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Strategies for Growing an Online Business

Strategies for Growing an Online Business
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated June 1, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
If you’re starting or already own an online business, congrats. You’ve tapped into an opportunity to reach a global audience while avoiding many of the costs of running a brick-and-mortar business. However, just having a website and great product or service, doesn’t mean your online venture will be a success. To create a profitable online business, you’ll also need to implement a business plan that aligns with your goals and leverages the power of the online marketplace. Let's explore ten strategies for successfully growing your online business.

10 Ways to Grow Your Online Business

Whatever stage your venture is at, you may want to consider implementing some (or all) of these effective strategies for growing a business online.

1. Provide Value in Your Marketing

One way to successfully market your online business and build your brand is to create high-quality, valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Consider publishing blog posts, articles, videos, e-books, or podcasts that provide solutions, answer questions, or entertain your target audience. It’s also a good idea to share your content across platforms and leverage guest posting opportunities to expand your reach.

2.  Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

Did you know that as many as 55% of visitors are accessing your site using their mobile devices? Unfortunately, many commerce websites render differently (and can be more difficult to navigate) on a mobile device than via desktop. You’ll want to be sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices, provides a seamless experience across different devices, and allows people to easily navigate to different pages and make purchases from their phones.

3. Build Your Email List

Having an email database of interested prospects and existing customers (and to constantly be adding to that list) is key to growing an online business. To build your list, you might offer something of value, like a discount code, in exchange for email signup. Once you have a list, you can implement an effective email marketing strategy to nurture leads, build customer relationships, and drive repeat sales. Be sure to personalize your emails, offer exclusive promotions, and provide valuable content to keep subscribers engaged.

4. Implement Pay-per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Consider utilizing platforms like Google Ads or social media advertising to reach a wider audience and drive targeted traffic to your website. With PPC advertising, you can often set your own pricing, target keywords, audience, and more. To maximize your return on investment (ROI), you’ll want to conduct thorough keyword research, optimize your ad campaigns, and track your conversions. 

5. Leverage an Abandoned Cart Strategy

If you dive into your analytics, you may see that many visitors to your site actually put products in their cart but then do not complete the transaction. With an abandoned cart strategy, you can set up automations to send an email with a reminder to complete the purchase or even offer a coupon for shoppers to do so.

6. Offer Outstanding Customer Service

To successfully grow a business online, you typically need to build trust in and loyalty towards your brand. One simple way to do that is to deliver excellent customer service. That means providing prompt responses to customer inquiries, addressing concerns, and going the extra mile to exceed customer expectations. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations can significantly contribute to your business's growth.

7. Increase Organic Traffic From Search Engines

Search engines (like Google) are typically the major source of traffic for online businesses. To increase organic traffic to your site and attract potential customers, you’ll want to make sure you’re using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies that improve your website's ranking on search results. You can learn how to do this yourself or may want to hire a pro who can help you research keywords, optimize your content, and build quality backlinks.

8. Leverage Social Media Marketing

Establishing a strong presence on social media platforms relevant to your target audience can be an effective way to build your customer base. You can start by creating your business’s social media profiles and automatically sharing your blog posts. To build your social media presence, you’ll also want to continually engage with your followers and share valuable content. In addition, consider running targeted ad campaigns and using social media analytics to measure and optimize your marketing efforts. 

9. Collaborate with Influencers

To further expand your social media outreach and build brand awareness, consider partnering with influential individuals or popular bloggers in your industry. This allows you to tap into their already established — and typically highly engaged — audiences, and enhance traffic to your website. Influencers may also generate engaging content that highlights your products or services in a way that connects with their audience and encourages them to buy.

10. Invest in Your Business

While you may be able to start an online business with a minimal budget, growing any business — whether digitally or in-person — typically requires some capital investment. You might consider leveraging a small business loan to help cover the costs of marketing, hiring employees, advertising, or inventory purchases. This can potentially lead to an increase in sales that more than covers the cost of financing.Recommended: How Much Capital Can You Get From a Small Business Loan?  

Deciding Which Strategies Are Right for You

Choosing the right strategies to grow your online business requires careful consideration of your target audience, industry, resources, and business goals. Since it’s probably not possible to implement all of these business growth strategies at once, you’ll want to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of each strategy in relation to your specific circumstances. Consider your budget, available time, and expertise to determine which strategies align with your capabilities and will yield the best results.

Growing an Online Business vs Brick-and-Mortar

Your strategy to expand a business online may look very different from what it would be if you had a brick-and-mortar company. While brick-and-mortar businesses offer certain advantages, such as face-to-face customer interactions, online businesses have the potential for broader reach, lower costs, and greater scalability. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of these two different small business models.
Online BusinessBrick-and-Mortar Business
ReachAccess to a global customer baseTypically limited to local area
Operating CostsLower overhead costsHigher overhead expenses
ScalabilityEasier to scale and expandLimited scalability potential
FlexibilityAbility to work remotely and be location-independentLocation-dependent operations
Customer experience24/7 availability and easy online transactionsIn-person shopping experience
CompetitionIncreased competition from global marketsLocal competition only

Funding Your Online Business 

Now that you know more about how to grow an online business, how can you fund this growth? Fortunately, you have plenty of options, including loans for online businesses, bringing in an outside investor, and crowdfunding. Here’s a closer look at each.

Small Business Loans

There are many different types of small business loans. While traditional banks will typically only lend to businesses that have been established for two years or more, alternative online lenders tend to be more flexible. You may be able to get a small business loan, such as a short-term loan, startup business lines of credit, or inventory financing, from an alternative lender with only a short length of business history. You’ll likely receive smaller amounts and pay higher interest rates than more-established businesses, however.


There are numerous crowdfunding sites for businesses where anyone (not just professional investors) can contribute toward your online business. While it can take significant time and effort to create a compelling crowdfunding campaign, you typically don’t have to give up equity with this type of fundraising. Instead, you may need to provide a token of appreciation to donors, like early access to your product/service or a t-shirt featuring your online company’s logo.

Angel Investors

There are many angel investors out there looking for the next great idea to invest in. Could it be yours? Angel investors are generally wealthy individuals who are willing to provide capital (and often valuable connections and operational expertise) in exchange for a percentage of equity in the business. Recommended: Finding Investors for a Business 

The Takeaway

You’ve built a commerce website, now you need to make sure people come. Growing an online business typically requires a strategic and multi-pronged approach. The good news is that by implementing the right digital strategies tailored to your business, you should be able to increase your online visibility, attract more customers, and drive sustainable growth. Remember to continuously analyze and optimize your efforts (based on data and customer feedback) to maximize your online business's potential for success.If you're interested in getting a loan to fund online business growth, Lantern by SoFi can help. With our online debt financing marketplace, you can compare small business loan options without scouring the web and checking multiple sites. With one short application, you’ll be matched with a loan option that meets your company’s needs and qualifications.Let Lantern help you find the right financing solution for your online business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to grow your online business?
What kind of online business is most profitable?
How do you attract customers to an online business?
Photo credit: iStock/amenic181

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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