27 Sep, 2018 By Wayne Wang

7 Helpful Strategies for Online Stores with Small Budgets

Your company budget will always be a consideration, whether your business is already well-established or your brand is just starting to create a buzz. Resources are limited, that is why it’s essential to plan out your company’s expenditures, shelling out money only on strategies that will surely give something back in return, perhaps even more.

E-commerce businesses are fortunate enough to be in a position that allows them to execute certain business practices in a somewhat inexpensive manner, particularly in terms of promotions and customer service. Online stores do not have to worry about buying pricey TV spots or billboards and hiring teams of customer service representatives because everything they need is on the web.

Nowadays, leveraging the internet to optimise ROI is also being practised by non-online businesses due to its efficiency and low price. But truth be told, there are also traditional processes that do not cost a lot, that even online stores can do. If you’re trying to cut costs for your business or are trying to maximise your small budget, you may find the following online strategies beneficial.


1. Keep your site simple

The experience of the customer in using the website (e.g., simple to use, easy to understand) should trump design. This isn’t to say that you can put up a disorganised site; what’s essential is to keep UX in mind first, and to plan the design according to it.

Keep your budget intact by starting off with an easy template. Shopify or Wix offers free templates that are highly customisable yet do not require advanced programming skills.


2. Build a community on social media

Take your time building a community around your brand—these customers will not only be your target audience but can also be your advocates over time. A lot of businesses (e.g., ASOS, Red Bull) are living proof that social media can take your revenue to new heights, but only if done right.

You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest—just about any platform you want. However, it may be best to consider focusing on one (ideally the platform where your target market resides), especially with the limited budget and time.

Use social media to both promote your products and services and provide appealing content—inform, entertain, and sell. Additionally, get involved in conversations, as it can help give your brand a personality.

Social media apps are free to download and use, but their business solutions may entail some fees. Take the time to find the best solution perfect for your budget.


3. Do content marketing

To have content that you can share on social media, you’d naturally need to create one. This constitutes content marketing, or the production of articles, videos, photos, infographics, and many other forms that are meant to capture the attention of your target market to your website. The right content is compelling in driving traffic to your online store.  

When you’re on a budget, creating content by yourself is the best way to go. It won’t cost a lot, but you’re still going to take time to produce the content, so you’ll first need to determine which type of material you can put your efforts to.

Keep in mind that different types of content, as well as the topic you plan to discuss, may either have long- or short-term success. Evergreen and useful content (e.g., N Useful Tips to Maintaining Your Jewelry) may contribute to long-term success, while unique, engaging, or unusual ones, usually those that relate to current events, are great for increasing awareness.

Measure your success with Google Analytics and see which kind of content generated the most traffic, and which ones converted into sales.


4. Optimise your site through SEO

Creating content is also significant for SEO. Search engine optimisation is the process of gaining traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Organic simply means that your site appeared on page 1 of a search engine results page without having to pay Google or Bing.

Writing and building content with an understanding of SEO will help boost your business’s ranking, ideally appearing on topmost of the first page. In-demand content is what usually ranks the best. You may also partner with influencers and digital publications that also have high traffic to get more links for your website.


5. Get an efficient courier partner

For many online businesses, delivery is their first actual interaction with their customers. Naturally, you wouldn’t want your first encounter to be a terrible one. Make sure that whatever delivery promises you made are kept. If you say that express shipping is available sitewide, each and every customer who took advantage of that feature should receive their packages in no time.

You can do this by getting a reliable courier to partner up with your business. Shipping companies are adept at keeping your delivery promises since it’s their area of expertise.


6. Referral promos

As mentioned, your target-market-turned-customers will be the best ambassadors for your brand. Through their reviews and testimonials, they can convince other people to try your website out and enjoy your products or services.

You can give them a little push by creating referral programs, wherein they can bring in new customers and enjoy a little incentive from you, perhaps some discount codes for their next purchase. Referral programs will not only boost your sales but will also help retain your existing customers.


7. Top-notch (and personalised) customer service

Customer service is one of the key indicators if a customer will remain with your business or not. No matter how good your website and products or services are, all of these positives can easily be disregarded if customer service fails.

A report from Kayako showed that 60% of consumers would unlikely or very unlikely purchase from a business that gave poor customer service, even if a friend tells them that the service has improved. Low-cost ways to ensure top-notch customer service are unscalable, but it’s worth it if it will help your business grow.

You can include a little something to the customer’s purchase. Sweets or stickers that can easily be inserted in the package will make your buyers feel appreciated. You can also personalise by including handwritten notes expressing your gratitude for their support.

You’d know if a customer appreciates these gestures because they would likely share it on their social media and other platforms, boosting your brand even more.


Over to You

Whether your business started out on the web or in a physical store, these budget-friendly tips and frugal online strategies will help grow your business when done right. Maintaining an active online presence and keeping personal interactions favourable through express shipping, small tokens of appreciation or personalised notes will maximise your budget and keep customers happy.