is a psychological term used to describe anxiety about missing out on something exciting and trendy.
As a business, you can take advantage of this human behavior and use it to boost sales and conversions. Basically, you need to build anxiety by adding scarcity to your offers. Here is a great example from Booking.com using scarcity to build anxiety.
For detailed instructions, see our article on how to use how to use FOMO on your WordPress site.
15. Improve Your Website’s Speed and Performance
Studies show that from 2000 to 2016, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds.
As a website owner, this means that you have very little time to show users what you have to offer and convince them to stay on your website.
Another study found out that a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
This means that you need to optimize your website to make sure that it is fast and performs well even under high traffic.
Follow the instructions in our step by step guide to improve WordPress speed and performance for beginners. This guide includes all the tips we use on our very high traffic websites for reliable speed and performance.
We hope this article helped you learn how to grow your business on a shoestring budget. You may also want to see our expert pick of the most useful tools to manage and grow your website.