The internet has made it much less expensive to reach and engage consumers and increase sales overall, but most Canadian small businesses aren’t using it to its full potential. Economic challenges motivate people to find ways to trim their budget, however, and smart entrepreneurs are doing just that.
Successful businesses don’t slash at this, that and the other thing to balance the budget. For example, some businesses cut back on marketing, which is shooting themselves in the foot. There’s never been a time when you need marketing more! Smart businesses examine expenses like marketing and overhaul their strategy to avoid wasting money. They examine methods, keywords and advertising so they can focus on what’s most effective.
Following are just a few ways savvy Canadian small businesses are using the internet to save money.
1. Contracting Instead of Hiring
Businesses can save an enormous amount of money by contracting qualified people to work for them remotely. Virtual assistants and specialists can take care of administrative duties, website management, IT, and any other job that can be done through the internet.
You can buy service packages or just bring them in when you need them. All of this is done without onboarding costs, benefits packages or additional office space & equipment. Their hourly rate may be more since they typically cover their own expenses, but you can save a considerable amount of money overall.
There are ways to ship cheaper in Canada and more shipping solutions are available every day. Some solutions can cut your shipping expenses by more than half! The internet provides easy access to shipping deals and it’s simple to take care of labels and documentation online as well. Read 12 Ways to Slash Shipping Costs for Canadian Small Businesses for more ideas.
3. Online Marketing
Gone are the days when businesses had to cast a wide net just to find a few people who may buy their product. Digital marketing offers some of the most budget-friendly and effective marketing options.
If you’re not already fully utilizing social media, blogging, content marketing and influencer marketing, you’re missing the chance to reach your specific target market and have a huge impact. You can have it all without risking a large portion of your budget for unpredictable results.
4. Communication & Engagement
Existing customers are a treasure trove of potential sales and there is no better way to reach them than online. If you don’t have customer relationship management (CRM) software and an email list, it’s imperative that you set it up. As you’ve probably heard, it costs much less to make a sale to an existing customer than it does to acquire a new customer. Plus, you can gather invaluable data about your customers and use it to up your sales game even more.
If you’re using Shopify, they have many tools that will help you build customer relationships and market your business. If not, one of the most popular customer relationship management tools is ZOHO CRM.
“With Zoho CRM, we experienced a 65% increase in our sales pipeline,” reports K.C Watson, CEO & Founder of Sherpa Digital Media. “We also managed to reduce our lead to real prospect time by 60%, which is huge. I would definitely recommend Zoho CRM to companies that are experiencing complexity with sales and marketing and witnessing rapid growth.”
If you’d like to start by building an email list, I’ve found MailerLite to be the most user-friendly. It’s free to start, and when your list outgrows the free package it’s one of the most economical options.
5. Online Meetings & Events
As businesses have recently discovered, meetings and events can work just fine online. Travel expenses are next to nothing, a venue isn’t necessary, and documents or presentations are easily shared.
6. SEO & Search Advertising
Optimizing your website for search can bring you a lot of traffic for nothing. As for paid search, it’s a crucial time to overhaul your keyword strategy. Focus on the keyword groups that bring you the most traffic with the least competition. You can continue to identify new, popular keyword phrases with low competition, but it isn’t the time to do any risky testing.
7. Avoid Stagnate Inventory
If inventory is part of your business, it might be time to reduce the number of products you carry and focus on your top sellers or most unique items.
Just because it’s stagnate, doesn’t mean it can’t be used to increase profits. Use overstock and slow moving products as loss leaders to bring in shoppers, both online and offline. Mark them down to just above cost (or even below cost) to lure shoppers onto your website.
Additionally, it’s a good time to consider ecommerce alternatives to in-house inventory, such as drop shipping. Drop shipping is a hands-free, wholesale fulfillment option available to online sellers of any size, working under a variety of business models. In short, the wholesale supplier fulfills orders on behalf of the retailer and ships them directly to the customer on your behalf.
For example, TDOTPerformance.ca (who scored a Dragon’s Den deal with Michele Romanow in 2015), relies on drop shipping to keep inventory and fulfillment costs at a minimum.
“…drop shipping on demand means they don’t have to carry a lot of inventory, which is expensive,” Michele Romanow told the Financial Post.
A recent study, Supply Chain Collaboration in Transformative Vertical Industries, found 73 percent of respondents have been utilizing drop shippers for over two years, and 51 percent have been doing so for over five years. It has proven itself to be a better way to do business overall, especially in a highly-competitive, digital eco-system.
You can also consider dropshipping your own products to add another revenue stream. For more information about offering drop shipping services for your wholesale products, read Wholesale Suppliers: How to Offer Dropshipping Services.
??? How have you cut your small business expenses using the internet? Please comment below or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.