The internet has transformed the world into a global village, and frankly, it is difficult to imagine how in this day and age, any business could operate effectively without an internet connection. The accessibility that the internet provides has repeatedly transformed the way people work and some businesses as a whole. It can help to accelerate business operations, enhance productivity and efficiency when used correctly.
The question is, just how should small businesses be using the internet if they want to make the most out of it? Read on to find out.
Whether with employees, suppliers, business contacts or consumers – the internet makes communication far easier. You can respond to queries in real-time and connect with people all over the world, effectively widening your consumer base and even your employee pool as remote working has been proven to be effective and successful. Emails, video calling apps, collaborative working apps, social media and messaging services are all reliable and easy forms of communication that you can utilise.
This benefit of easy and quick communication continues for things like information sharing too. Previously sharing important documents had to be done via the post or by courier if it was really important but not anymore. All forms of documents can be created digitally or scanned and sent over the internet for the recipient to receive immediately. Although it isn’t simply physical documents, you can quickly create documents online or find and share resources or links.
If you have a small business, you should evaluate whether or not your communication strategies are as effective as possible and what you can do to improve your processes.
Digital marketing is really the best way to market your brand as a small business. More traditional forms of marketing are not as effective as they won’t reach a big enough portion of your target market to make them worth the money. Businesses with a better online presence often have a better customer base than those who don’t. There are several forms of digital marketing that are extremely inexpensive, but they do all require a significant time commitment.
First and foremost, set up social media profiles and a business website. As a small business, you should know who your products or services are for and once you have identified your key demographics, find out where they spend the most time online and cultivate a presence there. Be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; you could make an account on all of them if you have the time and recycle your content between them, changing it up enough to make it sufficiently fresh. Social media sites are free to set up, but they do cost to promote.
There are free website builders that you can use for the website, but often to achieve a professional finish, you will need to hire someone or pay for the help of a business. After the initial set-up costs, there are not many other costs associated with the upkeep of a site. Websites attract traffic, and this can turn into sales. You can improve the efficacy of your website by employing the use of SEO techniques.
Those are often heralded as the most cost-effective digital marketing measures, but they aren’t the only ones. You could also send out marketing emails or pay for website banners, although as a smaller business, they may not work as well.
Brand awareness is directly affected by your marketing efforts, but it deserves its own subheading. It is vital for the success of the business. While your brand awareness will be heavily affected by your marketing, there are other factors, such as your visibility and exterior promotions. For example, a lot of small clothing brands send clothes for free to influencers, and in return, they get exposure and often a written promotion from that influencer which can lead to increased brand awareness.
Before you can start to improve your brand awareness, you need to be secure in your branding. Building a brand is no mean feat, and it depends on a number of factors; it isn’t simply the colours you use or your logo. You need to think about your brand’s message, ethics, and who your competitors are first, which can help you build your brand identity. You can find a lot of resources and advice online to help you with this area too.
Both for you and your consumers. Your consumers can reach out to you online 24/7; you can set up an ‘away’ response for when you are away from your computer on most messaging services. Most small businesses have found that their customer service has improved because of the internet, they are able to answer queries more quickly, and they have all the information they need to help their consumers at their fingertips. Once you have a website, you can set up a FAQ page to try and anticipate the questions you consumers may ask.
However, you can also find support for yourself if you need it. The internet is full of resources that you can use to better your business practices or answers questions that you might have that otherwise would go unanswered. Or even IT help, for example, if you need to learn how to recover replaced files for mac computers, then you can find the answer online. Setapp has a comprehensive resource on their site where you can find the answers. They also have a number of different apps that could benefit small business owners, which they grant full access to for a single cost.
The internet is vital for the survival of any modern business. If you are utilising it correctly, it permeates every aspect of your business, from simple organisation to research to marketing. However, it can be difficult for small business owners as often you have to wear many hats and have long daily to-do lists. Above are the four pillars of any successful internet strategy, so be sure to take full advantage if you want to ensure the longevity of your business.