For many small business owners, driving growth is, first and foremost, about attracting investors and securing the funding you need to purchase equipment, hire more employees, and move into larger facilities. While that’s obviously important, growth fundamentally needs to be underpinned by growing demand, and that means finding ways to reach more of your target market and better communicating your message to them.

For any business that relies on a relatively large market, developing and learning to capitalise on their website and their online presence is a critical part of doing that. While it takes a significant amount of time and investment, it also grants your business far disproportionately greater geographical reach, and gives you a way to directly address and interact with your target market.

Integrate your website into your sales funnel

Many startup websites function basically as an information hub for investors. You might find some nice pictures, a story about the founder, annual sales figures, a blog, and pictures of a CEO shaking hands with someone important. As an afterthought, there might be a page discussing specific products, or an online store that users can find if they’re looking for it. That kind of design doesn’t offer much value to the end consumer, and does practically nothing to actually encourage a sale. While your website absolutely should not look like a sleazy sales letter, it should offer something to end consumers, and guide visitors toward a purchasing decision.

Front page

The front page of your site should contain only basic information about your brand and services, and then quickly guide visitors to the pages most appropriate for them. Make it clear what problems your business can address for the customer and clearly guide them toward product or service pages with a centrally located button labelled something like “products”, “get started”, or simply “customers”.

Product and service pages

These pages need to be set up in a way that gives customers the information they need to find exactly what they’re looking for, and to make a purchasing decision. There should be no doubt about how to proceed, whether that’s by using an online shopping cart, or by contacting a representative of your business.

Increasing traffic to your site

Of course, even a great website won’t do much for your business if no one is visiting it. To tackle that, you’ll need to find ways to increase traffic to your site. Establishing a website to the point where it will organically attract traffic through search results, social media, and general awareness takes a long time, so you’ll need to take a two-pronged approach if you’re looking to grow in the near term.

Short term traffic

In the short term, you’ll need to take active steps to bring visitors to your site right away. The easiest way to do that is to leverage any existing channels you have to reach your target market. That might be a social media profile with a large number of relevant followers, an email list, or even associated businesses who might be willing to post about you and link to your website using their own methods.

If you don’t have access to any of these methods, or you want an additional boost, you may also want to launch a pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign. As the name suggests, these incur a cost for every time a user clicks through to your website on an ad. A well administered PPC campaign can be very cost effective, however, the unavoidable marginal cost associated with it ultimately makes developing organic traffic preferable.

Long term growth

In the long term, a high amount of organic traffic is ideal. Organic traffic is made up of those visitors who visit your site without the influence of any paid ads. To achieve this, you’ll need to ensure that your target markets are aware of you, and that your website ranks for relevant keywords in the search results.

Search rankings are based on hundreds of factors, and it can take months or years to optimise your site and build a sufficiently established presence to rank well for important keywords. Initially that means working with a professional to ensure that your site is properly constructed and optimised. In the long term you’ll need to develop an integrated digital marketing strategy that combines social media development, content marketing, and search engine optimisation to create value for visitors and build awareness for your brand while continuously driving traffic and establishing your authority online.

Each aspect of building an authoritative presence on the web, generating leads, and later converting them requires time, investment, and significant expertise. Because of this, it’s a good idea to work with an expert to make sure that you get it right the first time. Though it can seem like a major undertaking, pursuing online growth offers enormous potential gains and the chance to establish yourself as an authority and a valuable communicator between your industry and your target markets.