You will have spent money on advertising before. You may have used flyers, radio ads, or even spots in the local newspaper.

When you buy advertising, you’re investing in your business’s growth. The goal is to get more customers, or to remind current customers of what they can buy from your business.

But while small business owners are happy to invest in this kind of advertising, we’ve found that they also treat their website as an overhead cost. We think a website can be a lot more valuable than that – but it’s all about how you use it.

The challenge with websites is that it is possible to miss the mark, and turn your website from an investment to a cost. For example, if you just have a bare bones website that only tells people your business name, address and opening hours, then it is essentially an overhead cost – much like the sign on your door. It may grow your business a little bit, but only incidentally.

So here are a few different ways you can put your website to work, and change it from an overhead cost to an investment in future growth.

Regular promotion emails

You probably have all kinds of specials and deals. You might have a discount when you have an oversupply of one product or the other, or your suppliers might offer discounts that you pass on. Either way, your website, combined with a mailing list, can be a powerful tool to get people in the store.

It’s pretty straightforward: have a page on your website devoted to current specials. Then, send regular emails out to your customer database telling them about what’s on offer. This might be once a week, twice a week, more or less, depending on how often your specials change.

If you don’t have many customers’ email addresses, ask for them when they come in! You can also have competitions where people enter to win a voucher or other prize, in exchange for their email address.

The benefit of this approach is that you are emailing people who already know who you are, telling them about specials they may not know about. And it’s essentially free! All you need to do is get email marketing software, which is very affordable, or free, depending on how many people you’re emailing. This small additional investment of time helps turn your website into a tool that drives more sales.

Create some helpful content

Google prioritises local content in some situations, and pharmacies and veterinary clinics are two of those situations! This means that if you write some useful content about topics you have expertise in (such as medicine or animal health), Google will reward you with a higher ranking when nearby people search for those topics.

This is a time investment that can pay really solid dividends. Imagine if there were three practices in your neighbourhood, but you’re the only one writing about cold remedies, plasters and headache medication. Whenever someone in your neighbourhood searched for one of these topics, your site would outrank neighbouring businesses. This means you’re much more likely to get the click and be the store to solve that person’s problem.

If you can combine this with the strategy we talked about above, and get them on your email list, you may well have a customer for life.

Click and collect

Click and collect needs no introduction – the supermarkets have done a great job introducing the world to the concept of buying your things online, then picking them up instore and it’s attractive to skip shipping fees at the checkout when you know you can pop down the road. Take advantage of this!

By offering this service as a pharmacy or practice, you’re adding a new layer of convenience for your customers. They don’t have to come in, look for their product, then faff around with their wallet to pay. Rather, they can just find what they need on your website, pay online, then pop in to pick it up.

This turns your website into an investment by offering a new benefit to your customers. Now you’re not just providing a product - you’re providing extra convenience as well.

Running the numbers

Once you use your website like this, the economics really start to stack up. A Storbie website costs you a few hundred dollars per month. How much is a new customer worth to you? How much are 10 new customers worth to you?

Once you start looking at your website expenditure like this, it starts to look a lot more affordable!

So think strategically about what extra services and value you could offer through a website. Then, start trying some of these ideas out. It might take a little while to iron out the kinks, but once you’re up and running, we’re pretty sure it’ll pay more than $295 a month in happier customers, more customers and customers who buy more from you. That’s a hard investment to turn down!

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