Entrepreneurs take pride in being on the cutting edge, in knowing what’s going to be hot even before it starts to sizzle. However, there are times when entrepreneurs are a beat behind. When it comes to going digital, too many business owners are playing catch-up. This is because digital is touching—and transforming—so many areas of a business that it can be hard to keep up.
Let’s look at three aspects of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) that are experiencing a digital transformation:
Consumers are taking advantage of the digital revolution before many SMBs. They’re eager to embrace digital solutions because of their ability to make our lives easier. Corporations entice customers to join the digital era with apps that allow them to order a cup of coffee before arriving at the store, send money with just a few clicks, track their steps (and sleep patterns), and even have their personal digital assistant read them a book aloud (yes, Alexa can now read you a Kindle book). Digital is the new normal.
This kind of convenience sets a high bar for consumer expectations, so if you want to attract and retain customers, your business needs to embrace digital as well. For instance, today’s consumers expect to be able to pay for their purchases using their digital wallets–they don’t want to wait in line. To meet that need, you should equip your sales people or restaurant wait staff with mobile devices using PayPal, Square, or another online payment system that makes transactions quick and simple.
Customer loyalty is another area that has been transformed by the digital revolution. It’s time to ditch the paper punch cards and plastic keychain tags. Digital options—like Belly, Loyalzoo, Perka and Spendgo—allow businesses to create custom loyalty programs that make it easier than ever before to opt in and take advantage of customer rewards.
In today’s marketplace, creating loyal, lifelong customers, requires businesses to provide an unrivaled customer experience that sets them apart from the competition. Going digital is the answer. To learn the other ways in which technology can help improve customer experience, check out this post on the Oracle SMB blog.
It takes an entire organization to make customers happy; you cannot accomplish this alone. However, you must equip and empower your employees to successfully deliver great customer experiences. Arming your staff with digital devices allows them to get real-time information on the customer’s history, check inventory, and offer faster payment options, among many other things.
According to a study from RSR Research on RetailWire.com, among the ways to invest in your workforce is to provide:
Employees with more technology to enable better customer service
Technology to free up managers’ time to focus on customer service training and support
Digital tools, tactics, and strategies have fundamentally changed the way we do business. But, not enough SMBs are embracing digital.
According to the annual Small Business Marketing Trends Report, although entrepreneurs are embracing digital marketing to an extent, they’re not doing enough to stay competitive. The report found 31% of business owners’ primary marketing goals for 2018 aim to attract new customers and 25% want to retain existing ones. How do they plan to reach those goals?
38% plan to increase their budgets for managing social media
30% will invest more in digital advertising and search engine optimization (SEO)
24% plan to spend more on website analytics
While those tactics may sound smart (and they are), the report shows this digital spend will likely still not be enough: 28% don’t plan to increase spending on digital marketing and 15% don’t intend to use any type of digital marketing. This is not tenable.
Further, many entrepreneurs surveyed say they don’t have enough time to engage in digital marketing. You must make the time–and, there are easy ways to start. Small Business Marketing Trends Report found that social media is the most popular digital marketing tactic entrepreneurs plan to use (74%) and invest more money in (40%). If you want to be competitive you need to:
Buy social media advertising.
Make sure everything you post online, from your website, to content to social media and email marketing is mobile-friendly.
Use video. This will help you stand out in the marketplace since only about 27% of SMBs employ video in their marketing. The Report recommends you try “micro-videos,” which are 10-30 seconds long.
Invest in email automation. Email is one of the most effective marketing methods for businesses in general—and for small businesses. And yet only 27% of businesses in the survey used an email marketing service.
The same survey found business owners’ second-biggest challenge is converting leads into sales is their second-biggest challenge. One likely reason? Only 21% are using customer relationship management (CRM) software. There are plenty of CRM solutions available, including this one from Oracle, that can help you increase your conversions.
The overarching message is: Going digital is no longer a choice. Regardless of your goals or business size, you need to incorporate digital strategies—and you need to do it today. Digital is not just the future of business; it’s the present.