Italia Martinez Vallejo
By: imartinezvallejo
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A Small Business Guide to Going Digital

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If you are reading this right now, you are most likely already familiar with the digital world. Nowadays people who don’t live online are quite rare, and the relevance of the digital world increases every day. Now, think about your small business, is it present in the digital environment? Have you ever considered going digital?

Maybe you already did, or you’re still thinking about it. Whatever it is, we are here to guide you through this process that might seem overwhelming but that for sure will bring growth in your sales and business.

But first, let me explain why going digital could be a smart move for your small business. With 81% of shoppers conducting online research before deciding to make big purchases, 51% of smartphone users claiming to have discovered a new company while searching through their smartphone, 72% of adult internet users using Facebook and Google getting over 100 billion searches a month, I’m pretty sure your potential clients are out there browsing through the internet trying to find something like your small business. If these statistics blew your mind, check out this full report of digital marketing numbers.

So, maybe now you’re convinced, and you want to start right away but maybe you’re not quite sure how. I’ll give you 4 simple steps to get started on going digital with your small business:

1. Build a technology friendly space

Whether you work from home or you have an office or shop lot, you have to take into consideration the following points:

a) The amount of people that will be working there: Check on the amount of computers that will be using the internet at the same time

b) The tasks that they will be performing from there: Some of them will be only sending e-mails, doing research, maybe having online calls, managing the database of customers, maintaining the website, managing social media, etc.

c) The internet speed that you need. This point will depend on the previous two points. There are some online speed-gauge tools that can help you figure out this one.

Once these three key points are sorted out, you will be able to start moving to what’s next. Of course, all of this depends on the kind of business you run, and the way you want to work with your employees. Maybe you work with freelancers and you don’t need to worry about the amount of people using the internet and their tasks.

2. Create your brand

This is something that you might already have, however, it’s convenient that before you go into the digital world and reach more potential customers, you make sure that you know what your brand stands for and how is it different from the others. And this does not only mean to have a logo, it goes way deeper than that.

Your brand is the voice of your company, it communicates what your company does and helps you build trust and credibility. Your brand is present in all the interactions you have with your stakeholders through all the channels you are in, online or offline.

And of course, you don’t want to start going digital if you don’t have your brand well defined. Due to the fact that digital information spreads pretty fast nowadays, getting your small business out there requires care, not only in its identity and visuals, but also in the quality of product or service you are providing. So, if you want a small tip, investing some money and time on creating a strong brand can save you a lot of future hazards and can help you increase the sales in your small business.

3. Building your online platforms

Now that you have the tools, and your brand defined, you can start building your online platforms. There are three main things you need to build in order to go digital:

a) Website

It will be the online face of your business. You need to define what is the purpose of it: hosting information about your business, actual sales of your product or service, a way for your customers to reach you, etc.

Web Design is also important, making it user friendly and responsive is a must. Your customer should be able to browse through it without problem, making it easy to use and clear to understand your business will give you a lot of points. And, by the way, more Google searches are done by mobile devices than by computer in the U.S. so you definitely want to design your website to fit both mobile and computer.

Last but not least, get a good host for your website. There are plenty of facts to take into consideration, but make sure you got the basics like: what’s the traffic you are planning to have and the growth, and the budget you are planning to spend on this. Getting a host needs a bit more of research, since there are several services that can suit you.

b) Customer Relationship Management Tool

You need to define what is the purpose of your CRM, what tasks are you going to be running with the information you gather from your customers or potential customers. Have a clear idea of how much are you planning to grow in the next years and from there you can move on to choosing the tool that best suits you. There are many options that adapt to different budgets. So don’t worry, you will find one for your small business.

c) Data security

This point is extremely important, since going digital also represent risks of getting hacked, and get your customer’s information stolen. Some CRM tools already have this data security systems, however, you still need to be aware of what are the options you have to protect your information. From cybersecurity insurance for your business’ website to establish information security policies on your site, you have to ensure to your customers and yourself that the information will be fine.

4. Digital Marketing Plan

You have the space, you have brand, you have the platforms, now comes the most important part of this “going digital” journey: the digital marketing plan. Basically, this will help you go all the way out there and reach the people that might be interested in what your business has to offer.

To start your marketing plan, this are the key points you have to take into consideration.

a) Goals

What do you want to achieve? Sales, brand awareness, build your customer data base, engage with your clients, communicate efficiently with them. You say it, whatever your goal is, it will define what actions you will take next in the online world.

b) Target

Who do you want to reach? Define sex, age, location, interests. Research about their behaviors, what kind of resources or pages they visit online, etc. This will give you a better idea when you define the channels you will use and the content you will be sharing.

c) Channels

How will you reach your potential customers? E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. You will define this depending on the product or service you are offering and your target. Keep in mind that not all the channels are relevant for your target audience and business.

d) Content

What kind of content will attract your target audience? Images, blog posts, infographics, videos, tweets, stories, newsletter, etc. You can experiment what is best for your target audience, and little by little you’ll start to know them and just give them content that is relevant for them and will leverage your brand.

e) Budget

How much can you spend on this? It depends if you have to pay for any of the channels, for example: Facebook Ads, or using MailChimp to send newsletters to your database. Also, depends on the content you are creating and who is working on it, you might need to hire some designers, bloggers or video editors.

Now you are immerse in the digital world, it’s not easy however, not impossible. Just keep in mind that it requires hard work, so take your time digesting the information and start researching your options because one thing is for sure, it is worth it.

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