Growth is key to the survival of your business. It’s even more crucial to profit making.

Through careful strategic planning, quality marketing campaigns and a healthy combination of the steps outlined below, conversions are likely to increase steadily.

1. Carefully target the online audience

Online marketing is all about targeting. For online commerce to thrive, your desired customers must be able to find you.

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By properly defining the psychographics of your target audience/customers, (people who will benefit from relevant products and services), you’ll be able to harness the relevant tools to connect with and convert these customers.

2. Create high-quality content

High-quality content is described as relevant and engaging information that encourages site visitors to return in the future.

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Content should reflect the given brand in tone and style, fulfilling the company’s mission statement, and informing the reader of the brands services. It should also offer industry education and urge interaction with consumers. As if that’s not enough, your content will also be judged by more than just consumers. They’re also judged by search engines, which play a major role in bestowing credibility and visibility.

Phew! Sounds like a lot for your content to achieve but with lots of practice and research, you should be able to churn out such content. Not only that, the trick is to produce such high-quality content frequently and consistently.

3. Speedy website experience

To maintain credibility, speedy website load times are essential for delivering a positive user experience, maximizing sales conversions and optimizing from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective.

For Internet-based businesses, website speed, security, and infrastructure are important foundations of not only logistics but also SEO.

These aspects of online business translate to better search engine visibility, resulting in more traffic, leads, brand credibility and sales. Speeding up your website is crucial for online logistics.

4. Personalize your content

Visitors know that unique, individualized web experiences are possible, which is why they expect such features. Take advantage of available technology that can generate shopping selections based on personal preferences.

While some of the larger websites (Google, Apple, Facebook, etc.) have apps built into their system that identifies users and track their online movements, small businesses might focus on smaller CRM solutions.

5. Invest in mobile capabilities

Consumer use of mobile devices is greater than ever before, which is why a robust mobile e-commerce platform is crucial. Available solutions include mobile sites, responsive sites, apps, click-to-call tools, maps and real-time notifications.

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6. Integrate sales channels

Enable consumers experience the brand similarly across all channels of interaction and methods of shopping. Promotions, products, services, company information, and policies should be available both on and offline.

7. Consider subscription

Subscription commerce occurs in various forms. For instance, the replenishment model allows for a product to be sent to a customer every month or regular basis.

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The discovery model provides for new and exciting experiences with each login (e.g. Netflix, IrokoTV). It’s up to the company to decide which form of subscription works best for them and to implement that into their sales and marketing strategies.

Most CRM software and programs organize consumer data that can be used to delineate and track which model each customer prefers and whether the customer has subscribed or not.

8. Skip the middlemen

Thanks to the Internet, small businesses can reach consumers quickly and easily. Also, manufacturers are increasingly eager to work directly with small businesses because they realize small brands are likely to bring new and innovative products to the marketplace — they are less limited by minimal shelf space and complex supply chains.

9. Sell Internet-only merchandise

Although essential to maintain continuity across multiple sales channels, it is still possible to offer products via the Internet only. Doing so builds an exclusive brand with e-commerce as the core distribution channel. By offering certain products in only one area, it is possible to maintain greater control over margins.

10. Focus on storytelling, not product features

Without a good brand story, your product holds no inherent or emotional value for your customers. Humans are hardwired to respond to stories. When a brand makes a deep impression on us, it impacts our buying behaviour.

A 2013 Psychology Today piece showed that, when evaluating multiple brands, “Consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).”

It’s about building a human connection with your customer, not touting the bells and whistles of your product.

Keep in mind that a good story needs to be backed up by an excellent product. Even the most talented creatives can’t change the perception of a poor product.

11. Be customer-centric on social

Focus on networks that are relevant to your target audience and start getting social. No matter how big or small your company is, a huge portion of consumers expect to contact your brand on social.

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See this exchange between Virgin Mobile and a customer:

Good customer service on social is directly linked to business growth. A report by Aberdeen Group finds that businesses with social customer service experience around 7.5 percent year-over-year growth (compared to 2.9 percent without social customer service), so don’t underestimate its value.

12. Focus aggressively on sales

If you’re an established business you should spend at least 30% of your day on the sales process or connecting with customers.

Sales should be the absolute center of what your company does, every single day. Ignore it at your peril. As the founder of IBM, Thomas Watson once remarked, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

If you’re not happy with how fast your business is growing, this is the area you should focus on, first, second and third. Get out there and ask more people for money. It may sound crude, but ultimately an obsession with sales is at the heart of all sustained business growth.

All great companies are great at sales: Oracle. McKinsey. IBM. Nordstrom. Even Herbalife. They grew huge not just because of the quality product line (the world is filled with companies with great products that are struggling to survive) but their utter commitment to selling it better than their competitors.  And getting out there and asking people for their business.

13. Prepare new salespeople quickly

Growth won’t happen for a company with a sales team that isn’t able to do its job. Typically, just 2 percent of sales go through on a first meeting. But salespeople need to be able to establish trust quickly to change that figure. To finesse the requisite skill set, they need the right training.

Every team is different, so even if salespeople with years of experience join a new team, they need to be brought up to speed on the new company’s processes.

So get them out there. Train your new salespeople; then set them loose to do their jobs.

14. Hire the right people

Before you can even think about your company’s growth trajectory, you need to ensure that you have a solid staff that can help you achieve it. With a small business looking to grow, it’s important to have the right players at the table. They need to be people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. The words ‘That’s not my job,’ do not exist in their vocabulary. They have to be dedicated to the mission.

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Hiring the absolute best people you can is a surefire way to ensure fast growth, it’s all about having the right team.

15. Focus on established revenue sources

Rather than trying to acquire new customers, direct your attention to the core customers you already have. You can do this by implementing a referral or customer loyalty program, or trying out marketing strategies based on previous purchase behaviors to encourage repeat business.

This focus on your established market is especially important if you’re trying to get funding.

16. Focus on your customer experience

Customers’ perceptions of your business can really make or break a business. Deliver quality experiences and products, and they’ll quickly sing your praises on social media; mess it up, and they’ll tell the world even faster. Fast growth depends on making your current and potential customers happy with their experience.

Compared with large companies, small businesses are nimble, and often better able to see, anticipate and respond to their customers’ needs. The most successful small businesses exploit this advantage, by bringing new and innovative products and services to market more quickly and developing and nurturing long-term customer relationships.

Listening to your customers and giving them what they want is of utmost importance. Diversify your offerings so you can best cater to the customers’ changing tastes. Remember, you are here to serve the customer — it’s why you are open for business.

Engaging with your audience is crucial, but personalizing the experience can boost and strengthen that relationship.

17. Ask for referrals

One of the easiest ways to get new customers is to ask your current customers for referrals. But notice the verb.

Having good products and great customer service and just assuming that your customers are passing the word about your business isn’t going to do much to increase your customer base; you have to actively seek referrals. During or after every job or sale, ask your satisfied customer if he knows anyone else who would be interested in your products or services.

18. Fine tune your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

If you are still competing with other businesses, then your USP needs work. Create a USP that makes your business the clear and only choice for your customers.

The actions you take will have a resounding effect on the growth of your business. Don’t wait, pick one of the listed tips and start today!