7 Tech trends for small businesses to follow
What does the future of small businesses look like? We researched some of the top tech trends and online tools that should be top of mind for small business owners. Implementing some of these can have a pivotal role in the continued success of your business. While not all of these may apply to your business, you’re sure to find some that will make an impact.
1. Video is here and it’s the future
If you haven’t already done so, consider adding video to your marketing arsenal. Video marketing comes with many benefits, including creating a stronger connection with your customer base. Here are some other ways video marketing can help your small business:
- Improved social media engagement
- Building trust with your audience - your business becomes more human
- Easily explain a perplexing concept/product. Rather than write pages of text to describe a product or service, a video can serve as a live demo that can be shared and used on the go
- Google loves video content – by adding relevant videos, you can improve your SEO rankings
- Get ahead of the competition. According to HubSpot, roughly 86% of businesses implement videos in their marketing plans – adding videos before your competitors gives you an edge in grabbing the market share for your industry.
2. Make your email marketing personal
With nearly 300 billion email messages sent and received each day globally, it’s safe to say email marketing is an essential channel in your marketing funnel. The more personal your marketing messages, the better. People like to feel like you’re talking directly to them. You know what they’ve expressed interest in, what they want, and can even make suggestions of what they may also like.
A good CRM tool or email service provider can help you automate and personalize your email marketing. Elevate your messaging from flat to fantastic and improve your overall ROI. If you’re not engaged with email marketing or are looking to upgrade to a new provider, check out Influencer MarketingHub’s picks for best email services for small businesses.
3. Omnichannel marketing can improve the customer experience
Omnichannel marketing is a beneficial tool for small business. It unites brick and mortar, website, chat, email, and social media marketing. By combining on- and offline marketing efforts, you remove the silos that divide marketing channels. The result is an enhanced user experience, which can increase your sales and customer retention.
Say you have a small boutique shop selling handmade items. In addition, you have a website where a broader audience can find your products through organic and paid search. Visitors to your website see your physical location and make a trip to your shop. Or they may sign up for your newsletter, view your blog, and find you on social media. All of these touchpoints should resemble one another, with a similar look and feel, messaging, and tone. Web activities can be tracked through analytical tools, and with most CRMs you can incorporate in-store activities to create a complete customer profile.
Omnichannel marketing can also extend further. If you list your items on third-party websites, the verbiage you provide on these sites to be consistent with your own business site. This is especially helpful for those savvy web users who will Google your brand name when they come across something of yours they like on Amazon.
How does this effort equate to revenue and retention? Consistency builds trust. The more a customer trusts your brand, the more likely they are to complete their purchase with you, stay engaged with you through newsletters and social media, and share your business with others. In addition, being present physically and virtually allows you the opportunity to be available for your customers wherever they are and whenever they want to engage with your business.
4. Could your business benefit from a chatbot?
Chatbots – artificial intelligence widgets on your website that answer common questions - can be a big help to small businesses that may not have many resources to run day-to-day operations. They can interact with your customers by answering questions, taking payments, influencing purchasing decisions, and more. They act like a jack-of-all-trades employee who can assist with just about anything.
That said, you don’t want to overuse chatbots. While many customers appreciate the answer to a question that popped into their head at 2am while your business was closed, some with technical issues or intricate product or service inquiries may want to interact with an experienced member of your business. The bottom line is to use chatbots in ways that make sense for your business and free up some of your time while still delivering the best experience for your audience.
5. Make your website mobile-friendly
According to Statista, by the end of this year there will be roughly 15 billion mobile devices operating worldwide. This number is expected to reach just over 18 billion by 2025. It’s no secret that we rely on our smartphones for more than just conversing with one another. Today, approximately 31% of retail business is done via mobile phones.
With the shift to mobile e-commerce (commonly referred to as m-commerce), you want to be sure your website is delivering the best customer experience on any device. Page load time is crucial - if your website is too content-heavy or includes images that are not optimized for mobile, it will slow your site down considerably.
Building your website using responsive web design allows your website’s behavior to shift based on how the user is viewing your site (platform, screen size, orientation, etc.). It optimizes your website across desktop, mobile, and tablets allowing your users to view your website without issue no matter the device they’re using.
Don’t lose customers to the competition due to a lagging website. Optimize and get your site up to speed with responsive design.
6. Cyber security and how to protect yourself
Just as you would arm your physical storefront or office space with proper security, the same consideration should apply when it comes to your virtual shop. More and more, we hear of cyber attacks in the news. Cyber criminals don’t just target large corporations and government agencies. Small businesses are at risk as well.
You can protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build by investing in cyber security insurance. Hiscox cyber security insurance provides your business with the tools and training needed to prevent an attack from happening in the first place, and protection from cyber-related security risks. It’s what your small business needs to stand up to cyber criminals.
Related: How’s your cyber health?
7. Business Essentials from Apple
Apple just released a new Business Essentials beta program to help small businesses deploy apps and permissions on iPads, iPhones, and Mac computers. It could be highly beneficial to those small businesses without a dedicated IT support team to set up devices.
"It's a brand new service from Apple that combines device management, storage, and support into a single subscription for small businesses, targeted to up to about 500 employees," said Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of enterprise and education marketing, during an interview with tech columnist Jason Aten. "It's designed to make managing Apple's devices, keeping them up and running, as fun as using them--or, at least, as easy as using them," she added.
If your small business utilizes Apple devices, this new program could be a game-changer.
Implementing any of these tech trends will add value to your small business. Stay ahead of the competition and keep yourself abreast of new technologies as they emerge, because the more knowledge you have, the better you operate.