It may sound strange, but a recent survey found that up to 60% of small businesses in the UK, with five or fewer employees, don’t yet have a website. And another study discovered that of UK businesses which do have a website, only around 6% of them are optimised for mobile devices. The figures are shocking because it’s kind of a given that we are living in the digital age, and that most savvy of businesses are making the most of it. If your business isn’t yet taking advantage of the capabilities of digital technology, here’s seven things it’s potentially missing out on…
Alternative Marketing Channels
A huge number of different ways to market products and services is possible using the internet and mobile devices, from SMS marketing to email marketing, tracker ads, and social media such as Instagram and Pinterest. Half of the world’s online population now uses Facebook, and that’s a huge market. Digital marketing is relatively inexpensive especially when compared to more traditional forms such as print or broadcast, so your marketing spend, flexibility, penetration and effectiveness could all be improved upon were you to switch to digital methods.
Just as they expect to encounter marketing from many different angles today, customers expect a two-way conversation, and to be able to communicate with companies using a variety of platforms. So a 9-5 phone number is no longer adequate. A contact form on a website, dedicated email addresses for different facets of a business such as Sales and HR, are now standard.
It’s also worth pointing out that people use different platforms for different type of communication. To give one example, Twitter is often used for complaints or urgent enquiries, and to find real-time information. That means it’s vital for certain industries, like airlines, but can also be very handy for almost any other kind of industry. If you’re creating social media profiles, decide which are most relevant to your business, assign someone to communicate through them according to agreed protocols, and develop an action plan in case things go wrong, such as a poor review left on Facebook or an ill-judged marketing campaign.
There are, of course, innumerable savings to be made in virtually any business from going digital. Picture a very basic example – an electrician hired to rewire a house – if he can email a document containing information to the client, instead of having to go and visit him, or make a 20-minute phone call to explain things, he could save hundreds of pounds a year. Retaining documents as digital files rather than printing them out, using Skype or Google Hangout to conduct meetings instead of bringing executives or salespeople into the office, and Cloud technology, can all save a company thousands over the course of a year.
A business publishing even a simple blog can develop authority in its industry that will inspire people to use its services. Building an audience and gaining authority takes time, naturally, but such an investment can really pay off. Producing original, useful and relevant content, and giving some or all of it away for free, indicates to readers that your business can be trusted.
Hiring the best people
Many businesses no longer rely on ads in the paper or employment agencies to fill their vacancies. They go out and find people themselves. How? A lot of them use social media to track down those they want to be speaking to, such as by networking sites like LinkedIn. Following someone’s online footprint to learn their skills, personality and achievements can tell you if a person would be a good fit for your organisation.
All the way back in 2012, Yelp reported that the vast majority of people will look up a company online to find out about it before considering using its products or services. Most people in the UK are now online for a substantial part of their day. If they’re trying to find you there, and you don’t have a digital presence, you can expect them not to put in much more effort but instead go with one of your competitors.
The marketplace is global, and sales channels ever more diverse – the scope for profit-making using digital technology is vast – just look at what UK customers spend on Cyber Monday every year alone through e-commerce sites. If your business is not yet operating digitally, it doesn’t matter what industry you operate in – you’re missing out.